Despite a short-term fall-off in sales following October’s referendum on independence from Spain, the Catalan capital remains an attractive place to buy a home for many of the same reasons that attract tourists: its city beaches, modernista architecture and year-round festivities.
Now could be the time to buy, as Barcelona’s property market finds its feet following a slowdown in the run-up to September’s referendum on Catalan independence. Analysis of official data by Mark Stücklin, a Spanish property analyst, shows that average monthly sales volumes were 20 per cent higher in the year to September 2017, compared with the same period in 2016. That figure dropped to 3 per cent in September. Many are anticipating a further exodus of companies from Catalonia over the coming year, but Gerard Boix of Barcelona & Costa Brava Sotheby’s International Realty in Barcelona insists “potential clients are recovering their trust and interest in purchasing a property in Barcelona and Catalonia”.
Its Mediterranean location gives Barcelona a mild climate throughout the winter, with a refreshing sea breeze in the hot summer months. On very hot days, those in the know swap the packed city beaches for the more peaceful alternatives such as Platja del Morer, an hour’s drive up the coast. The city is also a two-hour drive from the ski resorts of Andorra, while to the west lies the mountainous region of Terra Alta, often compared to Italy’s Tuscany and a magnet for oenophiles and heritage-lovers.
Barcelona’s plazas and wide pedestrian streets make it a pleasant place for a stroll. In 2015, the city implemented its Urban Mobility Plan, which aims to limit traffic and “liberate” nearly three-quarters of its land to public use. In addition to creating 186km of bike lanes, the city is gradually restricting vehicle traffic in designated areas, known as superblocks. These new pedestrian-centric neighbourhoods are designed to create a healthier and more sustainable urban environment.
Spanish tapas may be a favourite of those with a taste for seafood and charcuterie the world over, but how many know that Barcelona has declared itself one of Europe’s most vegetarian-friendly cities? In 2016, the city council joined Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Mondays campaign and launched initiatives such as Feria Vegana, a monthly vegan fair. Barcelona arguably is one of the best cities in Spain to find fresh produce and vegetables. The famous Mercat de la Boqueria may have prices to match its heritage and prestige, but many lesser-known food markets, such as the Mercat de Santa Caterina and Mercat de La Concepció, make it easy for residents to find fresh produce in pretty much any neighbourhood. For those who haven’t embraced vegetarianism, the Mercat de la Llibertat is renowned for its fresh fish.
Barcelona is not short of cocktail bars and other watering holes, and the bittersweet drink known in Catalan as vermut has surged in popularity of late. There are plenty of stylish and inviting spots across the city that offer it with food. At Primavera Sound, one of the city’s popular music festivals, it is served instead of wine. Those who prefer a quieter drink should make their way 100km down the coast to Reus. The city, the birthplace of Gaudí, is home to the Museu del Vermut, which offers local varieties of vermut on tap. Beware, though, that in Catalonia you’ll be frowned on if you even consider ordering vermut in a Manhattan or Martini. Have it plain, in the afternoon or early evening, with a slice of orange or an olive.
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