Pros and Cons of Living in Barcelona as an Expat

pros and cons of living in Barcelona

Barcelona has a lot to offer. In fact, it may be one of the best places to live in Spain as an expat (if not the best). And there is no doubt about it. Nevertheless, there may be several downsides you should consider before choosing it as your new residence. 

And that is why we created this article. We wanted to highlight everything that makes Barcelona a wonderful city… But without losing sight of what you may not like that much. 

Let’s then review the main pros and cons of living in Barcelona

For those who are still debating between Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia or any other capital in the Spanish territory…

We hope that the following arguments convince you once for all that Barcelona is the best city to live in. 

Why did we put it on the 1st place inside our top 10 best things about Spain?

You are about to discover it now:

pros and cons of living in Barcelona

Beach + Mountain: A Varied Landscape

Barcelona has everything. 

You can be laying down at Barceloneta’s beach right now, get a bus and be able to see the whole city from the mountain in just 40 minutes.  

And that is because Barcelona has a perfect location. 

It’s the perfect city for both beach lovers and mountain lovers. You don’t have to even choose!

That is because Barcelona is located in the Mediterranean Sea, and also surrounded by mountains

This creates outdoor activities opportunities for the whole year: you can go kayaking or sailing during the hot summer months, or you can go hiking during winter. 

And not only that. 

You will find plenty of weekend excursions. There are thousands of biking and hiking routes you can start in the surroundings of the metropolitan area of Barcelona, liking going to Montserrat (an amazing mountain). 

Furthermore, you can also enjoy the Catalan coastline by doing one-day excursions to the amazing towns of Costa Brava. And that is just 90 minutes away. 

There is one thing for sure: you won’t spend any weekend bored at home

Perfect Weather 360 Days per Year

Warm summers and semi-cold winters. The ideal temperature for the whole year

Forget about rainy days like in London. Forget about the extremely hot temperatures of Andalucia. 

Barcelona, due to its geographical position, offers the perfect climate and weather conditions for you to enjoy your new life in Spain.

Besides, rain won’t bother you more than 5 to 7 days per year. 

Huge number of Expat & International Communities

pros and cons of living in Barcelona
Here is where things get more interesting for you. More than 300.000 foreigners living in Barcelona, which represents over 170 nationalities in the city. Hence, expat communities are huge. So you won’t find any problem in meeting others like you who are far away from home, or even from the same country. There are tons of meetups and events held each week that aim to connect expats in Barcelona.  Hence, meeting new friends won’t be a problem. (You can find those meetups here) Furthermore, many digital nomads choose it as their city of residence. So it is not strange to find many coworking places full of expat remote workers. Apart from making it easier for you to create a new social circle and spend a good time with friends from all around the world, this nationality mix makes it a much richer city in cultural terms.

The Mediterranean Cuisine: Food & Restaurants

After trying Spanish food you can understand why its inhabitants enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world. 

Mediterranean cuisine is made up of fresh food, vegetables, fruits, olive oil… And the most important thing: it’s delicious!

So you can easily eat healthy while fully enjoying your meals. 

And, in fact, going out to have dinner at a restaurant is an important part of Spanish culture. That is where Spaniards get together with their family and friends and spend quality time together (no doubt about it, the food they eat is amazing!). 

Hence, if you start living in Barcelona, you will find it difficult to choose a restaurant: they are all so good!

You can enjoy everywhere a good glass of wine, beer, and tapas


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But not all that glitters is gold. 

There are several downsides of living in Barcelona you may take into consideration. Especially when comparing with other options. 

Which are the bad things of living in Barcelona?


Sundays in Barcelona (and in Spain in general) can be one of the best days of the week. 

Time to meet your family and friends and relax. 

But maybe that’s the problem: too much relaxation

The city completely shuts down on Sundays: no supermarkets open, malls closed, and no store open. 

Of course, convenience stores and some emergency pharmacies are open, but don’t expect anything else. 

If you are from the US, where you have tons of 24 hour-open stores on Sunday… you will have a hard time in Barcelona.

Salaries and Getting a Job

good and bad things of living in Barcelona

Barcelona faces an important problem that affects both nationals and foreigners: salaries are really low

Especially if you compare with the rest of European countries. The net average amount you can expect to earn is about 1.200-1.400€ a month. 

And, if you would like to open your own company, things are also a bit against you. Taxes may eat you. 

This is also correlated to another detrimental factor, which is the complexity of getting a work permit and finding a job offer. Unless you are a highly qualified worker… it will be tough. 

Of course, you don’t need much to enjoy an amazing life in Spain, as prices are lower than compared to cities like Paris and London. 

So with 1.000€ per month, you can enjoy a decent life. 

Nevertheless, during the past years, the city is Barcelona is suffering from one factor that may make that change, which is…

Rental Prices

The upside of being in front of the beach and surrounded by mountains at the same time can also be one of the main cons of Barcelona. 

The city can’t keep expanding and growing. There’s no extra space to use. 

If you combine that with an increasing number of individuals wishing to live in the city… you get rental prices rising tremendously

Finding a decent apartment in a decent location at a decent price is becoming a complete headache these days in Barcelona.  

Especially if you take into consideration the average salaries, rental prices are really expensive.


Barcelona has suffered a radical transformation during the past 20 years. The city has become one of the top touristic destinations worldwide. 

That, for sure, is really beneficial for its economy. 

But it can also pose a problem: losing its identity. 

 It is not the same as going to Bilbao or San Sebastián, cities where hardly see a tourist on the street: everything is local. And you get to fully experience the region’s vibe. 

That is something difficult nowadays in Barcelona. 

Tourists are everywhere, and they compose the vast majority of your visual field when walking down the street.  

So if you would like to relax… maybe Barcelona is not your place. Mass tourism is turning it into a complete rush. 

Just the opposite as the way the next point works. 


You may have heard how Spanish bureaucracy is slow, really slow.

And you will suffer from that, for sure!

Why? Because during the process of getting your residence permit, you will be facing several legal procedures.

And there is where you will have an encounter with the Spanish Immigration Office.

In that sense, you will see how Spanish workers don’t have any rush to complete their tasks as fast as possible. So make sure to be patient!


Do you have any doubt? Ask anything to our immigration lawyers and get an instant answer:

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pros and cons of living in Barcelona

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