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Barcelona Village

Finding accommodation

We moved to Barcelona because of a job. My wife, is a research scientist and was looking for a new post somewhere in Europe as academic scientists are discouraged from staying in one place too long. Up to the point that she came for her interview here neither of us had visited Barcelona. We had no experience of the city other than lots of recommendations from friends who had visited.

The interview was successful and we had the job offer in June 2005, I flew out for a weekend and walked until my feet were sore to try to get to know the place better and to help us make a decision as to whether this was a city we could live in. I made the classic first timer mistakes of getting off the train from the airport at Barcelona Sants rather than Placa Catalunya/Passeig de Gracia so my first impressions weren't too great (we still don't really like the Sants district).

Nonetheless after walking most of the city (and it is a city which is small enough to walk/cycle from one end to the other if you are a regular walker and can cope with the heat) these were the factors in our decision.

On the up-side

  • it is a fabulous modern city which has been very well thought out with a huge number of things to do and real vibrancy
  • it's got beaches on the Mediterranean plus great shops, a port and restaurant
  • it's got great communications networks
  • it's got a lot better weather than England
  • the job was pretty much perfect

On the downside

  • Property here is very expensive and we would have to live in a flat (previously we lived in a house with green space all round) - though as of now (July 2008), property prices are tumbling and are more reasonable - see below for a state of the market
  • We didn't speak any Spanish and no Catalan
  • We weren't sure we would like being in a large city
  • I have a business in the UK, could we be in the UK and in Spain

In the end we decided to go for it (why wait until you're 65 to move to the seaside?). We liked the city at the time, but were sanguine about what it would be like to live there, consequently we didn't come out as dewy-eyed romantics to live the ex-pat dream. This was something of a more practical decision. The next bits explain how we got here.

If you are looking for property try:, or, or if you want to rent look at

Choosing city or country

On of the first questions we faced was where to even start looking for somewhere to live. Do you want to live in the city? Commute in from outside? Which areas do you look at?

Looking in the city

Having decided to look in Barcelona itself, the next job was to pick a district of the city. One thing you perhaps don't notice as a tourist so much is that each barrio or district has it's own very strong identity.

The areas we were interested in

Having spent our November visit narrowing down our options we came up with a broad area of the city to start our search

Finding a place

We had a target area so the next step was to find accommodation. We would use the Internet a lot in the UK, but in Spain it's still a developing source of information.

Contract arrangements

The way the process works here is that the searcher pays the agency fee and having found what was pretty much our perfect flat in one day we didn't want to lose it or find we had a problem while we were back in England sorting out other things

Property market changes (July 2008)

Since we first arrived two years ago, property prices in Barcelona and surrounding areas has slumped, meaning there are more properties at what you would describe as fair value.

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