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Discussion Starter #1
Hello to all,

I am hoping you may be able to help me out a little. I have been planning to relocate to Europe for a while now and I am now committed to making this move at the end of 2012.

My dilemma is whether to go to Madrid or Barcelona and I am hoping that people who are living in these place would be able to give me their best advice.

From a professional side of things I work in the finance industry as a wealth manager and will be working for a consultancy that has offices in both locations. My role is primarily dealing with expats normally between the ages of 25 to 55 with a small part of my business model aimed at retirees. Therefore it is important that the location I choose has a healthy amount of expats with new people arriving on an ongoing basis.

I am aware that both Madrid and Barcelona are major cities with expats living there, but which one would provide the best opportunity ?

From a family point of view, I will be relocating with my wife and two young children, so if you have any ideas where would be better for a family it would be appreciated.

We are looking more at Barcelona from a family perspective but mainly because of the climate (we currently live in Asia and are used to higher temperatures and the sun shining a lot !)as we know that Madrid has the colder winters but if Madrid would be the better place from a business perspective then that would outweigh the warmer climate.

If anybody out there could help out it would be really appreciated, we are heading to Spain in June this year to look at both Madrid and Barcelona but if we could be armed with information in advance it would be great.

If anybody feels strongly about one particular place and could even recommend areas where we should look at living in (within 45 minutes of the city preferably) then that would be very useful information as well.

Looking forward to getting your thoughts and advice

Apologies for waffling on a bit.................
 

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...within 45 minutes of the city preferably...
Hi ! I'm biased as I live in Barcelona and I love it, but I think there are probably more expats living along this coast rather than in Madrid if you are looking to be working with them. That said, I think most expats live along the coast all the way from Gibralter to the Costa Brava - i.e. not Madrid.

There are endless activities and clubs to join no matter where you are - Spain is a very social country, though I would say Barca also has the beaches and is close enough to the Pyrenees as well.
 

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I am biased too

Hi, I have lived near to Madrid for just over a year and I can honestly say that at 61 years of age I have found the place where I want to end my days. Fantastic scenery, wonderful people and where I live, fabulous beaches too!! All the expats will tell you why they like their particular region but one thing is good, the beer is great in all of them. :spit:
 

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Hi, I have lived near to Madrid for just over a year and I can honestly say that at 61 years of age I have found the place where I want to end my days. Fantastic scenery, wonderful people and where I live, fabulous beaches too!! All the expats will tell you why they like their particular region but one thing is good, the beer is great in all of them. :spit:
Beaches near Madrid? :confused:
 

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I lived in Madrid for a few years and still live near. I've never lived in Barcelona, but I lived in Tarragona for a while and I've visited several times.
Barcelona is a strange mix.
For some reason it is far more cosmopolitan than Madrid, more restaurants from different countries for example, different foods available, different fashions on the streets, more creative arts, more modern and innovative in general. I don't really know why, but everyone I speak to agrees. However the Catalans in general are much more insular always looking towards Catalonia and with the use of Catalan totally dominating over the Spanish. That's not to say communication doesn't / can't take place in Spanish, it's just that Catalan is vey much the first language, and that's something to be taken into consideration. Children are taught exclusively or almost in Catalan in state schools, but where is Catalan spoken? That's right, only in Catalonia... More info here and on other threads if you do a search.
http://www.expatforum.com/expats/spain-expat-forum-expats-living-spain/102657-catalan-question.html

Madrid has more of a big city feel to it for me, although it's tiny compared to London. It's a good place to live and there is some lovely countryside around. I wouldn't fancy living there with kids though.
 

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I thought that would confuse you. I live at the side of the Pantano De San Juan and there are dozens of pretty, and mostly isolated, beached dotted all around the perimeter. As I said I am very very biased so take no notice of me.
 

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I have noticed that people in Barcelona and cataluna in general, tend to focus too much in the area and don't travel much around Spain. That will be the case probably if you stay there. People from madrid tend to travel more, a short train ride and they are down south, coasts are never too far for a long wekend here and there.Pais basco, Galicia, Asturias are not far too for the odd Puente. ANd they are wonderful towns, historic towns around madrid too for a day off to explore with the children.
Even Portugal is within reach.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks

Thank you for your responses so far, really appreciated.

