A guide for Digital Nomads in Barcelona
Spain’s long awaited digital nomad visa is finally available, so what better moment than right now to relocate to Barcelona?
If you want to start working abroad in a country that offers excellent living conditions without the 3-month restriction of a tourist visa, keep reading!
A guide for Digital Nomads in Barcelona
What you need to know about the Digital Nomad Visa
The Digital Nomad Visa gives non-EU nationals the chance to live and work in Spain for up to five years. This visa was only recently approved in November 2022, with the aim of attracting entrepreneurship and boosting the tech industry in Spain.
A Digital Nomad Visa in Spain can take around 20 days to receive after applying and is valid for 1 year to begin with. It can then be renewed for up to five years, but to maintain the visa, you must not be absent from the country for more than six months per year.
There is also the ‘Digital Nomad Residency Permit’ (valid for three years. Both visas serve the same purpose, however you can get the Digital Nomad Visa in your country, while you can only obtain the latter in Spain).
Who is eligible for Spain’s digital nomad visa?
You are able to apply for this new visa if you meet the following conditions:
1. Proof that the company has operated continuously for a period of at least one year.
2. Proof that the company has operated continuously for a period of at least one year.
3. If you are a freelance, you work with at least one company outside Spain.
4. You have a clear criminal record.
5. You have private health insurance.
6. You can demonstrate an income of €2.400 per month.
How to apply
You can apply directly through a consulate or embassy in your home country. Alternatively, you can come to Spain on a tourist visa and apply within the first three months.
Required documentation includes: the application form, proof of payment for the admin fee, a copy of your passport/ID, proof of University degree/work experience, proof of employment and income, proof the company has existed for more than a year, a letter of authorisation from your company to work in Spain, proof of a clear criminal record and health insurance.
Pros vs. Cons
Remote workers can pay a reduced tax rate of 15% during the first four years of their stay, provided they earn below €600,000 a year (instead of the usual 24%).
With some of the best internet speeds in the EU, average cost of living prices and plenty of warm weather, Barcelona is already a popular destination for remote workers.
You can still do additional work for a company in Spain as long as you keep your original professional relationship with a company outside of Spain and this new work doesn’t amount to more than 20% of your income.
Enjoy a fast-track application in just 20 working days (vs. the usual 3 months).
You will be able to include your family members in the application, and they will be able to get the residence as well.
This visa needs to be renewed every 12 months.
This visa doesn’t sufficiently address important services such as:
- Education for children of digital nomads
- Accommodation assistance
- Social security and pension payments and future benefits
The digital nomad visa is a new concept. No one can predict what these programs will look like in the future.Digital nomad visa programs will evolve over time, for better or worse.
Coworking in Barcelona
Barcelona has some of the widest range of options for coworking spaces of any city in Europe. The vast international presence in the city also means English will likely be widely spoken at many of them. A couple of popular coworking spaces for digital nomads in Barcelona are:
This branch of MOB (Makers of Barcelona) was the very first co-working space in the city so is extremely popular, well-equipped, and full of friendly faces.
Sitting in an abandoned factory, it offers a unique work environment and tasty coffee. You can even take your pets!
Located in the trendy neighbourhood of Sant Antoni and it attracts a pretty young crowd. It’s the perfect place if you want some after-work drinks with coworking friends.
There are also coworking hostels and guesthouses where you can sleep and use the facilities for work including ‘The Social Hub’ and ‘A Landing Pad’. These kinds of places can work out as cost-effective options if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Barcelona for remote work. They are the perfect space to learn, stay, work and play.
Another alternative would be to check out https://coliving.com/barcelona – Like Airbnb but for digital nomads who want a place to both work and stay.
Where to stay
One of the great things about Barcelona is how it caters to so many different tastes. Beach lovers can find their new home within walking distance of the sea (Barceloneta neighbourhood). You can also find affordable city centre living where you can really get the best of Barcelona by day or by night (L’Eixample/El borne neighbourhoods).
