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Barcelona Village

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Finding a place

We had a target area so the next step was to find accommodation. We would use the Internet a lot in the UK, but in Spain it's still a developing source of information.

Having decided on an area, we then needed to find somewhere to live. Around the city you can pick up plenty of property magazines and we had a pretty good idea of prices and flat sizes. Being a family of five we decided we needed something at least 90m2. For Barcelona flats this is the lower end of the large size, but is a lot less space than a house in the UK so we were worried about fitting everything in.

Our approach to flat hunting was probably unorthodox but we decided that what we would do is plan a week in the city in February and basically decide on one flat in this time. If it didn't work out we decided we would cope for a period then move again if necessary. There were other options. You can rent a property for two or three months, but it typically counts as a holiday letting and is quite expensive. Alternatively you can get a relocation agency to look for you. We enquired about these services and they were typically around €2-3000 on top of the rental fees and we weren't sure they would do any better than we could.

Now a lot of property in Barcelona goes by ads and telephone numbers, but it's difficult to do this from the UK (and our Spanish wouldn't have been able to cope). So our plan was to do a search on the Internet. Find some agencies with a lot of suitable properties on their books and then arrange with 3 or 4 of these to just spend a day going around. La Vanguardia's online property pages were our main source (we searched and searched and this was easily the best source, since when we have also found idealista.com which is probably our favourite now, and which reports on the state of prices in BCN and Spain). And from here we narrowed down to Fincas2000 which is also much more Internet based than many other property agents (they appear to have become www.atipika.eu).

This is where we struck lucky. We could contact them via email in English no problems. And they and good English on the phone so we could arrange a set of viewings before we came out (which if you can do it saves a lot of time). Not only that, but they had an English rep and they had what looked like some really good properties on their books.

So we flew out and contacted the agents and tried to arrange viewings. The first agent let us down - couldn't get keys for the flats we had arranged to see and with no English meant we struggled to make our requirements understood (more our problem than theirs, our Spanish lessons didn't seem to cover how to rent a property).

Then we met with Fincas2000 and two of the prearranged flats blew out. One we didn't like. And the last one was perfect. So we had it settled in one day. I think we just hit lucky.


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