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Friday 14 September 2012

A Relocation Guide To Barcelona

As part of our program to help you when relocating to a new city, we are launching today a relocation guide to Barcelona, written by the people who moved and lived there.

Before you go

  • Make sure you have all required documentation, including visas, work permits, marriage certificates, driving licence and copies of past bank statements.
  • Ensure to have all the required paperwork to obtain the necessary Número de Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE).
  • Brush up on your everyday Spanish phrases – although many people in Barcelona can speak English, it’s not guaranteed!
  • It’s a good idea to arrange short-term accommodation in advance for your first few weeks in Barcelona. This way you’ll have lots of time to look around for more long-term housing, ensuring that you’re really happy with your chosen place to live.
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Finding a place

  • Give yourself time to look around and decide where it is in Barcelona you want to live. It’s important to soak up the atmosphere and decide which area suits you (and your budget) the most.
  • Once you have chosen your area, visit as many estate agencies (agencia immobiliaria) as possible, set up several house viewings and weigh up your options.
  • Have a look through local newspapers and magazines. There are always new properties available and it’s a great way to see what’s on the market and in your price range.
  • If you are not a confident Spanish speaker, be sure to research some key Spanish phrases or take a dictionary with you on the property viewings. You want to be in an able position to ask important questions, such those regarding deposits or agency fees, without any misunderstandings or confusion.

Setting up a bank account

  • The first thing you’ll need to do is establish residency or non-residency when setting up a bank account.
  • If you are a residence, you just need to take your passport and proof of residence to the bank and you can open an account fairly quickly and easily.
  • If you are a non-residence, you need to obtain a “non-residence certificate”. You can do this yourself with your passport at Dirección General de la Policía. Your chosen bank will also be happy to acquire your “non-residence certificate” for you, although they will most likely charge for this service. With this certificate, and your passport, you should then be able to set up a bank account.
  • In Barcelona, most banks charge for opening an account and maintenance fees. However, there are often reduced rates for those under the age of 26; so if you are eligible for such discounts, make sure you do research on the best deal for you.
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Health insurance

  • If you are an EU citizen, then make sure you apply for your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you depart for Barcelona. With this card, healthcare is at least heavily discounted and often even free in Spain.
  • If you become a Spanish citizen, work in Barcelona and pay into social security systems, then you will be entitled to state healthcare. The public national health care system in Spain is considered to be extremely good and efficient.
  • If you are a student, pensioner, unemployed or self-employed coming from within the EU, then you will also be entitled to 2 years’ worth of full and free health care services.
  • Spain also offers excellent private health care, which compliments greatly the state system. So be sure to do your research on this, to decide which health care option will be the best for you.
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Staying safe

  • Emergency number is 112
  • Shield your PIN at cash machines, avoid empty Metro carriages at night and never get in an unlicensed taxi (only use white taxis with a red diagonal stripe across the front doors).
  • Ensure your valuables are concealed from view when using public transport, or walking through a busy area.

Travelling around

  • The Barcelona metro network is extensive, clean and punctual. It provides a quick and cheap way of travelling around the city.  
  • There are RENFE trains which take to you the outskirts of Barcelona as well as various destinations throughout the whole of Spain.
  • If you have more time, then take a scenic bus route. Barcelona has a good bus network, with buses running frequently (and often into the night), transporting you to destinations covering a large area of Barcelona.
  • To use Barcelona's transport cost effectively, it is best to buy T10 tickets, allowing you to travel 10 single journeys for under €10.00 (as opposed to €2.00 if you buy single tickets separately). 
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Want to know more? Read an extended version of this blog.

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