Barcelona is renowned for its stunning architecture, both Gothic and modern, the relaxed way of life, and its friendly, welcoming people. It is a city which is still struggling to recover from the global recession but it’s also a city where the sun is usually shining.
If you are considering moving to Barcelona, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the capital of Catalonia and Spain’s second-largest city.
Quick Barcelona Facts:
- Population: 1.62 million (2018 estimate). The whole metro area has an estimated population of 4.6 million.
- Official Language: Spanish and Catalan, with many other languages being spoken by expat residents, including English, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese and Polish.
- GDP Per Capita: $29,942 USD (2021)
- Europe’s Largest Cruise Port: Around 3.6 million people pass through the Port of Barcelona each year. The city itself receives around 8 million visitors a year.
- Currency: Euro (EUR). As of early 2023 $1 USD = €0.94 EUR, £1 = €1.14 EUR, $1 CAD = €0.70 EUR, $1 AUD = €0.63 EUR
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Barcelona
Below are sample international shipping rates to Spain from various countries around the world.
2. Barcelona Housing Costs
Housing prices are very affordable compared with other major cities around the world. However, prices in Barcelona are much higher than the country average and have risen by almost 68% in the last 5 years. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Barcelona:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: €1,000+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: €800+
- 3 bedroomed flat in City Centre: €1,700+
- 3 bedroomed flat outside the City Centre: €1,300+
Barcelona Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: €5,000+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: €3,000+
Barcelona Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Barcelona compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 54.5% more expensive
- New York is 70.1% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 59.6% more expensive
- Toronto is 38.5% more expensive
- Vancouver is 42.8% more expensive
- Sydney is 46.8% more expensive
- Melbourne is 24% more expensive
- Dubai is 39.4% more expensive
- Paris is 30.6% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: House and flat shares are very common in Barcelona, especially among students and young professionals. With a house/apartment share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house. There are many flats available for shared rental as well. Have a look at Piso Compartido, RoomLaLa and Spotahome to find someone you can get on with to share the costs with you.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Barcelona is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe which is why the only type of accommodation available in the city, is apartments. The Old Town attracts students and young people in general. It’s close to the beach and the nightlife of Barcelona. North of the Old Town is Eixample which sits on wide streets with attractive residential apartment buildings. Rents are more expensive in this district. Sants-Montjuic has reasonably priced apartments and is full of green spaces and parks for those who enjoy walking and running. Sant Marti is popular with surfers and swimmers and has some large, reasonably priced apartments. Nou Barris is popular with students and those on a low budget. It’s an interesting neighbourhood with 18th and 19th-century buildings sitting alongside redeveloped modern buildings. Have a look at Section 12 below for information on family-friendly areas.
3. Barcelona Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Barcelona is famous for its bars and restaurants. You can choose a traditional Catalan bar or Michelin-starred restaurants, depending on your budget.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: €14.00 – €17.00
- Takeout Coffee: €2.00 – €2.20
- Bottle of Coke: €2.10 – €2.50
- 1L of Milk: €0.90 – €1.00
- Loaf of Bread: €1.30 – €2.00
- 12 Eggs: €2.50 – €3.00
- 1kg Chicken: €7.00 – €8.00
- 1kg Beef: €11.00 – €15.00
- 1kg Apples: €1.90 – €2.50
- 1kg White Rice: €1.30 – €1.50
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 40.6% more expensive and groceries are 55.3% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 33% more expensive and groceries are 41.2% more expensive than Barcelona.
- London restaurants are 51.64% more expensive and groceries are 15.68% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Paris restaurants are 13.7% more expensive and groceries are 38.9% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Toronto restaurants are 21.5% more expensive and groceries are 33.2% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Vancouver restaurants are 16.7% more expensive and groceries are 35.6% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Sydney restaurants are 24% more expensive and groceries are 41.6% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Melbourne restaurants are 20.5% more expensive and groceries are 42.2% more expensive than Barcelona.
