SURVEY RESULTS:
THE EFFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS ON
EXPATS IN BARCELONA

Since May 2020, Barcelona Expat Life has been collecting information from expats to provide a holistic overview of the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on expats in Barcelona and the worries they are facing. Our ‘Effects of Coronavirus on Expats in Barcelona’ survey saw 170 respondents, all of whom were completely anonymous and have completed the survey online throughout the past few months.

 

From those who responded, there are a couple of findings in particular which have provided us with an insight into worries that expats have been facing during the pandemic. Firstly, results show that expats who have been living in Barcelona between 1-3 years are the group that have the highest percentage of people considering moving back to their home country due to the negative effects that Covid-19 is having on their lives in Barcelona. Also, we have found that expats aged 18-24 are more likely to move back to their home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with 15% already making the decision to move and a further 20% saying that they are considering it. Lastly, we found that the main concern of expats in Barcelona is the security of their job/income, followed by the possibility of being able to return to their home country if needed as the travel restrictions continue to grow. 

 

We must note that the results from our survey have not been scientifically proven and they aren’t representative of all categories, specifically in the categories where we saw a low number of respondents. However, we can see a very clear trend correlating with the experiences of Expats in Barcelona as a result of Covid-19.

 

To really take advantage of our findings and to see the full picture, we recommend reading our report on a desktop if possible.

Table of Contents

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona?

Yes, I have been living here for 1-3 years
32%
Yes, I have been living here for 6 years+
28%
Yes, I have been living here for 4-5 years
15%
Yes, I have been living here for 6-12 months
15%
Yes, I have been living here less than 6 months
8%
I was, I moved back to my home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic
1%
No
1%

Most participants in our survey are long-term residents of Barcelona, who have been living in the city between 1 and 3 years, closely followed by expats who have been living here for 6 years plus. However, our statistics also show that a small percentage of respondents are no longer living in Barcelona and have chosen to relocate back to their home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

No
64%
I am considering it
16%
I would prefer to move to another country, but not to my home country
12%
I have already moved back home temporarily
5%
If I had the opportunity to move back home I would, but unfortunately it isn’t possible
3%
I have already moved back home indefinitely
1%

Given the negative effects that Covid-19 and the seemingly never-ending lockdowns are having on people’s lives, it is hard to decide whether to stay where you are or to return to your home country. Despite 64% of expats wanting to remain in Barcelona, we also found that 4 in 10 expats are having serious doubts about whether to move back to their home country. A slightly concerning finding, is that the people who are considering relocating are in-fact, long-term residents of Barcelona. Our survey shows that 22% of those who are considering moving have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years and 20% have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years. It was also long-term residents who expressed their interest in moving to another country altogether, with the highest percentage belonging to the group who have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years (16%).  

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering it
I have no opportunity
I moved back -indefinitely
I moved back -temporarily
I prefer another country
No%
Total
I have been living in Barcelona less than 6 months
15%
8%
0%
8%
15%
54%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 6-12 months
19%
0%
0%
8%
8%
65%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years
22%
4%
2%
5%
11%
56%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years
20%
0%
4%
0%
16%
60%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 6 years+
6%
4%
0%
0%
13%
77%
100%
I moved back to my home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic
0%
0%
0%
100%
0%
0%
100%
I am not living in Barcelona
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
100%
100%
Total
16%
3%
1%
5%
12%
64%
100%

What was your main reason for
relocating to Barcelona?

Better Life
52%
Work
42%
Weather
38%
Love
21%
Other
11%
Study
10%
Internship
6%

(multiple answers possible)

There are plenty of reasons why expats choose to move to Barcelona. Our results indicate that 52% of respondents moved to Barcelona for a better life, which doesn’t come as a surprise as the potential in Barcelona is endless. In addition, 42% of expats said they moved to Barcelona for work opportunities and 32% moved for the for the better weather. The table below shows that the highest percentage of those considering moving back to their home country are in fact, the expats who came to Barcelona for an Internship (20%), followed by those who came for educational purposes and the weather (both 18%). We found that the group with the highest amount of people who have already moved back temporarily are those who came to Barcelona for Work or to study (both 6%). This result isn’t entirely surprising as most companies and universities are now allowing their staff/students to work from home.

