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What digital nomads need to know before moving to Barcelona

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
What digital nomads need to know before moving to Barcelona
What digital nomads should know before moving to Barcelona. Photo: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

Barcelona is one of the most popular Spanish cities for digital nomads for several reasons, but there are several points you should be aware of before making the move. Long-term Barcelona resident and The Local writer Esme Fox shares her thoughts.


Spain's digital nomad visa or DNV was launched early this year, enabling freelancers and remote workers to legally live and work in Spain.

The visa has already attracted many non-EU workers from the likes of the US and the UK who want to come and make the most of the vibrant Spanish culture, great weather, and excellent beaches. 

Even before the DNV was introduced, Barcelona was already one of the most popular cities in Spain for digital nomads, and with the new visa, it's set to get even more popular. If you're thinking about moving to the Catalan capital to work remotely, however, there are several things you need to know. 

It’s a great place to meet other digital nomads

Barcelona is a digital nomad hotspot and has been attracting remote workers long before the official DNV was introduced.

It has a lively community with lots of meet-ups and events, so you can find your people as soon as you arrive. The community also enables you to share skills, learn from each other and even collaborate on work projects. There are several digital nomad groups on Facebook, as well as on the Meet-Up platform. 

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain's digital nomad visa?


Finding accommodation can prove to be tricky

Finding a place to live in Barcelona can be difficult for anyone, not just digital nomads, but as a remote worker or freelancer, you might find it even more problematic. Firstly, many landlords and agencies ask for payslips before they’ll rent you somewhere and are not always open to those that don’t have them and work for themselves. 

Secondly, if you’re not able to sign up for a long-term contract, then you’ll only be able to rent places open to mid or short-term rentals. These places are obviously much more expensive than those in the long-term market, but there's a lot of competition for them with many people looking to spend several months here and then do the same with other cities in Spain. 

Even long-term rentals, however, are expensive, and comparatively, Barcelona residents spend a big proportion of their income on rent, making it one of the most expensive places to rent in Spain. This is worth keeping in mind when you're looking for somewhere. Research the market and don’t just pay well over the average just because you can, otherwise, you'll be making the situation worse for the locals too. 


Working from home can be difficult

Many apartment buildings in Barcelona are not really equipped for working from home, as many locals found out during the pandemic. In summer they're insufferably hot, and not all apartments will come with air-con installed. In the winter, due to a lack of insulation, they can also be very cold. Many apartments won't have central heating either.

Add this to the fact that many of them are quite small and can be dark – interior rooms are very common – and you can see why it's not ideal.

Many buildings here are also very old and maintenance works seem to be never-ending, meaning that not only can it be very noisy, but power or wi-fi cuts in some areas can be fairly frequent. Keep all of this in mind when looking for a place, and remember, even if it's blazing hot, you might still want to ask about heating. 

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

Barcelona is home to more co-working spaces than any other city in Spain. Photo: Shridhar Gupta/Unsplash

There are lots of excellent co-working spaces

Fortunately, if you find it too difficult to work from home, there are lots of co-working places to choose from across the city. According to Observatorio Inmobiliario, Barcelona has the most co-working spaces out of any other city in Spain with a total of 231. There are so many different places, depending on your working style and the facilities you require. 

Of course, they are not cheap, but if you have the budget then you'll be able to benefit from quiet air-conditioned offices with plenty of facilities and lots of co-workers. According to a study carried out by real estate agency Forcadell, a fixed table in a co-working space in the hip @22 tech district in Poblenou has an average price of €311 a month, while in the centre of the city, it costs €300.70.

The price drops drastically on the outskirts to €217 per month. You can, however, find cheaper options at around €100 per month.

READ ALSO: The best co-working spaces for digital nomads in Spain

You should familiarise yourself with Catalan as well as Spanish

As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona has two official languages – Catalan and Spanish. While you may have thought to take some Spanish lessons before you arrive, you might want to think about taking some Catalan classes too. While most people will be happy to speak to you in Spanish, you'll find that signs, some menus and certain forms will all be in Catalan.

One of the most important points to remember is that education here is in Catalan too, so that means if you're moving here with your kids they will most likely be taught in Catalan unless you send them to a private international school. In order to help your kids with their homework and understand notes that they may bring home, it's a good idea to at least know the basics. 

READ ALSO: Spanish vs Catalan – which language should you learn if you live in Barcelona?


There’s always something on, no matter what time of year you arrive

Barcelona is a great city, year-round. It doesn't really what time of year you decide to move here, you will always find activities to get involved in and festivals to attend.

Some of the best include the city's annual La Mercè festival in September, the night before Día de los Reyes in January and the Llum BCN light festival in February. Not to mention all of the small festa major or local neighbourhood festivals throughout the year, such as the Gràcia festival in August. 

It’s a very transient city

As a digital nomad, you’ll most likely be very familiar with the transient lifestyle. Barcelona too knows it well, with people coming and going all the time. Foreigners often complain that it can be hard to make good friendships in the city, due to the fact that everyone leaves all the time.

But, on the flip side, it means that new people are always arriving and there's always the chance to meet people from all over the world. Top tip – if you learn Catalan, then you're more likely to make friendships with locals who live here permanently. 


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