9 reasons why Barcelona is perfect for expat life

Living in Barcelona as an expat comes with a lot of benefits. Here are 9 compelling reasons why expats love Beautiful Barcelona!


6 minute read
Updated on 11 Jun 2024

The beautiful Barcelona city has consistently been one of Spain’s best cities. The city offers an unparalleled quality of life, stunning beaches, buzzing nightlife, wondrous architecture, and culture as beautiful as the city’s surrounding landscapes. With all these things and more, it’s no surprise that expats in Barcelona call this Catalonian capital their home away from home.

If you’re wondering why expats in Barcelona love this city, we’ve put together 9 compelling reasons that make Barcelona so attractive.

Is Barcelona a good place to live?

Barcelona is a great place to live because of its warm weather, beautiful neighborhoods, prime location and never ending fun nightlife. Especially for expats, its multicultural population, plentiful job opportunities, and English-friendly atmosphere make it an excellent choice to relocate to a vibrant and cosmopolitan city in the heart of Europe.

Now, let's delve into the specifics of the 9 compelling reasons why living in Barcelona as an expat is unparalleled.

1. Thriving expat community

Expats come to beautiful Barcelona because the city’s international and diverse community helps them feel at home at once. Of the 1,660,314 people in Barcelona, 371,527 are foreigners. They represent 179 nationalities!

There’s also no doubt that the expats love Barcelona because nearly 50% of the expats have been living here for 1-5 years. To top it off, the expats that come to Barcelona are young as their average age is 34.

The biggest expat population in Barcelona comes from Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Italy, Pakistan, and China.

The city’s multicultural nature is also reflected in the city’s thriving expat owned businesses and international eateries. You only have to walk Las Ramblas and you’ll hear a variety of accents and languages, including the local language, Catalan.

2. A fertile ground for tech hubs and start-ups

Thanks to the internationality of the city, there’re a large number of international companies in Barcelona. Specifically, there’re many tech companies who’ve set up shop in Barcelona because of the city’s location, trusted public transport, cheap set-up costs, and great talent.

And it’s not just big companies but also start-ups who’re attracted to what Barcelona offers. In fact, Barcelona is quickly establishing itself as Europe’s hub for start-ups.

There’s a high density of startups in this city and to accommodate them, the city’s 22@ project has transformed the previously industrial area of Pobleneu into a modern tech and innovation hub. Today, the city already has 2 attractive unicorns – Glovo and Wallbox.

So whether you want to start your own business or work at one as an expat, we’ve good news for you. Barcelona has a lot more English speaking job opportunities compared to other Spanish cities. So pack your bags and come live your dream life!

3. Safe city

Barcelona ranks as the 11th safest city in the world. This includes digital, environmental, personal, health, and infrastructure safety. So when it comes to finding a safe neighbourhood in Barcelona, there’s plenty to choose from.

Overall, there’s almost no major crime and the only one you need to watch out for is pickpocketing. After all, Barcelona is hugely popular with tourists.

4. From beaches to mountains

Thanks to its perfect seaside location, you’re always only a stone’s throw away from Barcelona’s beautiful beaches. With 100 miles of stunning coastline, Barcelona is home to a great number of incredibly diverse beaches, including Barceloneta beach. This is possibly Barcelona’s most popular and busy beach which features a stretch of seafood restaurants and tapas eateries.

Want to switch up the beach with a mountain view? That’s easily possible in Barcelona! Do a hike or take the train and visit the nearby Montserrat national park and see the gorgeous multi-peak mountain range. The Montseny mountain is a great alternative to do some hikes and Parc del Garraf offers stunning nature and landscape for a long walk or cycle ride.

5. Sports, adventure, and outdoors activities

People in Barcelona are fit and enjoy staying active or working out. You’ll find people playing football in almost every neighbourhood and taking part in various other activities as well.

Marta Laurent, born and raised in Barcelona and the owner of ForeverBarcelona, says:

Barcelona is a very sports-oriented city. The Olympics took place in 1992, and people here continue to be avid sports fans and enthusiasts: football, jogging, biking, lots of gym and yoga options too. Barcelona is also very well connected with neighbouring countries via main roads, including central Spain, Portugal, France and the Pyrenees, where you’ll find plenty of hiking and skiing opportunities.