If I were to disregard things like climate / beaches do any of you have any suggestions on which would be the best city from a business point of view ?

Happy_Man kindly provided information on expats living on the coasts, but is that a majority of retirees or younger working families as well ?

Madrid is obviously a major business hub but not sure if that includes a lot of expats ?

Barcelona is more "youthful" so does that mean the majority of expats are young, travelling the world and not "professional expats" or does it attract professionals with families ?


Aaaargghhhhhhh........... tough decision for us !!
 

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Hi,

This one's to the OP I'm pretty much in the same predicament. I will be getting married to my long term boyfriend soon and am planning to move to either Madrid or Barcelona. I have lived in the Canary Islands before and loved it, however, due to scarcity of jobs moved out of Spain. I want to come back and preferably settle down in a big city which has a reasonable potential (trying to be realistic here) to set up a business. My aim is to set up a business with my partner in either travel, hospitality or exports (clothes, shoes, plastics). My partner has several sources in India where he could get these products from to Spain. I am working in the travel industry at the moment and have extensive knowledge about the Asian markets which I believe would come in handy while setting up the business.
In the meantime, I could also do a job while my partner takes care of the business. I am a EU citizen and would therefore, have no issues with working legally in Spain.
What I am really confused about is where to set base. I fancy a combination of city life with mild climate (neither too hot nor too cold), sunny days, multi-cultural diversity, tourism, lots of shopping, good social life and beaches as well.
Now based on my choices, Barcelona would be the right fit but then I have my doubts about moving there as well.
First of all, it is predominantly Catalan which neither me or my partner can speak (I speak Spanish fluently), there is tensions in the region about becoming independent from Spain and another aspect I have heard (I am not certain about this) is about the racism in Barcelona compared to other cities. Now I personally being of Asian origin and having experienced racism before, would not want to go through all that again. Im planning to settle down wherever I move to and have kids, therefore, access to good international schools would also be something I would take into very serious consideration.
In terms of business as well, could you tell me which place would be better Madrid or Barcelona?

I am open to considering other parts of Spain as well!

Thanks and hope to hear how your story about moving to Spain as well!
 

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I lived in Madrid for a few years and still live near. I've never lived in Barcelona, but I lived in Tarragona for a while and I've visited several times.
Barcelona is a strange mix.
For some reason it is far more cosmopolitan than Madrid, more restaurants from different countries for example, different foods available, different fashions on the streets, more creative arts, more modern and innovative in general. I don't really know why, but everyone I speak to agrees. However the Catalans in general are much more insular always looking towards Catalonia and with the use of Catalan totally dominating over the Spanish. That's not to say communication doesn't / can't take place in Spanish, it's just that Catalan is vey much the first language, and that's something to be taken into consideration. Children are taught exclusively or almost in Catalan in state schools, but where is Catalan spoken? That's right, only in Catalonia... More info here and on other threads if you do a search.
http://www.expatforum.com/expats/spain-expat-forum-expats-living-spain/102657-catalan-question.html

Madrid has more of a big city feel to it for me, although it's tiny compared to London. It's a good place to live and there is some lovely countryside around. I wouldn't fancy living there with kids though.
Children in catalan schools learn both languages,spanish and catalan ,and when they finish theirs classes speak and write correctly both languages (spanish source 2013)other matter is that the spaniards anticatalan say this lie helped with the spanish media, like el pais ,el mundo, abc,13tv,telemadrid,la 1,etc,etc,etc.even the european union say last year that the catalan sistem of inmersion of language is excelent.
 

