Moving to Barcelona
World-renowned for its architectural beauty, its cultural character and the way it blends tradition with innovation in Spain’s temperate northeast, expats moving to Barcelona will find themselves in one of the finest destinations in Europe.
A city in constant flux, Barcelona is defined by Spanish and Catalan influences, and the push and pull between modern and old.
Ornate medieval buildings appear alongside Gaudi’s unique modernist creations and ultra-contemporary downtown high rises. Traditional bars serving tapas and cava (a Spanish take on champagne) stand shoulder to shoulder with chic eateries and glamorous Michelin-starred restaurants.
Although there has been some recovery, expats who want to move to Barcelona should be wary of an economy that remains fragile following the Spanish property crash and the global recession.
Salaries in Barcelona are low by European standards while the cost of living continues to rise unabated. With a limited job market, the city lags behind the Spanish capital. Given its relative commercial success, there are more job opportunities in Madrid and the Castilian capital tends to attract more foreigners.
Accommodation, usually an expat’s most expensive responsibility, is more or less on par with other European cities, although the process of finding a home to rent is not nearly as competitive as in London or Amsterdam.
New arrivals who have emigrated for pleasure or those who have been lucky enough to secure a job beforehand will, however, find no better place to explore.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and hills, the capital of the Catalan autonomous region is 125 miles (200km) south of France and located on the Costa Dorado between the Llobregat and Besòs river mouths.
Barcelona's Catalonian heritage is ever-present and shapes daily life in the city, while exerting influence on the language and customs of the country as a whole.
Aside from its architectural and cultural charms, the city is characterised by a pulsating social scene and sprawling, eclectic neighbourhoods that unravel alongside the sparkling Mediterranean.
The public transport system is efficient, safe and reliable, the healthcare system is of a high-standard, and expat families will have access to a range of quality education options.
Expats need only to find a way to make enough money in Barcelona to get by, learn at least some of the local language, and settle into what is potentially a very laid-back lifestyle in Spain.
This is usually easier said than done, but the rewards have every reason to be worth it for expats with the necessary skills – the weather in Barcelona is arguably unbeatable, the architecture is incredible, and the overall lifestyle is often praised as one of the best on the continent.