Finding medium to long term accommodation in Barcelona
You've come to Barcelona looking for a mediterranean adventure and your first step is looking for a place to live. Let's go!
Finding accommodation in Barcelona is quite easy compared to other European cities such as Paris or London. The prices are reasonable and the offering is vast, which is quite encouraging.
What are the best areas in Barcelona to live in?
Barcelona is quite a spread-out city and the areas are all quite different. Firstly, think to check where your university or workplace is: is it central or further out? If it is far from the centre, it’s up to you to decide if you prefer to be in a lively area and take public transport in the morning (also check your transport costs as this should figure in your accommodation budget), or whether you prefer to be able to walk to school or work and return home during breaks.
Once you have answers to these questions, you can rule out certain areas. Now you just have to decide where you want to focus your search. To help you, take a look at our articles on the various districts in Barcelona:
- Gòtic, Born, Raval: historic areas of Barcelona’s city centre
- Eixample and Gràcia: lively shopping areas
- Barceloneta, Vila Olímpica, Poblenou: the seafront areas
- Sants & Poble Sec: cheap areas off the beaten track
- Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Pedralbes-Les Corts: Barcelona’s residential areas
To help you choose, you can also read our article Which quarter of Barcelona is just made for you?
When should you start looking for accommodation?
Online a few days before you arrive
The simplest way is to start looking online a few days before you arrive in Barcelona. You can then get an idea of the prices and start to contact advertisers to make appointments. There is no use starting too early as things move very fast, but if you start your search 3 or 4 days before arriving, you should be well prepared.
Do not rush
Once you have arrived, check into a youth hostel for a few nights to give yourself time to visit lots of apartments and make a decision. That will prevent you having to make a rush decision, and regret it for the rest of your time in Barcelona.
- Discover our favourite youth hostels on our site.
- Take a glance at our favourite city centre hotels.
How do you find accommodation in good condition in Barcelona?
If you want to speak to a professional head to an estate agent. But be careful. Some of them can be dodgy.
- If you’re looking for a trustworthy estate agent, contact our partner agency through our contact form by clicking here.
You can also extend your search online. The following are some very useful sites:
Choose the ads you like the most and call the number shown (much more effective than email) to make an appointment.
- Never book an apartment without having seen it first: photos are sometimes far from reality! It is easy to make a room look much bigger and brighter using special lenses and retouching software. Always visit the apartment to find out what state it’s in and do not give in to pressure from the owner. If an apartment slips through your fingers, you will find another.
- Never send money by Western Union or any other money transfer website, to secure an apartment. It is almost always a scam.
- Never pay to see a list of ads: this is a very common scam where you are led to believe that by paying you have access to a database of ads that are not freely available to the public, on the basis that if you are the only visitor you might get whichever apartment you like. However, these lists are made up of apartments that have already been rented or are completely made up. Avoid!
Questions you must ask
Apartments in Barcelona have some peculiarities that are specific to Spain. Before arranging a visit remember to ask the following questions:
- Is the apartment “exterior” or “interior”? If it’s exterior, it will be bright and have a view of the street or on a very big courtyard. Interior apartments give onto smaller courtyards and are therefore darker but less noisy. Also note that in most “exterior” apartments only some of the rooms have a clear street view, so the room you want may well be “interior”. Ask for details!
- How big are the rooms? If you’re looking at sharing an apartment, make a note of the size as Barcelona bedrooms can be minuscule.
- Does the apartment have heating? It might seem bizarre but in Barcelona it is not surprising to not have heating. And although it is a Mediterranean city, the Winter temperatures can be quite low (see our article on weather in Barcelona to find out more) and it can get very cold without heating.
- What type of heating is installed? Be careful if it’s electric as the bills will be much higher than with gas heating.
- Are bills and charges included in the rent? If the answer is no, how much are the monthly electricity water and gas bills?
- Is internet installed in the apartment? Is it included in the rent?
- How much is the deposit? Generally the deposit is one month’s rent for empty apartments and 2 months for furnished.
Cost of rent and other charges
If you’re sharing an apartment, a room costs on average between €300 and €400, although you can find rooms from €200-€250 in Sants or the Hospitalet area (a town on the outskirts of Barcelona, but well served by metro). Charges can be around €50 per person per month.
If you’re looking for an entire apartment, bear in mind there are very few studios and small flats in Barcelona, so the prices are high. You will struggle to find anything decent for under €500. If you are looking for a one-bedroom, it could cost €600-700. For €1000 you can find a nice 2 or 3 bedroom.
If you are using an estate agent you will have to pay an agency fee. This is generally 10% of the annual rent + 10% VAT. If you’re looking for short-term accommodation (less than 6 months) the fees can be even higher.
- If you pay your rent in cash be sure to always get a receipt or proof of payment.
- Take photos of the apartment when you first move in, and send them to the owner. They will be a useful reference when you are leaving and will help you avoid paying for damage that you haven’t caused. It’s important to protect yourself as, like everywhere, not all landlords are honest!
Once you’ve found a place to live, you’re all set! Check out our Food and Drink and Leisure sections to find out more about enjoying the wonderful city of Barcelona.
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About the author
Pauline loves books, food and new discoveries. For her articles, she loves finding original and authentic places which are a treat for both the eyes and the tastebuds. Her favourite thing to do in Barcelona? Getting lost in the Old Town and soaking up its unique atmosphere... whilst enjoying the appetising smells emerging from restaurant kitchens! Is there anything better than that?