Chené Koscielny, 53, is married and has three children. Born in South Africa, she lived in London, Paris, Berlin and Geneva before moving to Barcelona 2 years ago. Chené Koscielny is Senior Executive i/c Content Marketing at Page Group Barcelona.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
My husband and I came to Barcelona because my husband joined a Spanish pharmaceutical company. When we made the decision, I still had my own business in Geneva and didn’t have a permanent position in Barcelona, but during the COVID pandemic, we decided the whole family would move here. The truth is that it was difficult for us to adapt at first and meet people, but looking back, the experience has been very positive.
What are Barcelona’s strengths in your opinion?
As a South African, I love the weather and the lifestyle. Also, compared to Paris or London, the people are very friendly and open. Life is very similar to Cape Town: people spend a lot of time doing sport and socializing outdoors. And we love being so close to the sea and the mountains.
In my experience there are plenty of opportunities to find work, even for more senior women, which is often not the case.
What needs to be improved? How?
The various taxes payable by anyone who settles in Catalonia are too high. This is the only major handicap. And housing costs are high compared to wages.
Although I sympathize with the desire to protect Catalan, an aspiration that resembles the struggle to protect Afrikaans in my country, over-insistence on the use of Catalan in all public places may be counter-productive. The level of English is also not as high as in other international cities.
What do you think will help Barcelona overcome the Covid-19 crisis?
Barcelona is a digital city where it’s possible to do most things online, including teleworking. This makes it easier to work for international companies from Barcelona.
What challenges do you think the city faces now the health emergency is almost over?
As I have said, one challenge is to create enough affordable housing. I also think it’s important to resolve taxation issues in order attract senior international talent. If we do not solve this issue, they will go to other cities such as Madrid, London, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam or Berlin, which would be Barcelona’s loss.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
I hope to continue my life here with the family, working and contributing to the city’s economy and community. We would like to buy a house, but first we are looking for greater security with regard to the fiscal situation and the political future of the city.
Where do you feel most at home? What do you miss most?
I miss Cape Town, especially the food and the fantastic shops, which offer great variety due to the multicultural nature of the country.
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