Things to know
Capital of Catalonia
Barcelona is cradled in the North-Eastern Mediterranean coast of mainland Spain, about a 2-hour drive south of the French Pyrenees.
It's the capital of Catalonia, a region of Northern Spain that has its own unique culture, traditions and personality.
Barcelona city is one of a kind
Few European cities can offer you the wide diversity of cultural experiences that you'll find here in Barcelona.
Couple that with the luxury of 4.2 km of beach only a short walk from the city centre, warm sunshine most of the year, you have all the makings of a complete "Spanish Experience" if you venture there.
Many great painters and artists worked here for some time and their influence is still evident throughout the city.
Two of them are Picasso and Miró who have museums dedicated to some of their more important works.
There are also dozens of other museums and art galleries dotted all around the city so you'll always have plenty of art to experience whilst there
Barcelona is home to the masterpieces of many great architects. The most famous of which is Antoni Gaudí.
Gaudí's work is admired by architects around the world for having one of the most unique and distinctive styles in modern architecture.
One of his most well know works, La Sagrada Família, is a giant basilica and one of Barca's most famous buildings not to be missed.
One of Europe's Trendiest Cities!
Barcelona is a city with a wide range of original leisure options that encourage you to visit time and time again.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and famous for Gaudí and other Art Nouveau architecture, Barcelona is one of Europe’s trendiest cities.
It’s a hub of new trends in the world of culture, fashion and cuisine. It combines the creativity of its artists and designers with respect and cares for local traditions.
The charm and slower pace of the old town, the avant-garde vibe of more modern neighbourhoods and the fast pace of one of the world’s most visited cities coexist in Barcelona.
Barcelona draws visitors to its famous sights, like the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. But they can also discover a city full of pleasant surprises on each trip.
A walk along the seafront, evenings on a rooftop terrace with views over the city skyline, spacious parks such as Parc de Montjüic or Ciutadella, the marina, Olympic village, and everything to do with FC Barcelona; a range of options for new experiences on each visit.
Culinary options are also varied, with world-renowned haute cuisine restaurants, traditional Catalan dishes, food markets and establishments that take you around the world with their flavours.
The city’s cultural agenda also includes major art centres, like the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and CaixaForum; a wide range of festivals and one of Spain’s leading opera houses, Gran Teatre del Liceu.
How does Barcelona Compare?
The average cost of living in Barcelona is $1490, which is in the top 30% of the most expensive cities in the world, ranked 2743rd out of 9294 in a recent global list and 3rd out of 153 in Spain.
The median after-tax salary is $1974, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.3 months.
Ranked 112th (TOP 1%) in the list of best places to live in the world and 2nd best city to live in Spain.
With an estimated population of 1.64M, Barcelona is the 2nd largest city in Spain.
Standard utilities (water, electricity, gas and heating) will cost you an average of €70 a month.
Add in the cheapest internet (€38) and a basic mobile phone subscription (€10) and you’re looking at a monthly cost of about €120 in this department. Not too bad, right?
For a single person, the monthly cost for groceries will be around €150 if you buy from discount supermarkets like Spar and around €200 if you go to more expensive stores such as El Corte Inglés or Carrefour.
Single tickets cost €2,40 and are valid for all forms of transport – metro, trams, buses, and trains. You can also buy a 10-journey pass (T-Casual) for €11,35 or a monthly pass (T-Usual) for €40.
Other options for moving around are Bicing, the Barcelona public bike system (between €35 and €50 per year, depending on the subscription you choose) and taxis (who charge an average of €13 for an 8 km trip).
Cost of Living
The average price per m2 in Barcelona city is between 1.700 – 2.100 euros. Of course, there are neighbourhoods that are lower or higher, but this is the average.
If you rent an apartment in Barcelona, the price per m2 is more or less 20 euros/m2. So a small apartment of 85 m2 will cost you quickly 1.700 euros per month.
If you take into account that the average salary in Barcelona is 1.490 euros per person, you understand how hard it is to buy or rent a place on your own.
You could opt for living outside the city, but don’t expect the housing prices to be much lower. Barcelona has amazingly beautiful villages nearby or even directly on the beach, but the housing prices there can be exactly the same and sometimes even higher than in downtown Barcelona.
The cheaper places to live outside of Barcelona are either close to the airport, in "not-that-nice" neighbourhoods like Badalona, or you will have to get as far as 50-60km from the city. Here the prices are a bit lower, but your travelling time to the city can be a problem.
Not everyone is subject to income tax in Spain. If you are a resident for less than 182 days in each calendar year, you do not need to pay tax. Also, if you do not make more than €17,707 per year, receive a rental income of more than €1,000 and/or receive a capital gains and savings income of more than €1,600, you will not need to pay tax.
If you are working in Spain, your employer can deduct your tax from your paycheck. It is also your choice not to have this happen, particularly if you are going to be paying tax in another country.
