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The Ultimate Guide to
Finding a Flat in Northern Tenerife
From the wild and rugged northern coastline, to the lush green Orotava Valley and the colonial cobbled streets of historic La Laguna, the north of Tenerife is an absolute gem. I lived in Tenerife for two years before relocating to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and over the last four years I´ve definitely learnt a thing or two about finding a little piece of paradise in the Canaries.
Here you can find everything you need to know about:
- Where to Live in Tenerife
- How to find a flat in Tenerife
- How to avoid expensive agencies & rental scams in Tenerife
A Tale of Two Cities
Santa Cruz de Tenerife & La Laguna
The touristic south is sunny and sandy, but not somewhere I felt a real connection with. Instead, I (as well as most digital nomads and Language Assistants) made my home in northern Tenerife. The two main cities are the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and UNESCO protected San Crisóbal de La Laguna. The two cities are only 40 minutes apart by tram (about 15 minutes by car) and I lived for a year in each, so I have plenty of firsthand experience in both.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz is the capital city not just of Tenerife, but of all the western islands – La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma. Despite it´s status as la capital, however, Santa Cruz seems, in many ways, like less of a city and more of a sleepy, seaside town.
The city has plenty of restaurants, a couple of great parks and green plazas, a few museums, a charming historic center and one of the biggest Carnaval parties in the world (second only to Rio de Janeiro, as any local will tell you). But with all Santa Cruz has to offer, there´s one thing it does not.
Somehow the city decided that this lovely Canarian capital didn´t need a beach and instead filled the coastline with cruise and cargo ships, not only messing with the aesthetic, but making my vitamin sea life pretty inconvenient. Imagine my surprise when on a whim I moved from landlocked Madrid to the ¨coast¨ of the Canaries in search of sun and sand… and found ships and cement instead 🤦♀️.
But beach or no beach, Santa Cruz is sunny, affordable, full of smiling faces and has plenty to offer with regard to good food, good drinks and relaxation.
Personally, I preferred living in Santa Cruz over La Laguna. Though that has a lot more to do with the climate than anything else (explained below 👇).
Santa Cruz Neighborhoods
The center of Santa Cruz includes the areas around Plaza Weyler, Plaza de España, and Parque García Sanabria. There´s plenty of shopping, eating and drinking in the area and you can move around easily on foot, or by taking the tram or bus outside of the city.
Barrios La Salle & La Salud
Just slightly outside of the center is barrio La Salle, still very central and just next to the main bus station and a huge shopping center.
Barrio La Salud is also just slightly outside of the center going uphill. I lived here for a year and while I always prefer to be in the heart of the city, it was unbeatably priced and still very conveniently located, only a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute tram ride to Plaza Weyler.
Get a Room in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- A furnished room in a shared flat should cost from €180 – €300 per month.
- Furnished studios start at about €500, but are hard to come by.
- Furnished 1 or 2 bedroom should start from €550.
I ¨knew a guy who knew a guy¨ and ended up with a 3 bed/2 bath/2 balcony flat in Barrio la Salud (Cruz de Señor tram stop) for just €400 a month, but that was definitely luck.
Get Around Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz by Bus
Santa Cruz is a small city and easily walkable, although once you head up north toward Barrio la Salud and beyond, the hills get quite steep.
The Intercambiador de Santa Cruz is the main bus hub to get around the island. From here, you can catch a bus to the resorts in the south (about 1-1.5 hours), to nearby beaches like Las Teresitas (30 minutes) and to the wild, lush north, usually with a stopover at the Intercambiado de La Laguna (about 25 minutes to LL).If you´re working in the south but prefer to live in the north, Santa Cruz is your best bet, transportationwise.
Santa Cruz by Tram
To move throughout Santa Cruz or up to La Laguna, you can hop on the tranvía. It takes a bit longer, but unlike the buses, it´s punctual and comes about every 5 minutes. Santa Cruz to La Laguna takes about 45 minutes by tram.
Santa Cruz by Boat
From the port at Santa Cruz, you can hop on a ferry to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in about 90 minutes. Residents of the Canaries are eligible for 75% off travel discounts within Spain and the other islands. Click here to find out if you´re eligible for the Canary Island Resident Discount.
Get Lost in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Where to eat: It´s hard not to get a good meal in Santa Cruz. Even at the little corner ¨old man bars,¨ chances are you´re gonna eat well. For something a bit more upscale, there are lots of good options on Calle la Noria and around Plaza de San Francisco.
Where to drink: Most of the nightlife is centered around Calle la Noria, Calle Anaga and Calle Clavel, where on the weekends you can find anything from kareokee to live rock to DJs. For craft beer and live tunes, go to El Hombre Bala or Barbas Bar and for a gin & tonic head to Calle Clavel or one of Calle Noria´s rooftop terraces.
