A cosmopolitan city, Barcelona attracts people from all over the world. Some come for a getaway, others to study. Still others come here to start anew, to open a business, get married or to provide a better chance for their children. While their goals and motivations might be different, all of them face the same challenge – finding a place to live. And for most, this means renting. Here, Your City, offers its advice to future renters on where to look, and what to keep in mind when renting a property
According to statistics published by Barcelona City Council, nearly 20% of the Catalan capital’s inhabitants are classed as immigrants. Add into this those migrants from elsewhere in Spain attracted by the higher salaries, young Barcelonans eager to fly the nest and tourists looking for a ‘more authentic’ experience while on holiday, and it goes without saying that demand is high. Property prices are also high, with the average price of a two-bedroom flat in the city around 240,000 Euros. For those unable to pay upfront, or who do not qualify for a mortgage, the only alternative is to rent. A similar flat would set you back around 830 Euros a month, with smaller studios and bedsits between 450-500 Euros, and rooms in shared flats costing upwards of 300 Euros. While a room might seem the cheaper option, bear in mind that shared flats are the domain of students and ‘eternal students’, and any saving needs to be offset by the hassle of queuing for the bathroom in the morning and cleaning rotas.
Choose your Barrio
Now that you’ve decided to find a place, you need to think about where you want to live. Locals tend to prefer those areas on the edge of the city, removed from the bustle of the city centre. Upmarket neighbourhoods like Sarria — previously an independent village in the north, with a rural vibe — or Pedralbes and Bonanova with their 19th century mansions are the most expensive areas to rent. British and Russian, favour the sea front neighbourhoods of Villa Olímpica and Diagonal Mar, because of their modern apartment blocks, good infrastructure and proximity to the beach. Recent immigrants from lower income backgrounds, mainly Pakistan, China and the Philippines settle in the inner city: Raval, Born, Barceloneta and Poble Sec. Eixample, with its high ceilings and modernist architecture, tends to be the domain of young creatives. But while these flats have old world charm in spades, modern amenities can be touch and go, with not all landlords that concerned about refurbishing the 19th century properties. The lack of central heating or courtyard facing windows might feel like cute period details in summer, but come the winter can become the stuff of nightmares. Insiders tip: Think about Poble Nou, a formerly industrial neighbourhood close to the sea, with low rents and wide boulevards, and relatively few tourists.
Website dedicated to renting property. The listings are in Spanish, and include both direct renting and agency listings.
Website for properties both for rent and for sale. A great web design and multilingual options make it easy to search for exactly what you’re looking for.
Incredibly practical website for holiday homes and short stay flats, that lets you discover the city through the homes of its residents. More expensive than long term lets
Tax is paid on renting in Spain, and as such any agreement between landlord and tenant requires a contract. As attractive as it might seem, sidestepping the process by shaking on it with ‘Don Jose’ or ‘Aunt Rosa’ could end up with you paying a hefty fine. Perhaps as a result of not wanting to fall foul of the law, many landlords rely on intermediaries such as property agencies or lawyers. In most cases, these agencies are reputable and will draw up clear and simple contracts between both sides. However, they are also entitled to ask for valid ID, legal status, as well as proof of your ability to pay. To avoid unwarranted extras, it’s imperative to read the contract before signing. At this stage it’s also possible to negotiate conditions, and agree discounts on work to be done to the flat etc., but be careful not to ask for too much. Long term contracts are typically for a minimum period of 6 months and a maximum of 5 years, and will state the land register number of the property as well as the duration of the contract and the agreed monthly rent. Pay special attention to the conditions for terminating the contract. Typically a contract can be terminated after a period of 6 months to a year of living in the property, but if the landlord isn’t given at least 30 days notice, they can retain your bond. On this last point, a typical bond is either one or two month’s rent.
Pay attention to detail
When renting in Barcelona, it pays to pay attention to the smallest details. Ask for the landlord to prove that there are no outstanding bills you could be liable for, corresponding to old tenants or the landlord themselves. Also, while it might seem like a lot of work, it’s generally better to create new contracts for electricity, gas and water.