La Coruña is Galicia’s biggest city and one that resonates with octopus and cheap living. Plus, Galicia gets loads of language assistants, including Kat, who fell in love with the city’s walkability, signature dish and relaxed pace.
Having spent a few summers there ourselves, we absolutely love the Crystal City and its cheap eats!
Name: Kat O.
City and Comunidad: La Coruña / A Coruña, Galicia
School: I was placed at I was placed at the Escuela Oficial de La Coruña last year and am continuing on for a second year.
Your living situation? I’m living in an apartment with three other people. Weirdly enough it has four bathrooms as well as bedrooms, but one is used as storage.
How did you find your flat? I found it online.
Rent: I’m paying 155 per month, utilities not included. Last year I paid 170 for a slightly bigger apartment with internet included.
What did you spend on utilities? I haven’t got the numbers for my new piso yet, but last year I spent about 15-20 euros per month on electricity and roughly 11 on water. When I lived with just one other person we only used one bombona (gas canister) per 3 or 4 months even, but with 3 others in the apartment we go through one every month. One bombona costs €17.50.
You cell phone company and plan? I have Tuenti Móvil and at first I had the 1GB of internet + 0 minutes plan – I would top up 10 euros each month and use the rest of my credit for calls and texts if I needed them. But in the summer months to make up for my lack of paycheck from the Xunta I’ve been serially robbing wifi from cafés & occasionally topping up my phone to make calls instead of paying a monthly fee. I’ve spent a grand total of 15 euros on my phone since May 😉
What do you pay for internet? Last year the internet and landline was included in my rent (€170/month) but this year I’m paying 9 euros per month (€36 split between 4 people).
What did you spend on groceries? I’d say I spend about 80 euros a month on average. More if I make any trips to the Chinese supermarket or have extreme hummus cravings (hello, Mercadona!).
Did you have any other sources of income? I do private classes and usually charge 12 euros per hour, but possibly more depending on how far I have to travel and how many children there are.
Were you able to save any money? I arrived to La Coruña with literally nothing. After getting here, paying my deposit and my first month of rent, I had about 100 euros left to get me through the month until my first paycheck. Luckily, I picked up some private classes right away. Having come from that, I have been able to save almost €3000 since arriving last October. I’ve done what I feel is a reasonable amount of traveling, but mostly around Galicia and northern Spain as well as Portugal, which is close by (and cheap! And amazing!). I didn’t go home for the summer either. Also I’m pretty low-maintenance, so if I don’t travel I don’t really spend money on anything aside from food, drink and rent.
Your favorite tapas bar? This is a really hard question for me to answer, since there are so many great places to eat in A Coruña. For tapas, I would suggest Malte for their raxo caramelizado a la cerveza (it’s mouth-wateringly good) and excellent beer selection, Mayte (I know, one letter difference) for their 1 euro tapas, La Bombilla because it’s an A Coruña classic and also has 1 euro tapas, or La Cerveceria del Centro on Calle Barrera because I’m addicted to their patatas bravas. I usually drink the local beer – Estrella Galicia forever – but Galician wine is yummy and cheap too, so you can get a decent-sized tapa and a drink for about 3 euros on average.
Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: Unlike the last question, this one is easy for me to answer: Café Siboney! I am not much of a coffee drinker but those with more refined tastes than I have told me it has the best coffee in A Coruña. Their house blend is tasty but they also have coffee from all over the world if you’re in the mood for something new. I was lured in by the cheesecake but they’ve got loads of different drinks and nibbles. Last time I went I tried their “matcha green tea and lemon cake” and it was nom nom nom nom.
Nightlife in Coruña: I have mixed feelings about going out. I love sleep but I love dancing. I also have a strained relationship with copas because I cannot fathom paying what was until very recently my hourly wage for just one weird drinking receptacle that looks like a cross between a bowl and a wine glass. If I go out I’ll usually just have a beer (Estrella!!) but you can find copas in the city from €3.30 to €10, depending on where you go. I usually let other people decide where to go as long as it’s somewhere that will play Major Lazer at least once. Most places don’t have entrance fees before 5am.
How did you get around? I walk everywhere! This is one of the reasons why I love Coruña. You can take buses (€1.30 per journey or €0.85 with a bus card) but I try to walk whenever I can, even if it’s 40 minutes one way because I don’t really do any other exercise…
What you loved about living in Coruña? I like the size – it’s super convenient. Nothing is too far away and you have everything that you need, plus beaches. Well, except for Thai food. Also there’s loads of fun events like Carnaval, San Xoan and outdoor concerts in August!
And your dislikes? No Thai food.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Coruña? I didn’t do a whole lot of traveling in Europe this year, having lived in the Scotland for 4 years before coming to Spain, but Galicia’s public transportation is pretty slow and expensive so I’ve mostly relied on Blablacar and generous friends for day and weekend trips. There is an airport with direct flights to a few places such as London and Barcelona, and the Santiago airport is not to far away, which is much bigger.
Your guilty pleasure purchases: Well my number one guilty pleasure is Doritos but specific to Coruña I’d say it was shelling out 10 euros for some mole rojo at ‘El Mexicano’. The only reason I feel guilty about it is that I devour it in under 10 seconds. I have also made the occasional purchase at Marineda City, the biggest mall in Spain (and third in Europe – they have an Ikea AND a Primark), which lies just outside the city. For some, it could be a serious temptation.
What are the top attractions in Coruña? The Torre de Hércules and the massive park that surrounds it can’t be missed. On a sunny day (and even if not) it is absolutely stunning. 2. The old town, though I never go there, which includes our own plaza mayor, Maria Pita. 3. Eating pulpo with an ocean view!
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: The exact schedule in which all shops are open or closed.
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