Living near Barcelona

Where to live near Barcelona

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For cheaper property and space, it's easy to find your own plot of heaven in the mountains or the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, with a range of commuting options.

If you're planning a move to Barcelona but prefer a quieter life, beach, more space or cheaper options, you might consider living near or outside Barcelona. With some towns located just 20–40km away, living outside Barcelona and commuting to the city centre is a viable option. You'll also find a range of international schools located in Barcelona's outlying areas.

Leave the bustle of city life behind and spread your wings in the fresh mountain air or coastal breezes. Nestled in the hills behind Barcelona are traditional villages and bustling market towns. Up and down the coast you'll find lovely fishing villages and beautiful beach resorts. Whether you're looking for a quiet retreat or somewhere a little busier, you're sure to find a charming home in Catalonia.

Property prices are low in Spain, particularly compared to much of northern Europe, and leaving Barcelona's city limits behind just makes property more affordable. If you've dreamed of owning your own home, having space for the kids to run or relaxing in your own garden on a sunny evening, this could be your chance.

Yet Barcelona's central districts are still surprisingly affordable, so if you've fallen in love with the old town or long for the bustle of city life, see our guide on where to live in Barcelona.

Where to live near Barcelona: Great for nightlife and culture


A lively, vibrant beach town, Sitges has retained its bohemian atmosphere. It's known for its social and cultural events, running from Carnival in February through Gay Pride and summer fun to the film festival in October. About a third of permanent residents are originally from Northern Europe.

Sitges at a glance:

  • Location: By the sea, 40km south-west of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Expensive, from EUR 600 per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Trains take about 30 minutes, driving is similar.
  • Cars: Most homes have parking available. Driving is common.
  • Recreation: 17 beaches, plus numerous bars and restaurants.
  • Shopping: Designers and boutiques dominate the town centre, but food is usually fresh and local.
  • Neighbourhood: A popular seaside destination, Sitges is home to millionaires and fishing families alike.


A university town with a long history, Tarragona is home to both a vibrant nightlife and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city's famous Roman ruins coexist with busy shopping streets and a relaxed beach culture. The university draws students from all over the world, and this is a great place to learn Catalan and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Tarragona at a glance:

  • Location: 90km south-west of Barcelona, on the coast.
  • Housing costs: Cheap, from EUR 250 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Approximately one hour by train or car to Barcelona city centre.
  • Cars: Parking in the old town can be limited. Most houses have dedicated parking.
  • Recreation: From fine dining to water parks, and shopping streets to nature reserves, there's something for everyone.
  • Shopping: The old town has a mix of chain stores, boutiques and small, independent shops.
  • Neighbourhood: Dense, traditional housing in the centre with larger, single-family homes further out.

Where to live near Barcelona: Great for being active


With a direct train line to Barcelona, Rubi and the nearby villages provide lower housing costs, an easy commute and direct access to the vast Collserola parklands. Hiking, mountain biking, cycling, golf, horse riding and even wild swimming are all popular pastimes. The town is a blend of ancient and modern, with old mills standing alongside new apartment blocks.

Rubi at a glance:

  • Location: 20km north-west of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Low, from EUR 350–500 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Taking the train or driving both take about 30 minutes.
  • Cars: Most homes have parking
  • Recreation: Easy access to Collserola Park. Limited nightlife, but some good restaurants and local bars.
  • Shopping: City centre has chain stores and independent boutiques. Supermarkets and malls are scattered around the outer edge.
  • Neighbourhood: Small-town feel with a mix of apartments and houses with gardens.


Wide, tree-lined streets, pavement cafés and traditional markets make Mataró a pleasant place to live. The sandy beach is a popular place to swim or run. Sailors can hire or berth a boat in the marina, and local parks offer other activities, including a rock climbing wall, football fields and tennis courts. The Collserola nature park is nearby, with hiking, mountain biking and wild swimming opportunities.

Mataró at a glance:

  • Location: 30km north-east of Barcelona, on the coast.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 400 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: About 40 minutes by train or car to Barcelona city centre. Buses take a little longer.
  • Cars: Owning a car is common and most homes have some parking.
  • Recreation: Experience Catalan culture with local restaurants and traditional festivals. Plenty to do outdoors, otherwise, entertainment is perhaps a little limited.
  • Shopping: Traditional outdoor markets exist alongside supermarkets and chain stores.
  • Neighbourhood: Pleasant apartment houses in the city centre give way to large single-family homes in the suburbs.


Where to live near Barcelona: Great for families


A pretty beach town, Castelldefels is popular with expat families. It offers a pleasant way of life with parks, cultural events and restaurants on the doorstep. A tourist resort in the summer, the weather is pleasant enough to go to the beach all year round. It's also home to the British School of Barcelona.

Castelldefels at a glance:

  • Location: 25km south-west of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Affordable, from EUR 550–850 per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Direct motorway and train access to Barcelona.
  • Cars: Many homes have dedicated parking.
  • Recreation: Sailing, kite boarding and other watersports are popular. The town also boasts a theatre and a number of excellent restaurants.
  • Shopping: Look for quirky boutiques and independent shops in the centre, or head to one of the suburban malls.
  • Neighbourhood: Small-town with a relaxed, beach vibe.

