Expats moving to Barcelona are likely to have many questions about life in the Catalan capital. Below are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about moving to Barcelona.
What language is spoken in Barcelona?
Spain is divided into different regions, each with its own unique culture, history and language. The official language in Barcelona is Catalan, a language in its own right with Spanish and French influences. The local people have worked hard to make their language relevant in modern life, and it is a big part of the city's culture. Though most locals can also speak Spanish and many, especially in tourist areas, can speak English as well, schools teach in Catalan. Don't make the mistake of thinking Catalan is little more than a regional dialect not worth learning; as an expat in Barcelona, one will probably need to learn both Spanish and Catalan to get by.
How do expats deal with all the Spanish bureaucracy?
Dealing with Spain's red tape, particularly in Barcelona, starts with an expat's work permit and continues once they arrive when it comes time to get an Empadronamiento or an NIE number or place their child in Spain's public school system. It is not easy, and it can be frustrating for expats that are used to more streamlined bureaucracy. Speaking Catalan and Spanish, hiring a gestor or having a translator are all great options.
Are there English schools in Barcelona?
While the public and semi-private schools in Barcelona teach in Catalan and Spanish, there are several international schools in the city that teach in English. These schools teach either the English National Curriculum, American Curriculum or International Baccalaureate.
How do I find accommodation in Barcelona?
There are a number of online listings and property portals, as well as the classifieds sections of newspapers, where expats can look for accommodation. That said, it may be helpful to hire a real-estate agent as these professionals know the city well, and they also speak the language, which will come in handy when dealing with landlords and leases. Expats should keep in mind that real-estate agents do charge quite a hefty fee for their services, which is generally equivalent to one month's rent.
Do I need a car in Barcelona?
Public transport in Barcelona is cheap and reliable; cars are quite unnecessary in most areas of the city. That said, there are areas and suburbs situated further afield and expats living in these spots may require a car. Parking can be extremely difficult to find, though, which makes driving more frustrating than liberating.
Is Barcelona safe?
As cities go, Barcelona is rather safe. Pickpocketing is common and expats should watch out for opportunists. It is also recommended that expats don't leave anything visible in their car when it is parked, as this could invite a break-in. This is generally the extent of the crime in Barcelona though, and vigilant expats won't have much to fear.
Where can I meet other expats in Barcelona?
There are many expat groups in Barcelona that are a great way to be engaged in the community. Many of the groups are purely social, but others serve some aspect of community service. Many of these also include locals, which is a wonderful way to further integrate into the culture. Expats are plentiful in Barcelona, so it shouldn't take too long to make friends.
Where's a good place to go for lunch in Barcelona?
There's a host of affordable cafés, ethnic eateries, five-star restaurants and everything in between in Barcelona. Take a stroll by American-style restaurants along the beachfront at Barceloneta, walk by the tucked-away coffee shops in Las Ramblas or head for Michelin-starred spots such as Can Fabes.