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Poll
Where would YOU live in Barcelona?
Barceloneta 15
The Born 5
Barrio Gotico 3
El Raval 5
Eixample Izquierda 9
Eixample Derecha 2
Poble Sec 4
Poble Nou 2
Sarria/Sant Gervasi 1
Gracia 17
Other (specify in a reply post below!) 5
Total Votes: 68
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Where To live In Barcelona
Posted: 01 June 2007 09:41 AM  
Just Landed
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2007-04-16

I’m moving to Spain at the end of the summer and have started looking into places to rent and areas in which to live in. I’m wondering where the best places are to live in Barcelona. Somewhere that’s lively and in close proximity (ideally) to the beach, city center and subway and that’s not insanely expensive. (800 Euros a month if possible).

Any feedback from anyone who is currently living in Barcelona or has lived there before, would be sweet.

Thanks so much!

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Posted: 02 June 2007 02:51 PM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-05-28

Hello,
I wish someone would answer your question, because I have the same question myself.  The thing I do not like about this site is that you get 100 people viewing your questions, and no one bothers to answer them!  I hope that is not the overall character of people in Barcelona.

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Posted: 02 June 2007 06:16 PM  
Administrator
Total Posts:  1697
Joined  2005-12-05
llspain - 02 June 2007 02:51 PM

The thing I do not like about this site is that you get 100 people viewing your questions, and no one bothers to answer them!  I hope that is not the overall character of people in Barcelona.

Wow, aren’t we a bit judgemental and such lofty expectations we carry!

Sorry not to get to this earlier Sammie…

Anyway, these are the main areas in the centre, there aren’t really many reasons to want to live outside of the metropolitan area unless you’re looking for a bit of country bumpkin life or need to be right next to the beach. If you look at housing prices you’ll see that some of the outlying areas are actually more or as expensive as the centre of Barcelona. Ridiculous eh?

Ciutat Vella is comprised of the following four barrios:
Barceloneta - next to Barceloneta Beach. Higher crime (organized), lots of immigrants and expats, tons of tourists who walk through to get to the beach. Some very good hidden restaurants and things to do. Very near museums and marina and…
El Borne - or as expats call it, The Born. Everyone’s #2 favourite, probably because it’s great in so many ways but lacking some of the dirty flavour of other barrios. Top restaurants and top fashion shopping: all around very indie and chique. Note the ubiquitous black turtleneck, it’s that kind of area.
El Raval - This word is just fun to say with the Catalan drawl. Musicians love Raval and it’s indeed it’s full of life. Tons of immigrants, especially middle Asians like Indians/Pakistanis (see the Rambla de Raval). A long history of gangs, drugs and prostitution, Raval has, sadly, cleaned itself up and now people can visit again thinking to themselves how cool they are for hanging with immigrants… or something like that. Tons of nooks and crannies to discover, and in these nooks and crannies you find some of the originally cool bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, trendy stuff, etc. This isn’t really where the tourists go but you can still get a hooker at the right cross-street.
Barrio Gotico - Strangely we call this one by its full name in English. This is where all the tourists go to get lost in that *aww* “I love Europe!” sort of way. It’s definitely got its appeal, I can’t deny it. All the great history of old Barcelona is right there, along with the new Dutch junkies (no, not all are Dutch, but a lot of ‘em). A lot of expats set up shop here first and branch out after the first few months of dealing with the noise and belch of non-stop tourism. If you can get a roof-top patio then you are rockin’!

Beyond Ciutat Vella there’s, of course, The Expansion of Barcelona, known more commonly as L’Eixample or, in Spanish, El Ensanche, I believe. No, it doesn’t mean The Example as we expats commonly believe for years on end (or was it only me?). Pronounced, “ey-sham-pla”. It’s a massive suburb in the centre of the city. Yep, imagine America’s perfectly planned gated communities, and then make all the roads octagonal, 20x the density, dash some Catalan modernism throughout the whole thing, put the buildings in the middle of the blocks out like donuts (reminds me of Sim City) with park in the middle of the donut and, BOOM. You have the perfect example of how to enlarge a city 1890’s style. Does this make any sense? It does to me. Regarding living here, it’s very downtown New York or London. Big-ass buildings, no community feel (it feels very cosmo), some good shopping and places to go no doubt and quite safe: much less drugs, etc. The tourist spots are real mecas of tourism though. This is where you find all the Gaudi stuff. Eixample is divided into the left and right, “izquierda” and “derecha” respectively, and it’s commonly held that the izquierda is higher end. But alas the Eixample is boring for me, so let’s move on…

