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I can’t believe I’m less than a month away from starting the Auxiliares de Conversacion program! To be completely honest with you, I’m nervous as hell. Between moving out of my apartment, transitioning out of my full-time job, trying to pack my life into 2 suitcases, and juggling dozens of other last minute responsibilities, I’m stressed out of my freaking mind. My sleep schedule is completely screwed, my appetite has changed drastically, and I have the attention span of a gnat, but that’s like…the good kind of anxiety, right???

Image result for havent slept gif

Anywho, the biggest contributor to my state of madness has been the search for a place to stay – finding the piso, habitación, vivienda of my future. I started looking 2 months ago, and now – 6 days before my flight departs – I still have idea where I’m going to stay. Potential homelessness aside, I’ve learned a lot about how the Spanish housing market works. So now, I’m going to (briefly) share tips to help you find the new place of your Spanish dreams.


best sites to use

I’ve had the best housing search experience on Idealista, Fotocasa, Easypiso, and Uniplaces. They are very user friendly, offer English versions, and have really great filter features such as neighborhood, room size, wifi, roommate gender, number of bedrooms, etc.

uniplaces madrid pisos housing spain auxiliares de conversacion

A little less organized, but equally efficient, are the local Facebook groups for housing. Search for phrases like “Pisos en Galicia” or “Habitaciones Madrid” and you should be able to find at least 1 group in your area. Many posts are by natives, so expect a lot of Spanish posts. Here’s a great group for anyone looking for pisos in Madrid.

Spanish words to know

Though most sites offer auto-translation nowadays, it would still behoove you to know these Spanish words, as many owners will use them in descriptions and conversation.

  • aquilar: to rent
  • fianza (de un mes): (one month’s) deposit
  • gastos: utilities/bills
  • incluye/incluido: includes/included
  • no permiten: not allowed
  • amueblado: furnished
  • cerca: close/near
  • compartido: shared
  • ascensor: elevator
  • disponible: available
  • fumar/fumadores: to smoke/smokers
  • calefacción: heating (bombana < natural gas)
  • mascotas: pets

some general do’s and dont’s:

DO download WhatsApp to contact Spanish numbers free of charge. Many owners prefer being contacted by phone only.

DON’T pay for an apartment/piso/habitación without seeing it in person. Even on websites where you can “instant book”.

DO write a short generic prompt for expressing interest in a listing. You will be reaching out to lots of people, so the copy/paste/send method will be come your best friend.

DON’T waste your time trying to schedule an apartment tour weeks before you arrive. Spain, at least Madrid, is a renter’s market. Owners want to get rid of vacancies immediately. The best time to start is 1-2 weeks before leaving or as soon as you land.

DO book a hostel or Airbnb for the first day or week of your arrival. It’s better to have those options just in case your housing search doesn’t go as quickly as planned.

DON’T settle for something you don’t really like just because you feel rushed or pressured. If you have to, make sure you have the flexibility to move anytime you want to.

learn the land

My favorite way to search for listings is using the map view. Since I want to live near Centro and I the school I will be working at is in Leganes, I need to stay near certain metro stops in order to make sure my commute is as simple as possible. On Idealista, I drag my search along línea 10 metro stops and search for pisos y habitaciónes within walking distance!

idealista madrid plaza de espana auxiliares de conversacion

Using the map view also helps you get accustomed to street names, neighborhoods, transit stops, and other local attractions commonly referred to by natives in apartment listings. Muy conveniente.

 

read about my new piso here!

Have you found a place to stay yet? Do you have any tips for fellow searchers?

 

Lauren Victoria

Lauren Victoria

Lauren is a Chicago native and budget traveler obsessed with foreign languages, neuropsychology, dancing, and applesauce. She recently quit her full-time job in social services to be a human English dictionary in Madrid, Spain.
Lauren Victoria
  • Aparentabroad

    I’m still homeless…lol I think being here gives you context that you can’t quite get in the United States. For example, I learned that numbers that start with 9 are immobiliarias and they’re more expensive than even the fb groups suggest…However, I think finding a room is easier than an entire piso. I think that if I didn’t have my kids with me I’d probably would have found a room by now…but I need an entire apartment so here I am….lol

    • Do you speak Spanish? You may do well getting an actual real estate company/person!

      • Aparentabroad

        Yes, eventually I took this route and got lucky

  • Michelle Cabigao

    So what was the deciding factor between BEDA and Auxiliares? I’m assuming auxiliaries doesn’t provide housing since you’re on the search. Keep the posts coming! I’m starting to look into these programs which is why i’m following your blog now! good luck 🙂

    • I actually wasn’t accepted into BEDA lol, but the ministry pays more anyone so I’m happy with my decision. I don’t believe any of the programs provide housing outside of CIEE (hotels for the first week or so), which is the same as the ministry program, just with far more support and hand holding along the way.

  • Krystle Hinkson

    Hey Victoria,

    This post was actually super helpful. I actually got into BEDA with placement in Getafe (ever heard of that area?) and so I’m probably moving to Spain. I too am concerned with being homeless especially since I do not speak spanish (not that I’m unwilling to learn). Any additional tips you can provide for the hunt? =)

    • Getafe like a southern suburb of Madrid. You can still live in the city center and commute to work within 30-45 minutes. I don’t have many other tips besides the ones I wrote, just linking up with other assistants who would be willing to share a piso (doubles the search power)