Barcelona, Spain

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The Cosmopolitan And Cultural Capital Of Spanish Catalonia...

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Barcelona, Spain
Adobe Stock/Ekaterina Belova

Barcelona, Spain, is a city you will want to visit again and again. Most importantly, Barcelona is the capital and largest city of Catalonia and boasts a population (including outer city limits) of 5.7 million people.

Being one of the largest cities in Europe, it holds a wide array of art, culture, and history. Barcelona is known for its modern art and architecture, made famous by the multitude of styles built throughout the centuries, and of course Antoni Gaudí known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism.

Barcelona is a city that can be sleepy in some areas and full of life in other. With countless modern landmarks, countless things to do, and of course a world-renowned soccer team, Futbol Club Barcelona, Barcelona is a great place to visit or live in.

So, here is everything you need to know about Barcelona, Spain.

Expats In Barcelona, Spain

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.

Most importantly, 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.

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Cost Of Living In Barcelona, Spain

It is not surprising that the cost of living in Barcelona may not be considered cheap. It is still one of the cheaper places to live in Europe. Considering the sandy beaches, the lively city life, and the many city landmarks, it is still a bargain for the lifestyle you’d be getting.

Living in Barcelona, Spain, can be done on a monthly budget upwards of US$1,600 for a single person, and of around US$3,700 for a family of four.

As a result, rent is where most of your monthly budget will go. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Barcelona is around US$1,000 per month.

A three-bedroom apartment in a similar area runs you at least US$1,700 per month. Prices will vary and you can always find cheaper options, but most of the time you are looking at those kinds of minimums.

Outside of the city center you will find cheaper accommodations: A one-bedroom apartment ends up being around US$750 per month, and a three-bedroom apartment around US$1,150 per month.

Buying houses in Barcelona, Spain, can be more expensive than some places you may be looking at, but it is a better investment since it’s a sought-after city.

Within the city center you can expect the price per square foot to be around US$530. Outside of the city center you can expect the price per square foot to be around US$330.

Depending on the time of year, basic utilities (electric, gas, water, etc.) costs around US$100 per month for a single person, and about an extra US$50 for a family of four. A good internet plan can be found for US$35 per month.

There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona, such as night life, museums, attend sporting events. These entertainment amenities can make your monthly budgeting more convoluted if you enjoy these sorts of things.

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Most museums offer free entry every first Sunday of the month, and sometimes every Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, you can find a pint of beer in your local pub for less than US$5.

Eating out can also set your budget back, but with the variety of foods and haute cuisine that Barcelona has to offer you will want to eat out occasionally.

Eating at a local, smaller restaurant, a meal will cost you about US$15. For a bit of a nicer three course meal for two people (including drinks), you can expect to pay upwards of US$50.

When it comes to groceries, keep in mind that a gallon of milk costs around US$4.50, a loaf of bread about US$1.30, and a dozen eggs around US$3.

Other noteworthy prices in Barcelona are that a gym membership is about US$50 per month, a cinema ticket usually costs US$10, a doctor’s visit US$60, a haircut US$20, and a pair of brand jeans around US$80.

If you are looking to start or bring your family to Barcelona, it is worth noting that a preschool or daycare can be about US$500 a month, and a very nice international private primary school can run you about US$11,500 a year.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Barcelona, Spain

ExpenseCostNotes
RentUS$1,002Unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment.
GasUS$90For cooking.
TransportationUS$90Bus/metro pass for two, occasional taxi.
ElectricityUS$67A/C usage.
WaterUS$22
TelephoneUS$50
InternetN/ABundled with phone.
Cable TVUS$22
GroceriesUS$445Basic items for couple.
EntertainmentUS$342Social outing, 25-60 euros p/person
TotalUS$2,130

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

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Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
Adobe Stock/Mapics

In short, you will never run out of things to do in Barcelona. The culture and city life are so vibrant: is perfect for any tastes. In Barcelona you can go to a sunny beach, attend a groundbreaking art exhibit, and partake in a rowdy sporting event all in the same day. Barcelona is truly the perfect mix of calm and relaxing, and animated and spirited.

Things to do in Barcelona are always changing, since the trends of fashion, culture, and cuisine are always changing in this city. Barcelona will keep you on your toes, but always feel familiar.

Living in Barcelona, you will walk by landmarks that will remain unchanged, while also venturing into avant-garde modern neighborhoods a few blocks later. Barcelona offers a perfect place for people who enjoy the charm of old towns, while still being on the cutting edge of art, architecture, fashion, and more.

A few notable landmarks are the masterpieces that were designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí. These are only a few of the must see Gaudí works during your visit in Barcelona.

The Basilica of La Sagrada Familia, also known as the great temple of atonement, is a colorful and intricate church showcasing the works of a few different architects.

Casa Batlló, one of the jewels of Art Nouveau, was commissioned by the Batlló family and completely transformed into an artistic masterpiece showcasing a dragon, catenary arches, and beautiful ceramic inlay.

Only part of Park Guëll is open to the public but considering its enormous size for a park of 17 hectares, there is still plenty to see. Gaudí created a wonderland of mysticism by imbibing the park with a world of its own and an innovative architectural design on every corner.

