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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To ask this question briefly, what is a decent salary for a family living IN Barcelona?

I work for a tech company in the USA and they have offered to allow me to work remotely from Spain. This is made a "relatively" simple arrangement for everyone because I hold an EU passport or two so can freely live and work there. I would become an employee of their European subsidiary and take a Spanish salary.

I am finding it difficult to gauge whether the salary I am being offered would allow us to live and get by in Barcelona.

Our family is comprised of myself, my wife, and our son who is a year and a half old. I would work from home and we of course need space for the baby so we would need a two bedroom apartment. At least at first, my wife would not have a job and would be in charge of taking care of the baby (so no daycare needed). We do *not* want a car so would be happily reliant on public transport.

I'm still negotiating the exact salary but it will be around €40 to
45,000 a year. From what I can tell this is a generous salary for
Spain in general but maybe not so much for trying to live in Barcelona proper with a small family... online tax calculators put the monthly takehome for this salary at just over 2k.

Rent for a small two bedroom apartment in a central part of Barcelona seems to be *easily* €1,000+ a month, but then I think the listings I am seeing are maybe aimed more towards holiday rentals and not representative of real housing. I don't know the web sites a local might use for this.

Are we crazy for worrying about this salary or crazy for considering it?? We very much want to make Spain work (and will probably go for it anyway, even if Barcelona is out of reach!) but it would be nice to hear a local tell us that we're not crazy and that we could have some money left over each month! We are frugal people (even by European standards, I think!) but it makes me nervous because I only have a very rough idea of what things cost and I am sure there are many things I am failing to consider...
 

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Congratulations on working for a "relaxed" company that does not require presenteeism.
As somebody who worked from home a lot for several years I would suggest that with 3 of you in the household you would be well advised to rent a 3 bedroom flat: one for you as a couple, one for the baby and its toys etc, and the other for you to use exclusively as an office/guest bedroom.
There will be times when you will find the baby's activities are quite disturbing even when the door to an office is shut.
The alternative could be to rent an office space close to work but another bedroom generally reflects in more living space too, so easier for people from the USA to adjust to, as property in Europe in general is, I understand, much smaller than in the US.
Sorry I can't help on the specifics.
 

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€1000 rent is not a lot for Barcelona. If your working online then rent out of the city, your rent money will go a lot lot further.
 

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For Madrid €40 to €45k is what you'd expect to be paid as a senior developer or team leader in an international company. I guess Barcelona is similar. I'm not sure what kind of job you are going for, but hopefully that gives an idea. In Madrid a family of 3 can live off that money quite easily, especially as you'll save money by not having to go to an office. I suspect in a couple of years schools might be the main factor regarding whereabouts in Barcelona you decide to live, so you might not end up in the centre anyway. But I guess it's good to start off there, provided you can find somewhere that's not too noisy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, 3 bedrooms would be ideal but I was trying to be thrifty!


For Madrid €40 to €45k is what you'd expect to be paid as a senior developer or team leader in an international company. I guess Barcelona is similar. I'm not sure what kind of job you are going for, but hopefully that gives an idea. In Madrid a family of 3 can live off that money quite easily, especially as you'll save money by not having to go to an office. I suspect in a couple of years schools might be the main factor regarding whereabouts in Barcelona you decide to live, so you might not end up in the centre anyway. But I guess it's good to start off there, provided you can find somewhere that's not too noisy.
Hey, this is good stuff! Can you offer some more specifics? For example, what should one expect to pay for rent if you lived closer to the city center for a furnished place?

Does rent typically include utility costs? (water, power, etc)

The "salaryaftertax" site suggests we would have roughly £2,500 per month take home. If £1,200-1500 goes to rent, that does not appear to leave a lot for other expenses or savings....
 

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I would say the first concern for any American moving from the states to a European sized apartment is the reduced
amount of space,you will find for you and the family.

Most American apartments are generous as regards space, compared to European standards and therefore no doubt your first 'culture shock' is having to make do with what most Americans dismiss as small and pokey sized
apartments.

So if your looking for generous American sized apartments with en-suite bathrooms and walk in wardrobes that most Americans expect. Then your looking at upto 1500 Euros a month or more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would say the first concern for any American moving from the states to a European sized apartment is the reduced amount of space,you will find for you and the family.

Most American apartments are generous as regards space, compared to European standards and therefore no doubt your first 'culture shock' is having to make do with
what most Americans dismiss as small and pokey sized apartments.

So if your looking for generous American sized apartments with en-suite bathrooms
and walk in wardrobes that most Americans expect. Then your looking at upto
1500 Euros a month or more.
Heh yes, we are aware of that. I was born in the EU and have spent a good bit of time there so we have an idea of the scale of things. We like small spaces and are looking forward to bringing nothing with us :p.

Most of my extended fam is in the UK or Scandinavia. I've asked their opinion on this salary thing and they were uncertain so I came here...
 

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Honestly, living near the center of Madrid, I could live on that with only one kid (we have 2). But, I would not consider it to be comfortable.
If you have had a life of relative luxury as a professional person, I - phone, foreign holiday and the like, I think you need more to not miss those "luxuries ".
 

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I cannot tell you how much money you would be comfortable with, but I can tell you that apartments in Barcelona city center go very quickly, and they are not cheap. Many get rented as soon as they are listed. We made appointments at 3pm for the next morning, and 2 were rented prior to us getting there. Utilities were not included in any of the apartments, not even water. Some have no A/C, some have no heat, and some have neither. But food is much less expensive, and better quality. And you don't need a car. Check out numbeo.com for cost comparison. Prices in Spain and going up too. In general, it costs us less to live here than in New Orleans.
 

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Yes, 3 bedrooms would be ideal but I was trying to be thrifty!




