Moving to a place to live can be really challenging. Now, after almost 10 years of living in Barcelona, I can firmly say we made the right choice, and we are happy with the move. Not always the things went smoothly, and it is ok. If you feel that the place belongs to you or you belong to the place, then just go and do whatever needed to make the move.
Today I will talk more about where exactly to move in Barcelona. When you come as a tourist, you really see the city differently like a local does. For example locals will never choose centrist places, most of them love more quiet places to live. Anyway, the way you choose where to live can vary depending on your personal preferences. If you have kids, like we do, you for sure, will opt for a family-friendly neighborhood. If you are a young professional then you will like to live close to the center or to the business you work for. And if you look for some cheaper options, then you will have to consider renting a place in the towns of the metropolitan area.
Barcelona is divided into ten administrative districts, each one with its own district council. These districts are Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Gràcia, Horta-Guinardó, Les Corts, Nou Barris, Sant Andreu, Sant Martí, Sants-Montjuïc and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi.
Ciutat Vella, meaning Old City, is the historic centre of Barcelona. This district, with its Roman, Medieval and Gothic architecture, narrow, winding streets and intriguing mix of old and new. The area features two of the best food markets of the city, Boqueria and Santa Caterina.
Main attractions of Ciutat Vella are Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Sant Jaume and it’s beautiful
government buildings, the buzzing nightlife in and around Carrer de Ferran and Plaça Reial, and the interesting shops in the commercial area of Portal de l’Àngel. As a family I would never choose this district to live in. It is always full of people, by day and by night. But if you are a party person, then for sure you have to choose it.
Many English people love this district. I really do not know why, but I know few of them, and they just love this district. The Eixample stretches from Plaça Espanya to Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes and from Ciutat Vella to Gràcia.
The Eixample contains the largest concentration of modernist architecture in Europe. It is also the economic and commercial hub of Barcelona and a high class residential neighborhood.
Passeig de Gràcia, home to most of Barcelona’s exclusive designer shops and restaurants, is at the heart of the Eixample. Also on this boulevard are two of Antoni Gaudí’s most iconic buildings: Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.
In this district you can find spacious apartments with high ceilings inside elegant Catalan Modernist buildings with long corridors and elaborate facades. But, of course this has its own price.
Gràcia is just off the upper end of Passeig de Gràcia, but it feels like you’re leaving Barcelona and going into a whole different world. Gràcia was in fact an independent village that was absorbed by Barcelona in 1897.
It has narrow streets and charming bench-lined squares. It is home to pavement cafés and bistros, low-key nightspots, alternative theaters and quirky shops that draw a youthful clientele.
Usually here live rich people, and the prices for the flats are high.
Poblenou was a traditional industrial area of Barcelona that at the end of the 20th century was full of abandoned factories and empty production premises. The city decided to transform 200 hectares of the postindustrial neighborhood into an innovative district offering modern spaces for intensive knowledge-based activities, creating an attractive place to live and to work.
The project was implemented successfully and helped it to be a new technological and innovation district, as well as a trendy neighborhood for young people and families.
All these changes made Poblenou one of the new preferred neighborhoods to live in.
This part of the city was mainly created for the 1992 Olympic Games. And after the Olympics, the buildings were transformed into apartments, and the whole area was renovated to accommodate gardens, terraces and community areas.
Vila Olímpica is well connected to the rest of the city by metro, tram and bus services. It is also within walking distance of Parc de la Ciutadella, the Barcelona Zoo and the Poblenou neighborhood.
It is a new neighborhood located at the final stretch of Diagonal Avenue on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, developed as part of the whole regeneration of the city’s seafront.
There is a huge designer park with a lake and many playgrounds and recreational facilities. We often go there with our kids, and they enjoy it a lot.
Many of the apartments in this area are rented out to employees of the multinational companies that have set up offices nearby.
Pedralbes is a quiet, exclusive residential area with luxury buildings and wide green spaces.
The area has easy access to motorways and the airport and is fairly well served by buses going to the city center.
Sant Gervasi, at the foot of Tibidabo hill, is another quiet, upmarket residential area. The neighborhood has a great community atmosphere and is very popular with Barcelona families. It also offers a good selection of shops and restaurants.
Les Corts combines buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries with more modern constructions. This is the oldest and most central area of the old municipality of Les Corts which was incorporated into Barcelona in 1897.
Sarrià is a lovely old neighborhood that has preserved most of its original personality that so enthused the Catalan bourgeoisie in the 19th century.
At that time, Sarrià was very prosperous and the architecture reflects this splendor through many Modernista houses.
Now, after looking into each district, and choosing the best one for you, let’s see how to rent an apartment. When you first come, I think you have to think about short-term accommodations. You can decide whether you want to take a hotel for 2-3 weeks, or an airbnb. Apart from airbnb, there are lots of companies who offer apartments per month. This option is cheaper than taking a hotel, and you can have more time on looking for your perfect long-term rent. They usually provide cooking facilities and all the modern conveniences of home. This type of accommodation is ideal for families and large groups.
After some time of choosing your property to rent it is time to do the documents staff. 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.
You should be able to show the owner your work contract, pay stubs and other proof of income, as well as a copy of your passport or residence card.
As for the legal part, you should take into account that the minimum period for renting a flat is 6 months (of forced fulfillment). Contracts are usually for 3 years (optional for the tenant and mandatory for the owner).
The following are payments associated with rental contracts.
• Current month’s rent.
• Security deposit. The tenant must pay a security deposit (fiança) 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. Another possible requirement for renting an apartment is a bank guarantee (aval bancari). This requires the tenant to deposit three to six months’ rent in a separate bank account for the duration of the rental contract. The guarantee is separate from the security deposit.
• Agency fee. Those renting through a rental agency must also pay a commission which is often equivalent to 10% of the annual rent plus 21% VAT (Impost del Valor Afegit or IVA).
Properties for rent (or sell) must have an energy performance certificate which specifies CO2 emissions compared to the dimensions of the building on a scale from A to G (being A the most efficient).
Owners who wish to rent housing have to give this certificate to the tenant before closing the transaction.
I hope this article will help you to choose the right place to live in Barcelona.