From Gaudi-influenced neighbourhoods to sunny beachside retreats, it’s easy to find a new home to rent in Barcelona in a neighbourhood that suits your Spanish lifestyle.
A warm, temperate climate, beautiful beaches and a vibrant local culture make Barcelona a popular place to rent a home. Finding a home to rent in Barcelona can be a complicated affair, however, with uncertainty around the property market and plenty of red tape to navigate.
In this guide, we explain how renting in Barcelona works, from contract lengths to tenancy costs.
The price of renting in Barcelona
Along with the rest of Spain, the Catalan capital suffered from the economic downturn. In the last couple of years, however, rental prices have fluctuated massively, spiralling to very high levels in early 2017 before slowing down.
According to data from the Global Property Guide, average rents in Barcelona are around €900-€1,000 per month for a 50 square metre apartment, or €1,700-€2,100 for a 120 square metre property, though this varies significantly from area to area.
Rent prices in Barcelona saw double digit year-on-year gains in the first half of 2017, before political uncertainty around the Catalan independence referendum resulted in prices slowing down to a standstill and even dropping in some parts of the city.
Rental laws in Barcelona
There can be a lot of bureaucracy and red tape involved in Spanish rental law, but tenants generally have their rights well protected.
For example, numerous protections are in place that make it hard for a landlord to evict a sitting tenant, even if the property is being sold or the bank has foreclosed.
You can expect to sign a rental contract for a fixed period (a minimum of six months but more commonly a year), which will then automatically renew for a new term unless you provide notice. The landlord cannot ask for more than one month’s rent in advance, so they will want to establish your financial stability or ask for a bank guarantee before agreeing to rent to you.
While rolling contracts (where a tenant can give one or two months of notice at any point) do exist in Spain, these are rare.
Negotiating rent costs in Barcelona
Negotiating on rent is not unheard of in Spain, though in a popular city such as Barcelona you’ll have to assess if there’s competition for a property when considering how much to offer.
You should also be aware of the whole package before you begin to negotiate, as the landlord or their agent may simply add the discount they’ve given you in one area to another.
Utilities are rarely included in the rent cost. Utilities in Barcelona can be typically around €100 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, but this varies widely depending on the type of heating in the building and will likely be more in the winter.
All long-term lets must come with an energy efficiency certificate, which you may wish to consult before you sign the contract. There may also be fees for maintenance of communal areas, local taxes and rubbish collection – these costs vary across the city.
Fees and deposits in Barcelona
Unless you’ve hired a search agent to find a property on your behalf, the landlord will normally pay the estate agent’s fees.
You will however have to pay a deposit, which will typically be equal to one month’s rent.
Types of rental properties and contracts in Barcelona
Short or long term?
In Spain, a landlord letting a property as a holiday rental (three months or less) or short term lease (12 months or less) must have a licence, but no licence is required for long term lets (12 months or more).
As Barcelona is a very popular holiday destination, short term lets tend to be geared to the holiday market and may be expensive for longer use. The landlord may also be unwilling to renew or extend a contract so be prepared to move out at the end of the term agreed.
Many landlords choose to only let for the long-term. A standard long-term lease is for one year, and the tenant automatically has the right to renew each year for up to five more years and can only be evicted or given notice to leave in rare and specific circumstances.
The downside to this system is that if you want to leave part way through a year, you’ll usually have to pay until the end of the 12-month period.
Most furnished properties are short-term lets aimed at holidaymakers, so long-term lets are rarely provided furnished.
There are no official standards for what constitutes a furnished or unfurnished property, so it’s essential to confirm the details in writing with your estate agent or landlord.
If you’re looking for a furnished home you can move into directly, expect to pay a premium rate. In many cases, for lets of a year or more, renting an unfurnished property is often cheaper and more comfortable.
In Barcelona ‘unfurnished’ may mean that the property has no moveable furniture (but retains its kitchen appliances, light fittings, carpet and so on) or it may be stripped to the concrete.
