Unless you speak Spanish, scouring the classifieds in local papers will be difficult (and phoning about potential rentals almost impossible). If you do have a little Spanish under your belt, the daily papers are La Vanguardia and El Periódico. The best days to check for apartment rentals are Wednesday and Saturday, although every day has some ads. Most of the ads will be placed by agencies, with some being rented directly by the owner. These are usually better as agencies have a pretty cut-throat reputation.
- Trovit Homes: http://casas.trovit.es/ Some lovely apartments, almost all ads come with photos and the ad copy is in English.
- Loquo: http://www.loquo.com/en_us This should really be your first stop for anything. It is optimised for Barcelona and is the local equivalent of Gumtree or Craigslist.
Most apartments in Spain are rented through agents, although with the economic crisis there has been an upsurge in private rentals as owners try to save on the 8% agency fee.
An agent will charge you between 50% and 75% of one month´s rent as a fee for finding you the perfect apartment. This is charged once you have signed the lease. Do NOT give an agent any money until they have found you a nice place and you have signed the contract. There are plenty of scams around in this niche, so beware.
Service by agents is terrible. This is almost a universal truth. Nothing will ever be fixed, you will be expected to make your own way to inspections, your phone calls will never be returned and they will haggle fiercely with you when you are negotiating the lease (trying to get up to 9 months rent as deposit – legal but absurd). Unless you have a steely will, try to rent from an owner (although do ask if they have ever worked as an agent!).
- Barcelona Home: http://barcelona-home.com/ An expat-friendly agency who match expats with homes. They also offer advice on the best neighbourhoods for you depending on your circumstances.
- Stay in Barcelona: http://www.stayinbarcelona.net/en/ Long term rentals, all agents speak English and they have a sister site for short-term stays, which means you can organise both your short and long-term apartments with one agency.
- Engel and Volkers: http://www.engelvoelkers.es/es/en/
Another expat-friendly agency (usually specializing in high-end areas) but with a good reputation and trust-worthy.
- John Taylor: http://www.johntaylorspain.com/index.html An ageny that solely specialized in high-end, but if you are looking for something in an exclusive neighborhood (like Sarria) or something right off-of the gorgeous Turo Parc, this is your agency.