Most people in Spain do not have their tax deducted from their paychecks, instead choosing to pay their tax bill by June 20th for the previous year. Unless you are a good saver, this is not always the smartest option.
Personal allowances (tax-free thresholds) for Spanish income tax purposes are €5,151, which increases to €6,069 for persons over age 65 and €6,273 for persons over age 75.
Child allowances for Spanish income tax purposes are: €1,836 for the first child, €2,040 for the second child, €3,672 for the third child and €4,182 for additional children. In addition, Spain has a maternity allowance of €2,244 for each child under three years old.
Eligibility to Work in Barcelona
Spain is an enticing country to live in. Unsurprisingly, thousands of people apply for jobs in Spain and many make the move each year. Non-EU citizens need a Spanish Work Visa to be able to legally start work.
If you want to live and work in Spain, there are two main branches of authorities that you will be dealing with: the immigration authority under the Secretary of State for Migration (La Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones), and the labour and employment authorities under the Ministry of Labor and Economy (Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social).
Fortunately for EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens, moving to Spain is simple, and they can live, work, and study in the country without restriction. However, most non-EU/EEA citizens, also called third-country nationals, need a work permit and must secure an employment contract before they can apply for one.
UK citizens who wish to come to Spain to live and work post-Brexit will also need a residence and work visa.
Work permit exemptions
Some people don’t need to obtain a work permit to work in Spain, however, they may still need a visa to enter the country. These include university professors, technicians, and scientists. Others who benefit from this exemption include those moving to Spain to develop scientific or cultural programs, foreign journalists, artists coming for specific performances, clergy, and trade union officials. If you are joining a family member who has a Spanish work permit, you may not need a visa.
Rules for volunteers
If you are a citizen of a country with short-term, visa-free, entry to Spain, you can enter the country to do volunteer work without a permit. However, you must respect the limits of the visa-free entry agreements that Spain has with your country; for example, 90 days for US citizens.
When you arrive in Spain, to stay long term, you must apply for a resident permit (Tarjeta de Residencia – TIE) and a Foreigner’s Identity Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – NIE) through the local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police within 30 days.
What is a Work Visa?
Workers who are not from EU countries need to obtain a Work Visa to be able to live and work in Spain. Without a Work Visa, a company cannot legally employ non-EU citizens.
There are various types of Work Visas for Spain for different types of jobs and for different lengths of employment. Some of the most common types of work visas are:
Long-term Work Visas
Seasonal Work Visas
Au Pair Visas
EU Blue Card
How to get a Visa to Work in Spain
There are numerous different types of Spanish Work Visas. Most require going to a Spanish embassy or consulate in the individual’s home country although, for some certain types of visas, the prospective employer makes the initial application on the employee’s behalf.
Work as an Employee (Highly-skilled)
To work in Spain as a highly-skilled employee, non-EU citizens need to find a job which is listed as a ‘Shortage Occupation’. This is a job for which there is a lack of suitable candidates within the EU. The employer must then request a Work Visa from the Ministry of Labour.
Work permit applications can take up to 8 months to process so forward planning is needed. Once the Ministry of Labour has approved the application, the embassy or consulate issues the work and residence visa.
Visa for Seasonal Workers
The process of obtaining a Work Visa for Seasonal Workers is similar to the process for highly-skilled workers. Employers need to apply for the visa on the worker’s behalf from the Ministry of Labour.
In addition to this process, seasonal workers need to demonstrate they have suitable accommodation arranged, their travel costs are covered, and that they will return to their country once the job has finished. The visas are valid for the duration of the work contract.
Self-employed and Freelance Workers
To work in Spain as a freelancer, it is necessary to apply for a Work Visa at a Spanish consulate or embassy. The work visas are valid for one year but can be renewed if all the conditions are still met. The required documentation includes:
Proof of sufficient finances to support yourself
Proof of relevant skills and experience
A business plan (if applicable)
Any contracts or commissions from companies
Any required licences or registrations (industry or job-specific)
EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is for people who spent at least 3 years completing a higher education qualification which allows them to work as skilled professionals.
People who have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience at a high level are also eligible. The employer submits the application on the behalf of the applicant.
A work contract that includes a salary which is at least 50% more than the average wage in Spain (or at least 20% more if the skills are in demand) is a requirement. Once approved, the worker also needs to apply for a visa from a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country. Blue cards are valid for one year but can be renewed as long as the conditions are still met.
Visa for Au Pairs in Spain
Au pairs can apply for a special Visa for Au Pairs at a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country before coming to Spain. Applicants need to meet a few conditions to successfully apply:
Be aged between 17 and 30.
Possess an au pair agreement with a host family which states the salary and conditions.
Provide proof of sufficient finances to self-support.
Possess medical cover.
Visas for Au Pairs are valid for one year but can be extended if the conditions are still met.