Enjoy the latest article from Matthew Hirtes’ “Go Expat In” series… moving to Barcelona city – paying homage to Catalonia’s capital.
Unlike other Spanish cities we could mention, you’ll immediately feel at home in Barcelona. It’s by far the most European of all Spain’s metropolises. And unlike in Madrid, summer’s never too stuffy. The sea breeze from the Mediterranean means you’ll always keep your cool. And talking of cool, Barcelona is home to some of the hippest bars, clubs, and restaurants this side of Hoxton Square.
Traffic isn’t exactly triffic in the Catalan capital. Greater Barcelona would appear to have too many cars on the road and not enough parking spaces to accommodate them. The prices. Everything is more expensive when compared to other cities on the Peninsula.
In and out
Apart from the main El Prat airport (BCN), which is only 8 Km from the city centre, Girona’s probably a better bet if you are looking to fly low-cost to Europe. Further south, Reus airport also offers a wide choice of destinations. France is around 90 minutes away on the motorway and Paris will be a four- hour journey on the HST when the final track upgrade is completed this year. The train currently goes all the way to the French capital but not at full speed over certain sections.
Your children are going to acquire excellent language skills. In practice, all kids are bilingual (Catalan/Castilian + any other you may add at home) within two years. Furthermore, exam results in all subjects (including Castilian) are higher than the vast majority of the monolingual part of the country. Recent arrivals are given individual tutoring for the first year at school and, should it be necessary, additional tutoring for as long as necessary. The state schools are generally very good.
Shop until you drop… There’s plenty of market activity in Barcelona. Everyone’s heard of La Boqueria as its proximity to La Rambla makes it easy for tourists to spot. Another food market which is even larger (and cheaper) is Sant Antoni. Get off at the metro of the same name and munch along with the locals at the tapas bars. Alternatively, grab something to go at the excellent deli stall close to the main entrance.
Inevitably, most new arrivals immediately think of an apartment in Ciutat Vella or the Dreta de l’Eixample because that’s where they came on holiday. However, the offers improve once you move out into the districts of Gràcia, Sants, Horta or even Sant Andreu. Similarly, given the effects of the economic crisis, now’s a great time to be investigating the coast immediately north of the city on La Costa del Maresme.
One-three bedroom apartments, €100,000-€800,000. Detached Villas, €500,000-€10,000,000. Country fincas €400,000-€700,000.
In Praise Of
“Barcelona’s a great place to relocate as it’s a relatively small city that’s very well connected via public transport, making it a pleasure to navigate. You also have the mountain on one side of the city with some amazing views, and the beach on the other! What more could you ask for?” Harriet Freeman (OK Apartment)
“I’m an American who recently moved from Madrid to Barcelona and am so happy I did. While Madrid is great, Barcelona is just beautiful. The city is filled with colors, with more diverse people and architecture. The restaurants will remind you of Paris and the Village – cute little places, with uniquely delicious menus and ambience.” Jennifer Riggins (SmartPlanet’s Barcelona Correspondent)
“Barcelona’s openness to the innovative is the perfect characteristic for shrugging off economic misfortunes. The city has always had one eye on the future and now is no different: the entrepreneurial instinct of the Catalans keeps Barcelona buzzing with new ideas, new opportunities and new things to do.” Steve Tallantyre (journalist/copywriter, BCN Freelance)
“You can take the excellent metro system to the beach, should you not wish to travel to the myriad beaches north (my favourite) or south of the city. Leaving home at 7 am you can be skiing by 9 am. Inland you have the greenery of Mediterranean woods and forests, the magnificent Montseny Natural Park, the volcanic beauty of the Garrotxa and 3,000m-high mountains of the Pyrenees.” Brian McLean
• Are you an expat in Barcelona? What do you like/dislike about it? Let us know below.