Poble Sec (“Dry Town” I believe) or the Montjuic area is really nice actually. Enough character, good metro connections, the Montjuic area is amazing for running and events and stuff, all around quite safe, not too expensive… the only problem is the total lack of good restaurants! I know that sounds lame but Barcelona has amazing cuisine and if you’re not around that good cuisine you’re going to be subjected to TOTAL CRAP. I mean, churros? WTF? Have you had a Spanish bocadillo before? The roof of your mouth will hate you for the first few months as you alternate between burning it on overheated cafes con leche and jamon y queso bocadillos. Anyway, Poble Sec rocks, and will be a big hit for anyone needing some good nature and a little more quiet. Please note the presence of great exaggeration in the above bitch fest.

Sants and Les Corts are both cheaper areas with higher crime but may be the new hot areas. I don’t know them all that well but people I’ve met from Sants are nice. Does that help? The main train station is right there people, you can imagine what that does to the area.

Poble Nou, aka New Town (just call it “pob-la no”), is a real mixed bag. This is a zone that perhaps only The Cheat could love… and other expats I suppose. This is an old industrial district so it carries all of those hallmarks: big old brick buildings with huge frosted windows (now lofts), smoke stacks (not-in-use), wider streets, etc. Poble Nou has seen the most new construction of any barrio in Barcelona though. Tons of new high-rise condos line the highway that runs next to the many beaches. If you go straight south from Poble Nou metro station about 10 min (walking), then at the beach turn right and go around the big grassy knob you’ll be at Mar Bella and Bogatell (another fun Catalan word, “bo-ga-teyy”) which are total nude beaches. If you like looking at schlong and boobs then this is your spot. Other highlights of Poble Nou include the big penis building, known as Monumental (ironic?)...

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Posted: 02 June 2007 06:39 PM  
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Total Posts:  1697
Joined  2005-12-05

(ran out of characters there)... Also, the only real “mall” in Barcelona is here in Poble Nou, called Diagonal. If you’re a runner then you’ll probably appreciate Poble Nou. I did when I lived there. The proximity to the beaches is great. Big downside: the metro line sucks. The yellow line running through the barrio is old and rickety. Higher crime here too, avoid the parks and beaches at night (pickpockets, scams, and, well, gay predators). If you’re into the loft thing then this is your barrio though.

Sarria and Sant Gervasi is at the diagonally opposite side of Barcelona from Poble Nou. Literally, it’s on the other end of Diagonal. All apartments start at a million euros. Very nice, very safe, some might say beautiful, with tons of trees and parks. Sarria used to be its own little town so it’s got a cool pueblo feel to it. Very few tourists out here. Kinda snobby though. No good metro connections, but if you have the money to live out here then you’ll own a car anyway, plus there are the Ferro Carrils which are more like a regional metro, but they go downtown and connect to the metros pretty well. Did I mention how snooty these barrios are?

I’ve saved my favourite for last. Gracia. Oh Gracia how I love thee, let me count the ways. Artsy, funky, unpretentious. Great expat scene, cool cafes, great plazas, diverse and quality restaurant scene… great metro connections and close to Parc Guell too! It’s super urban and hipster but beware of the anarkistas and okupas! No, just kidding, kinda. It’s a diverse mix of people though, a great soup of cultures like I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world. The one problem is the distance to the beaches, but you’ll be partying on roof-tops and sipping cafes at Plaça Vierreina so who cares? I won’t go on because I don’t want to send too many of the wrong kind of people there. No, it’s not for everyone, but nearly everyone finds something to like in Gracia. This is where your second apartment will be and then when you leave it you will long for it again and again.

I should probably take this huge long Ode-to-Living-in-Barcelona post and make it into an article for the main site, but let’s hear your feedback first. What did I miss? What other details would you like to hear about? I covered some of the main areas but missed others… which ones did I miss that you’d like to hear about?

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Posted: 03 June 2007 12:54 AM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-05-28

Wow!  Despite the fact that you think I am judgemental and lofty, I want to thank you greatly for being of immense assistance and describing each area in depth!  Thank you so much for your input.  It will narrow down my search a great deal, as I am sure it will Sammies.  And just for the record, if you knew me, you would like me, because I am probably the least judgemental person you will ever meet!  I am just so frustrated and tired, and researching this move has drained me considerably.  But I will not give up my dream to move to Europe with my two daughters, and show them life outside of the US.  Again, thank you kindly.

