Barcelona is a hotspot destination for many expats and students alike. Plenty of people come here on a short-term basis and never want to leave. One of the things that you may be unsure of when you first arrive, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish or have any contacts in the city, is how to go about renting somewhere to live.However, this process can be pretty straightforward if you know where to look and what you’re looking for. And that’s precisely why we’ve written this guide on how to rent an apartment in Barcelona, to save you from the stress of trying to figure it out with no guidance or, far worse, falling prey to a scam.
How To Find A Room Or Apartment In Barcelona
You can look for an apartment through an agency (inmobiliarias), or you can go online and use some of the popular apps to search for a room to rent or a flatmate. The problem with using an agency is the additional costs, which usually consist of a fee to arrange a viewing, a reservation fee if you like the place (and homes do go quickly here) and then a deposit, a month’s rent in advance, and sometimes an administration fee on top of all of this! These costs can really add up, which is why many people choose not to use agencies.
However, if you do use an agency, you have the benefit of security via your rental contract. Without one of these, it’s not unusual to have a makeshift ‘contract’ scribbled on a piece of paper, signed and dated. I’ll admit that when I first encountered this, I was apprehensive and skeptical, but I asked around and my friends agreed it’s a pretty common occurrence in Barcelona. The important thing is to get the ID number of the landlord, check their details against the card and ensure that the photo matches and it’s not expired.
Below are a few apps and websites that are helpful or that have been recommended by expats in Barcelona. These will make your search for a room or an apartment much easier.
Helpful apps for renting in Barcelona
Helpful websites for renting in Barcelona:
In addition, never underestimate the power of word of mouth! Mention to everyone that you are looking to rent somewhere and have a look on Facebook groups such as Girl Gone International or the Groovy Freelancers Barcelona. It’s worth having a look and seeing what you can find. Join the groups, check the rules and start posting.
Useful Things To Know About Renting In Barcelona
By law, a landlord cannot request more than one month of rent in advance along with the deposit. Rolling contracts are rare; instead, you will usually sign for a fixed amount of time.
The criteria for who can rent a space varies from place to place and depends on the agency, landlord, or even the other flatmates. Often, whoever is renting to you will want to know and have proof of how much you earn. This could initially be tricky if you’ve only recently moved and are in the process of seeking employment. However, not every place asks for this, so don’t get disheartened. Some agencies will request that you have a Spanish guarantor if you do not have proof of income, although again, not everyone is in a position to do this.
It may be possible to negotiate your rent in person with your landlord or other flatmates when you go to view a place. You can often knock €50 to €100 off the bill, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get it reduced any more than that.
There are always listings coming and going, but rooms and apartments get snatched up quickly in Barcelona. If you view somewhere you like, it is common to pay a reservation fee of €100 to €200, which will then be deducted from your rent. Whilst you can of course look online before you arrive in Barcelona and start arranging viewings, do not agree to anything without viewing the place first. Scam artists who prey on newcomers operate in the city, offering to rent a room, asking for a deposit and then disappearing without a trace. This is why it’s important to get your new landlord’s personal details and to make sure they are legitimate and correct.
When I first arrived in Barcelona, I was advised that if I found somewhere I liked, I should offer to take it immediately, as it would possibly not be available the next day. I had a very specific idea in mind of what I wanted as I predominantly work from home, so I needed a desk and somewhere spacious so I wouldn’t feel claustrophobic.
While you’re house hunting, bear in mind that in Barcelona, you will commonly see rooms described as either ‘interior’ or ‘exterior’. An interior room is usually a space without windows. An exterior room has outward facing windows and often a balcony or terrace.
Try to look find lots of rooms that appear to meet your personal criteria, make a shortlist, and then view as many as possible. Go with your gut feeling; if you think the place is really great and at a good price, then take it. If something doesn’t sit right with you, or you feel that it would be too much of compromise, then wait. Some people don’t have too many requirements and so they can easily find cheap rooms, but this will depend on whether you can happily live in a room without a window!
Take some time to research districts and neighbourhoods and think about whether you need to be somewhere central or close to a metro station for work and so on. Some areas of the city have bad reputations, while others are trendy, but will come at higher price.
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