Barcelona is amongst the 20 most acclaimed cities by ex-pats

There is no doubt. Barcelona increasingly attracts more and more foreigners to live and work. Why is this exactly? With its emerging character as a cosmopolitan “Smart city” and exceptional quality of life, Barcelona clearly stands out in Europe and even worldwide among those most sought after by executives all over the world. Now, it just needs a little more peace of mind politically.


11 March 2019 |

What are the factors that bring us to visit a city? Of course, they are numerous, subjective, and sometimes related to fashionable trends… Didn’t you “do” Mont Blanc this summer? Perhaps not because there was a queue to get a mountain guide. Impervious to the bloggers’ dictates, Barcelona has, for many years, remained among the preferred destinations (number 3 in Europe). With 27 million tourists each year, it would be hard to say otherwise. The “Barcelona Brand” is still making us dream.[1]

But let’s leave aside the tourists and climb into the skin of an expatriate, be it French, English, German or Italian. Looking past the stereotypes and the picture-perfect postcards, what is it that motivates today’s expatriates to register in Barcelona during their career and decide to bring their family there? What matters to leaders and entrepreneurs, is the growing appeal for “startups” but also, of course, the quality of life and the fact that different international communities are well established and locally formed (25,000 Italians, 13,00O French, etc.).

For all of these reasons and as demonstrated by the testimonies, Barcelona is hard to beat in Europe: it has everything a large city has without being enormous, it is cosy without being a village, it is cosmopolitan without losing its vernacular culture, it is technological with losing its soul… It’s bourgeois, bohemian, modern, refined and still secret… “.

In spite of the positive opinions, some “rankings” are not so easy on Barcelona, either because it doesn’t have the critical mass to compete with the megacities (like Singapore), or because it has conserved an eternally adolescent soul, which can take you by surprise. For complete tranquillity, the shores of Lake Geneva would be better.

In 2018, the Quality of Living Index [2] from Mercer’s Human Resources Office places Barcelona in just the 43rd position globally. It must be said: the attacks on 17th and 18th August 2107, and the political situation have weighed heavily in this ranking which puts “quiet” cities such as Vienna, Zurich and Geneva in the top 10.

Now let’s consider the annual survey (12,000 people interviewed) from the Reputation Institute: Barcelona is still in 15th position, dropping 8 places compared with 2017. If we exclude the economic factors previously mentioned, Barcelona continues to be a leading metropolis in terms of the quality of life with 11 strengths:

  • A cost of living that is still competitive (compared with Paris, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg…)
  • An exceptional climate.
  • An economy drive worthy of great capital.
  • A unique variety of districts and housing types.
  • An undeniable cosmopolitanism.
  • A unique choice of cuisine.
  • An intense nightlife.
  • An extraordinary cultural heritage.
  • An excellent transport network.
  • A business community focused on the new economy and encouraged by a policy of targeted reception (incubators).
  • Nearby beaches (Costa Brava, Maresme, Costa del Garraf).

To conclude, if Paris will always be Paris, Barcelona will always be Barcelona. The Barcelona brand revealed to the world in the 1992 Olympic games, still has a bright future ahead.  In fact, the move towards being a Smart City (intelligent city) has been decidedly taken in the form of digital transformation (hyper-connected metropolis), innovation and energy optimisation.

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