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Hi,

This one's to the OP I'm pretty much in the same predicament. I will be getting married to my long term boyfriend soon and am planning to move to either Madrid or Barcelona. I have lived in the Canary Islands before and loved it, however, due to scarcity of jobs moved out of Spain. I want to come back and preferably settle down in a big city which has a reasonable potential (trying to be realistic here) to set up a business. My aim is to set up a business with my partner in either travel, hospitality or exports (clothes, shoes, plastics). My partner has several sources in India where he could get these products from to Spain. I am working in the travel industry at the moment and have extensive knowledge about the Asian markets which I believe would come in handy while setting up the business.
In the meantime, I could also do a job while my partner takes care of the business. I am a EU citizen and would therefore, have no issues with working legally in Spain.
What I am really confused about is where to set base. I fancy a combination of city life with mild climate (neither too hot nor too cold), sunny days, multi-cultural diversity, tourism, lots of shopping, good social life and beaches as well.
Now based on my choices, Barcelona would be the right fit but then I have my doubts about moving there as well.
First of all, it is predominantly Catalan which neither me or my partner can speak (I speak Spanish fluently), there is tensions in the region about becoming independent from Spain and another aspect I have heard (I am not certain about this) is about the racism in Barcelona compared to other cities. Now I personally being of Asian origin and having experienced racism before, would not want to go through all that again. Im planning to settle down wherever I move to and have kids, therefore, access to good international schools would also be something I would take into very serious consideration.
In terms of business as well, could you tell me which place would be better Madrid or Barcelona?

I am open to considering other parts of Spain as well!

Thanks and hope to hear how your story about moving to Spain as well!
If you are fluent in spanish you dont have problems in Barcelona, we speak catalan and spanish without problems specially if you are foreigner.
Racism? I think that here there are same racism like everywhere,you can ask to the thousands of people from Pakistan or India who live with us since decades ago,here there are more than one milion of expatriates living with us, and I think they dont have problems (only those who broken the laws, but the normal people dont have problems.)
 

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Hi Op,

About the business side of things. I read in a book (although it was a few years ago, you need to check up-to-date information on the web) that Madrid is one of the capitals that retains a very high ratio of local people to others. It was at the time I read it somewhere north of 90%. That’s actually something I like about Madrid – it’s full of Spanish people. Barcelona has a much more mixed population.

I’ve done business in and with both. The company I worked for had offices in both places, and in those offices I knew of one English expat in Madrid and none in Barcelona. The non-Spanish in the offices tended to be from South America, in particular Argentina. Obviously it’s the language that attracts immigration from that part of the world. My point is, there wasn’t a constant flow of expats, particularly from English speaking countries (not sure if that is your target market – do you see English speaking people as your targets?)

I also have in mind that you are currently located in Singapore and you’re in the wealth management business. Spain as a whole simply has nothing like the number of English speaking expats flowing in and out of it as Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, etc. The people that do go in and out (of working age – your target market) have nothing like the overall wealth and/or disposable incomes that the Middle East and business hotspots of Asia do.

I think you might be better to look closer to home.

If you do persevere then note that in January when people are freezing their ****** off in Madrid, they’re taking lunch next to the marina in short sleeved shirts in Barcelona. Madrid v Barcelona – knockout in round 1 – somebody pass the smelling salts to the Madrid corner.

Thank you for your responses so far, really appreciated.

If I were to disregard things like climate / beaches do any of you have any suggestions on which would be the best city from a business point of view ?

Happy_Man kindly provided information on expats living on the coasts, but is that a majority of retirees or younger working families as well ?

Madrid is obviously a major business hub but not sure if that includes a lot of expats ?

Barcelona is more "youthful" so does that mean the majority of expats are young, travelling the world and not "professional expats" or does it attract professionals with families ?


Aaaargghhhhhhh........... tough decision for us !!
 

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I have noticed that people in Barcelona and cataluna in general, tend to focus too much in the area and don't travel much around Spain. That will be the case probably if you stay there. People from madrid tend to travel more, a short train ride and they are down south, coasts are never too far for a long wekend here and there.Pais basco, Galicia, Asturias are not far too for the odd Puente. ANd they are wonderful towns, historic towns around madrid too for a day off to explore with the children.
Even Portugal is within reach.
The spanish media are making his job very well..
Are you sure about you are saying? hahaha.
 

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I got by on poor Castilian Spanish when I lived in Barcelona for several months, but that was 12 years ago. Remember a large number of Andalusians and Extremadurians emigrated there over the years, besides I think if you speak Castilian then it really won't take that long to learn Catalan anyway. However I have also found the Madrileños more open and outgoing, and easier to socialise with than the Catalans.

Catalonia has a reputation for being more entrepreneurial - but that might be a reflection of the people rather than the opportunities available. Madrid is better for "big business" simply because it is bigger, it's the capital, and more money flows through it.

A few big hotels are due to be built in Madrid (4 seasons, etc) and it has a bigger airport so opportunities in the travel industry should be better. If you go into import/export then don't attempt to compete with the Chinese, but there may be opportunities in other areas.

