So…how do you jump into Barcelona and rent a property?
It’s like anywhere really, to be effective you have to be on the ground…to view the potential available properties and familiarise yourself with the areas. It of course helps if you have visited Barcelona a few times previously as you should by now have a good idea of the city layout and where you would like to live.
In a very real sense we were lucky to have the support of friends. Milo took us into his home, so we had somewhere comfortable and inviting to stay. We were spoilt for cost and we had someone on the ground to assist us, or at least assure us as we navigated the rental market. We also had assistance form Nina who is Swedish and has been a resident of Barcelona for many years and so speaks the language.
Do your research:
On-Line Rentals: We started looking online prior to the move just to get a feel for the market
- https://www.idealista.com/ [this site is particularly good to use on a tablet as you can draw your desired zone on the screen of the area you would like to look at property]
Online Expat forums: http://www.barcelona-life.com/barcelona/expats
eBooks:http://www.barcelonaflatfinder.com/about/ ‘How to rent in Barcelona’ [In my opinion and from experience the book in the current rental climate has lost some relevance with flats being harder to come by and the opportunity to negotiate less likely, but the book still has some very good advice on what to look for in a property etc.]
Engage a property finder: the fee includes a list of potential properties (this is currently problematic with properties coming and going as quickly as they are) Pre-arranged appointments to view the properties with the agent. A readymade translator and negotiator to act on your behalf to secure a rental agreement.
Then there’s the REALITY…‘you don’t know until you know’
Be prepared to feel absolutely exhausted by the experience.
- Foremost you will need the following documentation:
- An NIE ‘Número de Identidad de Extranjero’ which is the tax identification number in Spain: http://suitelife.com/blog/barcelona-real-estate/how-to-get-a-spanish-nie-number-its-kind-of-a-big-deal/
- Your Passport
- An employment contract
- 3 months of recent payslips
- Cash [up to a month’s rent]
- You need to get online because rentals do not normally appear in real estate office windows.
- Disregard locals who tell you rentals are cheap and easy to come by, they probably haven’t looked for a while and are completely out of touch with reality.
- There is a shortage of apartments…a small number appear on-line daily and if they are any good disappear just as quickly.
- Your options open up for two bedroom apartments if you can spend €1200+ a month on rent, but you can get them for as low as €850 but you’ll need to sacrifice some items off ‘that’ wish list.
- Take note of the advertised square meterage. An advertised 2 bedroom apartment that is only 40-50sqm is well quite frankly virtually ‘impossible’ unless you’re looking for 1 double bedroom and a cupboard.
- Don’t take it for granted that a two bedroom apartment means two double bedrooms. Many two bedroom apartments are a double bedroom and a single bedroom.
- Ring the real estate agent to make an appointment to view the apartment. [they will likely only speak Spanish so get a Spanish speaker to ring on your behalf] Don’t bother to email, they will not respond!
- For the viewing: If you don’t speak the language, the real estate agent probably won’t speak English ‘either by choice or they simply can’t’ so take along a local friend to act as an interpreter…fortunately we had Nina.
- By all means try to negotiate the rental but expect the response “there are no apartments so it is what it is”.
- If the apartments ticks most of your boxes, or as Milo says “is about 80% of what you’re looking for” and it feels right then ‘take it’. You risk losing it to someone else if you dither on the decision.
- Expect to pay as much as 4 month’s rent in the form of a bond. Its illegal [so I am told by my local friends] but what are your choices…no really what are your choices? The monies, according to the rental agreement will be placed with the LAU [I looked upon the exercise as enforced savings]
- Additional fees include: The real estate agency fee, which is about a month’s rent plus VAT [we tried to make the payment in cash on site to avoid the tax but were told ‘NO’] and ITP Tax.
- You’ll need to make a cash deposit of an amount up to one month’s rent to hold the apartment until contract signing day. This payment is made a the real estate agents office. In our case the €500 payment came off the agency fee.
- You’ll be required to make a bank transfer for the remaining costs. [I joined Currencies Direct before I left the UK and found their on-line site easy to use and the transfer has no fees www.currenciesdirect.com].
- The signing of the agreement appointment. You’ll be given an appointment to return to the real estate agents office to sign the contract. This experience was incredibly belittling. The agent was half an hour late for the appointment, when he entered the office he did not in any way look at or acknowledge us despite the fact he had to walk past us to be seated at his desk. He then proceeded to ignore us for a further 10 to 15 minutes before he finally spoke to Nina in Spanish and asked us to be seated in front of his desk.
- The rental agreement. This document will be in Spanish [of course]. Whether we had Nina or not it was plainly obvious that we were still going to be expected to sign the contract pages without question if we had any hope of moving into the apartment. [I have subsequently and painstakingly translated the contract and I would thoroughly recommend this exercise…Google Translate is not perfect but you’ll get the gist].
- Expect that your rental agreement will be for a minimum period of 1 year and as much as 3 to 5 years with a 30 day notice period to leave after 11 months.
- Now you have the keys…HOORAY – Its worth all the hoops and stress, we absolutely love our apartment. No it hasn’t ticked all the ‘wants’ but’s its pretty good even so.
Next step open a bank account … good luck with that…