Finding a Flat in Spain: The Basics

Finding a Flat in Spain The Basics

  The Ultimate Guide to
Finding a Flat in Spain

Finding a flat is essential.

Finding a flat you love will make a huge impact on your overall Spain experience. Whether you’re moving to Spain as a digital nomad, Language Assistant, an auxiliar de conversación, or in any other capacity, your house is your home, and it’s worth every second of searching to find your sanctuary.

Maybe you’ve already seen my Piso Glossary full of Spanish words you need to know for apartment hunting, or my Three Commandments for finding a piso in Spain.

This post is your ultimate guide for finding a flat in Spain, with every little thing you need to know to make the Spanish piso finding process a little less painful.

Here you’ll find:

  1. Timeline for finding a flat (this starts at home)
  2. Checklist for your dream apartment
  3. Where to look
  4. First contact with potential landlords and roommates
  5. Sealing the deal

Dreamy Madrid skyline 😍

A post shared by Erica | Get Lost! 🌍✈️ (@getup_getout_getlost) on

1. Timeline for Finding a Flat

I first moved to Spain as a Language Assistant, and didn’t get my carta de nombramiento until the end of summer. I was working in the Dominican Republic at the time and when my contract ended at the end of August, I raced home with just enough time to sort out the visa, split up with my ex and say my hasta luegos.

I didn’t even book a hostel until I was at the airport waiting for my flight to Madrid, much less even begun to think about finding a place to live.

I spent my first week of work commuting from the hostel.

Don’t be that guy.

There’s plenty you can do now to make apartment hunting a lot easier and less stressful when you get to Spain.

Ultime Guide to Finding a flat in Spain: Timeline

Right now, you should:

  • Skim through blogs written by people in the region you’re moving to to find out about the different barrios
  • Play around with the various rental websites (see below) to get a feel for how they work, how to use the filters and general prices and availability
  • Research your daily commute to decide which barrios will be the most convenient for you.

1 Month Before Arrival:

1 Week Before Arrival

  • Create accounts on the various rental websites so you can “favorite” and recieve notifications for the flats you like.
  • Create a message text in the notes section of your phone that you can copy and paste to send to potential flatmates or landlords
  • Make a checklist of your must haves and no ways based on the flats you’ve seen advertised.

Day 1: Arrival

  • Take a walk and explore your new surroundings. It’s one thing to read about the different barrios, but now you can experience them for yourself!
  • Keep an eye out for ‘Se Alquila’ signs in windows and on bulletin boards in neighborhoods you like.

Siempre, siempre 😍Granada 😍💙💚💛

A post shared by Erica | Get Lost! 🌍✈️ (@getup_getout_getlost) on

Day 2 and On

  • Rather than locking yourself in your accommodation, find a café with wifi in a neighborhood you like and start your search there.
  • Call and whatsapp the flats you like. Apartments go in a flash, and emailing will get you nowhere fast
  • Competition is high in bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, and you’ll often have to wait in line. Give yourself a cushion in between appointments so you’re not stressin’ and running all over the city.

2. Making a Checklist

Chances are, you’re going to see about 172 flats when you get here. Between the many pisos you’ll be visiting and the many hours you’ll be clicking through online rental ads, it’ll save you a lot of time and effort to keep everything organized in a checklist.

I draw a chart in my notebook and take it around with me everywhere I go. It makes it waaaay easier to compare what you’ve seen once everything starts to blur together. Also great to have it organized by phone number so that you can easily find the specs when someone calls ya back.

Piso Checklist: Ultimate Guide to Apartment Hunting in Spain

3. Where to Look

Searching The Interwebs

Idealista.com

Idealista is my go-to site whenever I’m searching for a new spot in Spain. The site is easy to navigate, lets you search by barrio or draw your own map and provides plenty of filters (pets, max price, max number of roommates, smoking/nonsmoking, etc). There’s also an app  available. Ultimate Guide to Apartment Hunting in Spain: Rental Websites

Fotocasa.es

Another good one. Easy to navigate and even more filters than idealista. They also have a great app that allows you to see available rooms near your current location, so when you’re cruising through a neighborhood you like, you can open up the app and see if anything is up for grabs.

Vibbo.com

(Formerly segundamano.com): This one is more like a Craigslist, with lots more than just pisos. My favorite part about this site is that you can choose to hide the rental agency posts by searching particulares if you’re aiming to avoid rental agencies (and their fees).

Milanuncios.com

This one is definitely a bit sloppier to navigate, but it’s a good tool to keep in your back pocket in case you’re not having any luck with the others.