Madrid weather is more varied - you get 4 seasons for a start - and it is only really cold for a couple of months, and only really hot for 1 month, the rest is fine.

I've never heard of Barcelona being more racist than Madrid. Madrid has had its problems as well, but compared to just 10 years ago it is a much more multi-cultural city these days, with a bigger mix of people.
 

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Hello to all,

I am hoping you may be able to help me out a little. I have been planning to relocate to Europe for a while now and I am now committed to making this move at the end of 2012.

My dilemma is whether to go to Madrid or Barcelona and I am hoping that people who are living in these place would be able to give me their best advice.

From a professional side of things I work in the finance industry as a wealth manager and will be working for a consultancy that has offices in both locations. My role is primarily dealing with expats normally between the ages of 25 to 55 with a small part of my business model aimed at retirees. Therefore it is important that the location I choose has a healthy amount of expats with new people arriving on an ongoing basis.

I am aware that both Madrid and Barcelona are major cities with expats living there, but which one would provide the best opportunity ?

From a family point of view, I will be relocating with my wife and two young children, so if you have any ideas where would be better for a family it would be appreciated.

We are looking more at Barcelona from a family perspective but mainly because of the climate (we currently live in Asia and are used to higher temperatures and the sun shining a lot !)as we know that Madrid has the colder winters but if Madrid would be the better place from a business perspective then that would outweigh the warmer climate.

If anybody out there could help out it would be really appreciated, we are heading to Spain in June this year to look at both Madrid and Barcelona but if we could be armed with information in advance it would be great.

If anybody feels strongly about one particular place and could even recommend areas where we should look at living in (within 45 minutes of the city preferably) then that would be very useful information as well.

Looking forward to getting your thoughts and advice

Apologies for waffling on a bit.................
I think that Barcelona would be better for an expat-focused business as it definitely feels more multicultural than Madrid. The non-Spanish in Madrid seem to be tourists rather than long-term workers. In Barcelona I constantly met English-speaking expats, mainly 25-35 year-old professionals. There also seems to be a lot of international businesses based in Barcelona attracting foreign workers. It also has the better climate and the beaches of course. The downside would be the Catalan, but if your children are young I'm sure they'd pick it up quickly and it seems the Catalans are much more patient language-wise with foreigners as opposed to Spaniards who don't speak Catalan. I will make it clear though that in the whole of Spain everyone speaks the official Spanish, it's just in Catalonia they have a second language as well, making it a bilingual region.

All that being said, as a place to live, I think Madrid is nicer. It has a warmer and more welcoming atmosphere, it feels more Spanish and more relaxed.

"it is important that the location I choose has a healthy amount of expats with new people arriving on an ongoing basis."[/B] based on this though, I think that description fits Barcelona better.
 

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Someone I knew who lived in Barcelona said it was more of a holiday place to visit, whereas Madrid was better for living... That was a few years ago but I wonder if it still holds true? There are certainly plenty of expats who live in Madrid (Americans as well as Brits and Irish).
I think Barcelona has 2 basic advantages - it's by the sea and has that "trendy" image. Disadvantages I suppose are the higher costs, poor water quality and the way mass tourism has damaged people's lives...
Madrid is colder in winter, it's true and of course a day by the sea will mean a couple of hours travel. But I can't really think of any other disadvantages as compared with Barna...
 

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Hi Op,

About the business side of things. I read in a book (although it was a few years ago, you need to check up-to-date information on the web) that Madrid is one of the capitals that retains a very high ratio of local people to others. It was at the time I read it somewhere north of 90%. That’s actually something I like about Madrid – it’s full of Spanish people. Barcelona has a much more mixed population.

I’ve done business in and with both. The company I worked for had offices in both places, and in those offices I knew of one English expat in Madrid and none in Barcelona. The non-Spanish in the offices tended to be from South America, in particular Argentina. Obviously it’s the language that attracts immigration from that part of the world. My point is, there wasn’t a constant flow of expats, particularly from English speaking countries (not sure if that is your target market – do you see English speaking people as your targets?)

