Where to live in Barcelona city

Where to live in Barcelona city

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If you're moving to Barcelona, finding a great place to live in Barcelona is easy, from the historic old town to modern apartments.

Living in Barcelona has its perks, and there are many distinct neighbourhoods to choose from when house hunting. On the Mediterranean, just two–three hours from Andorran ski slopes and the French border, Barcelona is famous for its excellent weather, relaxed lifestyle and historic buildings. Constant renewal and renovation over the last 150 years mean the city has a real mix of styles and neighbourhoods, making it easy to find the home that suits you, whether it's an 18th-century town house or a new-build apartment.

Rental prices are low compared to much of northern Europe, so many expats find they are able to afford a larger, more central place. While there are many beautiful old buildings in the older areas, narrow streets can block the light. With a mild climate and over 2,500 hours of sun each year, a bright terrace is a popular and affordable luxury.

Apartments are the norm in the city itself, so if you want a house with a garden expect to move to the suburbs. For information on outlying neighbourhoods, read more in our guide on where to live near Barcelona.

Where to live in Barcelona: Great for nightlife and culture

Living in Ciutat Vella (Old Town)

The cultural and historical heart of Barcelona, the Ciutat Vella, is packed with museums, restaurants and bars. Most commercial streets have apartments above the shops and there are also quieter, purely residential streets. Head down to Barceloneta for a relaxed beach culture, near La Rambla for late-night parties, or look for a traditional apartment near the cathedral.

Best places to live in Barcelona for culture and nightlifeOld Town at a glance:

  • Location: Centre of Barcelona, near the harbour.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, starting from EUR 500–700 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Bus and metro hub. Cycling is possible and this area is quite flat.
  • Cars: Parking very limited and many streets are single-lane. Driving not recommended.
  • Recreation: Nightlife, museums and restaurants abound. The large Parc de la Ciutadella is popular with runners, skateboarders and kids. Easy access to the beach.
  • Shopping: Small shops and boutiques sell everything from fresh fish to indie designer clothes. Larger chain stores cluster near Plaça de Catalunya.
  • Neighbourhood: Mix of residential and commercial. Typically very busy and full of tourists.


Living in Eixample

Laid out on a grid, with wide streets and with gorgeous Art Nouveau and Gaudi buildings, Eixample is an attractive place to live. With easy access to the city centre, regular markets and world-famous sights, these residential streets offer a unique blend of peace and bustle.

Eixample at a glance:

  • Location: North of Barcelona's old town.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 500–700 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Numerous bus and metro lines cross the area. Cycling is also popular.
  • Cars: Traffic flows relatively smoothly, thanks to the one-way system. Parking can be tricky and few buildings have dedicated parking.
  • Recreation: Easy access to city centre nightlife, plus some active areas in the district.
  • Shopping: Small shops integrated in the residential streets, with larger stores on the larger boulevards.
  • Neighbourhood: Primarily residential apartment buildings with small businesses occupying the ground floors.


Where to live in Barcelona: Great for being active

Living in Sants-Montjuïc

A single district with several distinct personalities, Montjuïc is a green oasis rising out of the sea, home to old fortifications and the botanic gardens. At its feet, Sants is a popular residential neighbourhood. The extensive park and former Olympic sports facilities make this a great choice for those who love to exercise. Don't look for a beach home here – the city's busy container port takes up most of the space.

Sants-Montjuïc at a glance:

  • Location: South-west of the city centre, beside the port.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 500–700 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Public transport tends to avoid Montjuïc hill but Sants is well-connected by bus and metro.
  • Cars: Narrow streets and little parking make cars more of a liability than an asset.
  • Recreation: Montjuïc park is great for sports and the Olympic Stadium is home to a wide range of events, from football to music.
  • Shopping: Large shopping centre in a former bullfighting area, plus one of the longest shopping streets in Europe.
  • Neighbourhood: Heavy industry around the port, more residential closer to the city centre.

