There is a scene in the 2003 movie "Under The Tuscan Sun" that I now can identify as the moment...Read more
The city of Barcelona is a vibrant, colorful, proud, interesting place that’s got the benefit of the passion of the Spanish combined with the efficiency and organization of the Catalans. The city’s energy continues today despite Spain’s economic woes. People live, work, and shop in most of the city neighborhoods and districts, so each has its own community spirit, and some even have their own fiestas.
Barcelona is the economic, cultural, and administrative capital of Catalonia, situated in the northeast of Spain, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The city covers a small area but has a large population: 100 square kilometers with about 1.6 million people in the city center and another 4 million in the suburbs. The city has 10 districts, but the areas in greatest demand among visitors, property investors, and expats are the oldest part, the Ciutat Vella, which is divided into four regions—La Ribera, also known as El Borne (or, locally, Born), to the north; Barrio Gótico, which is in the central Gothic quarter; El Raval to the south; and the seaside suburb of Barceloneta.
The expat community in Barcelona is huge and thriving. More than 150 nationalities live in Barcelona, a reflection of the Catalan peoples’ open and receptive character that foreigners find so attractive. There is a mix of working expats—employed by multinationals like HP, self-employed (running laptop-based or tourism-focused businesses), or running local businesses (everything from bars to playgroups and real estate companies)—and retirees.
The Barrio Gótico is possibly Barcelona’s most touristy area. Historically, this was where the wealthy lived; however, when the Eixample was built in the 19th century, the wealth moved out and the area went downhill. Over the last 10 years, this area has become very popular and has undergone a revival, with the chic and trendy moving back in. It is an area of narrow streets, small apartments, and lots of tourists and, as well, all that intriguing ancient history.
Surprisingly are able to explore the city quickly and easily—Spain’s second biggest—because of its compact, well-laid-out design, yet there is so much to do and see. Fantastic art and architecture from pre-Roman to Modernista and current times is everywhere. There are galleries, monuments, theaters, restaurants, shopping—all the usual stuff of cities— yet there are also lots of parks and pretty plazas (plaças in Catalan, the language of this region), great beaches, and easy access to the beautiful Costa Brava to the north and the Costa Dorada to the south.
Further, this is one of the most affordable European cities of note, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking for an Old World cosmopolitan lifestyle on a budget. The cost of living in Barcelona is under €1,500 per month.
|Rent||€ 900||Unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment.|
|Gas||€ 80||For cooking.|
|Transportation||€ 80||Bus/metro pass for two, occasional taxi.|
|Electricity||€ 60||A/C usage.|
|Internet||N/A||Bundled with phone.|
|Cable TV||€ 20|
|Groceries||€ 400||Basic items for couple.|
|Entertainment||€ 307||Social outing, 25-60 euros p/person|
My last visit to Barcelona was in 2007, and I was just 18, but I fell in love. I had that instant "click" you sometimes get when you visit a new place. You just know you could be happy there. My husband and I just booked tickets to spend some time there in August with our daughter and a couple of friends and their two kids, and I can’t wait to revisit this city and see if my love-at-first-sight connection...Read more