Relocating is much more than finding a new home, whether that’s a property to rent or to buy, there are cultural, administrative and logistical issues to deal with.
Barcelona residential areas
Researching the different residential areas of Barceona is very important. Ideally a visit to the city prior to moving here is the best option, but if that’s not possible try to find out as much as possible online. The most popular areas in the centre of Barcelona are Eixample, Gracia, the Old Town (Gotico) and El Born.
There are several international schools in and around Barcelona, so if you have children who need to attend school here, my advice is to organise which school they will attend first. Then you will know which area of Barcelona you need to live in. The majority of the international schools are located in Sant Gervasi, Sarrià and Pedralbes. There are also schools just outside Barcelona in Esplugues de Llobregat and Sant Cugat de Vallès.
Opening a bank account in Barcelona
You can’t sign a rental agreement unless you open a Spanish bank account, so it should be a priority to open one. You can open a non-resident’s bank account without an NIE number, but you will have to change this once you have your NIE number. However, if it’s taking longer than expected to get your NIE, a non-resident’s account is a way to move forward and be able to rent quickly.
Obtaining your NIE and other administration
One of the most important pieces of administration to take care of with a Barcelona relocation is your NIE – Número de Identificación de Extranjero. You can rent a property without this official number – by using your passport number. However, the process is much smoother if you have your NIE in place. If you have a work contract in Spain, it’s an easier process to obtain your NIE. Without a work contract you have to demonstrate income and have private health insurance in place. You will also need your NIE to buy a car and to contract a mobile phone, amongst other things.
Once you have your NIE number you can apply for your social security number. Another administration process that should be completed is to register at your local town hall. This is called empadronamiento. To do this you need to go along to the local ayuntamiento with your rental contract and your NIE and passport to register where you’re living.
Healthcare in Barcelona
The national healthcare surgeries in Barcelona are called Centres d’Atenció Primaries(CAPs). Once you have your social security number and your empadronamiento you can register with a doctor at your local CAP. Many people choose private medical insurance in Barcelona (it’s not nearly as expensive as in the UK). Sanitas, Cigna and Alliance are just a few of the private medical insurance options.
Barcelona Relocation Services
The Barcelona rental market is very competitive and flats and houses rent quickly in the city. There is also the language barrier, which can limit you to the international estate agencies if you don’t speak Spanish or Catalan.
I run a Barcelona property finding service aimed at foreigners relocating here. The service covers both renting and buying property. Hiring a property finder will save you time and money as it avoids longer stays in hotels or short term accommodation, and everything can be organised for you prior to your arrival – relieving much of the stress of moving.
Buying property in Barcelona
If you want to buy property in Barcelona it’s best to be well prepared and have a good understanding of the fees and taxes involved. Taxes vary between the different regions of Spain, but you should allow for around 10%-15% of the value of the property for all the expenses that you’re likely to incur (depending on whether you require a mortgage or not).
It’s a good idea to have a lawyer in place before you start viewing properties. You’ll need to hire one anyway, and using your lawyer and a notary for the reservation process is advisable.