Where to shop: Calle Castillo is the main shopping road in the middle of town, or you can head over to the Meridiano shopping center.
What to do: To relax, Parque García Sanabria is an oasis in the center of the city. For art and culture, check out the TEA and there´s usually something going on at the Mercado de Nuestra Señora de Africa.
Nearest Beach: Scenic, sandy Las Teresitas is about 10 minutes away by car or 30 by bus, and rocky Radazul is about the same distance the other direction.
Live in Santa Cruz if:
- You love the sunshine (and hate the cold)
- You have to commute to the south
- You prefer a drink on a terrace as opposed to a botellón in a plaza
San Cristobal de La Laguna
La Laguna is a beautiful, UNESCO world heritage city located less than 10km north of Santa Cruz. The small city is home to Universidad de La Laguna, the oldest university in the Canary Islands, and has no shortage of students or student nightlife.
If you live in La Laguna, you´re gonna hear a lot about microclimates. Basically every inch you creep up the hill from Santa Cruz to La Laguna it gets about a million degrees colder and damper until you yourself turn into a moldy raindrop 💧.
So I know you´re going to look up the annual weather and it´s gonna say that La Laguna gets down to only around 15° (59°f), but honestly the houses are not built to protect from so much humidity and it was brrr.
Now, am I a complete wuss when it comes to cold?
I mean I grew up in southern California and spent most of my adult life in southeast Asia and the Caribbean, whaddaya want from me ☀️? But lemme tell ya – spending a whole winter wearing my jacket and boots on IN the house when I thought I was moving to a tropical island was not the business.
La Laguna is a blast, with plenty of people to meet and a bit of an artistic, bohemian vibe. But as soon as I had the chance to move to sunny Santa Cruz, I rolled down that hill into the sunshine and never looked back.
Get a Room in La Laguna
La Laguna is a student city, so it´s much easier to rent a room in a shared flat here than in Santa Cruz.
- A furnished room in a shared flat should cost from €160 – €300 per month.
- Furnished studios would probably start at about €500, but they´re few and far between
- Furnished 1 or 2 bedroom should start from €500.
My partner and I paid €500 for a 3 bed/1.5 bath flat in barrio Cruz de Piedra, one tram stop before the Intercambiador de La Laguna and 2 tram stops before the center of La Laguna (La Trinidad).
Get Around La Laguna
The Intercambiador de La Laguna is the main bus hub for travelling around the north of the island. From here, you can catch buses to the north, down to Santa Cruz and to the airport, which is only about ten minutes away. Santa Cruz is 45 minutes away by tram and 25-30 by bus, although the buses are never ever ever punctual.
Get Lost in La Laguna
La Laguna is beautiful and picturesque, with plenty of narrow streets and cobblestoned plazas to explore.
Where to eat: For raciones and wine, choose any of the terrace cafes around Plaza Concepción, and for the best arepa of your life, look no further than Arepería a Criolla.
Where to drink: For a craft beer, head straight to El Rincón de Tintín. For a gin & tonic or a glass of wine, try the cafes around Plaza Concepción. Or just get your botellón on with all the other universitarios in el cuadrado.
Where to shop: Calle Herradores has a few boutiques and some chain stores, but you´ll have many more options down in Santa Cruz.
Nearest Beach: If it´s chilly in the north, make your way down to Las Teresitas. Otherwise, there are plenty of beautiful beaches in the north that are reachable by bus, like Bajamar and Puerto de la Cruz.
Live in La Laguna if:
- You love rain and hate sunshine
- You have to commute to the north
- You recently graduated university/are in your early 20s
- You prefer to botellón than to hit up a bar
Between Santa Cruz and La Laguna
If you´re not set on living within one of the two cities, you can definitely save some cash by living in between. La Cuesta is a neighborhood built on a steep hill connecting the two cities with plenty of affordable pisos, or you can check out any of the neighborhoods along the tramline between the two cities.
Puerto de la Cruz and the North
If you´re a Language Assistant that has been placed deep in the heart of the north, commuting from either city might not be worth it. Puerto de la Cruz is a stunning coastal city along the north coast, which while touristy, still holds a lot of local culture and character.
Much of the north is quite rural, so if you want a bit more of a ¨civilization¨ vibe without a ridiculous commute from La Laguna or the capital, Puerto de la Cruz is the way to go. While most of the north is known for being cloudy and a bit damp, Puerto happens to be the suniest village around, complete with surfable and sunbathable beaches, as well as tasty restaurants and decent nightlife.
