I arrived in Barcelona in September and having only read the Lonely Planet guidebook and taken a few notes of the odd club or restaurant to try out, I was more or less thrown in the deep end and made to learn for myself how to settle into this crazy city! To be honest, if you have been travelling before, you should cope with the pressure no problem but there are several things you ought to be made aware of if you intend on residing in Barcelona for more than a month or so.
1) Get your NIE!
Contrary to what some people may say, the NIE is one of the first and most important things you ought to do when arriving in Barcelona. The sooner you sort it, the sooner everything else will fall into place. Let me explain why...the NIE is an official governmental document which grants you residency in Spain and without it, you will not be able to purchase property, open a national bank account, purchase a vehicle or agree a contract for a phone, water, electricity, gas or internet. You will not be able to sign up for health services nor order goods from online. It really is that important. And to be honest, despite its arduous process, it is well worth it. It requires you waking up at early o'clock in the morning and queuing outside a drab building while you wait till the sun rises. In Barcelona, you need to go to the police station on Balmes 192 (near Diagonal metro station). Doors open at 9am and it is literally a first-come, first-serve process so the earlier you start queuing the better. I would recommend arriving before 7am. You need to fill out a form and will need some money to authorise the paperwork (think its around 16 euros). Remember to take your passport, passport photos and a pen.
2) Bank account
Once you have received your NIE, you can apply for a Spanish bank account and this is necessary if you want to enter into a contract of any kind - foreign cards are not accepted for a phone contract etc. The easiest place to get this sorted is La Caixa, there are plenty of them about it's hard to miss!
Possibly one of the most difficult things to sort out in my opinion. Finding an affordable two double bedroom flat in the heart of Barcelona is not easy and requires a lot of research. I know most people like to use loquo.com to find accommodation but I would strongly recommend habitaclia or idealista. They have plenty of filter options and their staff are really helpful. One problem you may encounter however is that often landlords will only accept a minimum 12 month contract and you will be forced to pay a large agency fee through these companies so choose wisely.
Now you have all this done, you can sort out any contracts. Then chill out, catch some rays and enjoy a glass of sangria or whatever tickles your fancy. Hope you have found this helpful, feel free to ask me any questions or if you're in Barcelona now, let me know!
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