I remember, during my first week as a digital nomad in Barcelona, I was holed up in a charming café in the Gothic Quarter. Armed with my laptop and a steaming cup of café con leche, I was lost in my work, oblivious to the world around me.

Suddenly, I noticed an elderly man at the next table peering at me. He gestured towards my laptop and then towards the beautiful cathedral outside the window with a puzzled expression. It seemed he was wondering why I was glued to a screen in such a historic place.

Even if I needed to get my work done, he had a point. Barcelona is so unbelievably beautiful that it’s hard to get your work done without getting distracted.

That said, I’m sure you’ll find a way to focus. Barcelona is more than worth it, and I’ve noticed that since my trip last year more and more digital nomads are flocking here, making it the next big destination like Bangkok or Lisbon was in years past.

Join me as we explore Barcelona’s incredible digital nomad scene, where the city’s rich heritage merges with the modern world. We will uncover the unique coworking spaces, affordable living, and thriving social life that make Barcelona a haven for digital nomads worldwide.

Is Barcelona good for digital nomads?

From the relaxing beaches perfect for afternoon breaks to the myriad of cozy cafes that offer a spot to work from, Barcelona can seem like a paradise for digital nomads. The time zone is friendly for those working with US or European clients, and there’s a robust expat community ready to welcome you. In fact, Barcelona has a fairly transient population; people move in and out all the time, so people are very accustomed to socializing with foreigners.

Yet, it’s not all sunshine and tapas. The cost of living can be high compared to other nomad-friendly cities, and not knowing Spanish or Catalan can sometimes pose challenges in day-to-day life.

So, is Barcelona good for digital nomads? I’d say yes, it absolutely can be. However, it’s not for everyone. It requires a careful balancing act between work and play, a mindful budget, and an open-minded approach to embracing a new culture. But isn’t that part of the adventure?

First Impressions of Barcelona

Turnons

  • Architecture: Barcelona is like an open-air museum with its abundance of unique and historic structures.
  • Seaside city charm: With its Mediterranean setting, you can enjoy both the urban buzz and tranquil beach moments.
  • Diverse cuisine: From tapas to paella, you won’t tire of the delicious Spanish food here.

Turnoffs

  • Tourist congestion: Barcelona’s allure means it’s often crowded with tourists, especially in the high season.
  • Language barrier: While many locals speak English, there are times when the language difference can pose challenges.
  • Air pollution: Like many big cities, air quality can be an issue here.

Everything You Need To Know Before You Get To Barcelona

Barcelona is a city where every alleyway is an invitation to discover something new, where the WiFi is as strong as the café con leche, and where siestas are almost as important as work. But hey, you’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad here, not a professional napper – although, wouldn’t that be the dream job! In this section, we’re about to dive into everything you need to know to make the leap into a laptop lifestyle in the heart of Catalonia. 

What’s the best time to visit Barcelona?

Well, it truly depends on what you’re seeking.

If you’re looking to enjoy Barcelona without rubbing shoulders with hordes of tourists, then I’d say spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) are your best bets. The weather is delightful — not too hot, not too cold — and the city isn’t too crowded. You’ll get to enjoy all those fantastic open-air markets and festivals the city hosts, with the added bonus of feeling like you’ve got room to breathe.

On the other hand, if you’re a sunshine lover who dreams of working by day and dipping in the Mediterranean by dusk, then summer it is. July and August will serve up the hottest weather and the busiest beach scenes. Just keep in mind that the city can get pretty packed, and accommodation prices tend to spike.

So, in the end, the best time to visit Barcelona? Well, it’s when you feel it’s the right time for you. Just pack your adventurous spirit along with your laptop, and I promise you, Barcelona will not disappoint.

Digital Nomad Barcelona
Digital Nomad Barcelona

Housing & Neighborhoods

Who’s ready for a deep dive into the world of finding the perfect apartment for your medium-term stay in Barcelona? Believe me, I’ve been there! It’s not like searching for the Holy Grail, but it’s close. You might be tempted to wave your white flag and settle for the first available place, but hold your horses!

First things first: Timing is crucial. If you show up in Barcelona in September, when students are flocking back to the city after summer vacation, you might be left with the crumbs. Ideally, you should start your search a couple of months before your move.

