Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finding a Place to Live in the BCN

For any of you moving to Barcelona or looking for a new place to live, the process can be time consuming and a challenge. A good first place to start is the website Loquo that offers listings on a daily basis for rooms and flats for rent.  There's also Idealista, and a few others, although they tend to cater to the more Spanish crowd. Normally, a person will post the type of room, the cost (usually rent and one month's deposit), the flatmate requirements (buy, girl, student, etc.) and their contact info (email / telephone).

If you haven't arrived yet, you might want check out what's available on these websites to get an idea of the going price. You can email and see if they're willing to hold it, but that might be tough. Good rooms are a hot commodity and people generally want to rent the room asap. Another option would be to post something about yourself, what you're looking for and see the responses you get to the profile.

In this case, you're more likely to find someone who will hold a room. Of course, you'll be dealing with a complete stranger so any monetary transactions probably wouldn't be a good idea, but as I said in a previous post, most people here aren't shady and pretty transparent so if someone's agreed to hold a room, chances are there'll be one. Likewise do the courtesy of letting the person know if you find somewhere else to live.

If your personal trust isn't that high to take someone at their word, you can do what I did which was rent a room through the TEFL course your taking (if that's the case) or through an agency. Chances are you'll be paying more than the going rate for the month, but there is a price for peace of mind, I think.

Planning on renting your own flat? Be warned: it's not cheap nor easy. The deposits required can range from anywhere from three to six months, plus an agency fee and other add-ons. They'll generally want to see some proof you can pay which will mean a work contract and pay stubs from the previous year. The cost and paper work is the reason why almost everyone I know shares for at least the first five years.
Compared to other parts of Spain, Barcelona is expensive but if offers a great selection of different types of flats in which to live depending on the neighborhood. The L'Eixample district tends to have bigger and more spacious flats with higher ceilings and the chance to stay in a beautiful buildings. The flats in Gracia, El Born, El Raval  and Poble Sec are often older and smaller but offer buzzing neighborhoods of hidden squares outside the door. Those of Arc de Triomf and Poblenou are newer but more residential.

Rooms are usually described as exterior, which means a view of a street, or interior, which looks onto the elevator shaft and both are almost always furnished thanks to IKEA. Kitchens veer to the small side and don't always have ovens, while bathrooms can sometimes have a shower, a toilet and a bidet, but no tub.

Of course, equally, if not more important than the room, is the people you live with. Once you've found a place at a price within your budget, you'll then visit the flat and meet your potential living companions. In many ways it's like a job interview and at the end of it, they'll debate whether or not it should be you or one of the many others. It helps to speak Spanish, but there are still plenty of opportunities for those who don't know the language yet.

Like I said, the process can be hectic. Arranging times to meet, running around, going through the interview process is a pain but just remember this is your space, so don't feel rushed to pick a place just because your tired of looking. Choose right and chances are your flatmates will become like family. Choose wrong and you'll be starting the process all over again the next month.


  1. Right! I am not looking forward to run around like a headless chicken looking for a room!! :)) But I agree that the most important are the people you live with! (and that the room is big enough, it's in a good place, has a big terracce... :))Looks like I'm looking in the good areas!

  2. I just found a nice piso compartido using this site: i can really recommend it. ;)

  3. I wouldn't highly recommend girls putting up a profile looking for a room. You'll end up wasting a lot of time going through crazed out, lonely guys looking for companion. Well, unless that's what you're looking for... Ok, I'm following, now you return the favour

  4. @mushymai - you're right or they might end up with someone who stabs teddy bears. Duly added.