What was your main reason for relocating to Barcelona? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

What was your main reason for relocating to Barcelona?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering it
I have no opportunity
I moved back - indefinitely
I moved back - temporarily
I prefer another country
No%
Total
Better life
10%
2%
2%
4%
15%
66%
100%
Internship
20%
0%
0%
0%
0%
80%
100%
Love
9%
6%
0%
0%
9%
77%
100%
Study
18%
0%
0%
6%
18%
59%
100%
Weather
18%
0%
2%
2%
12%
66%
100%
Work
14%
3%
1%
6%
14%
62%
100%
Other
5%
0%
0%
5%
16%
74%
100%
Total
16%
3%
1%
5%
12%
64%
100%

Initially, how long were you planning to stay in Barcelona?

I didn’t have a concrete plan
38%
1-2 years
21%
The rest of my life
15%
Less than a year
12%
3-5 years
11%
More than 10 years
2%
6-10 years
1%

Most people would assume that expats who come to Barcelona without a definite plan would be the group who are more prone to the idea of relocating elsewhere or back to their home country if the situation was better than that in Barcelona. However, although almost 40% of our respondents came to the city without a concrete plan, we didn’t see any correlation between these expats and their opinions on moving out of Barcelona due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it was those who had planned to live in Barcelona for a longer period who were considering moving or had already moved. For example, 25% of those who planned on staying for more than 10 years said they are considering relocating, while only 17% of expats who came without any sort of plan are considering moving. What was also interesting to see was that 100% of respondents who have been living in Barcelona between 6-10 years are considering moving to a different country entirely.

Initially, how long were you planning to stay in Barcelona? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Initially, how long were you planning to stay in Barcelona?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering itI have no opportunity I moved back -indefinitelyI moved back -temporarilyI prefer another countryNo%Total
I did not have a concrete plan
17%
0%
2%
5%
5%
72%
100%
Less than a year
10%
10%
0%
14%
5%
62%
100%
1-2 years
20%
3%
0%
6%
20%
51%
100%
3-5 years
21%
5%
0%
0%
11%
63%
100%
6-10 years
0%
0%
0%
0%
100%
0%
100%
More than 10 years
25%
25%
0%
0%
0%
50%
100%
Rest of my life
8%
0%
4%
0%
24%
64%
100%
Total
16%
3%
1%
5%
12%
64%
100%

Is this your first time living abroad?

No
75%
Yes
24%
No answer provided
1%

Results show that 75% of expats who participated in this survey have already lived abroad before they moved to Barcelona. However, as seen in the table below, there doesn’t seem to be a significant correlation between those living abroad for the first time and those who are having the most doubts about leaving Barcelona thanks to Coronanavirus. 

Is this your first time living abroad? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Is this your first time living abroad?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering it
I have no opportunity
I moved back - indefinitely
I moved back - temporarily
I prefer another country
No
Total
No
17%
2%
2%
5%
10%
64%
100%
Yes
13%
5%
0%
5%
18%
60%
100%
No answer provided
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
100%
100%
Total
16%
3%
1%
5%
12%
64%
100%

Which of the following age groups do you fall under?

25-34 years old
52%
35-54 years old
33%
18-24 years old
12%
55-64 years old
3%
65 years+
1%

We have also found that expats aged 18-24 are more likely to relocate due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with 15% of this group already making the decision to move back to their home country temporarily and a further 20% saying that they are considering it. From our findings, it is clear to see that older generations are having less doubt about leaving Barcelona as despite 20% of those aged 55-64 saying they are considering moving back to their home country, 100% of respondents over the age of 65 want to stay in Barcelona.

Which of the following age groups do you fall under? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Which of the following age groups do you fall under?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering it
I moved back - indefinitely
I have no opportunity
I moved back -temporarily
I prefer another country
No
Total
18-24 years old
20%
0%
0%
15%
5%
60%
100%
25-34 years old
16%
2%
2%
5%
14%
61%
100%
35-54 years old
14%
0%
5%
2%
13%
66%
100%
55-64 years old
20%
0%
0%
0%
0%
80%
100%
65 years+
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
100%
100%
Total
16%
1%
3%
5%
12%
64%
100%

How is the Coronavirus pandemic making you feel?

I feel fine
40%
I feel stressed
39%
I am bored
32%
I feel isolated
30%
No answer provided
6%

(multiple answers possible)

Responses to this question provided very similar percentages, but the majority of expats (40%) said they felt fine regardless of Covid-19. However, 39% of expats said the pandemic was making them feel stressed, while others said they felt bored or isolated. We found that the most popular answer for those who have been living in Barcelona for less than 6 months was ‘I feel isolated’ (54%), whereas the most popular answer for those who have been living in Barcelona for 6 years plus was ‘I feel fine’ (47%). We can imagine that this result is due to the fact that those living in the city for a shorter period of time may still be trying to settle in and haven’t had the opportunity to make the most of their time in Barcelona and meet new people.

