Our First Barcelona Apartment Tour!

Hey friends!  ¡Saludos desde Barcelona!  🙋

Ever since we moved here (now a little over 2 weeks ago), we’ve been getting lots and lots of questions about our cute new little Spanish apartment.  So today, I thought it might be fun to give you an official video tour!

As I mention in the video, we’re actually only going to be in this apartment for about 6 weeks, since we opted to only sign a short-term lease on the place.  We did so party because we had to book and put a downpayment on the place way back in July, in order to have proof of a lease for our Spanish visa applications (which felt a little backwards, not knowing whether or not they would even accept us!), so we were hesitant to commit to a full year’s lease at that point.  But we also really wanted to have a chance to actually be here and get a better feel for the various neighborhoods in Barcelona in order to decide where we’d like to live more long-term.  And — let’s be real — I just really wanted the chance to play “House Hunters International” once we arrived here in person.  😉

So!  We will probably have a second apartment tour video comin’ atcha soon.  But for now, this cute little flat has been our first home sweet home here in Barcelona, and we’ve been loving it!!  We’re completely obsessed with the neighborhood — El Born — where it is located.  And the apartment itself has been a charming little home base to come home to after adventuring all around this new city.

Hope you enjoy the video, and here are a few more FAQs below.

Your FAQs…

Was it hard to find an apartment online?

Short answer?  YES.  😂  I searched for weeks on all sorts of Spanish apartment sites (and AirBnB) looking for a place that we could book for one month (the minimum for our visa requirement).  And most places that we found were either way too expensive, or they wouldn’t sign a short-term lease, or they wouldn’t allow dogs.  (Like, literally, one apartment site pulled up 167 short-term apartments that were within our budget.  But when I clicked “pet friendly”, it narrowed down to 6 apartments.  Oof.)

Then, once we finally found some apartments we liked, I couldn’t get anyone to return my emails/calls for booking an apartment 3 weeks in advance.  Ha, and it was a bit maddening, until someone finally informed us that the rental market is an instant market in Barcelona.  As in, apartments go on the market once they are completely vacant, and people usually move in a day or two later.  So the idea of booking something a few months in advance was unheard of.

Finally, though, I stumbled upon a website that offered both vacation, short-term, and annual leases.  And they happened to be the one site I found that allowed renters to book a month or two in advance.  So with the timing of our visa application, we actually had to sign a lease that began a few weeks before we actually moved to Barcelona (since that was about the farthest out they could go).  But thankfully, it all worked out, and we were able to have our lease in hand the day that we applied for our visas in Chicago, and then a place ready and waiting for us when we arrived here in Barcelona.

Where is the apartment located?  And why did you choose that neighborhood?

Our apartment is located in Ciutat Vella (which means the “old city”) in a cute little neighborhood called El Born.  This was one of the neighborhoods we fell in love with on our scouting trip to Barcelona last February.  And now that we’re here, we’ve found that we actually love it so much that we’re hoping to find a longer-term apartment in the same neighborhood.

It’s definitely one of the more touristy areas in Barcelona, but it’s significantly quieter than other parts of Ciutat Vella (such as the neighboring Gothic neighborhood, for example), and it is charming, charming, charming.  By contrast to many neighborhoods in Barcelona that are laid out on an exact grid system, Born is full of hundreds of tiny, winding, historic, adorable little passageways.  And everywhere you turn, cute little cafés and bakeries and bodegas and boutiques abound.  AND, nearly every little passageway has its own unique little strings of banners or twinkly lights or streamers zig-zagging back and forth above the walkways.  We absolutely love it here, and look forward to learning more so that we can give you all some good recs!

So if the apartment came furnished, what did you need to bring…?

Really, not much!  We mostly just packed our clothes (and I, um, might have packed a few more clothes than Barclay), a few boxes of photography and kitchen gear, crates for the dogs, plus a few odds and ends (computers, Kindles, our favorite letterboard, a portable Bose speaker, some photos that we plan to frame, yoga mat straps, etc).

Also, we heard a tip to bring along a few power strip adapters, vs bringing along a bunch of individual adapter plugs.  And those have been a fantastic help with charging our American electronics.

…and what did you have to buy once you arrived in Barcelona?

Nothing major, just a bunch of usual household goods like cleaning supplies, trash bags, TP, toiletries, etc.  We also had to purchase towels and sheets for our place, plus some fun stuff like new yoga mats and candles.  Then, of course, we’re slowly in the process of stocking a new kitchen from scratch, which includes slowly rounding up all-new appliances (with European electrical wiring), new cookware/bakeware (our place only came stocked with a few random basics), and new dishes/glassware/silverware (again, only a few basics were included).  Then the biggest adventure of all — stocking a new pantry and refrigerator from scratch.  More on that to come — it’s been a scavenger hunt trying to find everything we need here, to say the least.  😉

Oh, and the one thing we’ve decided not to purchase here is a coffee maker.  A basic little espresso here only costs about 1 euro, and there seems to be no end to the list of charming little bakeries and coffee shops nearby.  So we’ve adopted the new rhythm of taking the dogs to the park each morning, and picking up a little cortado on the way, and it makes us both all 😊😊.

Any tips now on renting an apartment abroad?

Oh my gosh, yes!!!  We’ve learned so much about apartment shopping now that we’ve actually been working with realtors in-person here in Barcelona.  A few things we’ve learned:

  1. Everything is negotiable. Like, everything.  Apparently it’s standard here to bargain on everything from the price of the flat, to whether or not furnishings are included, to which specific furnishings are included, to the duration of your lease, even to — yes — whether or not they will accept pets.  😂  Good grief.  After bypassing hundreds of apartments online the first time that claimed they did not accept dogs, we were floored to arrive here and have realtors non-chalantly tell us, “Oh, lemme just call the owner and see if they’ll take your dogs.”  Good to know (now)!
  2. If you can, visit a potential apartment at all hours of the day before booking.  This one is probably a given anywhere.  But especially in a new city, it’s good to catch the vibe of a location both in the daytime and in the evening before booking.  For example, there was one place we recently toured on a charming, quiet street during the daytime.  But we had no idea there was a thumping club a block away that filled the street with partiers every night.  Also good to know.
  3. If you’re bringing dogs, don’t forget to look for green space nearby. As we mention in the video, this was clearly something we neglected to do.  And unfortunately, turns out that there is literally not a inch of grass anywhere near our flat.  Ha, whoops.  So we are currently taking the dogs on about 20-25 minute roundtrip walks to the park anytime they need to go out, which is cool most of the time — except when we’re in a hurry, or it’s super early or late at night.  Then we long for the days of having a backyard, ha.  Finding a location near some green space will definitely be a priority for our next apartment.
  4. If you’re someone who values sunlight in your home, double-check that the windows really do let in light.  Probably the biggest bummer about our current space (which doesn’t come through on the video, since our camera does an amazing job of auto-correcting the brightness of the room) is that our apartment is actually really, really dark most of the time.  The photos we saw online when we booked the place made it look nice and bright.  But since the apartment is sandwiched very closely in between two other buildings, and we are on the first floor (of a 5-story building), there is very little light that actually seeps down into our little windows.  Like, so much so that we wake up most mornings that think it’s totally dark and rainy outside…when it’s actually bright and sunny.  Again, totally fine for a few months.  But we’re definitely prioritizing better windows in our next place since — as Barclay likes to say — we’re both “solar powered”.  ☀️



Alright, thanks so much for tuning in!  To follow along with our adventures, also be sure to subscribe to our new YouTube channel.  We have a new video comin’ your way next week, and many more to come.  💛  !Hasta luego!

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Evan Jack