Facebook

Facebook can actually be an awesome resource. I found my first room in Madrid through one of the Language Assistant groups in the region. You can also type “habitaciones + Las Palmas” (or whatever city you’re looking in) into the search bar and it should come up with options.

Other Options

I’ve never used any of these before, but here are a few others I’ve heard about through the grapevine: EasyPiso, PisoCompartido and LingoBongo (Madrid only).

Searching In the Real World

The Ultimate GUide to Apartment Hunting in Spain

I’m a huge advocate for exploring your new city/ town/ pueblo first hand and deciding from there where you want to make your home. Whenever I move to a new place, I spend the first couple of days trekking through the various neighborhoods and looking for the ones that give me those good feels.

Always keep a look out for Se Alquila signs in the windows, and if you stop for a coffee in a neighborhood you like, don’t be shy to chat with the camarero and ask if they know of anything nearby. This is when the fotocasa app comes in super handy.

4. First Contact: Reaching Out to Potential Landlords / Compañeros de Piso

Whatsapp

Whatsapp is an absolute must for the piso search (and communication in general in whatsapp pisoSpain). If you don’t have it yet, stop reading this and download it now.

This will be your number one means of communication in Spain, so have it ready to go before you get here. The piso hunt can get competitive and whatsapp is faster and 100% more effective to get in contact with potential roomies and renters. In general, email is pretty useless for apartment hunting.

On the topic of roommates, remember that who you live with is just as important as where you live. If you’re a party animal and they’re in bed by ten (or vice versa), it’s a recipe for disaster. When you go to see an apartment, take the time to honestly introduce yourself and get to know a bit about the people currently living there,

Inmobiliario vs. Particular: Avoiding Agencies

We’ve already established that you should never commit to a piso you haven’t seen it. If you decide to go through an agency, the same goes… and any agency that tries to pressure you to sign before seeing a place is untrustworthy. RUN.

Personally, I don’t think inmobiliarios are necessary for most people and the whole thing is a waste of the green stuff (well, multicolored stuff in the case of Euros 💶). If you decide to go this route, make sure to check online reviews or go with an agency that’s been recommended to you by someone you trust. Be aware that you’ll have to pay them minimum one month of rent as a finders’ fee, often more. Some agencies also require you to pay an honorario – an additional fee for signing the contract.

Inmobiliarios annoyingly post their properties on rental websites like idealista (meaning you get to pay them a month of rent even though you’re doing the legwork of searching!). Luckily, it’s easy to avoid these properties by paying attention to the phone number listed. In Spain, landlines always begin with 9 and mobile numbers begin with 6. A piso listed with a 9## ## ## ## number is pretty much guaranteed to be inmobiliario. Save yourself the disappointment and skip it.

The Ultimate Guide to Apartment Hunting in Spain

5. Sealing the Deal**

There is a lot of gray area when it comes to renting in Spain, especially when you’re just renting a room. I’ve rented in Spain with and without contracts, in places where I have or have not met the actual landlord. I’ve been lucky, but not everyone is. The safest way to rent is to sign a contract (that you’ve read) and to get a receipt for your deposit.

Rent and deposits are often (usually?) paid in cash here, so make sure to ask for some kind of receipt, even if it’s just dated scrap paper with the amount and reason. If you already have a Spanish bank account settled, set everything up through transferencias – direct bank transfers from your account to theirs. That way you have an electronic record of all money that changes hands.

Related Reading

Having been here for a while now, I sometimes forget some of the apartment hunting hassles from my early days in Spain. If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help you out!

Until them follow the links below for the rest of my piso-related consejos so you can start to make yourself at home in sunny España 😊

Part 2: Home is Where the Heart Is You Don’t Hate Your Roommates ❤ (coming soon)

Part 3: No One Says Apartamento. Words You Need to Know to Find a Piso in Spain: A Glossary

Plus, read on here to find out what you should be doing now to prepare for the big move in September.

Region Specific Apartment Hunting

Las Palmas Language Assistants: Barrios of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Santa Cruz Language Assistants: Barrios in and around Santa Cruz de Tenerife & La Laguna (coming soon)

Madrid Language Assistants: Barrios of Madrid (coming soon)

Love & light & happy hunting! Erica 💙✌️

**I’m not a lawyer and in no way can give you legal advice, just suggestions from my  own experiences!

© Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Finding a Flat in Spain The Basics
A SPANISH PISO GLOSSARY pinterest
A SPANISH PISO GLOSSARY pinterest

 

