When I got back to Barcelona after spending the holidays at home, I was greeted with some unexpected news – I had to move immediately. My rental company eventually backed down, but after a few months of general frustration with my landlord, it looks like the time has come for me to move.
I’m still on the hunt, so in the meantime I thought I would share my piso-finding knowledge with any hopeful Spain residents. Here’s a breakdown of how to find and rent an apartment in Spain. I’ve never looked for a whole apartment, so my expertise is in looking for a room. But all these of sites do have the option to rent an entire flat.
This organized site is a non-intimidating way to dip you toe into a piso hunt. You can limit your search by area (there’s a map of the city), price, gender, number of roommates, etc., and it’s very easy. There are photos of almost everything, and it’s very, very easy to find what you’re looking for. You can then have a list of ‘favorites’, as well as discard ones you’re just not interested in.
This is also a good site for just getting an idea of what’s out there, and how much you should expect to pay for a flat in a specific area of a specific city. The map breaks it down by neighborhood, and you can also look at listings ‘pinned’ onto a map.
Oh, and if you don’t speak much Spanish, there are quite a few bilingual Spanish-English listings, and the site is easy to navigate in English.
There aren’t as many listings as on the next site, which brings me to…
This site is absolutely chock-full of flat listings. It updates so frequently that I can’t keep on top of the listings while they’re being put up. I’d honestly be very, very surprised if you couldn’t find what you were looking for on Loquo! The listings are all pretty good – I found some great rooms through Loquo. The sheer quantity of this site means you’ll have tons of options.
Just pop in search words for what you want (like ‘exterior’, ‘Gótico’, and ‘doble’, for example), then give it an upper price limit (which the site has kindly decided is my lower limit lately).
It’s pretty overwhelming and disorganized. You can’t discard items like on Idealista, and there aren’t as many maps to see where properties are (which is a feature I really like).
I’ve also met some pretty weird people while looking for flats on Loquo. Definitely a con, but there are crazy people everywhere so it might just be luck.
People with rooms or flats can contact potential renters on this site, so it works both ways. You can send them messages too. You make a little ad with your info (gender, age, maximum price you’ll pay, occupation, etc.) and then start looking!
This one limits stuff based on your profile, so you don’t have go to trawling through tons of ads not related to what you want.
Not as many listings as the other two sites, so this is definitely a distant third for me.
It can also get a little annoying receiving messages from flats that you’re just not interested in for whatever reason.
This isn’t either a pro or a con, but it does tend to skew a little older than the other two, from what I’ve seen.
Other sites to find and rent an apartment in Spain:
- Piso Compartido (thanks to Elizabeth from Slightly Nomadic for telling me about this one)
- En Alquiler (Thanks to Amelie from Lost in Traducción for telling me about this one)
- Don Piso (which only rented out entire flats last time I used this)
Those sites should get you started, but there are also a few other options…
- Use an agency. I can’t recommend a specific one because I’ve never tried this. Honestly, it seems to me like unless you’re really struggling to find a place, have zero time, or flat-out don’t speak the language, an agency isn’t necessary.
- Stay with someone from Air B&B to get an idea of flats. According to the site’s rules, you can’t actually rent an apartment from here. But… I have heard you can arrange things outside of the site. You have to do it unofficially though, otherwise it’s violating their terms.
- Look on conversation boards of groups you’re in. I use CouchSurfing and some international groups on Facebook, and every so often someone will post a cool room or flat for rent.
- Ask everyone you know. Stuff in Spain works like this often, so look for an enchufe to hook you up. I’ve had friends offer rooms and put me in touch with people they know renting out rooms.
Some other tips to help you find and rent an apartment in Spain:
- Enlist a local friend to help you write a good introductory email to send people. My Spanish is good, but I wanted to make sure I got the tone and content right. I asked a bunch of friends what they would say, and settled on a message with my age, occupation, and a short sentence about what kind of flat I was hoping to find, and then a line about arranging a time.
- Rooms go FAST here, so if you find what you want, say yes right away. I’ve had friends go from “Maybe we’ll move in a few months, if at all” in the morning to calling me at lunchtime saying “Have you got any boxes? We found one!”
- Get a friend to go with you if you can. As a foreigner finding an apartment, I’ve run into some weird people who were way too interested in having a young foreigner in their house. Not many, but I always booked it out of those places as soon as possible. Even though Spain is a safe place, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, if your language skills are poor, a friend can help you understand everything better.
How much does renting a room cost in Barcelona?
In Barcelona, rooms top out around €450 and they’re almost always more expensive to rent as a couple. A month’s rent is the standard deposit. €350 is a reasonable price to pay for a single room in a good spot in the city (with utilities included). The cheapest rooms in the center go as low as about €250, but that probably means a small room with an interior window.
So far, I’m having the best luck with Loquo, but Idealista is my favorite site to use. Fingers crossed I’ll find a cool new flat soon!
Do you have any other ways to find a cool apartment in Spain? Are there any sites I’m missing?