Isn’t it always tricky to find the best spot to stay when we’re about to settle in a new country?
We want to be in the town centre most of the time, but don’t quite know where it is located, or we chose to stay close to something familiar like a popular monument for instance, thinking “oh if it’s famous, it must be in a great area of the town!” which is not always the case. I know I’ve been in that position many times and it’s one of the most stressful things to deal with before moving to a new country.
If you are going to stay in Barcelona for a long period of time, I would highly recommend not to rent an apartment directly from your country of origin. Instead, book appointments to view flats once you get to Barcelona and book a hostel room for a few days, while you search for an apartment.
Additionally, if you’re travelling alone, the hostel will be the perfect option in my opinion, since it will enable you to meet new people instantly, thus avoiding the panic attack moment that goes a little like: “oh-my-God-I-Don’t-know-anyone-in-town-I-barely-speak-Spanish-I’m-starting-work-in-a-few-days-I-still-don’t-have-an-apartment-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life??????“. You will go apartment hunting by day, party with the people from the hostel by night and life will be just fabulous.
You should be able to find a flat quite easily because people rarely stay in town longer than 6-12 months. So don’t worry about that.
Living in Barcelona, you will most likely end up sharing a flat with other people, as it is less expensive, and probably your best bet if you wish to meet people and have a vibrant social life. If you stay in the town centre, chances are, you will live with foreigners like you. If you chose to live a little further, you will be more likely to live with Spanish people.
I would advise you to find an apartment in the Ciutat Vella, Barcelona’s old town. It is the very heart of city and that is where you will spend most of your free time. Living there, you will not depend on the subway/buses because the beach, the shops, the restaurants, the bars, and some clubs are all at walking distance.
Ciutat Vella comprises four districts: El Raval, El Barri Gòtic, La Barceloneta and Sant Pere, Santa Catarina i La Ribera.
When I got to Barcelona, one of the first things that people told me was never to set foot in the “dangerous” area of Raval because it was full of drug dealers, drunk people, junkies and so on and so forth. To be honest, it is definitely not the most attractive quarter of Barcelona. I’ve walked there by night and let’s just say that seeing people sitting on the seedy streets with an empty gaze and others being way too excited with their bottles of alcohol did not feel very safe.
On a more positive note, it is one of the two historical neighborhoods of Barcelona: a multi-cultural quarter, with immigrants from Indonesia, Pakistan and Eastern Europe living on that side of the town, which used to be the most densely populated area in the… World! El Raval abounds with cafés, interesting bars, restaurants, art galleries and shops. It is definitely worth a visit, however, I would not live there.
El Barri Gòtic (The Gothic Quarter), Barcelona’s historical centre, is one of the town’s most enthralling neighborhoods. It is bulging with jaw-dropping Gothic buildings that were constructed in the Middle Ages, and were later renovated in the nineteenth century, with the addition of ornaments or extensions in the Neo-Gothic style.
The Gothic Quarter’s impressive architecture and charming narrow streets that are teeming with bars and restaurants, make for a buoyant ambiance at any hour of the day or night and attract hordes of tourists.
La Barceloneta is the smallest quarter of Barcelona and my personal favorite. That’s where I lived and I would not have stayed anywhere else had I been given the opportunity to do it again. First of all, the beach is on that side of the town, and that is a major asset (it was a 15 minute walk from my apartment), the beautiful promenade on Port Vell, where I would sit under a palm tree and relax while eating a Nutella crêpe (2 minute walk from my flat), my favorite tapas bar and rooftop (5 and 2 minute walk from my building) are also in la Barceloneta. El barri Gòtic, where two of my favorite bars are located, is also nearby.
I was sharing a (furnished) flat with four amazing people and paid my (big) room 500€. No lease signed. I just had to let the landlord know when I’d leave a month earlier so she could have the time to find another tenant. People in Barcelona are very laid back, as you will notice. 🙂
Sant Pere, Santa Catarina i La Ribera. The quarter, often referred to as El Born is one of my favorites, with its picturesque Passeig del Born. The neighborhood offers the charm of El Barri Gòtic with its narrow streets and splendid architecture without the Gothic Quarter’s frenzy. Although home to popular touristic attractions such as the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Picasso Museum and the Mammoth Museum, El Born has managed to preserve a bit of calm. The quarter comes alive at night with its many bars and restaurants. After La Barceloneta, El Born would be my second choice, if I was to pick an area to settle.
I hope this post was helpful. I have listed below a few good websites to help you find an apartment in Barcelona. Good luck with it, and get ready to have the time of your life in one of the most festive cities of all times!