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for this! So helpful! I’m moving to Gran Canaria in September and I have a question. I’m 25 so I think I’m a little older than the rest and I live alone in the USA, do you think I should try to live alone in Spain or is it better to look for a shared apartment? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Hi Kayla, first of all congrats on Gran Canaria! It’s gorgeous here 🙂 There are some definite pros and cons to the live alone vs. with roommates debates when moving abroad. Since it seems like this is your first year here, I would probably lean towards roommates because 1. it’s a good way to meet not only your roomies, but their friends as well 2. if you live with locals you can practice your spanish and they can help you get to know the city 3. you’ll save money. That being said, since you’re used to living alone you might want to steer clear of the jampacked 5 roommate student apartments and try to find something with young professionals so that you have more in common. I’m not sure if you’re planning to live in Las Palmas, but I have a barrio breakdown here if you want to start getting an idea of the different neighborhoods: https://getupgetoutgetlost.com/2017/07/10/las-palmas-barrios-finding-the-neighbourhood-thats-right-for-you/
      Anyway, thanks for reading and let me know if you have any other questions!
      bss, Erica

      Like

  2. Great article, Erica and so much detail!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sam and Veren says:

    Great post! We live in Madrid and have both been language assistants here. Finding an apartment is no small feat here!! And we didn’t even get to see tons of places, we would set up viewings and then the hour before often get messages that it had already been taken. Luckily we got a place and never want to move again, haha!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I hear you! It seems like every year the search in Madrid gets more and more competetive (and expensive!!)

      Like

  4. mackintosh says:

    I am saving this post because we would love to visit Spain. My ancestors are from Spain and I speak fluent Spanish.

    Like

  5. mmzink says:

    I LOVE your timeline illustration! It makes a lot of data very easy to read. One day maybe I will live abroad! I did study abroad – but right now we’re in the good ole USA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Thank you! Glad to hear it’s helpful. Between working holiday visas, teaching English and the digital nomad lifestye, there are so many opportunities nowadays to work abroad 🙂

      Like

  6. I have no immediate plans on moving to Spain (read: immediate :P) but I honestly feel like i could, thanks to this! Very bookmarked and very sent to my partner, you know, in case he suddenly, all on his own, with no influence from me, thinks we should move to Spain ;P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Maybe he’ll be convinced! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amber says:

    I love how this post was written from experience.. Such a good list and I love Spain and would love to live here for a few years.

    Like

  8. Tif says:

    Wow this is all very great information, specific to one country! I love it! Not moving to Spain any time soon, but I loved reading it!

    Like

  9. That’s an incredibly well thought-through guide from all your experiences, and so much of it will be helpful for other locations too. It’s full of a hefty dose of realism about how to get things sorted, while making the most of your time in searching.

    Like

  10. I love the very helpful graphics that you made! I don’t anticipate moving abroad anytime soon, but this is a great post for people getting ready to do just that.

    Like

  11. carolcolborn says:

    Lucky you guys are living in Spain. This is very helpful and detailed for when I ever get the same chance to live there.

    Like

  12. Angela says:

    I never thought about Facebook as a resource for finding an apartment, great tip! You are so right, if you are staying anywhere long-term the place you pick must have specific requirements. I would love to move to Spain for a few months and get involved in a Spanish immersion program.

    Like

  13. Laurel says:

    You have shared some great information here!

    Like

  14. Do you think it’s worth to also rent a flat if you’re on a couple of weeks trip to Spain or maybe for that short span of time hotels are just fine? I sometimes find that renting a flat for a vacation is way less expensive but not everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      There’s definitely no shortage of vacation rentals if you’re looking for something more homey than a hotel, but those are quite easy to find and definitely not as stressful as locking down a long term rental! You’re right that it’s a great way to keep costs down since you can eat some meals at home.

      Like

  15. lukeandmeagan says:

    This is so comprehensive! I’d love to move abroad some day, so knowing that there are guides like this is really awesome. Thanks for all the work you put into this!

    Like

  16. Yukti says:

    You have provided very nice information about finding a flat in Spain. I agree with you, Facebook is an awesome resource to find a flat, as I have done many times through it.

    Like

  17. Dugen Urzaa says:

    Thank you so much for the advice.

    How long before orientation do you recommend that I arrive? Orientation is 9 or 10 days before the start of school.

    It’s looking like my options are either 3 days before, or about 3 weeks before. One seems to short, and one maybe too long.

    Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Honestly I’d base it off of how much money you have saved.
      If you’re confident you can pay a few extra weeks of hostel/AirBnB I’d go earlier… even if you find something right away it’ll be a great opportunity to get to know the city and meet people before you start work.
      On the other hand if money is tight, no need to spend it all at once. If that’s the case I’d come 3 days before… you might even meet people at orientation who are looking for room mates or can point you in the right direction.
      Either way, try not to stress to much about it. People lose their minds looking for places in Madrid, but in the end everyone always finds a place 🙂

      Like

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