Secondly, Barcelona’s relationship with Airbnb is complicated. As a result, you technically are not allowed to book rooms on Airbnb, though a cursory search will indicate that many are available. Furthermore, you are allowed to rent apartments on the platform, but the host must be licensed. No new licenses have been issued since 2015. It should go without saying, the demand for apartments in Barcelona far outpaces the supply. 

Given all the issues that permeate AirBNB already, such as a lack of proper workspaces or decent WiFi for digital nomads, I think that Barcelona is in desperate need of a new short-term rental provider.

We’re in the process of curating a large database of digital nomad apartments in Barcelona, Spain, and beyond. Enter your name and email below to get access to them as soon as they’re released.

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Now, onto the long-term rental platforms. There’s a buffet of websites waiting to serve you the perfect apartment: Idealista, Spotahome, and Fotocasa are some of the big hitters. These sites provide an array of options for every budget, with detailed descriptions and photos.

The key to finding your perfect Barcelona apartment? Patience, persistence, and a little bit of luck. 

Let’s talk budget. It’s easy to get swept away by the beauty of a penthouse with a rooftop terrace overlooking the Royal Palace. But be realistic with what you can afford. Typically, for a decent one-bedroom apartment in a desirable neighborhood, you’ll be looking to pay around €1000-€1500 per month.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of social networks. Facebook groups like “Barcelona Renting Room/Apartment” are gold mines of available rentals, often even offering better deals than the big-name websites. The only issue here might be trust, seeing as you won’t be present in the city before you rent the apartment. That’s why it’s usually good to rent an apartment on a big platform like Big Nomads or Airbnb first, and then search for a cheaper long-term apartment in person once you get there.

Best Neighborhoods

As always, choosing the perfect neighborhood depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and the vibe you’re looking for. Here are our top 10.

  1. El Poblenou
  2. Eixample
  3. Gràcia
  4. Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
  5. Poble Sec
  6. La Barceloneta
  7. El Born
  8. Sants-Montjuïc
  9. Les Corts
  10. Sant Antoni

Let’s look at the top 3 neighborhoods on this list.

Poble Nou

Monthly Airbnb Price Range: $1,500++

Safety: High

Transportation: Moderately Accessible

El Poblenou, once an industrial district, has transformed into an innovative and creative hub, attracting digital nomads and startups alike. The area is spacious, offering a balance of city life and tranquility, with its modern lofts, green parks, and proximity to Mar Bella and Nova Icaria beaches. Plus, it boasts plenty of co-working spaces, which have sprung up in the repurposed industrial buildings. El Poblenou offers the perfect mix for those craving a beach city lifestyle but still want a neighborhood that fuels their creative and professional juices. Plus, you won’t feel like such a tourist here compared to other spots.

Eixample

Monthly Airbnb Price Range: $2,000++

Safety: Good

Transportation: Highly Accessible

When people think of Barcelona, they often think of Eixample, with its famous Art Nouveau facades. The only problem might be, you could bump into a gaggle of tourists marveling at one of the dozens of drop-dead gorgeous buildings that populate this quarter.

Here’s where Barcelona’s iconic architecture really shines. Imagine working from a café with a view of the Sagrada Familia – talk about motivation! Eixample is also home to numerous coworking spaces, a huge plus for networking and establishing a solid work routine. 

Gràcia

Monthly Rental Price Range: $2,000++

Safety: High

Transportation: Moderately Accessible

Gràcia is filled with independent cafes, artisanal shops, and beautiful squares where you can unwind after a day’s work. It’s a bit quieter, which might be perfect for those of you who prefer a peaceful working environment.

Every August, they also host the week-long Festa Major de Gracia, which provides you with opportunities for fun and socialization that don’t pop up in every city.

Worst Neighborhoods

Some neighborhoods are nice to visit, but not live in. El Raval is definitely one of them. Most people who take a trip to Barcelona will go to El Raval, but its high crime rates can make it a less desirable choice for many digital nomads. This is the area that earned Barcelona its reputation for pickpockets. The narrow, winding streets can make it feel a bit claustrophobic, and some might find it a bit grimy compared to other parts of the city.

  1. El Raval
  2. Nou Barris
  3. Trinitat Vella
  4. El Gornal
  5. La Mina

Entry & Visas

For those of you from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, stepping into Spain is as easy as pie. All you need is your passport or ID, and you’re free to stay as long as you wish. Imagine that, living under the beautiful Spanish sun without any visa troubles. Ah, such envy!