- Dubai restaurants are 17.1% more expensive and groceries are 7.6% more expensive than Barcelona.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: El Corte Ingles is a chain store which sells food and also has a gourmet food department. Carrefour has stores in many areas around the city and has a good selection of foods at reasonable prices. Mercadona is one of the cheapest supermarket chains in Spain. It has its own brand, Hacendado, which is usually the best value. As usual, the markets are your best bet for good quality fresh food at reasonable prices. Boqueria is a vibrant market in the gothic neighbourhood and is surrounded by bars and restaurants. Santa Caterina market was the first covered market in Barcelona. If you want to avoid the tourists, then shop at Sant Antoni market and treat yourself to a cold beer at one of the bars in the market.
- Find Cheap Eats: If you search, you will find excellent food at good prices in the city. Have a look at the following sites to see which restaurants tantalise your taste buds – Timeout, Trip Advisor, Like a Local, Budget Traveller and Foursquare.
4. Barcelona Alcohol Costs
Barcelona is blessed with a huge selection of bars, clubs and nightlife. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: €3.00 – €3.50
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: €3.50 – €4.00
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: €1.10 – €1.50
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: €1.60 – €2.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: €6.00 – €7.00
How To Drink For Less in Barcelona
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Barcelona is full of bars which offer their guests specials at certain times of the day or evening. Have a look at the following sites to find where your favourite tipple is on special – Timeout, Foursquare, Apartment Barcelona and Suite Life.
- Walk around the areas which house the tertiary institutions to find the best alcohol deals.
5. Barcelona Transportation Fares
Barcelona has a well-run public transportation system which is also clean and safe. It consists of over 100 bus routes, trams, six metro line, one funicular railway and regional trains. The iBarcelona site gives you detailed information on fares and routes.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – €2.40
- One day ticket for bus, tram and metro – €7.60
- Monthly season ticket for bus, tram and metro – €40.00
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- Buy a 5-day unlimited journey ticket – €60
- Buy a bike. There is a good system of cycle lanes all around the city.
- Walk. Depending on where you live and work, walking around Barcelona is an absolute pleasure.
6. Cost of Internet in Barcelona
Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
- Ono: €33.40 a month (Fiber broadband up to 600mb)
- Orange: €30.95 a month (Fiber broadband up to 500mb)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Barcelona enjoys a Mediterranean climate. The city’s hottest month is August with an average temperature of 24°C. January is its coldest month, with an average daily temperature of 10°C. The wettest month is October with an average of 78mm of rain falling.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: €70 – €100
- Summer Dress: €30 – €40
- Running Shoes (Trainers): €80 – €95
- Business Shoes: €100 – €130
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): €55
- Deodorant: €3.00
- Shampoo: €3.40
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): €1.50
- Gym Membership: €35 – €60 per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: €9.00
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Barcelona
Everyone in Spain drives on the right. Driving in Barcelona is fine out of peak hours but parking is nearly impossible and, should you be lucky enough to find a space, it’s very expensive.
If you’re moving to Barcelona from within Spain, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address with our new Barcelona one at your nearest traffic office.
If you live outside the EU, then you can drive on that licence for six months. If your foreign licence is not in Spanish, then you must obtain a Spanish translation or get an International Driving Licence. After this six-month period, you must obtain a Spanish driving licence.
If you are from an EU country then you will need to get a Spanish licence after being in the country for two years. However, you must register your details with the Central Register of Drivers and Minor Offenders after six months. Note that persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive in Spain.
Residents of certain countries can exchange their licence, other people will need to take a Spanish driving test – both written and practical. Expatica.com has useful information in English for expats wanting to drive in Spain.
If you are taking a car with you to Spain, you can drive it for 6 months without registering it in Spain. After the 6 months period, you have 30 days to register it.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Barcelona:
- Volkswagen Golf: €24,900
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of Fas (petrol): €1.89
- Registration Fee (if any): The cost depends on the size of the vehicle and its CO2 emissions.
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Barcelona:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpoolworld, Carpling and BlaBlaCar.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. At the moment, neither Uber nor Lyft operate in Barcelona.
9. Taxes in Barcelona
No matter where you live in Spain, you will pay the same rate of tax. Sales tax, or VAT (Value Added Tax) is 21% in Spain and is included in the price that is advertised.
