How to Rent a House

The accommodation in Barcelona will represent the biggest slice of your monthly expenses. In addition to the rent, you have to pay “gastos” (utilities) such as water, electricity, and internet. These can add up to as much as 150€ a month per person, depending on the type of accommodation you have. While renting an apartment or a studio, you are expected to pay 1-3 months’ deposit in advance. Similarly, if you go through an agency, their fee will usually be a month’s rent. This is not refundable. That is why so many people live in shared flats.

[showhide type=”post” more_text=”Before You Arrive – Short Term Accommodation” less_text=”Before You Arrive – Short Term Accommodation”]It is advisable that you arrange your short-term accommodation at least two to three months before your arrival. This way you can have more choices and get cheaper rates. Some good options include hotels, guesthouses, hostels or apart-hotels.


[showhide type=”post1″ more_text=”Shared Flats” less_text=”Shared Flats”]Within the city, the most common option is to rent a room in a shared flat. Or your own apartment. A good option is to come together with some friends and rent an apartment for yourselves. You can then share the expenses.

For all the options, there are several portals. Here you can find a shared flat, roommates and/or post an ad saying what you are looking for:


[showhide type=”post2″ more_text=”Rental Contracts” less_text=”Rental Contracts”]Most apartments are managed by Real Estate companies. This means that if you want a whole flat, you will most likely need to go through them and consequently pay a fee. It’s usually one month’s rent that you will not get back. When you rent one or several rooms in a flat where there are already people living, usually they will not make you pay that fee as they did already when they moved in the flat.

Anyway, even if difficult, it is possible to find apartments directly run by its owners. Once you have chosen an apartment to rent and the owner agrees to rent the property to you, the first thing to do is make a down payment. The down payment is equal to a month’s rent and becomes part of the deposit once the lease is signed.

Owners have the right to choose a tenant, based on their references and specific terms and conditions. You should be able to show the owner your work contract and other proof of income, as well as a copy of your passport or residence card. A tenant wishing to leave the property and end the contract needs to send a written notification to the landlord at least two months in advance. Always making clear the date of cancellation of the contract.[/showhide]

[showhide type=”post3″ more_text=”Long-term accommodation” less_text=”Long-term accommodation”]Any stay in a rental property for longer than six months is considered medium or long-term accommodation. Long-term accommodation is a stay of at least one year’s duration. A temporary contract is for six to eleven months and is renewable. This type of contract is normally used for holiday times and is more expensive. A normal long-term contract is for a minimum of one year and can be renewed for up to five years.

The first year is obligatory for both tenant (inquilino) and landlord (propietario). In fact, the remaining four years are optional for the tenant and obligatory to the landlord. Due to limited space in Spanish cities, locals are used to living in residential buildings. Barcelona is no exception to this. Single-family detached homes with a garden or even semi-detached homes are very difficult to find in the city. Those who wish to live in this type of house need to go to residential areas outside the city.

Keep in mind that in Barcelona, socializing is mostly carried out outdoors. Bedrooms are considered a purely functional place to sleep and are often relatively small. You can choose between furnished and unfurnished apartments. Furnished apartments vary in their furnishings but normally include basic living, dining and bedroom furniture, and appliances such as a refrigerator, cooker and washing machine. Microwave ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers are not always included. Unfurnished apartments may or may not have kitchen appliances or even light fixtures, but you can always negotiate with the owner.[/showhide]

[showhide type=”post4″ more_text=”Beyond Barcelona: Surrounding towns and cities” less_text=”Beyond Barcelona: Surrounding towns and cities”]Apart from the districts and neighborhoods of Barcelona, you can also look for accommodation in the surrounding towns and cities. They’re normally well connected by train with the Barcelona city center and could be a cheaper option.[/showhide]


How to Buy a House

Barcelona is an important tourist destination. In addition, it has become one of the most preferred destinations for a large number of multinational companies and individuals who decide to settle down or start their operations here. It is also a popular choice for foreigners looking for a second or holiday homes. 

[showhide type=”post5″ more_text=”How to proceed” less_text=”How to proceed”]The NIE is a legal requirement when buying property in Spain, so make sure you have to get this before starting the buying process (see Formalities section).

  • You will also need a Spanish bank account. Not only to pay for the property itself, but also the applicable professional fees, taxes, and charges on the purchase. (see Bank Account section)
  • Another important step is to hire an independent solicitor (abogado). If you do not speak Spanish or Catalan, a bilingual solicitor can also translate essential documents and explain things you may not understand.
  • It also helps to consider your income early on. Many overseas buyers in Spain purchase in cash, but you also have the option to take out a mortgage. Either with a Spanish bank or your local bank in Spain. Maximum loans are generally 75% of the purchase price.
Once you have chosen a house to buy, you and the seller must sign a reservation agreement. You must also pay a small part of the purchase price as part of the agreement. Your solicitor should then carry out all the necessary checks on the property to ensure that the sale is legal and that there are no debts secured against the property.

Be aware that in Spain, a debt secured by a property can be passed on to the new owner.

Once your solicitor has provided you with written confirmation that everything is in order, you can negotiate a final purchase price with the seller, sign a private purchase contract and pay a deposit, which is usually 10% of the sale price. The contract must provide a comprehensive description of the property’s specifications and characteristics. On the completion date, the final deed of sale is signed by the seller, the buyer, and a notary.

The full title deeds (escritura pública) usually take a few months to process.



Security deposit - Accommodation in Barcelona

Security deposit

The tenant must pay a security deposit (fianza) equivalent to one month’s rent for an unfurnished apartment and two months’ rent for a furnished one. The deposit will be reimbursed to the tenant upon termination of the contract.

Bank guarantee - Accommodation in Barcelona

Bank guarantee
Another possible requirement for renting an apartment is the bank guarantee (aval bancario). This requires the tenant to deposit three to six months’ rent in a separate bank account for the duration of the rental contract. This amount will remain untouched, while still earning interest, as a guarantee to the landlord. This is to provide the landlord with cash to cover outstanding rent and any legal expenses incurred in the eviction of a non-complying tenant. The full amount plus earned interest is reimbursed to the tenant upon termination of the contract. The guarantee is separate from the security deposit.

Agency fee - Accommodation in Barcelona

Agency fee

Those renting through a rental agency must also pay a commission equivalent to 10% of the annual rent plus 18% value-added tax (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido or IVA). You can make all the necessary payments by bank transfer from your Spanish bank account. You can also pay in cash or with a Spanish bank cheque, but not with a credit card. Rent must be paid during the first five days of the month. The rent and utility bills are usually paid by direct debit from your Spanish bank account.