Sant Cugat del Vallès

Cross the green Collserola mountains behind Barcelona, and you'll find yourself in Sant Cugat. The town is a haven for young families, and is popular with both locals and expats. There are several excellent local schools, and the American School of Barcelona is a short drive away. With easy access to the Collserola nature areas, there's plenty to do with young children.

Sant Cugat del Vallès at a glance:

  • Location: 25km north-west of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Moderate, from EUR 450 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: A 50-minute bus ride, 30-minute train ride or 30-minute car ride (depending on traffic) will get you to Barcelona city centre.
  • Cars: Cars are common, particularly in the suburbs, and most homes have some parking available.
  • Recreation: Limited cultural activities but plenty to do outdoors. Immerse yourself in Catalan culture and cuisine.
  • Shopping: Typical blend of chain stores, supermarkets and independent food shops.
  • Neighbourhood: Largely residential with a mix of traditional and modern housing.

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

L' Hospitalet de Llobregat

Densely populated and mainly working-class, L' Hospitalet de Llobregat is popular with new arrivals on a budget. Around a quarter of the population were born outside Spain, giving the area a truly international feel. Regeneration projects and an economic shift have helped revitalise the area, but some parts can still be rough.

L' Hospitalet de Llobregat at a glance:

  • Location: Directly south-west of Barcelona. 
  • Housing costs: Affordable, from EUR 350–550 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Direct metro and light rail links to Barcelona's centre.
  • Cars: Easy motorway access, however, parking and commuting to Barcelona can be tricky.
  • Recreation: A vibrant nightlife is matched by a chilled daytime vibe and many lovely parks.
  • Shopping: Mainly chain stores. Some areas retain their independent food stores and markets
  • Neighbourhood: Primarily working-class housing, plus a business hub in the skyscrapers of the new financial centre.


An industrial town in the heart of Catalonia, Manresa has very low housing costs and a strong Catalan culture. It's also a Catholic place of pilgrimage, and has pretty old buildings mixed in with the modern industrial blocks. The town is surrounded by vineyards, and there are pleasant, traditional houses available out in the suburbs.

Manresa at a glance:

  • Location: 65km north-east of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Low, from EUR 200 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Local trains take approximately 80 minutes to reach Barcelona, or it's a 50-minute drive.
  • Cars: Parking is easy and cars are common but not required.
  • Recreation: From wineries to restaurants to bars, there's plenty to do but expect to speak Catalan.

Where to live near Barcelona: Great for peace and quiet


Part of the Barcelona metro system, yet a completely different world, Badalona is an independent town, and retains its historical city centre and unique atmosphere. A charming seaside town, it has beautiful beaches, towering palm trees and many lovely residential streets. Strong public transport makes commuting to Barcelona simple.

Badalona at a glance:

  • Location: Directly north-east of Barcelona, on the coast.
  • Housing costs: Low, from EUR 350–600 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Commuting options: Metro, bus and train lines connect to central Barcelona.
  • Cars: Many homes have dedicated parking. Driving to Barcelona can be congested.
  • Recreation: Beach culture is strong, but there is plenty more to see and do, including popular music venues.
  • Shopping: Head to the old town for a mix of quirky boutiques and chain stores.
  • Neighbourhood: Charming residential areas in the centre, with light industrial and commercial zones further out.


The Collserola mountain range is home to a national park, many beautiful open spaces and a surprising number of homes. For the ultimate in peace and quiet, choose a house off the beaten track, or if you prefer your neighbours a little closer, there are several charming villages to choose from. Most homes have a garden or land, and some have swimming pools.

Collserola at a glance:

  • Location: 15km north-east of Barcelona.
  • Housing costs: Varied depending on facilities and land. Typically from EUR 600 per month for a three-bedroom house.
  • Commuting options: Either drive or cycle to the train, or into the city centre.
  • Cars: Most people find a car a requirement in this area.
  • Recreation: Hiking, walking, mountain biking, wild swimming and other outdoor activities.
  • Shopping: Very limited. Some small village shops.
  • Neighbourhood: Villages and scattered homes.


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


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Photo credits: Werner Lang (Sitges), Yearofthedragon (Tarragona), Josep Renalias (Sant Cugat del Vallès), Jorge Franganillo (Badalona).

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3 Comments To This Article

  • ronaldo posted:

    on 20th February 2017, 12:12:05 - Reply

    I would not call Tarragona that much as a greater Barcelona area honestly. Also, why would you recommend Badalona to anyone and never mention Gava?
  • Bill posted:

    on 16th December 2015, 17:28:19 - Reply

    Hi Chris,

    Just read your comment on "Where to live near Barcelona". My wife and I are seriously thinking of becoming an expat and moving to Spain. She speaks fluent Spanish and I'm learning. We are wanting to be in the highland areas but with access to a major city. We lean more towards being mountain people versus ocean oriented. How are the taxes there in relation to buying a house? Can a couple live off of their retirement comfortably there? What do you think? Bill
    Just read your
  • Chris posted:

    on 12th April 2015, 12:37:37 - Reply

    I tend to diagree slightly with article "Where to live near Barcelona" . Unless you have the right contacts (enchufes) which enable you to have the "right" price....then you are being over optimistic.Prices are generally 150/200% higher for renting and if you can afford the high Spanish taxes 20% entrance payment to buy then the monthly quota works out to be more affordable.Barcelona and outshirts I consider to be expensive compared to what the average middle class salary Catalans & expats earn.