Barcelona is an extremely popular city for expats looking to experience warmer climes, a relaxed pace of life, and a world-class food and drink scene. With the city’s beaches right on your doorstep, this Catalonian municipality makes for an epic place to live.
Here, we outline several top insider tips to help make your big move to Barcelona as stress-free as possible.
Moving to Barcelona
Get used to a new pace of life
It is certainly true that Barcelona – and Spain in general – enjoys a much slower pace of life, which can frustrate some unsuspecting expats when they first move here. What Brits might refer to as “inefficient”, locals would call “relaxed”. Either way, it’s important to get used to the Mediterranean way of living, take a breath and be patient.
When first moving to the country, you will, of course, have to get your NIE number, residence permit and social security sorted. You may have heard the all-too-common horror stories of expats attending meetings, only to be turned down due to lack of paperwork or other reasons, after hours of queuing and even with an appointment (always book an appointment!).
To be on the safe side, hire yourself a gestor; a person who is appointed to deal specifically with state-related paperwork and administrative documents in Spain. They are particularly useful for people who are moving to Spain from abroad, saving you a significant amount of time, effort and rejection that you might otherwise experience without one.
Don’t rush to find a place to live
Finding a place to live in is stressful no matter where you are in the world, and it really is no different in Barcelona. The city is popular, which means your dream apartment won’t just fall into your hands the minute you arrive – in fact, finding a place you feel happy in takes a lot of time and patience. It also does not come cheap, with rents in Barcelona rising rapidly each year. A one-bed apartment in the trendy Gothic Quarter, Gracia or El Born neighbourhoods, for example, can set you back around 800 euros per month.
The best advice we can offer is to allow yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the city and properly research the right area for you to live in, as well as visiting a variety of accommodation options and speaking to several different agencies/private landlords.
The more apartments you view, the better position you’ll be in to gauge the market rates for your area, enabling you to determine whether the options you are looking at are of good value and quality.
In the meantime, rent a short-term let or stay in an Airbnb until you have found a suitable place to call home. These tend to be more affordable options than simply staying in a hotel.
Learn to speak the language
While this might seem fairly obvious, you’d be surprised to know how many expats in Barcelona do not bother to learn the local language. A reason for this could be that it is indeed possible to get by without speaking a word of Spanish or Catalan, especially since there are numerous English-speaking companies in Barcelona, as well as many English language teaching jobs available.
That being said, it is always a good idea to reach at least a basic conversational level of Spanish or Catalan when living here. Not only does it make your life easier when navigating through the city and securing a job, but it is also a courteous thing to do, particularly when you find yourself interacting with locals.
A lovely, free way to learn Spanish/Catalan is to partake in one of the many “intercambios” (language exchanges) taking place across the city each day. Here, a Spanish local is paired with an expat, giving you both the opportunity to improve your language skills and perhaps make friends at the same time.
Buy a bike, but exercise caution
Barcelona is a fairly bike-friendly city, with lots of cycle paths allowing for a safe travel route. This means that cycling is usually the most cost-effective and simple method for getting around. However, whilst a large majority of locals travel via two-wheels, bike theft is still far too common, no matter what neighbourhood you live in.
As such, we recommend purchasing an unassuming second-hand model and investing in a robust locking system so that you don’t fall victim to this type of crime. Storing your bike in your apartment overnight is also preferable.
Join one of the many expat groups
Being a new expat can be a daunting, lonely experience, particularly if you don’t yet know anybody. Thankfully, Barcelona is a welcoming, international city, which means that making new friends is relatively easy – all you have to do is put yourself out there.
There are plenty of regular meet-ups and events taking place across the city, catering to expats with all manner of diverse interests – whether you are into hiking, painting, cycling, or simply just want to socialise over wine and tapas!
Joining a Facebook group for expats, using the Meet-Up app, or becoming a member of the Erasmus Student Network Barcelona, are all good places to start when looking for like-minded people to form friendships with.
Moving to Barcelona?
If you have made up your mind and decided that Barcelona is where you belong, then contact us to arrange your move. We offer end-to-end removals to Barcelona from the UK and anywhere else in Europe.
As usual, the cost of your move will vary according to the overall distance, mode of transport, the number of belongings you have, and if you wish to take out additional insurance with use (this is strongly recommended). Contact us for a quick, free quote.