It can also mean that the landlord has left a few bits in the house, but not enough to fully furnish the place. Descriptions in property advertisements can be unhelpful, so confirm the details when you view the property.
Barcelona is home to a dozen or more universities and many language schools. With many more young travellers visiting the city every week, it’s a bustling student town.
Students are typically expected to find their own accommodation in the private sector, although shorter programmes (one to three months) and some language schools will offer or recommend hostel-type accommodation.
The area around the University of Barcelona (directly north east of Plaça de Catalunya and Las Ramblas) is home to many students as well as families and long-term residents. An affordable and very central area, it’s surprisingly quiet away from the main streets.
Horta-Guinardó in the north is another popular student area, providing easy access to the newer universities in the north of the city.
Apartment or house?
Accommodation in the centre of Barcelona primarily takes the form of apartment blocks. The city is a real mix of ancient and modern, and facilities vary not only by neighbourhood but by building. Typically, homes in the centre of town will be in 19th-century converted townhouses or purpose-built apartments.
These are often charming, although many retain quirks such as 50-year-old plumbing or wiring. New-builds are available around the city, though they’re often priced at a premium.
Slightly further out, the apartments give way to family homes. Barcelona has a comprehensive bus and metro network, and many people commute from towns an hour or more away. Expect to pay more for a house near the beach or in Les Cortes, where the international schools are clustered.
Apartments in the central beach side district of Barceloneta are also very popular with buyers.
How to find a home to rent in Barcelona
While many properties are listed online, the ‘whisper network’ is still important.
That means if you’re looking for a bargain or want to live in a particular neighbourhood, you should tell everyone you know in the city that you’re looking. Expats and English-speaking holidaymakers have already trodden a path for you, and most short-term let and holiday let sites will be in multiple languages. Local sites are typically only in Spanish, but may have better prices and a wider selection of properties available.
Be extremely cautious if you are arranging a lease before your arrival, or communicating directly with a landlord. This applies particularly to free online ads, such as those on Craigslist.
Using an estate agent
For new arrivals, estate agents (inmobiliarias) can take the pressure out of finding a place.
Most local agents will be working for the landlord, and will expect to simply show the flat and process applications. Agents who are accustomed to working with expats will typically speak English and/or another language, as well as Spanish and/or Catalan, and will usually have had their website translated.
They are also more used to acting as search agents. Search agents work for you, and can help you find a property quickly and easily. Their fees are typically between €250 and one month’s rent.
Online property portals:
- www.booking.com (43 languages)
- www.tucasa.com (Spanish only)
- www.ventadepisos.com (Spanish only)
Shared housing, short term and furnished lets:
- www.booking.com (43 languages)
- www.airbnb.com (20+ languages)
- www.shbarcelona.com (also long-term and sales)
Best areas to rent in Barcelona
For expat families, Les Corts is a highly popular area. It’s a pleasant, peaceful suburb, and is home to several international schools.
For those looking for a bit more nightlife, it’s possible to live within walking distance of the famous Las Ramblas area. Typically, you’ll find older buildings here, which may be dark as the narrow streets block out the daylight.
A sea view in Barceloneta is great for swimmers and surfers, and there are plenty of attractive new builds near the beach in Sant Martí.
Find out more in our district-by-district guide on where to live in Barcelona.
Suburbs and seaside homes outside Barcelona
A good train network and motorway connections make getting into Barcelona straightforward. Expats typically leave the city looking for a bit more space, and it’s easy to find.
The small towns and villages in the Collserola mountain nature area provide a rustic, relaxed retreat, and are ideal for anyone who has dreamed of living in a restored farmhouse or having an orange tree in the garden.
As it’s warm enough to swim in the sea for most of the year, beach towns north and south of the city are particularly popular with expats from colder climates.
Sitges and Tarragona to the south are both vibrant, busy towns in their own right, while Castelldefels is popular with expat families as it is home to the British School of Barcelona.
Find a property near Barcelona using Expatica’s housing search.