Diverse. Cosmopolitan. Dynamic. These, and so many more words, often crop up when describing Barcelona, the Mediterranean coastal city that sees over 20 million tourists per year.
Home to 1.6 million residents, Barcelona is meant to be lived outdoors. The city is bookended by a mountain range making it ideal for nature lovers and five kilometers of pristine beaches for sun–worshippers. Neighborhoods are full of shaded terraces and streets are constantly being converted into pedestrian friendly superblocks as part of a new urban revitalization project. The metropolis area also boasts 68 parks full of children’s playgrounds, sports facilities and leash-free dog zones.
Fifty-five museums are scattered throughout the city, a few of which showcase the wondrous works of Miró and Picasso. There are also nine UNESCO-protected monuments like Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Palau de la Música Catalana and Casa Batlló, with a few of these gems created by Gaudí, the famed Catalan modernist. What more, you can enjoy these activities and sights and so much more all-year round as winters are mild and summers are hot, hot, hot!
What makes Barcelona one of the most attractive features on your resettlement checklist is business. Hundreds of multinational companies are based here for its communications, technology, quality of life and talented workforce.
Here are some other great reasons to become an expat in Barcelona:
1. Cost of Living and Doing Business
Setting up a business in Barcelona is not the same as in other major European cities like London, Paris or Berlin. That’s because the cost of living here is quite manageable so things can get done on a lower budget. For example, according to Numbeo, rent prices are 50% and 31% lower in Barcelona than in London and Paris and the cost of groceries, 18% and 41% lower, respectively. Expatistan even ranks the city 135th most expensive city in the world, which means that it’s not that expensive at all.
In Barcelona, low expenses may also translate into a low cost of doing business, making it quite easy to enter an untapped market or launch a startup. The cost of failure would also be minimized compared to being an entrepreneur in other major European cities. In fact, in 2018 Spain was ranked 28th out of 190 countries in ease of doing business according to the World Bank.
2. Tech Hub
Barcelona’s tech and innovation district, 22@Barcelona, is home to IT, biomedical, media and energy companies. More than 100 tech companies set up headquarters in 2018 with those numbers expected to grow in the coming years. Barcelona is also ranked 6th, according to ApiumHub, in being one of Europe’s most attractive startup hubs, receiving 871 million euros in investment funds.
3. International Education & Student Life
Up ten places this year in the QS Best Student Cities, Barcelona is ranked 21st in providing a great student experience. It’s home to top universities ranked in the global top 200 of the QS World University Rankings. EU Business School, a business institute ranked in the top tier for global and European MBA programs by CEO magazine, is also based here. Barcelona is also home to many international schools, a huge plus for expats with children. Students can also get around easily as the city is well connected. With a T10 Metro card, a single trip with the bus or metro ends up being around 1 euro!
4. Digital Nomadism
Coworking spaces are popping up and digital nomads are here to stay. The chill vibes, the food, the business opportunities and the many things to do in your off time make it easy to see why a lot of these nomads come to Barcelona and fall in love with the city right away. Once settled in, you’ll surely be welcomed by other expats as the expat community is thriving! There are many networking events held throughout the city, opening doors to business opportunities and making it possible to create long-lasting friendships.
One other big reason for Barcelona’s popularity among expats is its multicultural make up. Not only do locals speak Spanish and Catalan, but there are over 179 nationalities represented here among the growing expat community. At every turn, you’ll hear Russian, Italian, English and Arabic spoken. That also means there are a lot of international restaurants catering to these different palates—24 Michelin-starred to be exact!
6. Barcelona is Football
People are active in Barcelona thanks to its great sports culture. Sailing, cycling, basketball and volleyball are some of the most popular sports here, but you probably acquainted yourself with the city through its football club.
The city rings familiar all over the world thanks to one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs, FC Barcelona, also known as Barça, the colloquial name for the powerhouse team. Barça has dominated the soccer world for decades with stars like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Neymar, Rakitić, Ronaldo and Ibrahimović, an international squad of star players like the international city. Though you won’t find any of these superstars jogging through Barceloneta, you’ll certainly find locals and expats playing these sports and so much more in recreational and leisure areas all over the city.
Living abroad is a dream for some while for others it’s a reality. Some cities, like Barcelona, even make it easier for this dream to become a reality. Either to study, search out business or employment opportunities, or to simply enjoy your time, Barcelona attracts people from all over the world.