How to Find a Place to Rent in SpainCategory: Student Tips
Spain is a very vast and diverse country so depending on where you plan to live, your expectations regarding finding a place to live will vary. Many people looking to study at a university will end up in a bigger city such as Madrid or Barcelona. So, let’s start there. We want to help you get off on the right foot and tell you what you want to avoid regarding how to find the best place for you.
As you probably guessed, a very useful place to start looking for your next place to call home is online. Idealista, is a very helpful site as they allow you to refine your search in a number of ways. You can choose whether you would like to rent on your own or share with another person, and they even give you the option to search for listings on sale if you are interested in buying. Then you get to pick from different types of housing such as apartments, flats, and rooms, among others. Lastly, Idealista, lets you chose from a list of approximately 100 different cities and areas within the country of Spain.
Although Idealista is a great resource, you do need to be careful as so many people use it. Once an apartment is posted, it is generally only available for a couple of days, so you need to be quick in responding when you find something you’re interested in. Also, it might be a good idea to actually CALL when you see something you like, as email conversations tend to take longer and the likelihood of getting what you want is generally decreased. You can also try Fotocasa, while Idealista is currently the most popular site for finding a flat, Fotocasa is also still widely used.
Facebook groups are another way to find a nice place. Erasmus groups are generally directed toward young national and international study abroad students. For the most part, every city and small town with a university or college will have a correlating Erasmus Facebook group. On these pages, students will post upcoming events, trips and information regarding housing and/or roommate searches.
Another great and very practical way to find a place to rent in Spain, if you are already in the area is by simply walking around. If you know which neighborhoods you are interested in, go, and check them out. Keep your eyes open and make sure to look up, as often times people rent the higher floors for living arrangements. If you see a sign that says “Se alquila”, either see if you can talk to someone there on site or make a note of it and call the number for more information.
As you are probably aware, the closer you are to the heart of a big city, the higher you can expect to pay. So before making your final decision, you will need to consider transportation costs verses the cost for living downtown. Keep in mind that most cities offer inexpensive forms of public transportation, so it might be worth taking the extra time to travel a bit to and from your university each day and save yourself some extra money on your rent.
If you decide you would like to split the rental costs with a roommate, it is likely that your roommate will be another foreign person. It’s common in Spain for students to share flats with each other and usually makes the stay more fun because you make friends more quickly. Be sure to not live with another English speaker! You need to force yourself to be immersed in the Spanish language.
More often than not, young people from Spain live with their families well into their twenties and even into their thirties. It is recommendable to not sign a long, multiple month lease before “testing out” your new roommate. Make sure that you get along and enjoy living together before tying yourself into an uncomfortable situation. Many people say that setting up some type of cleaning schedule is very helpful and helps keep all of the roommates on track with the cleaning and avoids frustration and a messy living space.
Before you sign anything, make sure that you have toured the place as opposed to just seeing pictures. You should also be sure to ask all the questions you have before you commit to something. We suggest you are clear on what appliances and furniture will be available to you if you will need to purchase anything, such as blenders, coffee makers, a bed, bedsheets, a fan, a space heater, a washing machine, a dryer, etc. You should know that generally, apartments are not furnished with clothes dryers or air conditioning and heating systems. Another important thing to remember to ask about is utilities. Be clear on exactly what is included and what you will need to pay extra on a month to month basis. Even if you’ve read that “all utilities are included” make sure go over what that means. Wi-Fi, for example, is not always considered a basic utility. Knowing all of this key information will help you make the best choice.
Make sure that you have enough money available/saved up for at least one month’s rent. Most times, you will be asked to pay for at least one month of rent up front as a security deposit (La fianza). This payment is usually used towards your last month’s rent or returned to you upon your departure after the apartment has been checked for damage.
Now, you need to keep in mind that it is very possible that the people renting out their spaces won’t speak Spanish. So, if you don’t speak the language you may either want to brush up on some basic phrases that will allow you to at least get this information you need to throughout this process or find a bilingual friend who can help you make these calls and close on a deal. You shouldn’t expect them to speak English and be patient if you don’t understand them or they don’t understand you. Remember, you are the foreigner now and it’s important to show respect.