I am based in Barcelona however, I enjoy both Barcelona and Lisbon, even though the city-vibe is quite different from eachother.
In Barcelona, high energy can be seen throughout the city with tourists flocking to La Ramblas and the nearby beaches, while serving as a perfect hub for start-ups and freelancers to network.
Lisbon, on the other hand is more like an hidden gem. It is very authentic with more places still yet to be discovered.
Compared to Lisbon, Barcelona is about 15% more expensive than Lisbon - as long as you don’t run into the many tourist traps.
If you compare both cities on numbeo.com, most goods and services are more expensive here in Barcelona, but there is the possibility to pay much less if you know how thing work in this city.
Getting an apartment isn’t difficult either.
You can get long-term apartments for about 8€/m² in non-trendy but well connected parts like Sants or Sant Andreu.
In Poble Sec, you can find plenty of bars to meet up for beers, pinchos, and tapas for about 1€ or a enjoy a set lunch for 7,50€.
The metro is also conveniently located and costs less than 1€.
And if you’re looking to jetset, Barcelona serves as a great hub with hostel beds in low season are from 6€ and plenty of flight connections to all over Europe around 20€.
However, it’s easy to get caught up in the high-energetic life in Barcelona with many temptations all around.
Much of the nightlife is posh and the better-known clubs charge 7€ for a beer or 10€ for a cocktail.
The good thing is, you can make living in Barcelona as expensive as you want.
Most of the locals live off 1000€ or so a month.
In a sense, you can hack the system and learn tricks to survive on a shoestring.
For example, you can pay nothing to get into clubs just by signing in online at guestlist.
Additionally, you can go coworking from cafes with fast-internet, meet other nomads, join lectures and workshops at the many zero-cost-meetups (where also the beer is free).
Also the infrastructure is surprisingly good—efficient public transport, bike-sharing stations everywhere, and a there’s a walkable city centre so there really is no need to use the metro most of the time.
There are so many great opportunities funded by the city such as free support for entrepreneurs from Barcelona Activa, free use of libraries, open air events all year round and many possibilities for outdoor-activities. The beach and the great weather are also a priceless advantages!
So, take your time and soak it all in. In the end, you’ll see that spending some time in this city will be a much better investment than a quick tourist trip.