Real Estate in Barcelona
Last updated on Jan 22, 2023
Summary: Expats and retirees talk about real estate in Barcelona, Spain? How do you find a home in Barcelona? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?
How do I find a place to live in Barcelona?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"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," explained one expat living in Barcelona, Spain.
"Came over to look at properties to buy and having visited Barcelona all my life (my father is Spanish) pretty much knew where to look. Made up our minds after seeing 5 flats. 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," said another person in Barcelona.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Barcelona?
"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," said another person in Barcelona.
"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). Don't know about other expats as hardly know any - difficult to get to know people in this city," added another expat who made the move to Barcelona.
What is the average cost of housing in Barcelona?
If you are thinking about moving to Barcelona, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"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," said another expat in Barcelona.
"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. Otherwise, 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," remarked another member in Barcelona.
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
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