The Shelter Games: 3 Commandments for Finding a Flat in Spain

Las Palmas flat

3 Commandments for
Finding a Flat in Spain

Finding your little piece of Spanish paradise is arguably one of the most important decisions you’ll make when you get here. It can also be a pretty big pain.

Apartment hunting isn’t exactly a life highlight. Throw in a different language in a different country with different customs and it’s, well, different. Luckily, you’re not the first Digital Nomad, Language Assistant, Auxiliar or guiri to make the move to sunny Spain, so save yourself the stress of making all the mistakes yourself and learn from those of us that came before you.

My Piso art Chueca, Madrid 2012 (3)

1. Thou shalt not pay a deposit on a place you haven’t seen / smelt / been inside /
met the roommates / met the landlord.

I get it. Finding a place to live in a foreign country can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak the language very well.

But you know what’s more overwhelming?

Getting to Spain and realizing you’ve committed to 9+ months in a stinky, moldy, windowless dungeon (it’s happened. Many times.).

Or that your creepy retired-lawyer landlord has found a legal loophole allowing him to install surveillance cameras in the common areas (like my first landlord in Madrid 🤮).

I’m not a fan of rental agencies in general, but if you’re going to use one, do your research, ask for recommendations and always wait until you get here so can see & smell the flat first.

2015-2016 Piso Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain (4)

2. Thou shalt not commit to a residence that you wouldn’t live in if you were back home.

There’s compromise, and then there’s absolutely throwing your standards out the window. Compromise is fine and builds character, but don’t get desperate and sign off on a place that you absolutely wouldn’t give a second thought to back home.

Moving abroad already means a lot of adjustments. Your living space is your sanctuary and it makes no sense to settle and risk making yourself miserable.

If you know you’ll be stressed and depressed without a little sunlight, don’t sign off on the windowless interior room.

If you love to cook, don’t go for the kitchen with no oven and a single burner.

And I *really* think this should go without saying, but don’t agree to live with your 70-year-old landlord who smokes a pack a day.

Se Alquila

3. Thou shalt not freak the f*ck out.

You will find a flat. Everyone will find a flat. There is always a flat to be found.

Some cities are infamously more difficult to find a flat in (ahem, Madrid).

Yes, it’s frustrating, but no, it’s not the end of the world. Rather thanlocking yourself in your hostel or Airbnb and spending hour after hour refreshing fotocasa, remember that Spain is a country that runs on connections.

Get out there, meet people, make some friends and you’ll be surprised how often that’s all it takes to make everything else start to come together.

se alquila 2

I’ve been in Spain for nearly 7 years and know
a thing or two ten about finding flats here.
Check out these posts for more tips & tricks to make the
apartment hunt as painless as possible.

The Shelter Games Part 1: The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Flat in Spain

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

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

Ready, Set, Go! What you need to be doing now to prepare for the big move.

Region Specific

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain: Barrios of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

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

Madrid Language Assistants: Barrios of Madrid (coming soon)






© Erica Edwards and, 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Constance says:

    Wow that’s insane, I can’t believe you had a creepy landlord who would film you inside your apartment! I can imagine it’d be difficult to find an apartment in a large city like Madrid, but wow that’s crazy. I’m glad you put this out there so that people are aware of the issues and can help prevent it from happening to others.


    1. Erica says:

      Ugh, it was awful. Imagine eating breakfast at the kitchen table with a security camara pointed at you! Madrid has such a high influx or Erasmus, foreign exchange students and English teachers arriving in September that the competition for finding a flat is out of control… you wouldn’t believe some of the horror stories, mines not even the worst!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly says:

    Home is where you don’t hate your room mates. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Haha, you wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard of people with the CRAZIEST roommate situations! Housing is really competitive in Spain in September with the influx of students, English teachers, Erasmus, etc. and people find themselves in all kinds of crazy living situations out of pure desperation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s