Best places to live in Barcelona for the outdoors
Living in Sant Martí

Home to Barcelona's Olympic village, and with easy access to the beach, this area is popular with surfers, swimmers and kite boarders. Renovation for the 1992 Olympics gave the area new housing and new life. Many buildings are attractive and modern, but pockets of traditional architecture remain.

Sant Martí at a glance:

  • Location: North-east of the centre, by the sea.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 400–600 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Metro and bus lines cross the area. Cycling, or walking on the beach, are popular.
  • Cars: Modern blocks are more likely to have dedicated parking. Traffic is often congested.
  • Recreation: Easy access to the city centre and the beach. The Rambla de Poblenou is lined with bars and restaurants.
  • Shopping: Traditional shopping streets and modern shopping centres both exist here.
  • Neighbourhood: Mix of residential and commercial. Many companies have offices here.

 

Where to live in Barcelona: Great for families

Les Corts

This is a scenic upmarket residential area, plus Les Corts has an astonishing choice of international schools. St Peter's and St Paul's International Schools offer the Spanish curriculum with classes taught in English. The Kensington School follows the English curriculum. The Benjamin Franklin School and the American School of Barcelona follow the American curriculum. The nearby financial district makes commuting easy for many parents.

Les Corts at a glance:

  • Location: North-west of the centre.
  • Housing costs: More expensive, from EUR 700–900 and upward per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Extensive bus and metro routes. Cycling and walking are also popular, as is driving.
  • Cars: Dedicated parking is more common. Congestion can be a problem.
  • Recreation: Home to Barcelona Football Club's main stadium. Easy access to the hills and countryside at the edge of the city.
  • Shopping: There are some large shopping centers, including L'Illa, and smaller shopping malls, plus some exclusive boutique and designer stores.
  • Neighbourhood: Primarily residential with a mix of apartment blocks, apartments in townhouses and houses with gardens.

Top places for families to live in BarcelonaGràcia

Starting in the hilly area surrounding Gaudi's Park Guell, Gràcia stretches down to Eixample in the south. A mix of old buildings and new, it retains its vibrant, bohemian atmosphere. Families are welcome, and there is plenty to explore. The green spaces and good public transport are a bonus, making it easy to get outside.

Gràcia at a glance:

  • Location: Northern section of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Affordable, from EUR 500–700 and upward per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Bus and metro routes connect to the centre. Cycling possible, but the area is hilly.
  • Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Public parking is limited.
  • Recreation: Park Guell provides a welcome green space. Independent art and cultural events flourish.
  • Shopping: Numerous independent boutiques as well as some chain stores and supermarkets.
  • Neighbourhood: Primarily residential.


Where to live in Barcelona: Great for students and low budgets

Nou Barris

Historically a working-class and immigrant district with some more upmarket areas, Nou Barris is a true melting pot. While some areas have been recently redeveloped, others date from the 18th and 19th centuries. It's possible to find a bargain in a pleasant square or side-street, and some homes have lovely views.

Nou Barris at a glance:

  • Location: North of the centre, at the edge of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Low, from EUR 400–500 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Bus and metro links provide access to the city centre.
  • Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Parking is limited, particularly in pre-1950s estates.
  • Recreation: Easy access to the Collserola nature area. There are many small bars and local restaurants tucked away in the neighbourhood.
  • Shopping: Each of the shopping streets acts as a centre for a locale, often boasting a good library, community or religious centre.
  • Neighbourhood: Primarily residential. A mix of houses with small gardens, modern apartment blocks and pre-1960s housing estates.

Where to live in Barcelona for students
Horta-Guinardó

Probably the greenest district in Barcelona, Horta-Guinardó stretches from the centre to the Collserola nature reserve. Streets are mostly quiet and residential. The inhabitants come from all over Spain and around the world. Some streets are so steep that escalators have been installed.

