Moving to Barcelona for the first time? Once you’ve started looking for a place to put your head on a pillow, you’ll discover that even though keys exchange hands very quickly and it’s not easy to find the perfect place before someone else snatches it away from right under your nose, the battle for apartments isn’t nearly as savage as in other big European cities like Berlin or Stockholm. You might even be left with a few options to choose from! If that is the case, let’s help you figure out which apartment will be the right one for you.
You’ve always wanted to live this close to the beach, but won’t 30 m2 feel claustrophobic?
See, size does matter after all! The apartments available for rent in the Barceloneta area were apparently built to house families of mice, or introverted forever-single poets who would never let the shadow of a guest anywhere near their place. Although, they may be suitable for you if you’re going to be spending most of your time cooped up inside all day, bent over your laptop, writing code… Just don’t move around much or you’ll knock something off the shelves with your elbow. And don’t let the proximity of the sea disturb you in your marvelous work.
Tip: Have you considered looking in the Vila Olimpica/Poblenou area? You could find nice apartments just a few minutes’ walk from the beach. Plus, the @22 Barcelona Innovation District, a massive industrial area that is being transformed into an urban hotspot of knowledge and innovation, is also located in Poblenou!
Sure, El Born is a hip neighborhood, but have you tried sleeping there?
Narrow, winding streets, cutesy shops and cafés with terraces. El Born can be a charm, but it’s kind of like babies: it’s only cute when it sleeps. And it sleeps during the day, when you’re at work, and it’ll keep you up at night, you can take our word on that. Tourists heading from tapas bar to beer bar and then to parties, doing who knows what on the streets in between…
Tip: If you’re keen on living this close to the city center, try looking just a little bit more to the North, in the Eixample district. You will have better luck finding quieter streets and you won’t have to give up on your dream of living in the middle of it all.
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The apartment itself is a charm, but have you taken a look around the neighborhood?
No matter how cozy and welcoming your new place is, going home late after an exhausting day won’t feel like a relief if your neighborhood is just a bit too sketchy to feel completely safe after dark. Luckily, Barcelona doesn’t have too many risky areas, but you should always be on the lookout for signs of deal-breakers, like heaps of garbage and other forms of vandalism in the street right outside your potential home.
Tip: Once you’ve seen the apartment from the inside, swing by in the evening and check how the neighborhood feels after nightfall (it’s OK to take someone with you, no one will judge you). Keep a sharp eye in areas like the barri called El Raval, on the west side of La Rambla in the direction of Montjuic, which used to be Barcelona’s red lights district and can still be quite shady, especially towards the part leading to Port Vell.
The apartment is well equipped, but the kitchen appliances are a bit out of shape. Are you sure it’s not a money pit?
A fridge that constantly growls and rumbles and a thermostat that refuses to work now and again may seem like minor sources of irritation, but you should know that rent contracts in Spain may require the tenant to pay for the maintenance of the appliances and other electric devices that the apartment comes with. That could mean some major checks as well as a great deal of stress on your part if an appliance that you can’t live without suddenly decides to throw in the towel. Remember, in Spain, you have to wait forever for a repairman to actually come and fix your stuff. And all they ever have to say for themselves is that they’ll come mañana.
Tip: Make sure you understand what your contract says about repairs and maintenance, and sign only when it is perfectly clear to you what is whose responsibility.
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The crib’s amazing, the hood’s alright, but you’d be living with an old lady who’s renting out a spare room.
Oh yes, perhaps the most sensitive question of them all: roomies. Is it better to shack up with people who are just like you (say, software developers with flexible work schedules that you can actually be friends with), or people that you have nothing in common with (the aforementioned old lady or a guy who seems to be in love with all five of his cats). The answer is obvious, but how will you find them? And if you don’t, do you just commit to Señora Hernandez?
Tip: There are lots of different Facebook groups where you can search for roomies: they either already live in a place where you can join them, or you can start looking for a shared apartment together. Just don’t be a bore and try to find people from your own country, OK? Diversity is what makes it all fun.
The neighborhood is very quiet and peaceful, but isn’t your workplace in the city center?
If you’re positive that you’re ready for the daily commute, then go ahead. But if you’re one of those people that get extremely agitated by riding on crammed trains, under or above ground, then you may want to reconsider. Just think how hot and sweaty crowded buses can get in the summer. Of course, as soon as you reach the limits of the inner city, you can always hop off and take a Bicing the rest of the way, but are the peaceful slopes of the barri Sarriá really worth the effort?
Tip: If you’re set on living in a suburban area, get a motorbike. Locals love to ride Vespas or slightly more serious machines, and it really is the easiest way to get around.
Learn how to avoid apartment scams by using smart digital tricks!
If you’re wondering how much apartments and rooms cost in each district of Barcelona, visit RentIndicator and get up-to-date information on rent averages!
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