If you own a property in Spain you will need to pay IBI tax. The amount varies depending on the size of the property, the services you receive and the area it’s in.
Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Spain, you’ll have to pay various taxes and fees. There is a property transfer tax of between 5% and 10%, VAT is payable at 10% on new properties, notary costs, title deed tax and land registration fees are between 1% and 2.5% of the purchase price and legal fees will cost between 1% and 2%.
10. Flight Costs from Barcelona
If you do make the move to Barcelona, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: €220
- Los Angeles: €330
- London: €20
- Paris: €35
- Toronto: €330
- Vancouver: €360
- Dubai: €270
- Sydney: €700
- Melbourne: €700
- Cape Town: €390
- Hong Kong: €500
Other Tips on Moving to Barcelona:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Barcelona but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Barcelona Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling into Barcelona
- Meetups: Barcelona has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup. Join Yoga Challenge, PlanB, Gastronomic Society and many more.
- Attend Local Events: Barcelona is a city with lots of events happening every day. Find out what’s going on from Timeout, Barcelona Metropolitan and webarcelona.
12. Moving to Barcelona with a Family
Barcelona has a lot to offer families. History, culture, architecture, green spaces and parks, the sea, mountains and a choice of good schools and universities. Here’s some extra food for thought.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Mum Abroad is an excellent site which will give you information on antenatal classes, postnatal classes and general parenting. It’s an interactive site so you can ask for information directly.
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Les Corts is a pretty upmarket area, close to excellent international schools. It has apartments and houses and is close to the financial district of Barcelona. Gràcia is a popular area with families and has green spaces and is well-served by public transport. Sarrià-Sant Gervasi sits in the hills and is a peaceful area with views. There are houses and large apartments available and plenty of shops and amenities.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: Trip Advisor, Viator and Timeout all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Barcelona for Work
Moving to Barcelona for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. The unemployment rate in Spain rose to 18.75% in the first quarter of 2017. If you want to guarantee a job, you really need to speak Spanish as there are very few jobs available for those who don’t speak the language. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Banking, logistics and tourism are big employers in Barcelona. The city has attracted multinationals and is trying to create an IT and technology hub to encourage more people to move there.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How To Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Barcelona, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Indeed, Spain Made Simple and Barcelona Xpatjobs. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Barcelona from Australia
There’s a small group of Australians living in Barcelona. Here’s more food for thought:
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of Barcelona with the population of a city in Australia, you’d be looking at a city mid-way in size between Perth and Adelaide. If you look at the whole metro area, then you’d be looking at Melbourne.
- Join Expat Groups: Both InterNations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Barcelona.
15. Moving to Barcelona from Canada
There are quite a few Canadians living in Barcelona. Here are a few extra points to consider:
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of the city of Barcelona with the population of a city in Canada, you’d be looking at the city of Montreal. If you look at the whole metro area, then you’d be looking at the metro area of Montreal with an extra million people.
- Join Expat Groups: Both InterNations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Canadians in Barcelona.
16. Moving to Barcelona from the United States
There’s a small American contingent living and working in Barcelona. If you’re considering it, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: Barcelona’s population is roughly the same as the city of Philadelphia, and the whole metro area is a little bigger than Los Angeles.
- Expat Groups: Meeting Americans who are already living and working in Barcelona is an excellent way to make friends and learn how to integrate quickly into your new life. InterNations and the American Society of Barcelona will enable you to meet other expats from the States and other countries.
17. Moving to Barcelona from the United Kingdom
They are a lot of Brits living and working in Barcelona. If you’re considering it, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of the city of Barcelona with a city in the UK, you’d be looking at a city one-and-a-half times the size of Birmingham. The population of the whole of the Barcelona metro, you’d be looking at a city 50% smaller than the London metro.
- Expat Groups: Meeting Brits who are already living and working in Barcelona is an excellent way to make friends and learn all about living in the city. Have a look at the following sites to find people from home – InterNations and Expat.com.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Barcelona you can start by comparing moving quotes here.