Let us start by saying that it is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city full of history and art and many dream living and working in Barcelona. The public transport network is excellent: it’s easy and fast to get anywhere, from the beach to the mountains and it’s one of the cheapest in Europe.
Although not as crowded as Paris or London, a large percentage of the city’s revenue comes from tourism and several million tourists visit Barcelona each year, so living with tourists, or living with tourists, is something you have to get used to.
Proximity to the border has meant that Catalans have historically traveled abroad more than the rest of Spaniards and are therefore more ‘international’. The Catalans do not look like Mediterranean people. They have many more similarities to a northern European city. They are more withdrawn, colder and reserved than other Spaniards, but once you have made friends with them, you’ll find them wonderful people.
However, to fully integrate and experience Barcelona, you must learn the Catalan language, which is a hybrid of French and Spanish. The fiftieth most populous metropolitan area in the world is home to people of many nationalities (nearly 200).
Due to this increasing invasion of many people over the last 10 years, the bureaucracy and procedures for obtaining the NIE required for being able to work have also become more complicated.
The city offers an intense cultural life: art exhibitions, theaters, museums. quality music and much more. But sticking to the fact that football is an absolute priority here in Barcelona and Spain in general, the most visited museum in the city is the Camp Nou. Barcelona’s nightlife is guaranteed by a variety of bars, theaters and discos.
Living in Barcelona is quite expensive. The cost of living is higher compared to other regions of the country, although there are relatively more job opportunities. However, Barcelona is the most expensive city in Spain.
Above all, the rental price is extremely high. Spain is experiencing widespread growth in the real estate sector. The rents are disproportionate to the salaries (a shared room in the center costs around 600 euros). Prices are outrageous even for very small rooms, sometimes without windows and scammers are always around the corner. With housing prices, some people find it difficult to live in the city and thus have to be prepared to live in nearby cities.
The climate is typically Mediterranean, hot and humid in summer with the humid months of July and August. Winters, on the other hand, are generally mild and it rarely snows. Although Barcelona enjoys a temperate climate, be aware that in the summer the sun can be very strong and the humidity very high.
However, it can get cold in winter and many apartments have no heating. So you have to use electrical devices to heat the room. And then you accept the very high costs that this entails. (Spain has a very high electricity price and is still growing).
The public health service is better than in other parts of the country. Spain (and Catalonia in particular) is one of the countries with the highest number of transplants and organ donations.
There is no specific cuisine for the city of Barcelona, there are usually dishes from different Spanish regions. There are also many “ethnic” restaurants.
Finding a good job is not that easy. Youth unemployment is around 30% and most are temporary jobs. Also, Barcelona is a big city but not as big as London or Paris and job opportunities for some sectors can be limited. Despite this, Barcelona is the third most popular city in the world for those migrating to work abroad.
But other Spanish cities like Madrid, Valencia or Malaga are also very popular.
Despite high unemployment, the technology sector is in high demand. Barcelona wants to become a technology hub, so there will be a strong demand for IT candidates, along with professionals with experience in mathematics, physics or statistics. The renewable energy, construction and real estate sectors are also creating new jobs.
The tourism sector contributes a good percentage of the region’s GDP, with around 20 million tourists visiting Catalonia each year. This sector creates thousands of jobs and finding a job in the hospitality industry as a waiter is not difficult.
Crime in general and robberies continue to increase at an alarming rate in Barcelona. And at a much higher rate than the rest of the main Spanish cities. Barcelona is the most unsafe city in Spain. Pickpockets, robberies and robberies in the home are commonplace.
Living and working in Barcelona, conclusion
Unfortunately, Barcelona has changed a lot in recent years, you no longer breathe the real Spanish atmosphere. Now it has become a fully globalized city.
The biggest problem with living in Barcelona is definitely the lack of well-paid jobs. If you manage to establish yourself financially (let us say with a salary of around €1,500), Barcelona continues to be one of the best cities to live in Europe: fun, international, well connected, with a good transport system, not too expensive, (apart from rentals), full of culture and all kinds of activities. It is also a very open, tolerant and not very racist city.
Finally, I would like to point out these guides:
- Moving to Barcelona (in English) that contain useful information for those who want to move to this city
- Immigration (in Spanish) Barcelona City Council
If you want to have all the information about how to work in Spain, I recommend you to read the article: Working in Spain
If you want to have all the information about living in Spain, you can read the article: Moving to Spain