For cheaper property and more space, find your own plot of heaven near Barcelona in the mountains or the Mediterranean coast.
If you’re planning to move to Barcelona but prefer a quieter life, less crowded beaches, more living space or simply a cheap apartment, consider living 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.
Nestled in the hills behind Barcelona are traditional villages and bustling market towns, and 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 can find a charming home in Catalonia.
Property prices and rent is still relatively low in Spain, particularly compared to much of northern Europe, and leaving Barcelona’s city limits behind 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.
If you can’t find a place to live outside Barcelona, some of the city’s central districts are still worth a look – check out our guide to neighbourhoods 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. About a third of permanent residents are originally from Northern Europe.
Sitges at a glance:
- Location: By the sea, 35km south-west of Barcelona
- Housing costs: From €600 per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Trains and driving by car both take about 30 minutes.
- Cars and parking: Most homes have parking available, and 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 features 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 it is a great place to learn Catalan and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Tarragona at a glance:
- Location: 115km south-west of Barcelona, on the coast.
- Housing costs: From €400 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Approximately one hour by train or car to Barcelona city centre.
- Cars and parking: Parking in the old town can be limited, but 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 an active lifestyle
With a direct train line to Barcelona, Rubi and the neighbouring 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: 24km north-west of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: From €625 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Taking the train and driving both take about 30 minutes.
- Cars and parking: 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: 34km northeast of Barcelona, on the coast.
- Housing costs: From €635 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 and parking: Owning a car is common and most homes have parking spaces.
- Recreation: Experience Catalan culture with local restaurants and traditional festivals. There is plenty to do outdoors, but entertainment is limited.
- Shopping: Traditional outdoor markets exist alongside supermarkets and chain stores.
- Neighbourhood: Pleasant apartments 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 leisurely way of life thanks to the parks, cultural events and restaurants at your 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 southwest of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: From €740 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Direct motorway and train access to Barcelona.
- Cars and parking: Many homes have dedicated parking.
- Recreation: Sailing, kite boarding and other water sports 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 feel 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 it 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: 15km northwest of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: From €650 per month for a three-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 and parking: Cars are common, particularly in the suburbs, and most homes have some parking available.
- Recreation: There are 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: budget-friendly and great for students
L’Hospitalet de Llobregat
Densely populated by mainly working-class people, 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 revitalize the area, but some parts can still be rough.
L’Hospitalet de Llobregat at a glance:
- Location: Directly southwest of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: From €300 per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: us and direct train links to Barcelona’s centre.
- Cars and parking: Easy motorway access, but parking and commuting to Barcelona can be tricky.
- Recreation: A vibrant nightlife is matched by a laidback daytime vibe and many lovely parks.
- Shopping: Mainly chain stores, but some areas feature 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 low housing costs and a strong Catalan culture. It’s also a Catholic place of pilgrimage and has old buildings mixed 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: 47km northeast of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: From €300 per month for a three-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Local trains take between one hour and 110 minutes to reach Barcelona, or a 50-minute drive by car.
- Cars and parking: 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.
- Shopping: The city features a shopping centre with plenty of small shops and boutiques.
- Neighbourhood: With its mix of old and new, it has the feel of the city on a smaller scale.
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 northeast of Barcelona, on the coast.
- Housing costs: From €650 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
- Commuting options: Metro, bus and train lines connect to central Barcelona.
- Cars and parking: 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; 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 even have swimming pools.
Collserola at a glance:
- Location: 17km northeast of Barcelona.
- Housing costs: Varies depending on facilities and land, but typically from €1000 per month for a three-bedroom house.
- Commuting options: Either drive or cycle to the train or directly into the city centre.
- Cars and parking: Most people find a car a requirement in this area.
- Recreation: Outdoor activities are plentiful and include opportunities such as hiking, walking, mountain biking, swimming and other outdoor activities.
- Shopping: Very limited, but you will find some small village shops.
- Neighbourhood: Villages and scattered homes.
Convinced that living outside Barcelona is for you? Look for a home outside Barcelona with Expatica’s housing listings in Spain.