Even by Barcelona’s beaches, you’ll have wonderful ways to keep yourself active. Nova Icària is a watersport paradise and is located near the Olympic Marina on Barcelona’s central coast. Here you’ll find plenty of activities including sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and scuba diving, as well as other exciting sports such as volleyball and table tennis.

Apart from regular sports, you can also tap into an adventurous outdoor activity such as fly fishing. The Pyrenees and rivers near Barcelona are some of the best spots for fly fishing in all of Europe! If you are a fan of the outdoors and want to try something new, then you’ll fit right in.

6. Art, leisure, and cultural activities

It’s hard to feel bored in Barcelona because the city has so much to offer to people with a variety of interests. Aside from the outdoor, adventurous activities, Barcelona also has a rich cultural and nightlife scene.

The city boasts wonderful shopping districts, a buzzing nightlife scene, world-class art museums and galleries such as the Picasso, the Miro or the MNAC, a lovely historic Gothic Quarter with medieval and Roman heritage, the scenic Eixample with its Parisian-looking art-nouveau architecture, and the Gaudi sites, that are so unique to the city.

7. Gorgeous weather

For many people, the weather might be a deciding factor when choosing where to live abroad. Thankfully, Barcelona boasts warm weather all year round.

During the summer months, expect highs of 30°C. Winter lasts approximately 4 months and the temperature usually never drop below 8°C. And if you’re not a fan of the rain, great news! Rainfall is so rare that you can count the days on your hand.

Best of all, the transition from season to season is so gradual that there’s plenty of time to acclimatise to new temperatures.

8. Low cost of living within Europe

It’s true that within Spain, Barcelona is the second most expensive city after Madrid. The ever-growing popularity of Barcelona is also leading to a significant increase in rental prices according to the HousingAnywhere Rent Index.

But Barcelona still offers a relatively low cost of living when compared to neighbouring locations such as Amsterdam or Rome. In fact, Spain has in a lower cost of living compared to many popular expat countries around the world.

So when you’re living in Barcelona, you’ll be paying a lot less for the same things than in other parts of the world. So despite the high cost of living within Spain, the reason why expats love Barcelona is that the city offers a high quality of life than other global cities.

For instance, there’s a good work-life balance, a great outdoors to uplift your mood, an inviting local and expat community, cheaper groceries than the capital city, free world-class public healthcare system, and more.

So if you ask us, living in Barcelona is totally worth it!

9. Delicious cuisine

Firstly, Spain is known for their tasteful olive oil and healthy Mediterranean cuisine. This trifecta of fresh, tasty, and healthy food is the secret behind the long life of Spaniards.

Secondly, what makes Barcelona special is that it’s home to an incredible gastronomic scene which is unique to the city. Barcelona has Catalonian cuisine which utilises simple yet flavourful ingredients, including seafood (especially salted cod which is widely eaten in Catalonia), jamón (cured ham) and market-fresh produce.

One authentic dish you must try when moving here is esqueixada de bacallà, which consists of shredded, salted cod, chopped tomatoes, red peppers, onions, black olives and olive oil. This refreshing meal is usually enjoyed in the summer months.

Another dish that is widely eaten in Catalonia is fideuá, which at first glance, seems very much like Paella, except noodles are used instead of rice. Originally from a town in the Valencia region, fideuá is widely eaten along the Catalan coast and features delectable seafood items including monkfish, squid and prawns, cooked in a hearty fish and shellfish Stock.

Barcelona is also home to an array of local and international cuisines including Mediterranean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, American, German, Morrocan and more. So no matter what type of food you’re into, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds in Barcelona.

Read our Barcelona food guide to find out where you should have your first meal in the Catalonian city.

So as you can see, expat life in Barcelona is unparalleled. This vibrant and happening city has everything from a huge expat community, job opportunities for English speakers, high quality of life, safe neighbourhoods, gorgeous weather, food and landscape, and plenty of outdoor activities and cultural events. Before you know it, you’re going to feel at home in beautiful Barcelona.

This article is for informational purposes only.

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