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