Granada, one of Southern Spain’s most visited cities, is a haven for free tapas, university students and Moorish architecture. Ever imagine living there, though? Josh Taylor, a teacher and blogger based in the Pomegranate city, gives us some food for thought (oh my gosh, the free tapas!).
Name: Josh Taylor
City and Comunidad: Granada, Andalucía
School: I arrived in Granada with a job waiting for me. I’d spent several months working at a language academy in El Puerto de Santa María and decided during that time that I wanted to live somewhere a bit bigger and more interesting. I currently work at a small, private English language academy.
Your living situation? I share an apartment with one other guy. We are both English, though I wouldn’t recommend living with fellow native English speakers if you’re coming to learn or brush up on your Spanish – I’m only comfortable doing this now as I’m happy with my level. There are two bedrooms (both en-suite), a large duplex living room, a kitchen and a terrace.
In my first year I lived with Spanish people and Erasmus students. The first year (with the Erasmus students) was great for my Spanish since neither of them could speak English and all three of us were learning Spanish together (with the help of our two Spanish flatmates!). However, the apartment was constantly untidy and sometimes pretty gross.
In my second year I moved in with older Spanish people, which led to a cleaner house but unfortunately they were all super grumpy and we didn’t get on. Bad luck I guess.
How did you find your flat? I knew the guy before I moved in. He had a spare room going, I made an offer, he agreed and that was that. In the past I have used easypiso.com and idealista.com. They were great AND free!
Rent: I currently pay €300 p/m but to be honest that is quite high. The average cost for a central, spacious and modern flat is around the €250 p/m mark. Though there are exceptions; I know people who pay less than €200 p/m with a sweet apartment!
What did you spend on utilities? €30-40 monthly.
You cell phone company and plan? I am with Yoigo. Have been ever since I arrived (2011) and have always been very happy with their service. I don’t really have a plan, although I should have, but I just don’t like signing up for 2-year contracts. I use pay-as-you-go with a €5 add-on for 500mb of data p/m. SIM-only deals aren’t as cheap as they are in Britain.
What do you pay for internet? My housemate and I pay €12 p/m each for wireless internet. We use Movistar.
What did you spend on groceries? In Granada I do most of my eating in tapas bars, since with every drink you order comes a free tapa! And they tend not to be stingy portions either so you’ve practically been served your dinner after two swills. But, I do like to cook at least once or twice a week and buy basic stuff for lunch. I probably spend around €50-60 p/m on groceries.
Did you have any other sources of income? I used to do private English classes at a rate of €15 p/h. I found most of my students through tusclasesparticulares.com, which is a fantastic resource. These days I earn a modest side-income through freelance writing and blogging.
Were you able to save any money? It’s incredibly difficult for me not to find a good reason to spend all my monthly earnings, but, in the event of a quiet or cold month, I invariably save more. My record is about €300, and I couldn’t possibly recall anything I did that entire month.
Your favorite tapas bar? My favourite tapas bar in Granada is either Om Kalsum (C/ Jardines 17) or Pöe (C/ Veronica de la Magdelena 40), which are actually just seconds away from each other. The first is all about Morocco– the food is amazing– particularly the shish kebab and the papa yunani –and there is always a quality vibe. Pöe also consistently serves up some of the best grub in town and the owner, Matthew, is quite the charming English gentleman. It’s probably this Englishness that has led to it becoming the joint most popular ‘guiri’ bar in town (‘guiri’ is slang for expat/foreigner). If you go, you must try the Thai Green Chicken Curry or the Portuguese style Bacalao cod. Both are ludicrously tasty.
Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: 100% Bar Ras on Carrera del Darro for breakfast. It is basically on my street so takes me 2 seconds to get there. The place has a real, authentic vibe to it, and knocks the socks off all the pricier cafes along nearby Paseo de Los Tristes. The café con leche, tostada con tomate y jamón Serrano combo is the absolute bomb, though the jamón does add to the cost a fair bit. Just the tostada con tomate and coffee sets you back €1.80. Unbeatable.
Nightlife in Granada: I’ve sort of grown out of discos I think. I used to be dragged along to some desperately pretentious club nights back when I was in the Erasmus flat but since then I have mainly stuck to bars. My favourites are either Plantabaja (C/ Horno de Abad 11), where they often have live bands play, or Casa Lopez Correa (C/ Molinos 5), another expat-friendly enterprise with a totally different vibe but easily the most welcoming bar you’ll find in Granada. Copas set you back €5.
I do venture out to En Tren (Carretera de Málaga) every now and again, in order to fuel my love for drum and bass music, but the horrendously chavvy crowd have put me off a bit.
How did you get around? I cycle almost everywhere I go– it took me two years to figure out that buying a bike is totally worth it, even if you’re only about for a year. You can pick up some bargains on segundamano.es.
Naturally I have a bus card too. These cost a couple of euros and then it’s just a case of topping up every now and again. The flat rate for one journey is €1.20 but if you topped up by €5 for example, each journey would cost 20 or 30c less.
What you loved about living in Granada? Having both a ski resort and an array of beaches within an hour’s drive.
And your dislikes? The winters, believe it or not, can get bitterly cold in Granada. We’re a bit higher up than most other cities you see, but if it rains this means it’s probably snowing up in the Sierra Nevada (ski resort), which is great for skiers and snowboarders!
I’d say my biggest gripe though, would be shops shutting in the middle of the day for a 3-hour lunch break and absolutely nothing being open on Sunday. This is still as annoying as it was when I moved here.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Granada? Granada has its own airport, though flights only go to Madrid, Barcelona or London City (BA). Málaga has a massive airport, which runs budget flights to loads of European capitals. For trips within Spain I almost always use Blablacar. The site is so popular these days that you virtually guaranteed to find someone going your way, asking for less than half the price of the train. This is also great for practicing your Spanish 😉
Your guilty pleasure purchases: T-shirts. No question about it. Pull & Bear, H&M, Springfield, random novelty t-shirt stores, you name it. I am their bitch.
What are the top attractions in Granada?
- The Alhambra, obviously.
- The Albaicín neighbourhood
- The warmness of its people
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: That learning Spanish in Andalucía is akin to learning English in Glasgow or Cornwall.
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