However, if you’re not from the EU or EEA, don’t panic, sweetheart, it’s a bit trickier, but absolutely manageable. For short visits up to 90 days, travelers from countries such as the US, Canada, or Australia can enter Spain visa-free for tourism or business purposes. But if your heart is set on a longer stay (which, believe me, you’ll be tempted), you’ll need a long-term visa. Options include a work visa, student visa, golden visa (if you’re prepared to invest), retirement visa, or a non-lucrative visa (if you can afford the luxury of not working). 

Now, if you’re a digital nomad like yours truly and yearn for more than a 90-day tourist stint in Spain, you’re in luck. Spain offers a special visa designed for digital nomads working remotely for companies outside Spain. But, darling, there are certain prerequisites. You’ll need a minimum of an undergraduate degree or three years of relevant work experience. And yes, you’ll have to secure an NIE number before applying for your visa. On the upside, this visa includes your family too, so no need to part with your dear ones. Just make sure to compile all the necessary documents, showing proof of your work and financial stability. Once approved, you or a designated representative have to collect the visa within a month. 

Getting to Barcelona from the airport

Barcelona has one airport, El Prat. If time is of the essence and you’d prefer the quickest route, a Barcelona airport taxi will be your best bet. However, if you want to keep an eye on your budget, then let’s consider some more wallet-friendly choices.

The bus is your friend here. It’s cost-effective and gets you to the heart of the city in about 40 minutes. It’s a perfect choice if you’ve got some time to spare and don’t mind a bit of sightseeing along the way.

And then, there’s the train, another affordable option. With a modest ticket price of just €4 per person, it’s a bargain. Just like the bus, the train will have you soaking in the city vibes within 40 minutes. Plus, it’s also an excellent option if you’re heading to Barcelona from one of the train stations.

While You’re There

Once you’ve gone ahead and made the commitment to staying in Barcelona for a bit, here are some other things you should know.

What to do the day you arrive

Let’s talk about the first few things you need to do on arrival. Yes, Barcelona is waiting to be explored, but there are a few practical things you need to sort out first.

First stop – a SIM card. A nomad’s best friend, it keeps you connected to the world while you’re out there making the most of Barcelona. When it comes to providers, Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange are the top players in Spain. Each has its pros and cons, but all offer a variety of plans tailored to your needs. So, shop around, see what suits you and your lifestyle best, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Should you drink tap water in Barcelona? Although it’s safe, it might not taste as fresh as you’re used to, particularly if you’re from a place with high-quality tap water. But no worries, bottled water is readily available at every corner store.

Finally, let’s talk about public transportation. Barcelona’s public transport system is pretty fantastic, and it’s going to be your lifeline for zipping around the city. Make sure to get a T-casual ticket – it gives you 10 rides on buses, trams, and metros. And yes, one ticket works for all three, isn’t that convenient?

Where to work in Barcelona

Working remotely in Barcelona, I must say, it’s a treat. The city is generously sprinkled with work-friendly cafes and welcoming coworking spaces that cater to the ever-growing tribe of digital nomads like us. Plus, you’ll never have trouble with internet speeds or finding WiFi.

Let’s talk about working from a cafe first. You know, it’s got a certain je ne sais quoi to it – the smell of coffee brewing, the subtle chatter, the clinking of cups. Makes work a tad less daunting, don’t you think? 

But, if you’re someone who prefers a more structured work environment, coworking spaces are a great bet. Barcelona houses some fantastic ones. Betahaus, for instance, is this vibrant, light-filled space (it’s an old factory!) with a community that’ll make you feel right at home. And let’s not forget Cloudworks, with its modern design and breathtaking city views – it’s more than just a workspace. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss those sunset views while answering your emails.

Each day working remotely in Barcelona can feel like a brand new adventure, with a city full of cafes and coworking spaces waiting to be discovered. It’s like the city is your office, and each day you get to choose a new desk. How’s that for shaking up the 9-to-5 routine?

Food

Starting with grocery shopping, Barcelona’s local markets are the heart and soul of its culinary scene. Mercado de La Boqueria is a personal favorite, where local produce, fresh seafood, and an array of delicacies are displayed in a kaleidoscope of colors. Buying groceries here is less of a chore and more of an experience. That said, plenty of regular grocery stores are available for you to shop in as long as you’re not right in the central tourist neighborhoods.

