In this article Barcelona native, Carmen Carrasco, shares some things to consider if you’re thinking about moving to Barcelona.
If you are considering relocating to Barcelona there are some things you need to consider first.
Sometimes the motivation to start a new life and the attractiveness of the place where we want to move, makes us launch into the adventure without the right information about aspects which can give us problems.
Here we offer some tips that we hope you find useful before taking that big step.
Choose Your Area
Barcelona is not just a big city, it is also a province that includes many municipalities therefore when you choose exactly where to live there will be many options.
Before choosing, you need to be well-informed about that particular area or neighbourhood. On the Internet we can find a lot of information from a tourist point of view but remember that it is not the same to live permanently in a place as it is to visit it on holiday. In general the tourist areas are not the best places to live, housing and shops there are often more expensive than the average. You can also find beautiful places that offer the possibility of living by the sea or the mountains for cheaper prices than in the capital, but some of them might not have all the services you need.
So, before you choose your destination it is necessary to look for specific information about that place; check the crime rate, check the transport network, confirm that you have at least most of the services needed, schools, supermarkets, gyms, etc.
The official website of the local council will often give details about the services available to residents. Local websites or personal blogs of citizens who reside there are also helpful but certainly the most objective and useful sources are forums where people talk about their experiences living in the area.
Decide Whether to Buy or Rent
Buying is a good option if you have enough money and you‘re sure that want to reside there permanently, but initially it is advisable to move into a rented property.
As much as you have researched the area, once there it may not be what you expected. Therefore it’s better to rent and once there, check that it is the perfect place for you. If it is and you want to buy, you can do it calmly and if it’s not, you will have the option to terminate your rental contract and try another area. It is a bad time for property sales in Spain so if you buy a house without being sure that it is the place where you want to stay, selling that property may be complicated and take long than you’d hoped.
It is advisable to visit the area where you are looking for property and contact local real estate agents and arrange visits to properties during the days you will be visiting. If you going to stay in a hotel, choose one in the area you’re looking for property so you can observe the environment while you’re there and ensure it’s the right place for you.
Obtain the Necessary Residence & Work Permits
Spain is part of the European Union, so if your country is part of it too, you have the right to live and work in Barcelona. Of course you’ll have to complete the required formalities to get your Spanish permits but there will be few obstacles.
The process for residents of countries outside the European Union is a little more complicated as there will be more requirements to get the permits.
Wherever you’re from, the procedures can be started in your home country. To do this you can contact your consulate here. They may not give you a complete guide of the process, because being Spain, a country with a high level of immigration, laws are changing and procedures are modified regularly. And besides, consulates aren’t responsible for the residence permit process so they’re usually not up to date with the latest procedures. But they can tell you what documents you’ll need and what department you have to contact to start the process.
As in many countries, administrative procedures are quite complex and the fact that all the requested documentation must be in the official language makes the process a little confusing for people who don’t speak Spanish. So be patient and take it slowly.
Finding a Job
Some people who move to Spain wonder if they can find a job without speaking fluent Spanish (or Catalan).
Keep in mind that the employment situation in Spain isn’t too good at the moment and finding a job is a difficult task even for local citizens.
Of course as in any other country, knowing the local language allows you to access many more vacancies, but it’s important to say that you can find some jobs in engineering, architecture, IT, international customer services, domestic services to foreign residents, etc. which don’t require the Spanish language.
Life in Spain
Spain like any other country has its own cultural characteristics that may surprise foreigners who come to live here. One is the closeness and affection. Giving two kisses as a greeting is very common, even with people you’ve just met. If you meet someone and they give you hugs or two kisses don’t misunderstand this gesture, for Spanish people it is just a courtesy and very normal.
Celebrations in Spain are very common. There are national and local festivals throughout the year. Even the neighbourhoods have their own annual festivals, that usually last a week and include cultural activities, dances, and of course food and wine.
The weather and abundant sunshine make for a varied social life. Citizens often meet in bars and restaurants after work. At weekends nightclubs are open until 3am and some discotheques close at 6am.
Spain is a multicultural country, not only because of its history, but also because it has some of the highest concentrations of other cultures. In big cities like Barcelona, you can find activities and centres for many different nationalities and cultures.
Although all types of sport are practised in Spain, from surf to sky, the sport that mobilizes the population is football (or soccer).
The work contracts in Spain can’t exceed 40 hours a week and the working day starts about 9am and ends about 7pm. The shops extend their hours until about 8pm.
The school day ends about 4pm. Some schools do provide extracurricular activities for students to undertake once the school day has ended (languages, dancing, sports, etc.).
Spanish television stations rarely use subtitles. All movies and shows from other countries are dubbed into Spanish.
Although the national language is Spanish, some regions have their own languages, as in Barcelona for example, the capital of Catalonia, the people speak Catalan. This can make it difficult for foreigners even if they speak Spanish because the official signs are in those co-official languages.
The use of English is not common in Spain. In cities like Barcelona, which have a large tourist industry, business workers usually speak English but as you go further out from the centre it will be more difficult to find people who speak it.
I hope some of this information is useful if you are considering moving to Barcelona, or for that matter, anywhere else in Spain.
Carmen Carrasco was born in Barcelona. After meeting foreigners for years and seeing the difficulties that they found in adapting to Spain, she used her experience in logistics and her relationships with governmental entities as an expert in communication, to create Sweet Home Relocation Services and helps people who want to move to Catalonia. When she’s not changing lives you can find her enjoying nature with her dogs or collaborating with organisations that support various causes.