Hey, this is good stuff! Can you offer some more specifics? For example, what should one expect to pay for rent if you lived closer to the city center for a furnished place?

Does rent typically include utility costs? (water, power, etc)

The "salaryaftertax" site suggests we would have roughly £2,500 per month take home. If £1,200-1500 goes to rent, that does not appear to leave a lot for other expenses or savings....
I'm afraid I can't help to much on Barcelona rentals as I don't live there. The two biggest sites for checking out property in Spain are idealista.com and fotocasa.es. They also have long term rental sections. Rent sometimes includes certain utility costs, such as heating, as they are often provided centrally to the building, and the cost is split between the neighbours, but this is more often the case in older buildings. Newer flats have their own individual utility supplies, so I guess you end up paying.

€2500 take home per month is about right so I wouldn't want to go over €1000/month on the rent. My wife and I lived off about €1000/month in Madrid about 10 years ago and it wasn't fun. It's difficult enough not speaking the language to begin with, but not being able to go out much either can make life in a big city pretty tedious. €1500/month should be ok, considering you don't have the expense of going to an office to work. Things will start to get more expensive as your child gets older and starts attending nursery/school. By then you'd really need to count on an aditional income, even if it's only say €1000/month, to live comfortably.
 

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If you don't need to live in the center of Barcelona you can find a lot of flats in the cities near Barcelona,from 600 euros month.
 

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It is good not to live too far away from where you will work as the metro and trains can be quite crowded at peak times (metro strikes have become common recently)
 

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Similar situation for us in some respects - we moved out here (just outside Malaga) a month ago with a young family and my job is working for tech/mobile business from home.

We have friends who live in Barcelona and love it but they both work (2 young kids) and have a great life. I'm not an expert on rents there but I do know Barcelona pretty well and it feels like you might be on the cusp with those sort of figures ie you'll have compromise quite a bit and go without.

Personally I would say do it - the adventure and experience is worth so much IMO.

I would also do some research on areas to live outside Barcelona where you can access the city easily eg Sitges. If you work from home it will end up being once or twice a month, jump on the bus and go explore etc, but then have maybe 40% lower rent to pay and possibly a better community feel to the life you lead, in an areas with many other young/working families. Not to say they don't exist in Barcelona city, but just that suburban/commuter belt life might feel more supportive which with young family is a big help.

This has been our initial experience living a few miles east of Malaga so far.

Either way, my advice is do it...you have the opportunity so many wish they had and if you want to get out there nothing should stop you. What's the worst that could happen?
 

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Similar situation for us in some respects - we moved out here (just outside Malaga) a month ago with a young family and my job is working for tech/mobile business from home.

We have friends who live in Barcelona and love it but they both work (2 young kids) and have a great life. I'm not an expert on rents there but I do know Barcelona pretty well and it feels like you might be on the cusp with those sort of figures ie you'll have compromise quite a bit and go without.

Personally I would say do it - the adventure and experience is worth so much IMO.

I would also do some research on areas to live outside Barcelona where you can access the city easily eg Sitges. If you work from home it will end up being once or twice a month, jump on the bus and go explore etc, but then have maybe 40% lower rent to pay and possibly a better community feel to the life you lead, in an areas with many other young/working families. Not to say they don't exist in Barcelona city, but just that suburban/commuter belt life might feel more supportive which with young family is a big help.

This has been our initial experience living a few miles east of Malaga so far.

Either way, my advice is do it...you have the opportunity so many wish they had and if you want to get out there nothing should stop you. What's the worst that could happen?
 

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I think the OP is much better off living in Barcelona itself rather than outside. Any nice towns near Barcelona such as Sitges or Sant Cugat are almost as expensive as Barcelona itself. On the other hand, there are qute a few unattractive towns surrounding Barcelona (L'Hospitalet, Santa Coloma, Badalona).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you all for your thoughts.

Since posting I've come to think that maybe we should aim for a less "desirable" city such as Valencia. The rents are, in some cases, almost half of what we find for a similar property in Barcelona, and more centrally located. And for people like ourselves who are from a small area, even Valencia will seem huge (the densities of even small euro cities are unimaginable compared to our life now!).

I figure if we start out in a cheaper city and find we are flush with cash every month then we can consider moving to the big B. But if we like the initial area or find ourselves without a ton of savings, then we'll be much better off.

Moving overseas is stressful enough and this plan avoids the double-worry of locating and paying for a place in Barcelona right away.

???
 

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To be honest a lot depends on where you want to be. I live very close to the centre but not in what is considered a trendy neighbourhood (yet). I am almost exactly 1 mile from Placa Catalunya. I got lucky and got my 3 bedroom apartment that is about 1000 square feet for 600 euros a month. The price doesn't go up so Im still paying that. I didn't have AC so I installed a used AC system at my own cost for about 600 euros.

Prices have gone up. As others have said that is just the reality. HOWEVER, I suggest you go over to Idealista and start doing some research on prices in different neighbourhoods you're comfortable living in. As with any search in any city the reality is you may be able to beat the average. There are always going to be options that are better priced. Maybe some will need some TLC. If that is not out of your purview then I suggest going for that.

Again, as others have suggested, rent may not be the place you'll save money in Barcelona. Food will. Not having a car will. Grocery shopping is not at all expensive here. Ditto restaurants comparatively (depending).

So do some calculations and some research for yourself, but understand that averages can be beaten!
 

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Regardless as to whether you live in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia or on the campo the dynamic has now changed, on how many euros a person really does need.

May's offer on the rights of EU nationals makes it clear that after Brexit EU Nationals will lose their right to bring in a spouse to live in Britain unless a minimum income threshold of 22,320€ is met. If the EU27 negotiators adopt a tit for tat approach then things will change.

Those contributors telling people that you can live in Spain for 400 to 600€ a month may have to think again!!!!
 
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