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona? versus How is the Coronavirus pandemic making you feel?

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona?

versus

How is the Coronavirus pandemic making you feel?

I have been living in Barcelona less than 6 months
I have been living in Barcelona for 6-12 months
I have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years
I have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years
I have been living in Barcelona for 6 years+
I moved back to my home country due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
I am not living in Barcelona
I am bored
38%
38%
31%
40%
23%
50%
50%
I feel fine
31%
31%
44%
32%
47%
50%
50%
I feel isolated
54%
31%
27%
24%
30%
50%
0%
I feel stressed
46%
42%
38%
48%
34%
50%
0%
No answer provided
8%
8%
5%
8%
4%
0%
0%

What are your main concerns during the Coronavirus outbreak?

I am worried about my job/income
51%
I am worried that it will be difficult to visit my home country if needed
46%
I am worried about the mental/physical health of my friends and family
38%
I am worried about my own mental/physical health
36%
I am worried about how I can maintain my social life
24%
I am struggling to find a new routine
23%
I am not sure if I should stay in Barcelona or move back to my home country.
16%
No answer provided
5%
I am only in Barcelona for a short period of time and I cannot make the most of it
4%

(multiple answers possible)

Our results show that the main concern of expats in Barcelona is the security of their job and regular income (51%), followed by the possibility of being able to return to their home country if needed as the travel restrictions continue to grow (46%). Naturally, there are many different worries and problems that expats may have experienced at some point during this year. In addition to the above, respondents have also expressed worries for the mental and physical health of both themselves and their loved ones, as the effects of the pandemic are slowly chipping away at people’s well-being and are causing a significant strain on people’s emotions. We can see from the table below that no matter how long you have lived in Barcelona as an expat, these 3 things (health, job & travel) remain at the top of people’s concerns this year.

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona? versus What are your main concerns during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona?

versus

What are your main concerns during the Coronavirus outbreak?

I have been living in Barcelona less than 6 months
I have been living in Barcelona for 6-12 months
I have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years
I have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years
I have been living in Barcelona for 6 years+
I moved back to my home country due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
I am not living in Barcelona
Short period of time / cannot make the most of it
31%
8%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Should I stay or should I move back
31%
23%
20%
12%
9%
0%
0%
Routine
31%
15%
25%
20%
21%
50%
50%
Social life
38%
35%
24%
20%
17%
0%
50%
Job/income
31%
54%
47%
56%
55%
50%
100%
Health family/friends
62%
38%
44%
44%
21%
0%
50%
Own health
62%
42%
27%
44%
32%
50%
50%
Visit home country
31%
58%
44%
36%
55%
<
i>50%
0%
No answer provided
0%
8%
5%
4%
4%
0%
0%

Is the language barrier making it more difficult to understand the Coronavirus lockdown measures?

No, I speak the language fluently
59%
A little
34%
Yes
8%

Something important to highlight is that the language barrier isn’t proving to be a problem for most expats, as 59% of participants stated they can speak the language fluently. However, expats who have lived in Barcelona for less than 6 months, or between 6-12 months said that the language barrier has made it difficult for them to understand lockdown measures. 

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona? versus Is the language barrier making it more difficult to understand the Coronavirus lockdown measures?

Are you an expatriate in Barcelona?

versus

Is the language barrier making it more difficult to understand the Coronavirus lockdown measures?

A little
No, I speak the language fluently
Yes
Total
I have been living in Barcelona less than 6 months
38%
46%
15%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 6-12 months
46%
38%
15%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years
45%
47%
7%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years
24%
72%
4%
100%
I have been living in Barcelona for 6 years+
19%
77%
4%
100%
Total
34%
59%
8%
100%

Although results show that the language barrier isn’t enough to make most expats want to leave Barcelona during the pandemic, for those who answered ‘yes’, there are still 15% who are considering moving back to their home country, 8% who have already moved back and 23% who said they would move to a different country. From the expats who said the language problem was a little bit of a problem, 16% are considering moving back home, 4% have already moved and 9% wish to move to another country.

Is the language barrier making it more difficult to understand the Coronavirus lockdown measures? versus Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Is the language barrier making it more difficult to understand the Coronavirus lockdown measures?

versus

Are you considering moving back to your home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am considering it
I have no opportunity
I moved back - indefinitely
I moved back - temporarily
I prefer another country
No%
Total
A little
16%
5%
0%
4%
9%
67%
100%
No
16%
2%
2%
5%
12%
63%
100%
Yes
15%
0%
0%
8%
23%
54%
100%
Total
16%
3%
1%
5%
12%
64%
100%

Summary

Since May 2020, Barcelona Expat Life has been collecting information from expats to provide a holistic overview of the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on expats in Barcelona. Our ‘Effects of Coronavirus on Expats in Barcelona’ survey saw 170 respondents, all of whom were completely anonymous and have completed the survey online throughout the past few months.

