Moving to Barcelona: Essentials Tips For Living in Barcelona
Thinking about moving to Barcelona?
In this detailed guide, your reliable relocation buddies Homelike have brought you all the juicy details.
We’ve covered everything you need to know, including the pros and cons of living in Barcelona, and lots of practical information about housing, visas, jobs, and moving with kids and pets.
Want to know how to move to Barcelona? Read on, you intrepid little explorers, cos we’ve covered it all!
If you’re a UK citizen who wants to move to Barcelona after Brexit, we’ve covered essential information on moving to Spain after Brexit in this detailed guide.
1- Why Move to Barcelona?
There are a massive number of reasons to move to Barcelona.
One of the most tourist-heavy cities on the planet, it’s also a hugely popular place for a relocation. Around 20% of the city’s population is made up of foreigners, and that number is growing every day.
It’s beautiful, alluring, interesting and charming, and it’s packed with stuff to do. And on top of all that, you get world-famous food and drink, a great quality of life, and some beautiful nature.
Probably the most cultural and cosmopolitan city in Spain, it’s a brilliant place to live.
The pros mostly outweigh the cons, but to give you a balanced insight (we’re nothing if not honest here at Homelike), here are the pros and cons of living in Barcelona…
2- Pros and Cons of Living in Barcelona
Pros of living in Barcelona:
- Brilliant weather: in Barcelona, temperatures never get very cold, and rain is relatively unusual. Even in winter, you’ll rarely experience temperatures lower than 8 or 9°C—so if you like dodging chilly weather, you’ll love the place.
- It’s very cycle-friendly: if you like cycling, Barcelona is brilliant. It was ranked the world’s 13th best cycle-friendly city in 2019, so there are few better picks on the planet.
- Endless nightlife and restaurants: genuinely one of the most fun cities in the world, Barcelona has an almost-infinite number of places to eat, drink and dance.
- There’s always something to do: with a huge range of festivals, events, meetups, hangouts, people and places, it’s basically impossible to be bored in Barcelona.
- You’re close to both beaches and mountains: there are beaches right in the heart of the city, along with mountainous escapes just on the outskirts.
- Huge community of internationals: keen to make friends from around the globe? In Barcelona, you can—it’s one of the most diverse cities in Europe.
- It’s a great place for families, and people with kids and dogs: many of Barcelona’s residents have kids and canines, and there are lots of pet-friendly, family-friendly hangouts in the city. And as a handy bonus, you also get great international schools!
- It’s well-located for further adventures: you can easily explore the rest of Spain from Barcelona, and you’re in a good spot for further adventures in Portugal, France, and other parts of Europe. And on top of all that, you’re pretty close to northern Africa!
Cons of living in Barcelona:
- Lofty cost of living: compared to other places in Spain, Barcelona can be pretty pricey. That said, it’s still more affordable than many other places in western Europe.
- Relatively few job opportunities: in Barcelona, jobs can be hard to come by, and salaries are pretty low. But it’s not all bad news: the situation is getting better, and the unemployment rate is improving.
- The city is full of tourists: okay, because you’re reading this, you’re probably gonna be a foreigner in Spain too. But no matter where you live, being perpetually surrounded by tourists can be pretty annoying. And Barcelona has A LOT of tourists!
- It’s not quite as friendly as many other parts of Spain: but, let’s be honest, major cities are never as friendly as smaller towns and cities in other parts of the same nation.
3- What Is the Average Cost of Living in Barcelona?
That of course depends upon how frugally you live, or how much cash you splash.
But in general, Barcelona is more expensive than the rest of Spain, but more affordable than some of western Europe’s bigger cities (it’s a lot cheaper than large cities in both the UK and Scandinavia, for example).
Broadly speaking, here are the sort of costs you can expect (all taken from the ever-impressive and ever-helpful Numbeo):
- 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: 917.30 €
- 1-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: 714.71 €
- 3-bedroom apartment in the city center: 1,531.58 €
- 3-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: 1,108.82 €
- One-way ticket on local public transport: 2.40 €
- Regular monthly pass for local public transport: 40.00 €
- Meal for 1 at an inexpensive restaurant: 12.00 €
- 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant: 50.00 €
- Large draught domestic beer in a bar or restaurant: 3.00 €
- Regular cappuccino in a cafe or restaurant: 1.95 €
- 12oz Coke or Pepsi in a cafe or restaurant: 1.98 €
- Regular gallon of milk from a supermarket: 3.32 €
- Loaf of white bread from a supermarket: 1.05 €
- 12 regular eggs from a supermarket: 2.15 €
- 1lb of local cheese from a supermarket: 4.50 €
- 1lb of chicken breast filets from a supermarket: 2.81 €
Obviously, those prices aren’t always going to be consistent, but they are a very good indication of what to expect.
4- Do I Need a Job if I’m Moving to Barcelona?
When people are working out how to move to Barcelona, this is usually one of the first things they think about.
