Probably the most worrying and difficult thing to choose when someone is planning to live abroad is knowing where to live, specially when you don’t know the city you are going to. Everyone of us has asked the same questions, such as “is it a safe area?”, “is it better to share apartment?”, “or is it better to live in a residence?”, “will they try to scam me?”
We are all afraid if we are choosing the right option or we are wrong. Well, I have good and bad news. But I will start with the bad ones: it is impossible to know if you are wrong or not before making de decision! But the good news is that I am going to give you every possible advice to try to make the better decision.
I will start by saying that Barcelona is generally speaking a safe city, so the area you are going to choose should not worry so much. But you need to consider that as much touristic the area is, the more thieves you will find. So it is important to walk with precaution. In the subway and in big events you have to be careful too. Apart from that, you can feel safe, even if you are a girl walking alone the streets at night.
Another important issue is the distance from your accommodation to your studies center, but the good news is that Barcelona is not such a big city with great public transport. Usually it takes maximum 30 minutes to get from one place to another by public transport if you live in the city center, and 45 minutes if you live in the outskirts and you need to cross the whole city.
It is important to consider also if it is a touristic area or not, because it could increase a lot the price and also the noise. Touristic areas imply high prices for everything, renting apartments or rooms, supermarkets (there are less), bars, restaurants, etc. On the other hand, if you are in a touristic area, you can walk to most places.
Apart from the area, another important issue is choosing the type of accommodation. It is not the same sharing a flat or renting a room or an apartment. It depends on your lifestyle and your budget.
Practically all universities and most languages schools offer their own students residence and besides there are other independent residences usually near universities.
In a students residence you would live surrounded by people like you. There are a lot of foreigner students in Barcelona together in the same building. The student residences are like a hostel, you have the right to choose a single or a shared-room and then you can use the shared bathroom and kitchen with the rest of students.
Prices: Between 600€ and 1.000€/monthly approx.
The good thing is that is very easy to find a place which is good located, beautiful, furnished and you can book it in advance before you arrive in the city.
The most common way to get an accommodation by students in Barcelona is renting a room in a shared apartment with other people. It is the cheapest way but it takes more time to find the most suitable one. You can find apartments in Barcelona to share with other students or with the owner or with people that are working. The lifestyle of people varies depending on what they are doing, so you will find probably more quietness in a shared apartment with people who work, so you can choose depending on what you are looking for.
You can search a room online, because you can check the photos, location and description, and set an appointment with the owner or real estate agency that manages the rentals.
The main online sites to search for a room are:
I don’t recommend to look for a room in advance because usually rooms are advertised to urgent rentals or maximum in a month, so it does not make much sense to look for it 2 or 3 months before your arrival because probably at the time you arrive it would be already rented.
Once you visit the flat, usually you need to pay one month of deposit which it is usually used to pay the last month you stay in (so you don’t lose that money). And as soon as you move in the flat you need to pay the current month of rental. RECOMMENDATION: Once you have seen 4 or 5 apartments you can have an idea of the quality/price of the places available at the moment, so if you like it and it fits what you are looking for, don’t think so much and pay the deposit as soon as possible, because the best quality/price rated properties are in high demand.
You usually don’t sign any contract, but it is advised to get a receipt to avoid confusions if you have paid a month or not, if you gave a deposit, etc.
An important issue for people from a NON-EU country that need a registration of residency to get the NIE or a scholarship is that not every owner is willing to help NON-EU citizens, so it is important to check that before visiting the apartment.
Prices: from 250€/monthly (single interior room) to 400€/monthly (double exterior room) with expenses included.
You have big expensive rooms and other tiny rooms in not very good condition but much more cheaper, but generally speaking these are the range prices.
What I said so far applies if you are looking for a room yourself, but you also have online websites that contact owners and find an apartment for you according to your requirements. Pros: you can book online from your home and you are certain that the apartment is good. Contras: you don’t know with whom you are going to live and the company gets a commission for doing that job.
Another option is to rent an apartment in Barcelona for yourself or to share with people you already know (your mate or friends). In Barcelona, a 95% of the flats or apartments are managed by real estate agencies, so in order to rent a flat and get a contract they usually ask for 3 months-fee in advance, apart from a proof that you have the economic resources enough (scholarship or your parents income proof, etc.). Two of those three month-fees payment are to pay the deposit, so you can get it in the end of the contract, but the third month payment is the commission for the real estate agency, so you would lose that money.
If you fit the requirements and have money enough, is a great option, because you could choose with whom you share the flat and you could also enjoy the intimacy of a flat for yourself. IMPORTANT: most of the apartments are rented without furniture, so if you are going to stay for a long time make sure you are renting a furnished apartment. Besides this, the most annoying thing is getting contracts for services such as WiFi, because usually apartments do not include this kind of services.
Reference prices: From 450€ to 1.200€ monthly (expenses not included).
As you can see, you have a wide range of possibilities, so it depends on the area you’d like to live and the size and condition of the apartment (furnished or not, refurbished or not, with lift or not, etc.).
How do I do it to rent a room or an apartment from my country (before my arrival)?
My recommendation would be not to rent from your country without visiting the area first, and also seeing the apartment or your flatmates in case you share it. Just do it in case you know someone in Barcelona (a friend that is already here or that has been already in the same apartment, etc.).
and then, where do I go my first days in Barcelona?
If you already know someone in Barcelona, ask him/her to stay in his/her place while you look for a place. If you don’t know anyone you can rent a room for a few days (AirBnB, for instance) or a hostel. You can set appointments then to the apartments/rooms for the first 2 or 3 days you are in Barcelona.
I wish that these advices were helpful for you so you can have an idea of the most suitable accommodation for you. Good luck!