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