Cost of Living in Barcelona, Spain – A Complete Expat Guide to Moving to Barcelona

Ever considered moving to Barcelona? In this guide, we outline the cost of living in Barcelona as well as other pertinent info every expat may want to consider!

The vibrant and bustling Catalan capital with its tree-lined lanes, beautiful beaches, and iconic Spanish landmarks include the Sagrada Familia and many other Gaudi masterpieces, has long since attracted adoring tourists to its golden shores.

Whilst many visitors travel only for a short holiday, others may opt instead to move to Barcelona more permanently, in chase of the Spanish sun!

On our first visit to this stunning city, we pondered this question too, could we see ourselves living in Barcelona, Spain? I completely understand the allure as it’s one of my favourite places to visit in Spain. Ultimately we decided we loved Lisbon too much, but Barcelona would be a close second if we ever had to choose.

In this guide, we’ve decided to cover some of the top questions many may have when considering a move to Barcelona, including of course the cost of living in Barcelona. Hopefully, this will help guide you on your own exciting journey! Get ready to pack your bags for a trip to Spain!

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Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Spain Travel Essentials:

Pssst…Ready to travel, check out our comprehensive packing list for your holiday to Spain, and make sure you’ve packed everything you need for your Spanish move or vacay!

Moving to Barcelona – Know Before You Go 

Barcelona beach - © Image Courtesy of rusm from Getty Images Signature by Canva
Barcelona beach – © Image Courtesy of rusm from Getty Images Signature by Canva

Are you considering moving to Barcelona and trying to work out the general cost of living in the Catalan capital? The country, in general, is much lower in costs compared to many other European countries. Coupled with the exquisite scenery, beautiful beaches, and plenty of famous landmarks in Spain to visit, making Barcelona your home is a wonderful choice.  

Before your big move to Barcelona, there are a few more things to consider othern than just the costs and its world-famous activities. While this incredible city is a popular holiday destination, actually moving to Barcelona can be a little different. 

If you’re pondering about what it’s like to live in this beautiful city, you should try it out and stay in Barcelona for at least 2 – 3 months, to get a feel of the city and culture. 

To help you understand more about this stunning city, here are a few things you should know about living in Barcelona, Spain

Psst…If you’re keen on getting to know your new city a little better, check out my Ultimate 2 Days in Barcelona Itinerary. Here you’ll get to explore the best of the city – and be prepared to fall in love. 

Life in Barcelona

With the city brimming with incredible food, beach, art, and architecture – what’s not to love? Visitors and Spanish locals, alike, love outdoor life year-round in the Catalan capital. 

The many plazas dotted throughout the city become focal meeting points for any social being visiting or living in Barcelona. The famous Plaça d’Espanya, Plaça Reial, Plaça de Catalunya, and Arc de Triomf are the most visited in the city centre. These plazas are filled with restaurants and cafes offering outdoor seating areas. Another popular square is Las Ramblas, a mere 12-minute drive to the popular Barceloneta Beach.

While this city is a favourite amongst tourists, it can become a little crowded. Living in the historic, medieval part or near one of the hot spot areas, such as near the Sagrada Familia, may sound absolutely phenomenal. However, you should ask yourself if you’re willing to deal with thousands of people passing your front door each day. 

Psst…If you’re keen on getting to know your city, begin with a Sagrada Familia tour, one of Barcelona’s most iconic monuments. 

Climate in Barcelona

A big draw to the Catalan capital is the year-round balmy sunshine and gorgeous beaches. With a Mediterranean climate, the city gets very hot in the summer. Between June to August, the metropolitan averages around 20° – 29°C, and many flock to the city’s top beaches to cool off. 

December through to March, the climate is much cooler, averaging between 9° – 15°C. It’s one of the warmest places to stay in Spain during winter, and there are plenty of days where you can sit out and enjoy the sun. 

Retiring in Barcelona – Expat Barcelona

If you’re looking to spend your golden years in this beautiful country and retire in Barcelona, there are a few things to note. 

Barcelona is a melting pot of cultures and a mix of people from around the world. Although it may help to learn the local lingo, there’s a large expat community in the Catalan capital – and English is the lingua franca. So, it may help to pick up a little Spanish or Catalan (the first official language).

Paperwork 

Catalan Parliament Barcelona - Photo by © Travel-Boo
Catalan Parliament Barcelona – Photo by © Travel-Boo

If you’re planning to stay in Barcelona for more than 90 days, you should make sure you have all your ducks-in-a-row, uh-um, your paperwork, especially when planning on living and working in Barcelona. And the same goes for those who want to work or buy a house in Spain. 

