Though not ‘reassuringly expensive’, Spanish cities score high in lifestyle rankings

barcelona quality of life
Barcelona

Property for sale in Barcelona and Madrid might be cheap compared to cities like London, Paris, and New York, but the Spanish cities consistently do well in international rankings that look beyond property prices.

Earlier this week I wrote about the latest Knight Frank Global Cities Price Index (Q3) showing Madrid not far from the bottom of a 46-city ranking of house price growth in the last year, suggesting the property market in the Spanish capital is sitting on its haunches whilst global investors head for more desirable cities like Miami, Shanghai and Moscow 😲. Other price rankings consistently show Spanish cities like Barcelona and Madrid as significantly cheaper to rent or buy than cities like London, Paris, and New York. 

But when it comes to quality of life rankings, Spanish cities most often represented by Barcelona and Madrid score consistently well, and are usually to be found in the top 20, if not the top 10. You will never find them in the top 20 when it comes to price rankings.

Two recent rankings drive the point home. City-guide Time Out’s latest ranking of the ‘37 best cities in the world in 2021’, puts Barcelona in 14th place just behind London, and Madrid in 18th place. Barcelona rated highly on the cultural side including eating and drinking, as did Madrid, second only to Paris for its ‘cultural offering’ as ranked by local residents. San Francisco was number one overall*, coming first in the ‘progressive’ category, and second in ‘sustainability’, much to nobody’s surprise.  

madrid prime property prices
Madrid

Another ranking just released by Japan’s Institute of Urban Strategies called the Global Power City Index (GPCI) 2021 grading global cities according to their “magnetism, or their comprehensive power to attract people, capital, and enterprises from around the world,” places Madrid in 9th place and Barcelona in 18th place, with both cities rising up the ranking in recent years. 

The GPCI is made up of six “function-specific rankings” namely economy, R&D, cultural interaction, livability, environment and accessibility. Madrid tops the livability ranking, with Barcelona in number three spot. Both cities are also in the top twenty for cultural interaction and accessibility, despite Barcelona just turning its nose up at a new runway for the airport, but both cities are in the bottom half of the rankings for economy and R&D.

Basically, they are great cities to live in, but not to make a living, which might explain why they also lag behind in the house price rankings.

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