Renting an apartment or room in Spain is a big part of the initial process of moving to Spain. Whether you are considering relocation or just discovering Spain for a short period, there are several rental options to consider.
Non-furnished Apartments in Spain
The normal terms for renting non-furnished apartments include between a one to six month deposit (or 5-50% of the annual rent), depending upon the timeframe of the lease. An unfurnished apartment usually (but not always) has a refrigerator and washing machine. Not all kitchens have ovens nor microwaves. It is customary in Spain for your deposit to be used as the last month´s rent (or last three months rent or what have you) if you are planning to move out when your lease expires. This depends on you not damaging the property, obviously.
Prices: At the moment, rent is inexpensive compared to other European cities. A 2-bedroom brand new apartment in the Barri Gotic (Old City), the most central and old-world neighbourhood in Barcelona rents for approximately €1100 per month.
A little further out in Les Corts, a three bedroom apartment will cost around €750 per month.
Furnished Apartments in Spain
Furnished apartments vary in their “furnishings,” but generally include a living room (comedor) sofa, table and chairs, bookshelf, beds and sheets, dishes and cooking utensils, and sparse decorations. These basics will become more complete and lavish (eg. microwave, better quality things, etc.) as the price goes up. It’s not uncommon for Spaniards to pick up used furniture off the street. In fact many people leave their used furniture on the street for this reason, otherwise it ends up in the dump, picked up by the garbage men. Watch for specific days of the week or month for your neighbors’ used furniture, with any luck you may find a slightly worn period piece instead of that hideous 1970’s brown thing they called a bookshelf with peeling faux-wood laminate corners. Everything is out there.
Prices: One bedroom fully-furnished apartments can be found in Barcelona for between €600 and €750 per month. This is through owners and agencies alike and most likely located in the city center.
Apartment Rental Agencies in Spain
If you consider using one of the many agencies available (more than 90% of the apartments in Spain are leased through an agency, so you may not have any choice), know that you’ll often be forced to sign a contract that includes deposits and agency fees that follow you from place to place as long as you stay with their agency. This option can save days or weeks off your search. They can usually offer exactly what you’re looking for from their selection of various apartments in different areas (barios) of each city.
Beware of ads where the number is listed like this: “93000000*” with the asterix. This is usually an agency that will sell you a list of flats that you will find already rented. Don’t pay for anything until you sign a contract. A legitimate agency will sign you up, find you an apartment you like and then charge you 50% -75% of a month’s rent as their fee.
For private rentals, check Loquo. Loquo will also give you plenty of options for room-mates (including expats).
Barcelona will offer apartments with 12 month leases. This is to cater to the foreign market, though traditional Spanish leases will run from 2 to 5 years. If you are not sure how long you will be staying, you may be able to negotiate a month-to-month lease. This will probably involve offering a slightly higher rental amount and it is a good idea to speak to the company who transferred you to see if they are willing to contribute to this cost. It is also helpful to know that utilities are generally not included in your lease, and neither are relocation clauses.
Generally speaking, if you are a good tenant and pay the rent on time, landlords are more than happy to renew your lease for another 2-5 years (depending on the terms of your original contract or what you might negotiate with the landlord) as it avoids the hassle of having to look for a new tenant and cuts down their workload.
When you apply to rent an apartment, you will need the following:
- Photo ID (preferably a passport)
- An NIE if you have one (see our NIE and Residency section)
- Deposit and first month’s rent. You can usually pay by credit card.
- Documentation describing why you are in Spain, or your Certificado de Padroniment (see our Registration section).
Bring your paperwork with you and be prepared to say “yes” right away if you like the place and don’t want to waste time. You are not obligated to claim the apartment on the spot, but when you finally find something you like, it’s best not to wait. The process is not like apartment hunting in NYC (which is extremely aggressive) but it is always a good call to have everything handy, in the event that you find a place you really love.
Many landlords refuse to fix anything (this is pretty common) so test EVERYTHING when you inspect. It is legal for an owner or agent to charge you up to 9 months rent as deposit. Haggle, and haggle hard; you will find most things in this city can be negotiated. Try not to pay more than two months as a deposit.
Beware of scam agencies who try to charge you hundreds of Euro as a fee for finding you an apartment. You should only pay 75% of one month’s rent of the apartment they find for you AFTER you have signed the lease.
Sometimes, you will find that the last tenant left unpaid bills. The utility companies in Spain have a bad habit of holding your connection ransom unless you pay any outstanding bills left for the address. Make sure you have been given copies of the last bills and call the companies concerned to ensure they are up to date.