Horta-Guinardó at a glance:

  • Location: North-west Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 400 – 600 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Cycling not recommended as the area is very hilly. Metro and bus lines provide links to the centre.
  • Cars: Easy access to the motorway. Streets are narrow, often congested, and there is little parking.
  • Recreation: Numerous parks and gardens.
  • Shopping: Primarily small, independent shops with supermarkets and larger stores clustering in the former village centres.
  • Neighbourhood: Older residential buildings with some new developments.


Where to live in Barcelona: Great for peace and quiet

Sarrià-Sant Gervasi

Climbing the southern slopes of the Collserola mountains, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is both literally and metaphorically upmarket. This quiet, primarily residential neighbourhood is characterised by large, sunny apartments. Many areas have an almost village feel and houses with gardens.

Peaceful places to live in AmsterdamSarrià-Sant Gervasi at a glance:

  • Location: North-west of the centre, at the edge of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Expensive, from EUR 600–1,000 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Metro and bus routes connect to the centre, and cycling is also popular.
  • Cars: Easy access to the motorway from many areas. Some properties have dedicated parking.
  • Recreation: On the edge of the Collserola conservation area,
  • Shopping: Primarily independent shops, markets and supermarkets.
  • Neighbourhood: Upmarket residential area.

 

Sant Andreu

Absorbed by Barcelona in the 20th century, this former town retains much of its community and independent spirit while welcoming residents from around the world. The historic centre still stands, with its beautiful old buildings and small-town atmosphere. If you're looking for more space, it's easier to find a house with a garden here than in some other districts.

Sant Andreu at a glance:

  • Location: North-east of Barcelona's centre.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 400–600 and upward per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Bus and metro routes connect to the centre. Cycling is also popular.
  • Cars: Parking is limited and traffic often congested.
  • Recreation: Cultural events occur regularly and there are many local restaurants. Nus de la Trinitat and walks along the river provide a pleasant outdoor escape.
  • Shopping: Excellent shopping in the old town and the La Maquinista shopping centre.
  • Neighbourhood: While some areas are luxurious, others were built as cheap housing a century ago, and remain a little rough.

 

You can find more information on Expatica's housing channel or the Barcelona government website.

 

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Photo credits: Cesar Huete (Barcelona houses), Selbymay (Barcelona), Llull (Ciutat Vella), Year of the dragon (Sants-Montjuïc), Tassilirosmar (Les Corts), Alejandro Guerrero (Nou Barris), Oliver Bonjoch (Sarrià-Sant Gervasi).

Updated 2010; July 2015.

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6 Comments To This Article

  • Carmen posted:

    on 19th July 2015, 09:05:03 - Reply

    Please update monthly rental rates. You make them all sound very cheap. They are not.
    C
  • Sofia posted:

    on 1st July 2015, 12:00:49 - Reply

    Very good article. Covers a lot of topics and concerns one may find when moving to Spain. Since few months I am trying to write about my personal experience, I moved to Barcelona almost 1 year ago and it was quite hard at the very beginning. Apartment, job, bureaucracy... Spain is so different. If you are looking for some tips about moving to Spain you may find it useful http://immovingtobarcelona.com/ Cheers and good luck!
  • Villa in Sant Josep De Sa Talaia posted:

    on 27th August 2013, 11:10:41 - Reply

    Indeed. Very good article. Barcelona is a wonderful city which has a lot to provide to its visitors. There are several hotels too to stay there and enjoy the beauty. This article provides a very good information. Thank you for this. :)
  • Andries posted:

    on 13th July 2013, 17:06:06 - Reply

    Very good article, it gives a great oversight of the different neighborhoods and general life in Barcelona.

  • ty posted:

    on 26th March 2012, 12:26:36 - Reply

    I think about half of the city was left out...why add places that are 30min away?!
  • Martin posted:

    on 11th February 2012, 02:03:13 - Reply

    Great post! I was looking for homes for sale in Spain, but seemed to find mostly rural places. It's good to find some resources for potential urban dwellers.