Barcelona has been voted one of the top ten cities in the world to move to in 2020 in a survey of 20,000 expats in the InterNations expat network.
InterNations claims their annual Expat City Ranking reveals how expats rate life in 82 of the world’s cities. The survey reflects the satisfaction of expats living in those cities based on criteria such as quality of life, cost of living, personal safety, and access to housing.
This year Taipei came first for the second year running due to its perceived high quality of life, good local transport, healthcare, access to housing, and reasonable cost of living. “The cost of living in Taiwan is cheaper compared to Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, for example,” says an expat from India. “And Taiwan’s health insurance and safety are what make it attractive to me.” Furthermore, 96% of expats say they feel safe in Taipei, compared to 81% globally.
After Taipei in the top ten came Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Montréal, Lisbon, Barcelona (7th), Zug, The Hague, and Basel.
This is what InterNations have to say about Barcelona’s ranking:
Ranking 7th out of 82 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2019, Barcelona is even voted the world’s best city in the Leisure & Climate subcategory: Nearly every expat is happy with the local climate (98% vs. 59% globally) and the local leisure options in the city (95% vs. 74% globally). There are “lots of social activities, cultural activities, and art”, sums up a US American expat. Barcelona also ranks among the top 10 in the Health & Environment subcategory (9th), as, for example, 88% of expats are satisfied with the availability of healthcare in the city (vs. 73% globally). What is more, Barcelona ranks 13th in the Getting Settled Index. Over three in four expats (77%) feel at home in the city (vs. 64% globally), and 73% are happy with their social life (vs. 55% globally). Not only do expats find it easy to get used to the local culture (77% vs. 62% globally), but three in five (60%) also find it easy to make friends in Barcelona (vs. 45% globally).
However, expats in Barcelona are less happy with the work life (42nd) and with finance and housing (42nd): more than half (55%) find housing unaffordable (vs. 44% globally), and one in three (33%) says that it is hard for expats to find housing, which is just around the global average (32%)
So, it appears that expats in Barcelona are also suffering from the shortage of good housing at a reasonable price that gets locals so worked up. Barely a day goes by without the local press reporting on the housing crisis in the city, and there are moves afoot in Madrid and Barcelona to establish rent controls before the year end. That will make it even more difficult to find good quality affordable housing in Barcelona in the years ahead, which could jeopardise Barcelona’s top ten reputation as a global city to live in. It will also put pressure on the choice of homes for sale in Barcelona.
The worst cities to move to in the 2020 ranking are Kuwait City, Rome, Milan, Lagos (Nigeria), Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Lima, New York City, and Yangon.
New York was in 74th place out of 83, and is described as performing “poorly in most subcategories and is even placed in the bottom 10 for finance (73rd), health & environment (75th), work-life balance (76th), and local cost of living (81st).”
Paris is in 78th place because, amongst other unattractive qualities, 40% of expats find Parisians unfriendly (vs. 19% globally), housing is a big problem “Everything is just so expensive,” says an expat from Portugal, “from housing to food and basic items”. In fact, 67% are unhappy with the local cost of living in general (vs. 38% globally).
Rome is ranked second last and the worst European city for expats largely because of its poor work/life balance, high cost of living, low salaries, political instability, and poor municipal services.
Kuwait City is last in 82nd place and sounds like a real dump on every level according to the expats who live there.
InterNations say they have more than 3.9 million members in 420 cities around the world, making them the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. See the full ranking here.