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5 Tips for Living in Barcelona

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a region where some citizens are fighting for their independence from Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city that's rich in history and architecture with a thriving nightlife scene.

Expats in Barcelona - 5 Tips for Living in Barcelona

"Barcelona is a great place to live. There are so much going on and if you get into the rhythm of the events in the year it gets even better. There is not an ex-pat enclave as such in Barcelona. We live throughout the city but as it is relatively small in geographical terms it is easy for us to get together when we want to meet. There are a number of events for expats each month covering all sorts of activities," said one expat. Here are 5 tips for expats living in Barcelona:

Finding a Job in Barcelona

Jobs Barcelona "When deciding to move to Barcelona, one of the first and foremost things to consider is where you will be working, and how to find a job. In spite of the high unemployment rate in Spain, there are definitely many opportunities to find work in Barcelona. In the last few years, a growing number of international companies have moved their European offices to Barcelona, which has attracted many expats since these companies require employees to cover many different countries/regions, and therefore speak a variety of languages. Especially I.T companies such as H.P, Fujitsu, SAP etc are constantly looking for people, and if you speak English and a second European language, you have a very good chance of finding a job very quickly. Of course, the best method to search for job opportunities is on the internet. The most popular ones are: www.infojobs.net, www.loquo.com, www.jobsinbarcelona.es and www.metropolitan-barcelona.com," explained JustLandedBCN.

Expat Clubs and Organizations in Barcelona

Frankfurt Suburbs "The Barcelona Newcomer's Club is a group for newcomers, expats and residents of Barcelona who enjoy meeting other people and sharing experiences. Our goal is to present all that Catalunya has to offer, through the participation of those born and bred here, recently-arrived ex-pats and longtime residents. Activities are varied to fit the interests of club participants and will include social and professional networking, day and evening activities, family outings, nights out on the town, walks and excursions and seminars, talks and workshops related to Barcelona history and culture," described one member of the club. Barcelona Women's Network holds monthly coffee mornings, evening social events, mom & tot groups, walking groups, book groups and much more. The International Women's Club of Barcelona offers a wide variety of daytime events for members only and evening events open to members' friends and family members. They have monthly coffees, exercise classes, museum visits and much more. Barcelona Hash House Harriers is a fun running club for anyone who likes to have fun... you can run, walk or even crawl!

Where to Live in Barcelona

Barcelona Neighborhoods "Choosing a neighbourhood depends on the kind of lifestyle you want to live - Barcelona is one of the most densly populated cities in Europe so negative side is noise, pollution and small living spaces. Plus side is you can walk everywhere and always plenty of places to go out and eat and shop. Suburbs are quieter but more expensive, the wealthier Catalans choose to live in the hills looking down on the city (and the smog). We live in a flat on the top floor of a 160 year old block in a working class neighbourhood in the centre of the city (equivalent to Soho in London). It doesn't have a lift but we didn't want to have noise above us as well as below - Barcelona is the noisiest city in Europe (fact)," said one Brit who moved to Barcelona. Another expat with a family said, "I live in a house in Gava Mar (south Barcelona). It is quite common for expats in this area. It is difficult to find a house in Barcelona, there are mostly flats. A house by the sea is perfect for a family with children."

Buying Property in Barcelona

Barcelona Flat "To buy a similar property in London would be around double and rates in the UK are very high. However, the costs involved in buying a property here is very expensive compared to UK, for example, an estate agent here takes 10% commission compared to 1.5% in UK. Stamp duty here is 7%, in UK it is only payable on properties over a certain level and even then is only around 2%. Capital Gains Tax is also payable on selling property here, even if this is your only residence, unlike UK. Therefore buying and selling property in Spain is not a fast way to make money, unlike in UK. We bought it through a wellknown local estate agency - too much red tape to try and do it privately, although many Spanish natives buy direct from sellers to cut out some of the (high) costs associated with buying property over here," explained an expat in Barcelona. "In theory you should be able to get a one bedroom flat or a studio for around 400-500 Euros. If the flat is outside the city or in the outskirts the price could go a little bit down," said another expat. "Most other things here are cheaper, like utitilites (except telephone which is very expensive). Barcelona has become very fashionable in last few years and prices have risen dramatically, and cost of living is way out of balance with average salaries which are 50% - 75% lower than London," said one expat.

Obtaining Your Numero de Identidad de Extranjero in Barcelona

"You need to make an appointment online on www.seap.minhap.gob.es. Pick Certificado UE if you are from Europe. Print the application form from the website. Fill it in, don't sign it yet. For your appointment take the form and your passport. Go to Rambla Guipuzcoa 74. They give you a number at the front desk. On your first visit there they look at your form, get you to sign it, put a stamp on it, and give it back to you, asking you to get a copy of the form and of your passport and go to a bank to pay 9.92Euros. Now the banks in the area only accept this kind of payment during very limited hours. So it's hard work to get the payment done. On your second visit they take the receipt and the copies off you, give you your form with a stamp on it (there may be places you need the NIE for urgently and which accept the preliminary number), and they tell you to come back on another day to pick the actual NIE up. Rambla Guipuzcoa is an extension of Calle Arago to the west. No. 74 is about 5 km from Placa Catalunya. The metro station Sant Marti is very near. So if you don't fancy long walks, use line 2. 3 trips! But once you have that number, it's yours for ever," advised an expat in Barcelona.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

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First Published: Sep 22, 2014

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