The reasons for living in this iconic European city are many; chief among them are great weather, beaches, mountains for skiing just a couple of hours away, friendly people and a very special kind of energy! However, there are, of course, things that are not great about the city, such as sweltering summers (mostly July and August,) dirty streets and graffiti, urban petty crime, and not enough good high paying jobs.
In the end, however, it comes down to a feeling about belonging and wanting to be in this city. Many of us experience that at some point in our lives, though not everybody is lucky enough to be in love with the city where they live. Therefore, if that city is Barcelona for you, get on a train, plane, bus or your own car and move here as soon as you can, even though it might be challenging. However, as my mom used to say: iQuerer es poder!, which literally means “To want to is to be able to!’ In other words, if you really want something, you can achieve it.
For my family and me, the reason for moving was ultimately a gut feeling of sorts. We had visited the city together as a family in June of 2017. At that time we were living in Berlin and were content. In fact, we had moved from San Francisco to Berlin for the experience. My partner liked Barcelona almost immediately and was done with Berlin. I, on the other hand, had imagined that we would stay in Berlin until 2028 when our daughter would be ready for college, but now we were faced with a new choice. So we began a year-long project researching, planning, evaluating and, in the end, making the leap and moving to Barcelona in July of 2018.
Of course, there are many things I miss about Berlin, as well as San Francisco, but living in Barcelona has many benefits and pluses. For one thing, the Spanish/Catalan love of fun and camaraderie is very appealing; especially to me as a Mexican. As soon as you step out onto the street, you are struck by the number of people enjoying a drink, meal, or cup of coffee any time of the day in the many cafes and terrace restaurants. And it is even more prevalent once the sun goes down. Even young children are out at 9 or 10 PM with their parents enjoying their dinner together. Waiters and waitresses whip in and out of the eateries keeping their clients fed and satisfied.
Children do really well in this city. Locals are more patient and friendlier with kids than in other comparably sized cities in Europe or the U.S., plus they expect to see them at all kinds of events and get lots of special attention simply for being children. It is also easy for them to make new friends at parks, their new schools or in the apartment buildings where they live, which is not always the case everywhere.
Barcelona also has a very laid back feel to it, similar to Santa Barbara in California, and at a very livable scale. Walking in Barcelona is a treat with all the great architecture; especially the famous buildings of Gaudi scattered across the city. And of course And, if you get hungry thirsty or just want to take a break, there are a limitless amount of eateries with great food for any taste, including seafood dishes, paella, beef, tapas and all kinds of international cuisine. Also, it’s fun to dart in and out of all the local shops, whether it is a hardware store with unique appliances and kitchenware or a great little to large bookstore all over the city. Thankfully, in Barcelona, as in many other European cities, the bookstore industry has not disappeared as in many U.S. cities. They are still great places to explore, browse and just take a quiet break from this bustling city. And for those sports-minded fans – Messi, FC Barcelona, need we say more?
For us, as middle-aged parents, the benefits include having the opportunity to see another part of the world, exercise our options culturally and socially, and see our young daughter thrive in a new environment. And, again, as middle-aged family men, our needs and interests have shifted to our family life, which is part of the local culture. Family dinners and play dates, where the parents hang around as well, are common here and a great way to meet people.
Though it is no longer our “scene,” and probably never really was, we have it on good authority from younger residents that nightlife in Barcelona is excellent. There are lots of bars, discos, and cannabis clubs for those interested in relaxing in the evening with other partiers. It is also quite reasonable here to go out for a meal or a drink, which is of special attraction to the younger arrivals to Barcelona.
We are not sure if we will live out our lives here in Barcelona or elsewhere in the world, but for now, and until our daughter goes off to college in 2028, Barcelona is home and we love living here!