I also have in mind that you are currently located in Singapore and you’re in the wealth management business. Spain as a whole simply has nothing like the number of English speaking expats flowing in and out of it as Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, etc. The people that do go in and out (of working age – your target market) have nothing like the overall wealth and/or disposable incomes that the Middle East and business hotspots of Asia do.

I think you might be better to look closer to home.

If you do persevere then note that in January when people are freezing their ****** off in Madrid, they’re taking lunch next to the marina in short sleeved shirts in Barcelona. Madrid v Barcelona – knockout in round 1 – somebody pass the smelling salts to the Madrid corner.
Hi,

I was wondering which place would be best business wise if I'm contemplating on these industries: travel, wedding/honeymoon segment and exports from Asian countries. I was also looking for cultural diversity, I've lived in London and loved the fact that it was so multi-cultural, meeting people from all over the world. I want my kids to fit in well in their schools too and be able to study with kids from different countries along with the Spanish...what would you recommend Madrid or Barcelona? The weather is secondary although if I had an option I'd definitely prefer warmer weather and access to beaches all year round!
 

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I don't have any experience of the businesses you have mentioned so I can't offer any specific advice. All I can say is that you should go through the usual steps taken by people setting up businesses, which is to create a plan that includes market research and a financial analysis of the costs and profits you'd expect for the first year or two. Have you done any specific research yet?

Regarding schooling, there are international schools everywhere so if you are ready to pay, you can give the kids the exposure to the sort of environment you are looking for. I would think Barcelona is the more diverse of the two, but as you mentioned in your earlier post, there is the Catalan factor to take into account. And it's about more than just the language, it's the way those who take a separatist stance let the anti-everything-else sentiments seep deep into their souls. I was in Barcelona only a month ago and it was disappointing to see how many people there feel the need to fly a flag from the balconies.

Hi,

I was wondering which place would be best business wise if I'm contemplating on these industries: travel, wedding/honeymoon segment and exports from Asian countries. I was also looking for cultural diversity, I've lived in London and loved the fact that it was so multi-cultural, meeting people from all over the world. I want my kids to fit in well in their schools too and be able to study with kids from different countries along with the Spanish...what would you recommend Madrid or Barcelona? The weather is secondary although if I had an option I'd definitely prefer warmer weather and access to beaches all year round!
 

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I don't have any experience of the businesses you have mentioned so I can't offer any specific advice. All I can say is that you should go through the usual steps taken by people setting up businesses, which is to create a plan that includes market research and a financial analysis of the costs and profits you'd expect for the first year or two. Have you done any specific research yet?

Regarding schooling, there are international schools everywhere so if you are ready to pay, you can give the kids the exposure to the sort of environment you are looking for. I would think Barcelona is the more diverse of the two, but as you mentioned in your earlier post, there is the Catalan factor to take into account. And it's about more than just the language, it's the way those who take a separatist stance let the anti-everything-else sentiments seep deep into their souls. I was in Barcelona only a month ago and it was disappointing to see how many people there feel the need to fly a flag from the balconies.
Thank you for your reply Horlics. I know what you mean that's exactly what I'm worried about too. Extremists and tension within the region which would cause caos in my life. It's very hard to uproot and shift to another place once you've settled down. I have also considered places like Dubai, Singapore etc. but I don't feel the excitement of settling down in these countries.

I've been to Dubai on several occasions but honestly wouldn't fancy settling down there. It's totally man made, expensive, flashy and looks like a copy of USA to me. You can't walk outside during the day especially in the summer months as it's way too hot and the beaches were strictly ok. I didn't get the vibe I do when I'm in Spain. The locals weren't too mixing either. I much rather prefer Europe for its cultural heritage and history as well as there's just so much to do and see!
As for Singapore, I have no idea but then again I've heard it's incredibly expensive as well. I love Spain having lived in the Canary Islands before. I was also considering London or the UK but then again, it's more expensive and you wouldn't get the same kind of lifestlye you do in Spain.
 

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This is the thread I registered for.

I lived in Madrid for eight months in 2004. Loved it. Great place. The only thing is that I never visited or have not since been to Barcelona so I cannot compare!

The nightlife and weather in Madrid is great, although positively cold in the winter. For a capital city you can walk around it very easily. I'd say that for the first five stations from Puerta del Sol, it's not worth taking the Metro as the stations on some lines around there are bunched together.

I've got family there so try and get out twice a year.
 
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