Archived Responses: 

Moving to Barcelona

August 2002

My husband, a web designer, was laid off 15 months ago. We've been cobbling together a life of sorts with freelancing here, but each month we go a little into the hole, and our equity in our home is going down as we dip into it to cover expenses. My husband is Venezuelan and has relatives in Barcelona. We're reaching out to them too, but I wanted to ask this list about Americans moving to Spain to work. I have an Irish passport and am therefore an EU citizen and we're about halfway through the process of getting my husband his Italian citizenship. I'm curious about the employment situation there (I have writing, editing, and nonprofit experience), housing (both buying and renting), the best way to explore such things, any wisdom out there on Barcelona for families, education, quality of life, etc. I know I'm asking for a great deal here. Any impressions or information at all on starting a life in Barcelona would be appreciated greatly. Christy

We have friends who moved to Barcelona a little over a year ago under circumstances very similar to yours. She carries an Irish passport. He has a US passport, but grew up in Bolivia. Both speak spanish fluently. They don't have children, but wanted to move to Barcelona because they weren't happy with what was going in the Bay Area and the USA. We just learned that they will be moving back here in January. I don't know all of the details of their decision, but if you would like for me to put you in touch with them, send me your email address. One comment I have heard about living in Barcelona is that it can be hard to make friends. The people are very friendly, but establishing close friendships as an outsider can be tough. Katharine

My husband and I twice spent time living and working in Barcelona (the first time for four months, the second time for seven months). Staying permanently wasn't an easy option because we don't have EU passports. I loved it there and we did make close friends. It's important to know that Spanish is not the first language there. Everyone speaks it (with the exception of a few radical separatists who refuse) and you can certainly use Spanish to do errands, etc., but if you really want to become part of the place you'll have to learn to speak Catalan -- another romance language that's as different from Spanish as French or Italian is. That's the language of friendship for almost everyone there. Barcelona and the surrounding area are quite different from the rest of Spain not only in language but in character. The people there say they are not Spanish -- they are European, and it really does feel that way. If you travel in the rest of Spain, you'll find it very different. Barcelona is a beautiful place with a rich culture. Families have been there for hundreds of years. One friend who grew up in a small mountain town in the region lived in a house that had been in her family for 1,000 years -- they still had the documents that gave her ancestor (a surf) his freedom and the property. I recommend visiting the North American Institute in Barcelona. Has a library of American books that you can join for a reasonable annual fee. And you can post and ad for an exchange with someone who wants to learn English and will in return teach you Catalan (or Spanish). I made two warm, wonderful friends that way. Best of luck making your decision. -- Dana

Visiting Barcelona with kids

Paris and Barcelona with 6 and 9 year olds

June 2008

We're finally going to Europe with the kids (ages 9 and 6) this summer! We'll have a couple of days in Paris and a couple in Barcelona, along with a cruise. What are the ''must see'' things (kid-friendly) in either place? Any other recommendations? We've booked an apartment in Paris in Arrondissement 4. We'll only need a 1-night stay in Barcelona, but I've not booked that yet (2 hotel rooms is too expensive, so we'll be looking for an alternative since there aren't many rooms they'll allow 4 in). Thanks in advance for your suggestions. c_s

We were in Barcelona and Paris 3 years ago with our then 6 and 10 y.o. boys. Only 2.5 days in Barcelona and 4 in Paris. Barcelona: loved the human statues on Las Ramblas, the candy and ice cream at la Boqueria, Font Magica free water and light fountain show, Parc Guell. Hated the Picasso museum, should have tried Miro museum instead? La Sagrada Familia. There is a funicular ride we didn't take that they may like. Wished we had spent more time here. We all loved it and barely scratched the surface. Paris: top of the Eiffel tower, but only way to do this is to bypass the lines with a reservation for lunch in their middle restaurant. Eiffel tower at night when the lights go off on the hour(?). Hated the Orsay Museum which I adore. LOVED the Pompidou Center building, fountain and art, spent hours there, very modern and wonderfully different. Went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (it's tiny, mom!). We bought a Museum or visitors pass and bypassed lines at the museums. Did not like the bus tour. Loved Luxumbourg Gardens; 10 y.o. even liked the playground here. Loved the chocolates. Liked Notre Dame but didn't go to the top because of the lines. There's a fair at Tuileries Gardens, but didn't make it there. linda

June 2001

My husband got free tickets to Heathrow in August so we're thinking of taking our eight-year-old twins to Spain. Does anyone know of any kid-friendly hotels in Barcelona or anywhere on the coast? Any suggestions of where to take kids and activities would be so appreciated. Thanks very much. Ann

We too had free tickets to Heathrow and chose to go to Barcelona with our four year old daughter. Here is a website for hotels there: We stayed at the Hotel Covadonga on the Avenida Diagonal. It was a very pleasant place, reasonably priced and kids are welcome. It's not the most central location, but it's not far from downtown. We were there only three days and it was in December, but I think 8 year old boys would like Parc Guell, Poble Espanyol and possibly running around on the roof at Casa Mila/La Pedrera (I know I'm misspelling those). A guidebook will explain all the details of those places. There is also an aquarium down by the waterfront, but I didn't go there. The Gothic quarter is pretty special; they'd probably enjoy that too. suzanne

Visiting Marbella with kids

From: Mel (4/99)

We have 2 kids and are traveling to Spain in July/August. We found a relatively well priced apartment to rent for 3 weeks in Marbella through a website: For the place we wanted we got in touch with a travel agent in England who has been very easy to work with.