But sometimes, you just want to grab a quick bite, right? That’s where Barcelona’s street food comes in. Make your way to the labyrinthine Gothic Quarter where food stalls are a-plenty, each with its own gastronomic treasures. The bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches) are a must-try, filled to the brim with local ham, cheese, or tortilla española.

When it comes to restaurants, brace yourself, because Barcelona is a foodie’s paradise. At El Nacional, you can find four different culinary spaces under one roof: meat, fish, tapas, and fast deli restaurants. This place is a culinary gem, each space offering a unique dining experience. 

Finally, you can’t leave Barcelona without trying its most famous dish: paella. It’s a medley of saffron-infused rice, meat or seafood, and vegetables, cooked and served in a large flat pan. Many restaurants serve it, but make sure to try it outside the very touristy areas.

Vibes

Social Life in Barcelona

In Barcelona, forging new connections is as easy as striking up a conversation at a local cafe. The city is teeming with locals and fellow digital nomads who are more than eager to share a story, a laugh, or a local tip. Barcelona’s social scene is like its tapas – diverse and irresistible, promising a blend of local immersion and international camaraderie. Networking events and meet-ups are common occurrences in the city, helping you connect with like-minded people while savoring a glass of Spanish wine. And remember, joining local language exchange events is a wonderful way to make new friends while brushing up on your Spanish – or should I say, Castellano. Catalan, of course, is a whole other matter.

Nightlife in Barcelona

When the sun dips below the horizon in Barcelona, the city truly comes alive. The nightlife here is like a Flamenco dancer, passionate and pulsating. Start your evening at a local bar, savoring a glass of Cava or a jug of Sangria. Your next stop? A beach club, where you can dance barefoot on the sand, with the sea breeze ruffling your hair. 

Alternatively, if you want to experience the local club scene, head to Razzmatazz or Pacha. But remember, in Barcelona, the night runs on its own time. Don’t be surprised if the dance floors are empty till midnight – Barcelonians know how to party late into the night!

Activities in Barcelona

If you think Barcelona is all about sipping Sangria and siestas, think again. The city is a goldmine of activities, both indoor and outdoor, that could keep you busy every day of the year. Fancy a dip in the Mediterranean? Barcelona’s beaches are waiting for you. Feeling artistic? How about a sketching session in Park Guell, surrounded by Gaudi’s playful sculptures. And for the adventurous souls, a hike up Montjuic Hill will reward you with breathtaking views of the city. Trust me, in Barcelona, the biggest challenge isn’t finding something to do, but deciding what to do next!

Upsides and downsides of living in Barcelona

Barcelona has a lot to like, but there are also quite a few things that I didn’t like. It’s up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. I’d like to come back, but I certainly haven’t made any fixed plans yet.

3 reasons to keep coming back

  • Strong expat community: You’ll easily find people who share your interests and understand your experiences.
  • The Lifestyle: Barcelona’s laid-back lifestyle, with the beach, the nightlife, and the cafes, is the perfect balance of work and play. 
  • Cultural Immersion: Barcelona offers an enticing blend of history, art, and culture that can take years to fully explore. Each time you come back, you’ll discover a new facet of the city.

3 reasons you might never return

  • The Tourist Crowds: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Barcelona can become quite congested with tourists. The cat has been out of the bag in this city for decades.
  • Pickpockets: For the record, this is the only city where I’ve been a victim of a pickpocket. Nobody wants to feel insecure about their belongings 24/7, but that’s how some people feel after a week or two here.
  • High cost of living: Barcelona isn’t the cheapest place to live, especially if you want to stay near the city center. In fact, it’s probably the most expensive major city in Spain.

The Final Word on Barcelona

Barcelona isn’t your typical digital nomad hotspot in that it doesn’t really offer an affordable cost of living.

But if you want to live in one of the most magnetic cities in the world, you’ll have to pay the price. It’s still nowhere near the levels of places like New York or London in terms of expense and offers a much more laid-back lifestyle.

Barcelona is a place where you go to enjoy life. Whether you go there to make new friends or take it all in with a loved one, you’ll probably come back from Barcelona feeling more refreshed than before.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital nomadding in Spain, check out the article I wrote. 

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