The answer to this question is a little complicated, and it depends upon if you’re employed, how you’re employed, and where you’re from.
If you’re moving from within the EU, you have complete freedom of movement, so you don’t need to organize a job in advance.
If you’re moving from outside of the EU, and you plan to get a job and travel on a working visa, you’ll need to secure a job before you arrive.
But no matter where you’re moving from, you don’t necessarily need to secure a job in advance, or even get a job at all. If you’re a student, a retiree, a digital nomad, or a spouse of a Spaniard, for example, there are different visas available. But we’ve covered that all in much more depth in this next part of this guide.
If you’re a digital nomad and you’ll be working remotely, it’s best to follow all the necessary rules, so make sure you register yourself for tax purposes, and you don’t just visit on a tourist visa. Spain is currently developing an exciting digital nomad visa, but hasn’t yet been finalized.
If you’re working as a digital nomad in Barcelona, you’ll absolutely love the place—there’s a large remote working community in the city, and a huge number of cafes and co-working spaces to plonk yourself down with a laptop.
5- Do I Need a Visa for Living in Barcelona?
Again, that depends upon where you’re from! But here are the basic things you need to know…
If you’re moving to Barcelona from another EU country…
… you absolutely don’t need a visa. Thanks to the EU’s brilliant freedom of movement laws, EU residents can move to any other EU country with no visa requirements.
Upon arrival in Spain, you’ll need to get a NIE number (which is just an identification and tax number), but that’s the only bureaucracy you need to worry about.
If you’re moving to Barcelona from a non-EU country…
… this is where things get a little more complicated.
If you’re moving from outside of the EU, you absolutely need a visa. If you’ve already secured a job in Barcelona, you can simply apply for a Work Visa, which enables you to live and work in Spain.
If you don’t have a job offer, you should instead apply for a Non-Lucrative Spanish Visa. This allows you to stay in Spain if you can prove you have enough money to live in the nation self-sufficiently (whether through a steady income stream, or via a large sum of money in your bank account).
Alternative options are available for students, those who wish to buy property, and people who are married to Spaniards.
Once you’ve sorted your visa and arrived in Spain, make sure you also apply for your TIE (the required identity card for non-EU foreign nationals living in Spain).
As always, before you do anything, make sure you check the requirements for your particular nationality and your particular situation, to make sure you’re following the exact rules you need to follow. Though the above is a good guide, immigration rules around the world often change, so make sure you check specific and up-to-date information!
Moving to Barcelona: Brexit-related changes
Due to Brexit, residents of the UK no longer have freedom of movement within the EU—so it’s now much more difficult for UK residents to relocate.
If you’re from the UK, you must now follow the same rules as all other non-EU residents. So everything we’ve included in the section above this one, all of that now also applies to you.
6- What Are the Best Neighborhoods to Live in Barcelona?
We’ve already covered this fully in our bumper guide to the 13 best neighborhoods to live in Barcelona.
But, in brief, some of the best neighborhoods for living in Barcelona are…
- For lots of fun and living in the city like a tourist: Barrio Gotico and El Raval
- For living with family and finding good schools: Gracia and Les Corts
- For a surprisingly laid-back life: Sants-Montjuic and Horta Guinardo
- For authentic vibes and making friends with locals: Barceloneta
No matter what type of atmosphere you’re looking for, you can find it in Barcelona—because it’s so sprawling and diverse, the city offers countless different types of life.
The city has 10 separate districts alone, but these are then further separated into smaller neighborhoods of their own.
7- How to Find Accommodation in Barcelona
Often, it can be very difficult to find a long-term place in Barcelona if you’re not already in the city.
Because so many people want to move to Barcelona, the housing market is super saturated, and it can be ridiculously difficult to find a place to live, especially if online searches are your only outlet.
It’s therefore best to start your search before you actually arrive in the city.
The best way to get started is by looking for short-term apartments in Barcelona for a couple of months. While you’re in that short-term apartment, you can get into contact with local landlords and real estate agents, and find a long-term place to stay.
By doing so, you can attend viewings in-person, check out locations and neighborhoods for yourself, and find a great place that’s suited to you, your needs, and whoever you’re relocating with. Without doing these things in-person, you might wind up living in a neighborhood you don’t like, an apartment that isn’t suited to you, or having the world’s worst neighbors.
If you’re looking for a short-term flat in Barcelona, or a short-term serviced apartment in Barcelona, our places are perfect.
Comfortable, homely and affordable, they’re all ready to move into right away, and you don’t need to spend countless weeks house hunting in order to get one. Our short-term rentals are a perfect way to get all comfy and cozy—and get acquainted with the city. You can check all of our brilliant places out here.
8- Do I Need to Learn Spanish to Live in Barcelona?
No. Because lots of people in Barcelona speak English, it’s not necessary to learn Spanish.