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Posted: 03 June 2007 01:31 AM  
Administrator
Total Posts:  1697
Joined  2005-12-05

Haha, I was just buggin’ you. I know how it feels not to find the info you’re looking for. Hence the site.

You’re welcome!

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Posted: 03 June 2007 12:25 PM  
Just Landed
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2007-04-16

Wow!!! That was amazing. Thank you so much, way more than I could have asked for in terms of a response. That’ll really help me while I"m looking! You should totally put that on the website as an article. I think for questions you’ve answered pretty much everything for now but I have no doubt I’ll have more as I get closer to moving day. Is it possible do you think to find a place before I get there (online) or is it best to get there and then find a place?

Thanks again you rock.

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Posted: 03 June 2007 05:00 PM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-05-28

Sammie,

You and I seem to have the same questions, and also appear to be at the same stage of progression regarding our move.  And her response hurried me along, because I had been researching this for days, with no real results.  Like you, I am wondering if I need to be there to find a place, because I am only seeing very expensive short term rentals online.  Where are you moving from Sammie?

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Posted: 03 June 2007 07:05 PM  
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Total Posts:  1697
Joined  2005-12-05
Sammie - 03 June 2007 12:25 PM

Wow!!! That was amazing. Thank you so much, way more than I could have asked for in terms of a response. That’ll really help me while I"m looking! You should totally put that on the website as an article. I think for questions you’ve answered pretty much everything for now but I have no doubt I’ll have more as I get closer to moving day. Is it possible do you think to find a place before I get there (online) or is it best to get there and then find a place?

Thanks again you rock.

Hmm, this sounds like the inspiration for another site article.

Before you arrive the best thing you can do is find somewhere comfortable to stay, whether that’s with friends, staying at a hostel, a cheap short-stay apartment, etc. The point is that you’re going to be (at least a bit) frazzled for at least a few days and finding an apartment is not #1 priority at that point, or even if it is you won’t be able to put 100% of yourself into it because you’ll be second-guessing yourself over location and other details that would become clear if you’d just spent a week getting to know the city anyway. I’d even venture to suggest that you should find a comfortable place to stay for a couple months. In fact, given the season, this might work in your favour. You don’t want to be looking for apartments at the end of August or September. There are thousands of Erasmus students who come flooding the city looking for an apartment. They’re northern European and have cash to burn (remember University is (practically) free in Europe). That’s competition you don’t want. Instead, July and early August can work out well. July might be best overall, although the heights of tourism remain another obstacle… but nevermind that.

So you get here, you’ve got a place for the cabbie to drop you off at from the airport, and you settle in for the night (enjoy a few tapas and cervezas recommended, do not go to McDonalds no matter how much you crave a taste of home!). Relax, speak English (don’t fret about speaking Spanish or Catalan or whatever at this point), revel in your new surroundings and comment to yourself on all the things you like/don’t like. Sleep well. Get up in the morning and take your laptop down to a cafe that has wifi (most do now), enjoy a cafe con leche and croissant. You’re now living the Barcelona life.

Go to http://www.loquo.com first. There’s no better site - yet - and it’s optimized for Barcelona, plus a lot of it is in English. Then open a new tab in your browser and go to Babelfish and keep that open so you can translate (roughly) what you’re trying to read. Go through the list (should take a few hours at least but using the search feature effectively makes it better), make a list or send emails (with a copy to yourself) of all the good apartments that you want to see (as per the areas I’ve outlined above). I used to have a good opener email that reeled them in well but can’t find it now. You’ll want something that introduces yourself, says where you found their notice, what you’re looking for, why you like their ad, and when you’d be available to meet to see the apartment. Yes, 99% of people don’t follow this format, and then they wonder why they get no/few responses as a potential customer. Having been on the receiving end of an onslaught of bad emails, trust me, it’s like a CV, make yours stand out. It’s not difficult. You’ll also want to translate it into Spanish which might be a problem. Post it here on the forum though, I’m sure someone can help you out.

