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Life in the big city can feel tough at times for all kinds of reasons, such as the lack of contact with nature, the time required to get from A to B, the difficulties in finding an affordable place to live... Now, the Omnibus study carried out by Catalonia's Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió (CEO) research agency, published this Wednesday, reveals that a clear majority of those who live in Barcelona, if they had the option, would prefer to live somewhere smaller: fewer than 4 out of 10 Barcelona residents would choose to continue living in a city as large as the Catalan capital, if they could, indeed, choose. Conversely, 63% of respondents would prefer to live somewhere with fewer people. More specifically, 27% responded that they would prefer to live in a small-to-medium-sized town and 29% in a village. The rest - 7% - would prefer to live in an isolated house in the country.

The preference for living in smaller towns with fewer fellow inhabitants is not just a Barcelona thing. If we look at the general responses to the survey across Catalonia, the choice of almost 40% of the total number of people surveyed would be to make their home in village and almost as many in a medium-sized or small town. Only 15% opt for life in the big city and 10% want to live in the country in an isolated house.

Preferred place to live, according to population size of respondent's municipality 
(Options, brown to yellow: Large city - Medium or small city - Village - Isolated house) 


Thus, the preference for living in a big city is much greater (at 37%) among Barcelona residents than among the Catalan population at large (15%). Yet it can also be said that a higher proportion of Barcelona residents are dissatisfied with the type of population centre they live in than people who live in other types of town or village. Also fairly dissatisfied are those living in towns of 10,000 to 50,000 people, only 38% of whom want to live in a small or medium city, as they do - many more (47%) of those people would prefer life in a village. On the other hand, village dwellers and those of second-rank cities tend to be happier with their lot.

So why do people choose to live in Barcelona?

There are multiple and complex reasons why people decide to live, or remain living, in a place. A job offer, closeness to partner and family, because there is no other choice... The CEO Omnibus also asked respondents in different sizes of population centres the reasons why they live where they do, with four response options (from red to blue): Own wish - Family reasons - Work/study reason - Economic reasons.

Reasons for living where they do, by size of respondent's municipality 


Thus, in Catalonia, smaller towns have higher percentages of respondents who live there by choice, while larger cities have more respondents who choose to live there for work and economic reasons. Economic reasons are particularly important for residents of cities with more than 50,000 people, except for Barcelona, where work and study reasons have the most weight.

There are also other factors that influence the reasons for living in one place or another, such as age or level of education, the CEO points out. As age increases, the proportion of those who live in the municipality by their own choice is higher. By gender, more women under the age of 64 say they are in their municipality through their own free choice than men do.