Live in Puerto de la Cruz if:
- You have a car and can get around easily
- You have to commute to the north
- You´re not bothered about living in the capital
How to Find a Flat
For an in-depth read on literally everything you need to know to find a flat in Spain, check out my Ultimate Guide to Apartment Renting in Spain.
Search the Web
Idealista.com is my go-to site. Simple navigation, search by barrio and lots of filters.
Fotocasa.es is a close second, especially thank to their awesome app that lets you find available flats using your current location. Both the site and the app are easy to use and have plenty of filters.
Milanuncios.com is sloppy as hell, but I have to admit I´ve had good luck with it, especially since it lets you weed out the rental agencies (inmobilarios). More on that below 😉👇.
Vibbo.com is similar to Craigslist, with lots more than just apartment rentals on offer. This one also lets you weed out agencies (formerly segundamano.com).
Facebook groups are a great tool for apartment hunting. In the search bar, just type “habitaciones + Santa Cruz” (or La Laguna, etc.) and you´ll find plenty of options.
Search the Real World
Canarians are very much about enchufes – ¨I know a guy who knows a guy…¨ That means that once you get here, one of your best bets to finding the piso of your dreams is to start meeting people and ask around if they know of anything on offer. Ask your colleagues, people from language exchanges, the guy at your coffee shop, your tinder boo, whoever.
Also don´t be shy to get lost in the different parts of the city to find which barrios suit you best. When you find a neighborhood you like, pop open your fotocasa app and keep your eyes peeled for se alquila signs in the window.
Rental Agencies & Scams
For some reason, Canarians love using rental agencies (inmobiliarios) to lease apartments. This is hella annoying because:
- They´re expensive: Usually you´ll have to pay 3 months up front – a deposit + first months rent to the landlord + 1 month of rent as the inmobiliario fee.
- They invade rental websites: When searching websites like idealista in the Canaries, you´ll be inundated with options from rental agencies. If I´m doing the work (IE searching online), why should I pay you a month of rent for simply posting an ad? Rude.
- They´re impersonal: Other than one looney toon landlord in Madrid, I´ve always had good luck with landlords. Something´s broken? They come fix it. Cash emergency? Rent extension. If you´re renting through an agency as opposed to face to face, you lose that personal touch that you might need if things come up throughout the year.
Look, agencies aren´t the end of the world, and if you´re legit struggling with finding a flat, go for it. But if you can avoid the fees and do it on your own, why wouldn´t you?
4 Way to Avoid Rental Agencies
- Oftentimes agencies post their logos on the rental websites. If you see one, skip it.
- In Spain, landlines start with 9 and mobile numbers start with 6. If it´s a 9 online, it´s probably an agency. Skip it.
- On Vibbo, you can use the filters on the lefthand of the screen to select what you´re looking for (inmobilaio, alquiler, piso o piso compartido, etc.) Where it says ¨Anunciante¨ select ¨particular¨ rather than ¨profesional¨ and you won´t be tempted by offers from rental agencies.
- On milanuncios, select ¨ver solo particulares´ from the filters at the top to avoid agencies.
Over the past couple of years I´ve seen a huge spike in foreigners getting scammed by potential landloards. Always, always keep these tips in mind:
- Never, ever, ever rent a room you haven´t seen/smelt/been inside. I´ve heard from people who have transferred money to secure a flat before arriving to Spain, only to find that the pictures don´t match the actual apartment, there´s a mold outbreak in the hallway, there´s no furnace, or worst of all, that the apartment doesn´t actually exist.
- If it looks too good to be true, it is. A perfect apartment for half the price of everything else you´ve seen is a big, fat nope.
- There is NO SUCH THING as paying a deposit via AirBnB! This one has been a big favorite of scammers lately and I´ve seen tons of people fall for it. You find a place you love online. The ¨landlord¨ tells you to pay the deposit on the AirBnB website (because s/he knows you´ve heard of it and you feel comfortable doing so). They send you a link, but it´s a fake website, mocked up to look like AirBnB. You drop your account details there and say bye bye to the money and that apartment which you´ll never see either of again.
- No contract, no cash. I´ll admit being guilty of this one, but I was lucky and the landlord wasn´t a scammer. A lot is done in cash here in Spain and the truth is it´s normal to pay a deposit without getting a contract, but there´s nothing protecting you if the landlord takes your money and runs. If you pay cash, insist on getting a receipt or the official contract (with a picture of the landlord´s DNI). A second, and much safer option, is to pay via transfer. Feel free to use my TransferWise referral link for your first free international transfer up to £500 GBP.
Finding a Flat in Spain
I´ve been in Spain for a looooong time, and I know a thing or two about apartment hunting here. Feel free to check out the links below for more info on how to find an apartment in Spain and what you should be doing now to get ready for the big move 😊.
Love & light,