The what, where and how much of moving and buying furniture, furnishing and decorating your new home in Spain.
The entire western world lives in an Ikea household it would seem. If that doesn’t bother you, then it can be your one-stop-furniture-shop on the cheap too.
We recently received a post on the forum regarding furniture packs and it made me realize that there’s lots to talk about regarding furniture and furnishing your home, whether it’s new or not, in Spain. In my humble opinion, unless you’ve got to bring Grandma’s antique couch and chair set, it makes a lot of sense to pick up new furniture in Spain as opposed to bringing the old stuff from home. I can imagine in some cases you might want to bring a few pieces with sentimental value, but on the whole, furniture isn’t as expensive as back home, and the furnishing process can be both liberating (from the old shackles of the home country/life) and cheaper than shipping everything over with movers, especially if you’re coming from the US, Canada or Australia (especially Australia). The following are our top tips for finding likeable furniture of various price ranges for your move to Spain. First tip: there is a lot of Spanish vocabulary required to effectively decorate your home in Spain. An interior designer might be a big help in this way even though they can be expensive. Otherwise, researching the words you need before you get to the store (checklist style) or just looking and pointing might be thhe most effective ways of getting by with furniture store sales staff. Start with “muebles” - furniture, “sofa” - sofa/couch, “colchón” - matress…
Ah the ubiquitous Ikea. The entire western world lives in an Ikea household it would seem. If that doesn’t bother you, then it can be your one-stop-furniture-shop on the cheap too. The Spanish have hopped on the Ikea bandwagon with a furry I’ve never seen back home even. My last trip to Ikea was an exercise in patience due to huge lineups and unaccommodating/unknowledgeable staff. Never the less my friend and I walked out of there with what we needed, at a good price, and even picked up some Swedish meatballs for the next BBQ. Try to avoid peak hours like afternoons and evenings any day of the week. I guess that leaves you with mornings. Ikea can now be found for your furnishing felicity at the following locals in peninsular Spain:
Alcorcón (south-west of Madrid)
Badalona (north-east of Barcelona)
Barakaldo (near Bilbao I believe)
Granvia L’Hospitalet (south-west of Barcelona)
Murcia (north of Cartagena)
SS. de Los Reyees (north of Madrid)
Ikea on the Islands:
Lanzarote Ikea doesn’t seem to let you shop online, but you can check availability at your local Ikea store. The island stores seem to offer English on the webpage but the peninsular stores don’t. Hopefully you can decipher enough of the words to get by. Otherwise, pop on down to your local store, find what you need and have them deliver your new furnishings pronto. Second tip: Stock up on everything you can during the third and fourth week of Rebajas which takes place for a month during January and July as the next season’s merchandise is about to come in. Household items have a large mark-up which you’ll avoid by shopping during these weeks of the year.
Zara Home, part of the Zara group, seems to be proliferating throughout Spain. I’ve shopped there a few times to nice surprises of high-ish end furnishings, tapestries, sheets, etc at reasonable prices. If you have the chance to buy your new furniture during Rebajas (January and July) you’ll find some amazing deals (70% or so). Vinçon (site in English) is a medium to high-end furniture and household goods gallery on the famous Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona. I sometimes walk through it for fun when passing by. Great stuff: innovative, interesting, and chic. Prices are up there too. Camino a Casa seems nice. It’s in Madrid and seems to offer a diverse range of quality furnishings from their seasonal collections. There are a ton of smaller merchant style shops all over Spain in both big cities and small towns. You can find some great deals and some expensive deals. Usually you’ll find good quality however. Look around on some of the shopping and high streets in your new neighbourhood, you’ll probably find at least one. Additionally there are the occassional second hand furniture shops around, as well as antique furniture shops where you can find various antiques from all over Europe - not cheap, but very cool. See http://www.mueblesdeespana.es/empresas.php for a list of furniture stores throughout Spain, but with an emphasis on the Valencia region.
Your best bet is Tuesday nights after 10pm. Wander through the streets and you'll find some real gems amid the broken shelves, bug-infested matresses and sun-warped tables.
El Corte Inglés, Hipercore (their offspring), Carrefour and Alcampo all have massive furniture deparments. As is the case with your favourite department store back home (whether it's the Bay, Sears, Marks & Spencers...), you'll find plenty of cheap-ish to expensive-ish furniture and household goods at these places. Instead of picking up a bed or a couch from a department store where the quality can be iffy and the fashion obsolete, I'd go there for your household (hogar) items such as towels (toallas), sheets (sábanas) and bathroom fixtures where the variety on offer is matched only by just how cheap these items get when they go on sale (again, during rebajas, but also other times of the year. Ask your favourite Spanish mother/grandmother - they'll probably know). Keep an eye out for flyer deliveries too as these will inform you of other, smaller stores in your area that you might not have found yet. Pop by your local Euro store (sometimes called "Bazar" or as the Spanish say "el chino" as they're often run by Chinese people) to round out the house with knick-knacks, hooks and plastic tubs at the absolute lowest prices. Cleaning supplies are good buys here too, such as mops, brooms, garbage/rubbish bins, Draino-type pipe cleaing solutions (detascador) and window cleaner. Avoid buying electronic items from these places if you need them to last long, instead stick to the department stores or electrodomesticos. Third tip: Indeed Spain is a place of haggling. Not in a department store mind you, but go hit the markets where you can haggle them down 50% on occassion. This can save you tons of money on bigger furniture items and you'll find some nice artesan crafts.
Some furniture stores will be able to offer furniture packs like they do back home. This means that for a nominal cost of, say, 10,000€ (ranging between 5k-20k) you can damn near furnish your entire place. That includes kitchenware, beds, dressors/wardrobes, dining chairs, etc. Personally I've never seen one of these "packs", but have a friend who picked one up. She wasn't over-joyed by the lack personal touch, but it certainly simplified her move to Spain. She was concerned that she wouldn't have the time to pick everything out, arrange for transport, put it together, etc. due to her need to begin her new job immediately. The furniture pack took care of this for her. She says she'll slowly start picking up her own pieces as she goes. I can see how a furniture pack would be especially useful for those who purchase real estate for investment or to rent out. This way it's a one time choice, and it's practically done, other than arranging. Note that your place probably won't be the most memorably decorated however. I've found a few places on the net that sell furniture packs to expats moving to Spain. Here are some of them: http://www.madaboutfurniture.com/ http://www.coordinatedlifestyles.com/Spain_furniture_packages.htm http://www.perspectivelivingspain.com/ http://www.rnahomedecor.com/ http://www.furnitureexpressspain.com/ http://www.citrus-iberia.com/furniture-packs-spain.html http://www.arenay-home.com/ Fourth tip: In Barcelona it's quite common for people to take their old furniture and leave it on the streets for others to pick over and ultimately for the garbagemen to pick up. Your best bet is Tuesday nights after 10pm. Wander through the streets and you'll find some real gems amid the broken shelves, bug-infested matresses and sun-warped tables. I know it might sound bad, but sometimes you find something unique or special, or even brand new. While I haven't seen this in other parts of Spain I would imagine it happens elsewhere too. Input anyone?
Frank and Lissette moved to Spain after 6 years of slow travel around the world. Here's the story of the couple's first chapter of their new life in Spain on a nonlucrative visa: finding a home and figuring out which part of the country to settle themselves.
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