Expat gives warning about moving to Spain as a tourist 'problem' makes it 'hard to live in'

Expat gives warning about moving to Spain as a tourist 'problem' makes it 'hard to live in'

Expats protested about frozen pensions

Anna Barry

By Anna Barry

Published: 23/01/2024

- 12:49

Updated: 23/01/2024

- 15:52

Two expats shared what people need to know before moving to Barcelona

Spain is an extremely popular holiday destination for Britons. Many people even decide to relocate there for near-constant access to sun, sea and sand.

Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain and has so much to offer, from its fine cuisine to beautiful architecture to Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe. However, when it comes to living there, there can be downsides, including the language and number of tourists.

Expats Josh and Kalie, who have visited Barcelona "a lot", shared why settling into life in this city could be hard.

A downside to living in Barcelona is that it can feel cramped, particularly during high tourist seasons.

Josh and Kalie from ExpatsEverywhere Explores

Two expats shared what people moving to Barcelona should know if they want to settle in well

YouTube / ExpatsEverywhere Explores

Kalie said: "Barcelona is quite good for tourism but the problem with that is that there are a lot of people in certain locations.

"So as far as living there, it would be hard to live in one of those highly populated touristy areas. They're nice - there are just too many people."

Another problem they suggested is that it might be difficult for expats to become "locals", even if they have lived there for a long time and speak Spanish fluently.

Catalan and Spanish are the two official languages in Barcelona, but families regard Catalan as their language of identity.

Josh provided a tip for people tempted to relocate to the Spanish city. He said: "If you speak Catalan that would help you become more local."

Expats who speak Castilian Spanish, on the other hand, might be mistaken for being tourists or visitors from another part of Spain.

Learning Catalan could reduce an expat's chances of being treated like an "outsider" in their new home.

But expats learning to speak Spanish need not worry about getting around Barcelona and speaking to locals while their vocab is still rusty.

View of Park Guell in Barcelona

Barcelona is known for its exceptional beauty


The expats confirmed that the locals' English is "fantastic" and they will use English if they detect someone is a non-Spanish speaker.

Despite many Barcelona locals having a general proficiency in English, the pair claimed that the friendliness in the city is "not great".

They warned: "You're probably always looked at as if you're a tourist unless you can totally blend in". However, this would not put them off spending time there.

Josh and Kalie from Expats Everywhere also spoke about Portugal and some things people moving there should know.

According to the expats, the settling-in process can be "a bit shocking".

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