Meanwhile, those looking for a more authentic experience can find typical Catalan districts with plenty of interesting things to see, do, eat and drink (Gràcia/Les Corts neighbourhoods). Not to mention, Barcelona’s extensive metro and rail system ensures you should never be too far from the centre of the city, even if you base yourself in one of the more distant suburbs.
Cost of living
The overall cost of living in Barcelona is considered lower than many of the major cities in Europe. Generally, living costs in Barcelona are reasonable, though of course if you have a more lavish lifestyle, these will be considerably more. We’ve collected some useful information that can provide a reliable indication of the average costs of the day-to-day things that you will need to spend in the Catalan capital.
Transport in Barcelona
Barcelona has an wide range of high quality, public and private transport, connecting all neighborhoods in the city and the surrounding areas.
Transport Metropolitan de Barcelona (TMB) offers travel cards to suit different needs. The most common ones are the single ticket, a 10-journey ticket (T-casual) or a monthly ticket (T-usual), all of which work on the metro, trains, buses and trams. The price of the ticket varies depending on the number of zones, periods or journeys required.
Healthcare in Barcelona
Not to worry, the healthcare system in Barcelona is known to be very good! Something that might be a bit different than what you are used to, is the fact that in Spain, pharmacists are also permitted to give medical advice and write prescriptions for drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
Social life in Barcelona
Barcelona though is truly an international city with large numbers of digital nomads and remote workers based there. There are events pretty much every week, where you can meet other nomads and many are even geared towards more specific work sectors or specific interests. For example, you can use the platform Meet up or take a look at the blog below about Facebook groups in Barcelona.
Travelling in Spain
While Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and has plenty to see and do, it’s not the only place you’ll want to visit while you’re living here. Catalonia is full of culture and history so while you’re here you should make time for at least one of these awesome places and the surrounding regions. They’re perfect for a quick weekend (or mid-week) trip!
RENFE is Spain’s national train network which operates regular services across the country with high-speed, regular and suburban train lines. Train lines also operate with neighbouring Portugal and France. The best way to travel long distance in Spain is to book the high-speed train or ‘AVE’ which run between most major cities. A train ride from Barcelona to Madrid takes approximately 2 hours 40 minutes. In Barcelona the FGC trains (Ferrocarils de la Generalitat de Catalunya) provide regular connections to the suburbs as well as places such as the Montserrat mountain and monastery, a popular tourist site.
Getting the bus is one of the cheapest ways to get around Spain and is also one of the easiest ways to access off-the-beaten-track destinations and rural areas where there are no train lines.
Barcelona Airport El Prat de Llobregat is the Airport closest to Barcelona, offering you the widest range of international flights.
Backed by the Turisme de Barcelona and Diputació de Barcelona ‘Barcelona Workation’ is the name given to promote Barcelona as an ideal destination for temporary telecommuting. The objective is to attract visitors who work remotely and are also looking for a new experience away from their usual place of residence. Digital Nomads are a fairly new community and the city offers a range of services and products designed to meet the needs of a trending demand.
Barcelona has also introduced a special Barcelona Workation Card This combines free entry to attractions and museums all over the city along with other great discounts. The card is valid for six months once you activate it, so it’s handy to have for a workation of any length.
An alternative to the Digital Nomad Visa is the Spain Entrepreneur Visa. With this visa, you can stay in Spain for up to two years if you start a business.
You can apply for the visa if you are an entrepreneur, investor, experienced professional or innovative worker. The difference with this visa is that you can take your family members with you if they are dependent on you. If your business is successful and beneficial to the Spanish economy, you can apply for a renewal of the visa.
After five years, you can apply for permanent residence. The city council of Barcelona has put in great effort into turning Barcelona into a leading capital of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. It has now even launched a campaign that aims to attract international talent. Recently the long-awaited law on start-ups has been approved. This law removes some of the barriers in immigration procedures, which results in less bureaucracy, and also interesting tax incentives.
Barcelona offers a first-rate entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, which makes it the perfect place for international talent to settle down for a bit. Updates and more information on the new legal framework for start-ups can be found on the website of the city council of Barcelona.