Apartment hunting can be hard enough as it is in the States – Realtors, roommates, budget, rent control, contracts – it can all be pretty overwhelming. Add to the mix a foreign country, a language barrier, few internet resources, old-fashioned flyers, and you get the fun filled adventure of finding an apartment in Spain.
Our search began with a lot of research prior to our arrival and continued for weeks after we landed in Spain. Along the way, we learned quite a bit about how to find the perfect place in the sun-soaked country of Spain and wanted to share our insights with you.
What Is Your Budget?
The first part of the process when looking for an apartment anywhere is to set your budget. If you are looking to keep rent costs low, it’s best to avoid the big cities of Madrid and Barcelona. An apartment in the city center in these two cities can start at 800 euro/month.
We wanted to keep our rent below 500 euro/month, but still wanted to be in a fairly large city. Having restaurants and bars to go out to was important to us, so this eliminated small towns throughout the country. Yes, a small, white-washed village in the south of Spain looks beautiful on a postcard, but there has to be more to do than looking at white walls.
While researching online, I stumbled upon an article from Liz at the Young Adventuress that laid out the cost of living in cities all across Spain. This list became a great resource for choosing which city would be best for us while still being within our budget.
After much discussion, the city which seemed to be the perfect fit for us was Granada in the southern province of Andalusia. It was a good-sized town with plenty to do and lots of people our age. Further, it was very cheap. From all our research, you could find an apartment for under $400 euro/month in the city center. If you were willing to share an apartment, it dropped to under $250 euro/month. And with the glorious tradition of serving free tapas with drink orders, Granada could offer you a full tummy and a buzz on the cheap.
Do You Want To Learn Spanish?
Some people will be surprised to know that not all of Spain speaks Spanish. Languages and dialects spoken in Spain include Castellano (Spanish), Catalan, Gallego, and Euskera. Catalan is widely spoken in Barcelona, in the northeast portion of Spain, and along the eastern coast of Spain. Euskera is prominent in the northern Basque region while Gallego is spoken in the towns of Galicia.
Therefore, if your goal is to learn Spanish, where you live can play a role in your ability to practice the language. Based on my research, the only areas you should avoid are Barcelona, the remainder of Catalonia, and the Basque region. While Spanish is still spoken in these areas, it is not as prevalent as other parts of the country, thus hindering your ability to learn the language.
Where Can You Look For Apartments Online?
The first strategy I used to find an apartment online was to message people on Airbnb. I would look through listings in cities that interested us and message the owners. I would ask if they thought it was possible to find a place within our budget and which neighborhoods were best. This proved very helpful as most had a lot of advice to offer.
In addition to Airbnb, I would strongly suggest you visit the apartment listing websites: easypiso and idealista. Easypiso lists rooms for rent in shared apartments, which is a great option for students. Idealista also has rooms for rent in shared apartments but also has individual apartments listed. Both have extensive listings in cities all across Spain.
Next, search blogs like this one or the Young Adventuress to read up on other people’s apartment hunting experience. You may stumble upon a town or city that is perfect for you.
Lastly, do not agree to rent an apartment before having seen it. It may look great online, but we all know what amazing things can be done with Photoshop. Also, you can’t tell what the building is like or if the surrounding neighborhood is safe and fits your needs.
What Other Ways Can You Look For Apartments?
A large amount of apartments in Spain are not listed online. Instead, owners list apartments via flyers, classified ads, and signs in apartment windows. Therefore, when you are looking for a place upon arrival, walk around the city in order to get a feel for the neighborhoods. While walking, keep your eye out for flyers on street poles, bulletin boards, and walls of buildings. Take the number given when you find a flyer that interests you.
In addition, owners will also put up a “Se Alquila” sign when apartments in that building are for rent. Often times, you can call the number on the sign and the owner will let you in immediately to look at the place.
Third, grab a local newspaper first thing in the morning and check out the classified ads. Circle any apartment ads that catch your eye. Contact the number given as soon as possible as these apartments go quickly.
Realty offices are also a great resource for finding apartments once you are in Spain. However, they only work with people who are looking to rent for six or twelve months. As such, we could not use a Realtor to help us since we were looking for a three month rental.
Our Experience in A Coruña, Spain
Location, location, location. The best advice we can give is to take your time and find your perfect place. After visiting Granada for four days, we made the choice to move on. Granada is a gem of a city, and a great place to visit, but it’s transient with a heavy tourist flow. From Granada, we decided to venture up to A Coruña in the province of Galicia. Immediately we fell in love and began our apartment search in earnest.
We were able to find our apartment in A Coruña via easypiso. We contacted several listings on the site and received a reply back from one of the Realtors the same day. We arranged to meet the Realtor at the apartment.
By a stroke of luck, the Realtor spoke very good English and was very helpful. How perfect we thought. Surely this was going to be the place. Then we entered the apartment. The bedroom (or was it a closet?) was too small for even 1 person to live comfortably, and the remainder of the apartment was a shell with no windows. Moving on.
Sensing our disapproval, the Realtor was quick to suggest visiting another apartment she was trying to rent. We quickly agreed.
The place turned out to be perfect for us. It was within our budget, faced a large plaza in the city center, and was one block from the beach. The apartment is five bedrooms and three baths. We share it with five other roommates who are all from Spain. This is a great situation for us because it allows us to practice our Spanish.
Moving to Spain? You won’t be disappointed! An apartment search in a foreign country can be straining, but we hope these tips will make the process a little easier. Remember to take the time to find the right fit, and enjoy the process. You’re on an adventure!