For any fan of museums, history, and culture, you must stop by the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. It showcases Picasso’s work beautifully, and the relationship he had with the city of Barcelona.

Other noteworthy art museums are the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

For fans of the opera, there is the world-renowned Gran Liceu Theatre where you can attend a show during your visit in Barcelona.

When talking about Barcelona, you can’t forget to mention the Futbol Club Barcelona, also known as Barça. It’s a world-famous soccer team and you can catch their matches at the Spotify Camp Nou, which is the largest soccer stadium in Europe.

For any foodies, night enthusiasts, and party lovers, living in Barcelona you will have it all. The cuisine trends are always changing, whether it be a bite of traditional Catalonian dishes, or haute cuisine recently arrived in Barcelona. The bars and clubs are too many to count, and there are plenty of festivals always happening in the city.

Finally, it is worth noting that Barcelona is a coastal town on the Mediterranean. This means that there are a handful of amazing beach locations perfect for taking a load of and relaxing in the sun.

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Barcelona, Spain: Moving And Visa

Moving to Barcelona will be the next step in your great adventure. There is already a big expat community in place, and people from all over the world end up calling Barcelona their home.

If you have a passport from the European Union, you can easily move to Barcelona and live in Barcelona indefinitely. For those without a passport from the European Union, fret not since the process of getting residency in Spain nowadays is much simpler than it used to be.

To get to Barcelona, you can take the trains from most places in Europe, or land at the international Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport. It is about a 40-minute drive from the airport to the Barcelona city center and costs around US$35 to $40.

The best neighborhoods to live in in Barcelona are El Borne for a more indie atmosphere (this is also where many expats choose to live), Eixample, the modernist area, or Ciutat Vella, the oldest part and liveliest part of Barcelona. There are plenty of great neighborhoods to choose from in Barcelona, it all depends on your tastes.

Living in Barcelona permanently depends on what type of passport you have (EU or non-EU). You can visit Barcelona on a short-term tourist visa for 90 to 180 days. If you are planning on staying in Barcelona longer than 6 months, then you will need a long term residency visa.

The process for getting a permanent residency visa for EU citizens is much simpler and can sometimes be done within 24 hours of your arrival in Spain. For non-EU citizens, the process can be a bit lengthier, but still a simple process. Click here to understand all your visa and residency options in Spain.

Weather In Barcelona, Spain

The weather in Barcelona is very Mediterranean, having rainy winters and hot, sunny summers.

Being a port town and right on the sea, the highest elevation is about 650 feet (200 meters) in the city. There is, however, mount Tibidabo which borders Barcelona, and is a great place to visit for hikes or great views. The mountain peaks at 1,680 feet (512 meters).

The hottest months are in the spring and summer (May to September), and peak during July and August at 86°F (30°C), with lows of 72°F (22°C). The colder months are during the fall and the winter, with the coldest months being from December to February with highs of 59°F (15°C) and lows of 48°F (9°C).

The sun shines brightest during the summer, and that is the same time that the Mediterranean water temperature rises. Outside of summer months, the water temperature can reach a brisk 55°F (13°C). During the summer and prime beach time, it can rise to 75°F (24°C).

It rains the most during the fall, in the months of September and October, reaching precipitations of 3 to 4 inches (80 to 100 mm). It can rain all year round in Barcelona, but you can expect much less rain during the summertime.

Being a humid subtropical climate, the humidity levels consistently stay at around 70%.

The best time to visit Barcelona is from May to the end of July, while also adding September in the mix. August can be very hot and muggy. Otherwise, for people who enjoy seasonal changes and a wonderful atmosphere, moving to Barcelona is the best idea for you.

Barcelona, Spain - FAQs

Is Barcelona, Spain, Worth Visiting?

Visiting Barcelona, Spain, is one the best ideas you will ever have. It is easily one of the best cities to visit again and again, to go and see old and familiar places, while also discovering everything new on the horizon.

What Is Barcelona, Spain, Known For?

Barcelona, Spain, is best known for its outstanding art scene, mesmerizing architecture, coastal views, and ports, and of course, its soccer team.

The nightlife in Barcelona can be as extravagant as you want. Your days will always be filled with adventure. On top of that, if you are looking for a bit of nature, you need only visit mount Tibidabo on the outskirts of Barcelona or take a short drive inland.

Is Barcelona, Spain, A Good Place To Retire?

Retiring to Barcelona, Spain, is a great idea for people looking to fill their days with art, history, and culture. It’s also perfect for people who want to relax on the beach and enjoy a hot beverage at the windowsill during rainy winter days.

In short, retiring to Barcelona is perfect for any desired lifestyle, way of life, and has plenty to offer no matter what you are looking for.

Retiring to Barcelona will open your nightlife possibilities tenfold.

In short, retiring to Barcelona is perfect for any desired lifestyle, way of life, and has plenty to offer no matter what you are looking for.

Why Should Americans Move To Barcelona?

Americans should move to Barcelona because of the vast expat community that is ever-growing. Moving to Barcelona as an American gives you that European lifestyle that you have been craving at the most relatively affordable prices.

Barcelona, Spain, offers any American the chance to live out their dream of living in charming old European cities, while also providing all the amenities that you have become used to in the United States.

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