From those who responded, there are a couple of findings which have provided us with an insight into worries that expats have been facing during the pandemic. Firstly, results show that the main concern of expats in Barcelona is the security of their job and regular income (51%), followed by the possibility of being able to return to their home country if needed as the travel restrictions continue to grow (46%). Naturally, there are many different worries and problems that expats may have experienced at some point during this year. In addition to the above, respondents have also expressed worries for the mental and physical health of both themselves and their loved ones, as the effects of the pandemic are slowly chipping away at people’s well-being and are causing a significant strain on people’s emotions.

These findings go hand in hand with the results from the question “How is the Coronavirus pandemic making you feel?”, with 39% of expats stating that the pandemic was making them feel stressed, while others said they felt bored or isolated. We found that the most popular answer for those who have been living in Barcelona for less than 6 months was ‘I feel isolated’ (54%), whereas the most popular answer for those who have been living in Barcelona for 6 years plus was ‘I feel fine’ (47%). We can imagine that this result is due to the fact that those living in the city for a shorter period of time may still be trying to settle in and haven’t had the opportunity to make the most of their time in Barcelona and meet new people.

Most participants in our survey are long-term residents of Barcelona, who have been living in the city between 1 and 3 years, closely followed by expats who have been living here for 6 years plus. However, our statistics also show that a small percentage of respondents are no longer living in Barcelona and have chosen to relocate back to their home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Given the negative effects that Covid-19 and the seemingly never-ending lockdowns are having on people’s lives, it is hard to decide whether to stay where you are or to return to your home country. Despite 64% of expats wanting to remain in Barcelona, we also found that 4 in 10 expats are having serious doubts about whether to move back to their home country. A slightly concerning finding, is that the people who are considering relocating are in-fact, long-term residents of Barcelona. Our survey shows that 22% of those considering moving back home have been living in Barcelona for 1-3 years and 20% have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years. It was also long-term residents who expressed their interest in moving to another country altogether, with the highest percentage belonging to the group who have been living in Barcelona for 4-5 years (16%). 

People from all over the world move to Barcelona for many reasons. Our results indicate that 52% of respondents moved to Barcelona for a better life, which doesn’t come as a surprise as the potential in Barcelona is endless. In addition, 42% of expats said they moved to Barcelona for work opportunities and 32% moved for the better weather. We found that the highest percentage of those considering moving back to their home country were the expats who came to Barcelona for an Internship (20%), followed by those who came for educational purposes and the weather (both 18%). As we know, people have already made the decision to move back to their home country due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We found that the group with the highest amount of people who have already moved back temporarily are those who came to Barcelona for work or to study (both 6%). This result isn’t entirely surprising as most companies and universities are now allowing their staff/students to work from home. 

Most people would assume that expats who come to Barcelona without a definite plan would be the group who are more prone to the idea of relocating elsewhere or back to their home country if the situation there was better than their current one. Although almost 40% of our respondents came to the city without a concrete plan, we didn’t see any correlation between these expats and their opinions on moving out of Barcelona due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it was those who had planned to live in Barcelona for a longer period who were considering moving or had already moved. For example, 25% of those who planned on staying for more than 10 years said they are considering relocating, while only 17% of expats who came without any sort of plan are considering moving. What was also interesting to see was that 100% of respondents who have been living in Barcelona between 6-10 years are considering moving to a different country entirely.

We have also found that expats aged 18-24 are more likely to relocate due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with 15% of this group already making the decision to move back to their home country temporarily and a further 20% saying that they are considering it. From our findings, it is clear to see that older generations are having less doubt about leaving Barcelona, as despite 20% of those aged 55-64 saying they are considering moving back to their home country, 100% of respondents over the age of 65 want to stay in Barcelona. 

 

 

Finally, we must note that the results from our survey have not been scientifically proven and they are not representative of all categories, specifically in the categories where we saw a lower number of respondents. However, we can see a very clear trend correlating with the experiences of Expats in Barcelona as a result of Covid-19.

We are currently running another survey regarding employment in Barcelona. If you’re an expat in search of a new career or you want to share your jobseeking experience with us, please take a few minutes to complete our latest survey