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An Expat Talks about Moving to Barcelona, Spain

May 04, 2016


Barcelona, Spain

An expat in Barcelona talks about the cost of living in Barcelona, finding an apartment that's pet friendly, learning the language and more.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Barcelona

Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

Certain spices are not available or easily found like chili powder for Mexican cooking, and flavor extracts like root beer or caramel. Their caramel is different, more of a caramelized, burnt flavor. Cold medicines have to be purchased in a Pharmacy after speaking with the Pharmacist, though many US prescription medications do not require a doctor visit. Clothing is very inexpensive here, it is just a matter of finding the stores which is not difficult. Their equivalent of WalMart or Target is Carrefour Hipermercados, though there are better options for clothing.

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

In addition to what was mentioned previously, get a local mobile phone number as soon as possible. It seemed we got a faster response when we gave our facilitator's number. We used the local real estate websites like Fotocasa and Idealista for our searches. And to reiterate from others, PREPARE/RESEARCH - there is so much info on sites like this one; PACK ONLY THE ESSENTIALS (prescriptions and enough clothes to layer for warmth when necessary) - don't incumber yourself with STUFF - you are doing this to have new experiences and make new memories; and LEARN THE BASICS OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE - people will respond so much better if you try to communicate in their native tongue and usually will revert to English because they want to practice.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

It is fairly common for many expats to want to live close to Ciutat Vella in the large area called Eixample which is just west of the old city. Most buildings here are from about a 100 years old or newer and are around 8 stories high, generally with elevators which can be very small. Many businesses will have someone who speaks English, which is less likely farther out.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

We chose an apartment that is somewhat central, near Plaza Espana on Avenida Paralelo which is the border for the Sant Antoni, Poble Sec, and Fira/Montjuic neighborhoods. It is very convenient yet still far enough from the crowds of tourists, though it is still somewhat noisy. We have pets so that tended to shrink the list of available rentals, otherwise it is a very pet-friendly. We preferred a building with an elevator and/or a low floor because our dogs are elderly. Ours has both except our first floor apartment is actually 3 flights up. From the ground floor "planta 0" there is first the "entresuelo", then the "principal", and only then "primero." All buildings have at least a ground floor above which they start numbering. As air-conditioning addicts places so equipped are somewhat less common. Since our Spanish language skills are limited we found a local facilitator to assist us.

Expats living in Spain interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Spain interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

It is cheaper here than many large cities in the US, yet choice ultimately depends on your budget and needs. Prices may be lower the farther you go from Ciutat Vella, plus you will still have metro access. You can get a good sized apartment with 2 or more bedrooms and at least one bathroom for between 1000-1500 euros per month. Utilities and internet/TV are generally cheaper too.

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Comments about this Report

jamesdespres
May 5, 2017 02:40

Thank you for sharing . Planning to visit Spain.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Spain from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

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Expats in Barcelona enjoy a beautiful city on the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most popular cities in Europe. Here is some great advice from expat that already live there.

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Expats in Spain share their experiences with healthcare and overseas medical insurance in Spain.

Restaurants in BarcelonaRestaurants in Barcelona

Support your favorite restaurants in Barcelona as they recover from the pandemic. Submit a free listing for them on Expat Exchange to help spread the word about them to the expat community.

Culture Shock in Barcelona

One expat who lives in Barcelona experienced very little culture shock when she moved there. She suggests that when you are open and sincerely interested in the people you meet and their way of life, you'll almost always have a great experience.

A-Guide-for-First-Movers-How to Immigrate to Spain: A Guide for First Movers

An overview of how to move to Spain and immigration options for non-EU citizens. Covers different long-term visa options.

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