I’m finally at that stage of my life where I’m ready to live on my own (with my boyfriend), plus I can afford it! I have experience house hunting in Leeds, UK, but Barcelona is a whole different thing. Apartments are smaller, pricier and have less amenities. So you’re either very rich or you have to go through a really slow and dreadful process. But to make it less hard for all of you (and me), I want to share with you my experiences and some very useful tips!

1. Websites

I think most of us use a lot of websites once we start looking like for e.g., Idealista, Foto Casa, Pisos, Habitaclia and Segunda Mano. But I have no time to use all these sites so I’m mainly using Idealista and Foto casa’s mobile apps.

2. Call, don’t email

Yeah, we have lots of websites but apparently people here just use them as catalogues. No matter how many emails you send them, you won’t get a response. So pick up the phone and ask for when you can see it.

3. If you like it, take it!

If you find something you like on day one or two of the search, don’t wait. Call for another visit to make sure everything is 100% and take it. You won’t find something better and if you don’t take it, someone else will. The good ones go fast!

4. Keep an open mind

This is for all those who want to stick to a budget. If you can’t afford to pay a lot or you don’t want to go over your budget, be flexible.

  • Location: do you really have to live in Eixample? Or can you live somewhere else close to it?
  • Living alone: if you’re looking to live on your own, chances are you’ll have to get yourself a room mate.
  • Oven: I’ve seen some apartments with oven but a lot of them only have burners. Maybe you can buy a small oven (kind of like a microwave)?
  • Heating system: this kills me. Barcelona doesn’t get too cold over the winter but I just can’t live without heat. A lot of apartments in Barcelona don’t have a proper heating system. Most either have electrical heaters (which consume a lot of electricity… expensive!) or an air conditioner that’s also a heater. Whatever works for you!
  • Space: most 550-650€ apartments are 40-50m2.
  • Natural light: make sure you visit all the apartments you’re considering to live in.. Most of the pictures are taken at night so you can’t really see if there’s natural light during the day.
  • Terrace/balcony: this is a must for me but do you need it?

Just remember that you’re going to have to compromise as it’s incredibly hard to find everything you want in an apartment in Barcelona.

5. Make nights available

We get out of work at 6pm so most landlords or agencies will ask you to go visit between 5-8pm. Also, Sundays are useless because people don’t work at all.

6. Embrace the Agencies

I love doing everything on my own and I always avoid intermediaries but it’s hard to find apartments without having to go through a private agency. You can try to boycott them but sometimes some landlords are tied to agencies anyway.

If you end up renting through an agency, remember you’re going to have to pay extra! Also, you should know that when you rent an apartment here you usually have to pay upfront 4x your monthly rent:

  • 1 x Rent: Your monthly rent right up front.
  • 2 x Deposit: Normally equals to 2 monthly rents (if you rent a room it should be just 1x)
  • 1 x Agency Fee: It may equal 1 monthly rent +21%VAT (here we call it IVA)

7. Ask for what you want

Just because the ad specifies one thing, doesn’t always mean that the owners and/or agency are set in their ways. If you want to lower the rent, extend the contract, put furniture or get rid of it, don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are open to suggestions and they just really want to get their apartments rented!

What else do you want to know about renting an apartment in Barcelona?