The most crucial thing you’d need is a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), your foreigner’s ID number. You’d need an NIE in order to be able to legally work, open a bank account, and a series of other things. If you’re moving to Barcelona with an employment contract, the company usually takes care of this. 

Apart from your NIE, you’d need a social security number for various reasons, such as receiving social healthcare, getting a job, and other benefits. Another thing you will need to obtain is your empadronamiento, or civil registration. This will give you access to public healthcare and education, if necessary.

Is Barcelona Safe?

So, for any expats in Barcelona or anyone looking to move to Spain, one would want to first find out if it is safe. Spain was ranked 38 out of a total of 163 counties in terms of safety and is considered to be fairly safe. 

Violent crime in Barcelona is low. However, because it’s a popular tourist city, there are general theft incidents such as pickpockets. This is most common in tourists’ hotspots and the metro, where people are too busy sightseeing to pay any attention to their belongings. 

Cost of Living in Barcelona

Arc de Triomf Barcelona - Photo by © Travel-Boo
Arc de Triomf Barcelona – Photo by © Travel-Boo

Your Barcelona living costs will depend entirely on your own lifestyle and how you choose to spend your money. To help make more informed purchasing decisions in the Catalan capital, take a look at what to expect to pay for your everyday needs. 

Psst…This cost of living estimator comes in particularly handy if you’re planning on moving to Barcelona, Spain. 

Cost of Accommodation in Barcelona

Depending on the area, you can rent an average 2-bedroom flat for around €1100 – €1600 a month. And if you’re on the hunt for a furnished, luxury apartment, you can expect to pay around €2300. An average studio apartment can cost around €787. Water, electricity, gas, and WiFi are generally not included in the price. 

Cost of Transportation in Barcelona

Public transportation is not expensive. You’ll pay an average of €140-150 for a 3-month metro ticket that can get you from A-Z. 

If you’re serious about your transportation costs, take a look at the average prices below: 

  • A one-way trip on public transport – €2.30
  • Basic taxi fare – €2.75
  • Petrol (1 litre) – €1.26
  • Monthly ticket price – €40

Psst…If you’re keen on an alternative mode of transportation, take a bike tour to explore Barcelona up-close-and-personal. 

Cost of Healthcare for Barcelona Expats

The public health system in Spain is among the best in the world. Moreover, it’s free (if you’re living and working there and registered as a resident). If you want to get additional health care insurance, for whatever reason, you may be looking to pay around €50-€100.

As a Barcelona expat, you are entitled to free state healthcare provided you reside in Spain and are: 

  • Under the age of 26 and studying in Spain
  • Employed and pay social security
  • A state pensioner
  • A pregnant woman residing in Spain
  • A child
  • Have a European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC)

Cost of Leisure & Entertainment in Barcelona

Citadel Park Barcelona - Photo by © Travel-Boo
Citadel Park Barcelona – Photo by © Travel-Boo

If ordering ice-cold craft beer and freshly topped bocadillo for a meal is your thing, then you’ll be in absolute heaven thanks to Spain’s bustling nightlife scene.

Eating out is certainly affordable; for example, many restaurants offer inexpensive and delicious meals (a la carte) for around €12. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two can cost around €50. 

If you’re thinking of joining a public gym, it can cost you around €43, where a private one can cost up to €90 a month. 

P.s – read our comprehensive guide on tipping etiquette in Spain!

Cost of Food in Barcelona

In Spain, you’re nestled at the very source of the Tempranillo – the fruit and vegetable garden of Europe. So, it’s no surprise that food prices are generally lower in Spain, and grocery shopping is not as expensive as one imagines it to be. 

Take a look at an average grocery list below: 

  • Water (1.5-litre bottle) – €0.70
  • Wine (1 bottle) – €5
  • Local beer (0.5-litre bottle) – €1.07
  • Imported beer (0.33-litre bottle) – €3
  • Milk (1 litre) – €0.87
  • White bread (500 g) – €1.24
  • Rice (1kg) – €1.13
  • Eggs (12) – €2.06
  • Local cheese (1kg) – €10.12
  • Oranges (1 kg) – €1.72
  • Tomatoes (1kg) – €1.90
  • Lettuce (1 head) – €0.99

A Footnote: Barcelona Living

Before moving to Barcelona, it’s important to your research thoroughly and understand the expected cost of living based on your own preferences and lifestyle needs. Take into account what you can afford on big-ticket items such as rental accommodation in order to set your expectations from the get-go. 

Barcelona is undoubtedly a wonderful city to live in, and if you get the opportunity to do so, you absolutely should. Hopefully, this guide has given you the much-needed nudge to get you started on your Catalan adventure!

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