So you’ve sent your email to 30 people. Next you need a cell phone. Close your laptop and go to FNAC at Plaza Catalunya to pick up a Vodafone pay-as-you-go cheap-ass cell phone (do NOT get a Telefonica/Movistar phone!). It will come with some credit, probably enough for a few days. Don’t splurge on cell phones yet! You don’t know what you’ll like in a few months. Anyway, now when you get all the responses from the emails you’ve sent out you’ll have a cell phone for, if nothing else, text messaging (SMS), which Spaniards are really into. Screw talking.

If you need help talking to someone in Spanish, call them through a phone translator. Your friends might be able to help but after the third call they will not be happy. You can also call a friend of mine who can help you through the whole process (she’s from Venezuela) for a fee. You can contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

I have to go for now but can continue this later…

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Posted: 04 June 2007 05:34 PM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2007-01-21

Hello, I believe its quite difficult to answer your question if you don´t give us a bit of yourself…

Young: Gracia, Born
30´s : Eixample
35´s + : Pedralbes
Depending if you have family…
Anyway there´s a nice website that can help you find your way around in Barcelona.
Brand new but has a nice expat community.

See u

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Posted: 05 June 2007 04:22 AM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-05-28

Wow, so where does a 40+ need to live?  Besides one foot in the grave.  Hahaha…  Does it count if I am a young acting and looking 40+???  And I have a university age daughter, as well as a 10 year old.

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Posted: 06 June 2007 09:15 AM  
Just Landed
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2007-04-16

Hi,
I’m just wondering in terms of Gracia, is it easy to get to downtown Barcelona from there and does it have good subway access?
Thanks again for your help it’s awesome!

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Posted: 06 June 2007 09:56 AM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2007-01-21

How can you be a young acting 40+++++ and having a daughter at university
Send us a photo ,I´ll tell you where you can live!
ja ja ja as laugh spanish people

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Posted: 06 June 2007 04:47 PM  
Tourist
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-05-28

Wow!  How can I be young with a university age daughter, you ask.  Where do I send the photo!  I feel young and GREAT!  I look younger than my real age, and am still youthful and full of life and energy.  Just ask my daughter.  She has trouble keeping up with me.  Her and her friends say I am the cool, hip mom, they wish they had. I have attached a photo.

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Posted: 06 June 2007 05:57 PM  
Just Landed
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2006-07-11

What a great discussion! Here’s my two cents:
Gracia is a great neighborhood for families and young people, but be careful where your apartment is- charming plazas by day often turn into loud drunken, open-air parties late into the night…
I loved the Raval and the Barrio Gótico when I was younger, lots of great bars, clubs and restaurants, but with kids it’s not so practical- schools are generally not great and, let’s face it, smells like pee in the hot summer months.
Barceloneta is great for singles who want to be near the beach, lots of cheap teeny tiny apartments for rent- but there’s the crime/tourist factor mentioned above.
I used to live in Poble Sec, and it was very “Spanish”- lots of chatting with the lady at the bakery, the man who runs the liquor store,etc, which was nice… Some parts closer to the port are a little seedy, though, and yes, not many good restaurants (Although La Bodegueta de Poble Sec on C/Blai does good grilled meat and veggies…)
I used to think the Eixample was boring too, but I think with age I’ve gotten a little boring myself! Now I think it’s great- central, convenient transportation, pretty safe, and nice shops and restaurants.
I don’t really like Pedralbes- lots of nice big houses and ritzy stores, but there’s not much to do and you have to walk for 5 blocks just to find somewhere to buy milk (although the people who live in this neighborhood probably just send the butler out for milk, right?)
Let us know where you all end up living!

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Music and movement workshops for children ages 0-4 and parents in Barcelona

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Posted: 06 June 2007 06:55 PM  
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llspain - 05 June 2007 04:22 AM

Wow, so where does a 40+ need to live?  Besides one foot in the grave.  Hahaha…  Does it count if I am a young acting and looking 40+???  And I have a university age daughter, as well as a 10 year old.

Yep, one foot in the grave smile

Not! Come on, one of my best friends lives on the border between north Gracia and St. Gervasi. It’s a nice area, very hilly, but safe and good for his kids. St. Gervasi, in general, is full of families, as mentioned above. Very nice, but a bit snooty. Try Sarria as well. The further you get from the centre, the quieter and safer, as a rule. Sant Cugat is probably perfect and is, indeed, well loved by many. I just haven’t gotten up there yet. Too far!

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