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Barcelona Village

Choosing city or country

On of the first questions we faced was where to even start looking for somewhere to live. Do you want to live in the city? Commute in from outside? Which areas do you look at?

Naturally where you look will depend on personal preferences and tolerances for things like commuting, but it would also have depended on what we could find outside the city. If we'd found the ideal hamlet then maybe we could tolerate commutes. However, one thing we did have to bear in mind was that in Spain the working day is typically 9 to 7. If you add an hour's commute onto that, that's a long day, particularly for a Mum who wants to see her children.

So our next visit was a tour to find out more about the area and the country in November. October and November is a great time to be here. Most sun-seeking tourists have left but there is still plenty of sunshine to drive away the memories of grey Autumn days in the UK.

For this trip we stayed in two locations. We got a cheap out-of-season booking in one of the 4 star holiday hotels up along the Maresme coast which was great (all you can eat buffet meals so no problem with food for the children). Then we spent a couple of days in the city.

This meant that we did look at the areas that lie around Barcelona, but in truth didn't really find anything which met our anglicised needs - no quaint commuter towns with houses with gardens and generally lots of traffic. The style of living around here is quite different from England so some of the English criteria simply don't apply - for instance few places have much in the way of garden.

There are some urbanisations (tailor-made estates) with detached houses in areas such as Sant Cugat behind Tibidabo hills (very expensive), Premia de Dalt and St Fost, and if you like a detached villa with very small garden and generally a patio rather than a lawn, then these are the types of property you will find. However, English traditions don't tend to apply close to BCN. As you live here, you do feel that perhaps this is a more appropriate style of living than English norms.

For most of the towns and satellite areas around BCN it seemed like you were still in areas dominated by flats and their charm wasn't really attractive enough compared to BCN itself. Since moving here we've looked some more and in general, we'd stick with first impressions - there isn't that much of an English style charm to the towns in the Valle areas and all the towns are strongly constrained by their boundaries.

Getting further out of BCN you do have Girona, the Costa Brava to the North, and the Penedes and Sitges to the south, certainly Sitges is very pretty but also very expensive. However we thought that the commute would have been too far from this distance away. If we had to pick anywhere we would have headed to the Valle Occidental area for it's greenness as much as anything, but the 45 minute commute put us off. This meant we were looking for something nearer to the city.

If we were not so fixed on needing to be in Barcelona, there are other options with the Costa Brava and the area around Girona being obvious candidates. From what we've seen, mcuh of the Costa Brava beats the French Riviera in terms of beauty, particularly away from the major resorts.

Next article: Looking in the city

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