That said, your life will be much better if you do learn Spanish—you’ll be able to grab better bargains, make more friends, and immerse yourself properly in local culture. If you speak Spanish, it’s also easier to use public transport, organize and understand bureaucratic stuff, and communicate with all local people.
But here’s where things get a little more complicated. Because Barcelona is part of Spain’s Catalonia region, it actually has its own language: Catalan. And if you really want to immerse yourself properly, it’s actually better to learn Catalan.
Although some people think Catalan is simply a Spanish dialect, that’s not true at all—it’s absolutely a language of its own.
The vast majority of Barcelona natives speak both Spanish and Catalan. The two languages share some similarities, but they’re surprisingly different to one another.
In short, there’s no concrete answer to this one. Some people, when moving to Barcelona, learn Spanish. Some learn Catalan. Some attempt to learn both. Some attempt to learn neither, and just survive on English alone. There’s no one true way, so do whatever feels most comfortable and appropriate to you.
But one thing’s for certain—although it’s by no means necessary, you’ll definitely have a more immersive and ‘authentic’ experience if you decide to learn one of Barcelona’s two languages.
9- What Do I Need to Know about Healthcare in Barcelona?
Spain is (of course!) a very developed country, so the nation’s healthcare is top-notch. If you’re moving to Barcelona, you’re in a good place for being all fit and healthy, and accessing excellent healthcare.
Once you’ve arrived in Barcelona and obtained your TIE (that registration document you need if you’re originally from outside of the EU), you’re then able to get your Targeta Sanitaria Individual (TSI) card.
This health care card allows you to access subsidized public healthcare, much like if you were a Barcelona native. This public healthcare system is called CatSalut, and it has a pretty good reputation.
That said, waiting times at public hospitals can often be pretty lengthy, and clinics can be very busy—so if you can afford it, it’s a good idea to get some private health insurance while in Barcelona, which allows you to access private healthcare. The private healthcare in Barcelona has a nationwide reputation for being really outstanding.
Private hospitals have a higher quality of care, much shorter waiting times, and much more efficient services. More than a quarter of all of Spain’s private clinics and hospitals are found in Barcelona, so it’s the best destination in the entire nation for comprehensive and accessible private treatment.
In most private clinics and hospitals in Barcelona, doctors and other staff speak very good English. In public hospitals, that’s not always the case (though you might get an English-speaking doctor if you’re lucky!).
10- Is It Possible to Take My Pet if I’m Moving to Barcelona?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible. To do so, you need to follow some annoying (but necessary) immigration rules, but that’s the case for carrying animals no matter where you travel.
To enter Spain with your dog or cat, you need a pet passport and a health certificate—and your pet will need to be microchipped and fully vaccinated with all the up-to-date inoculations. When you arrive in Barcelona, you’ll also need to register your dog on the catchily-titled ‘Barcelona Register for Pet Animals and Wild Animals in Captivity’.
It’s also worth noting that a small number of specific dog breeds are designated as dangerous in Spain—and you need to follow some extra rules if you’re importing one of those bad boys.
But in short, yes, it’s absolutely possible to take your pet when you’re moving to Barcelona. It’s a very pet-friendly city, and lots of foreigners and expats have cute cats and dogs.
11- What Are the Best Schools in Barcelona If I’m Moving to Barcelona with My Family?
Barcelona has some excellent schools.
But there are actually way more in the city—here’s much more information about all the best international schools in Barcelona. For finding top-quality private schools, Barcelona is one of the best cities in Spain, so it’s a perfect choice for people with kids.
If you’re going to put your kids into a non-international school, be aware that most classes will probably be taught in Catalan (rather than Spanish—and they definitely won’t be taught in English). So unless your kids speak Catalan, or you want them to, you should seek out an international school, or a specific Spanish-speaking school.
If you want to move to a district that has good proximity to all the best schools, head to Les Corts, Gracia, or Sarria. All three have excellent schools with excellent reputations.
Because Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with residents from around the planet, it’s a great place to relocate with kids. You’ll always find good schools, lots of friends for your little ones, and endless family-friendly things to do. For moving with your children, it’s one of the top picks on the planet.
Living in Barcelona: Final Thoughts
So, there you are—everything you need to know about how to move to Barcelona!
No matter who you are, moving to Barcelona is a great idea, and it’s a massively popular relocation hub for endless different types of people. It’s perfect for couples, families, solo travelers, old people, young people, and everyone in between. You’ll have a brilliant time, and we absolutely recommend it.
But, as we mentioned, finding a long-term place to live can be tricky, especially if you’re not yet located in the city. So if you’re looking for a short-term flat in Barcelona or a short-term serviced apartment in Barcelona, our places are perfect.
They’re all furnished, modern, comfortable and affordable. But more importantly, they remove all the fuss and stress of scrolling through the internet for endless hours in the fruitless pursuit of finding a place to live. Have a look at our excellent selection of Barcelona apartments here.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!