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If you are moving to Spain, one of the first things that will probably be on your mind is how to find an apartment in Spain. For people moving abroad, it’s one of the number one things to do when you first arrive, as you obviously need a place to live, and living out of a hotel or hostel isn’t feasible long-term. So, let’s take a deep dive into how to find an apartment in Spain, so you won’t have to struggle once you get here!
Don’t Rent a Place Without Seeing It First
To start off your Spain apartment search, DO NOT SIGN A LEASE WITHOUT SEEING A PLACE FIRST!
This should be obvious as anyone who’s seen apartments before know that sometimes apartment listings can lie, or at the very least, landlords can be amazing photographers. You have probably seen apartments before where the photos in the listing make it seem way better than the actual apartment.
Now, if that’s happened in your home country, you don’t want to sign a document or pay money, move to Spain, and then arrive at your apartment and have it be completely different than what you imagined.
All of this is especially true if you are going to be renting a room in Spain, instead of an entire apartment, as you will probably want to meet your roommates in-person to see if you get along with them.
This all leads us to the next tip of finding an apartment in Spain…
Book a Place to Stay While You Look
Before you actually move to Spain and arrive, you will want to book a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb for at least a week. This will give you a place to stay while trying to find an apartment in Spain.
Having a place to stay for at least a week will give you some time to do the following things on this list that will help you find an apartment in Spain without being rushed into signing a lease in a place you might regret later.
Yes, this will most likely be more expensive than perhaps even a full month of rent at your new place, but it will help guarantee that you can find a living situation that is the most comfortable for you in Spain. While money can be tight for some, try to save up some money for this before moving to Spain.
Check Out Neighborhoods
No matter which city you are living in, big or small, you will want to check out different neighborhoods or areas when searching for an apartment in Spain.
If you are looking for an apartment in a bigger city, like Madrid or Barcelona, this becomes a necessity as there are so many different neighborhood options. However, even if you’re in a smaller city or pueblo you still might want to see what different areas of the city are like.
Aside from seeing which neighborhoods are ones you would want to live in, make sure to see what they are like at different times of the day and night. This is definitely important once your start looking at apartments too. You probably don’t want to live right above a discoteca that is loud and has drunk people in the street until 6 or 7 am.
If you’re not in Spain yet and want to see what walking around different neighborhoods are like, take a look at our YouTube videos on city walks around Madrid and other cities.
Apartment Websites in Spain
Now that you have found some neighborhoods or areas where you would like to live, you’ll need to know where to look for where to find apartments to rent in Spain!
There are a quite a few websites in Spain to find apartments, but the two most popular are: Idealista and Fotocasa.
These two website are the best to find apartments in Spain as they have the most listings and are generally up-to-date. They are also the easiest to navigate. You can search by specific areas and filter by price, furnished/unfurnished, air conditioning, exterior/interior, etc.
There are a few other less popular websites to search for apartments in Spain too. They include Spotahome and Pisos.com, but there are a lot of others too.
When using any of these websites to find an apartment in Spain, it is important that you call the number in the listing to get a showing instead of just message on the platform!
It is vitally important to call, or at the very least, send the number a WhatsApp message. If you just email or message from the apartment website, chances are that they will not respond quickly as Spain does things more by calling or WhatsApp.
Yes, this will require you to have a Spanish phone number or at least an international plan. Find out how to get a Spanish phone number to help you on your apartment search in Spain.
Be Aware of Inmobiliarias
When looking for an apartment in Spain, you have to be aware of inmobiliarias!
An inmobiliaria is basically a realtor agency that helps landlords find renters and renters find apartments, for a fee of course…
Many, but not all, of the listings on apartment websites in Spain use inmobiliarias instead of being done directly by the landlords. This means that an inmobiliaria realtor will show you the apartment, and if you decide to sign the lease, you will have to pay them a fee equal to 1 month’s rent.
Yes, this is essentially a scam. But unfortunately, that’s how it works in Spain.
The ultimate dream in finding an apartment is finding one directly through the landlord, so you aren’t basically wasting one month’s rent on some person who shows you the apartment for 10 minutes and then disappears.
In saying that, you can find landlords that post directly on these websites which allows you to skip the inmobiliaria fee. Whening walking around neighborhoods, you can also find ‘Se Aquila’ signs on balconies or in windows that have a phone number you can call. This would most likely be dealing specifically with the landlord.
Read more about What to Bring to Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación.
Read the Lease
Once you find an apartment you want to call home in Spain, read the lease carefully and ask questions if you have them!
The landlord or inmobiliaria agent might try to rush you through this, but don’t let them! This is very important as you don’t want to be stuck with a lease that’s not fair to you.
Just explain to them that this is your first time renting in Spain and that leases are different in your country—even if that’s not entirely true. Chances are they have no idea whether it is or not. Ask a friend or search on Auxiliar or other expat Facebook groups for people to help you translate if you have specific questions.
From what we’ve found, leases are generally straight forward and fairly similar to the US, but it’s worth taking the time to read it and ask questions, just in case!
One big difference with apartment leases in Spain is the amount you will have to pay upfront. Some places might just have you pay for the first month or first and last month’s rent, but other’s will have you pay a fianza too.
The fianza is a payment that the landlord can use to cover any damages, similar to a security deposit. it is typically one month’s rent.
This means you should be prepared to pay the fianza, at least 1 month’s rent, and potentially an inmobiliaria fee. It sucks, but unfortunately, it’s one of the start up costs of finding an apartment in Spain and moving here.
Most apartment leases in Spain have a 6 month minimum, but you can leave after that with one month’s notice. You will also be locked into the rental price for up to 5 years. These are all things that should be stated in the lease. If they are not, you should question it, or move onto finding another apartment.
Be Wise Ready
When you have finally found an apartment in Spain, read the lease, and decided you are ready to sign, you will need all your money ready to give the landlord. If you are dealing in straight cash, you don’t have to worry about this. However, if you have to do it via a bank transfer having Wise, formerly Transferwise, is very important, especially if you do not have a Spanish bank account yet!
If you are transferring money from a bank account in your own country to your landlord, Wise is by far the best option because it has some of the lowest fees around and is very fast and incredibly reliable.
We paid all our beginning apartment fees here in Spain using Wise and transferring from our US bank accounts and never had any problems, which is why we 100% recommend it as the best way to go.
If you have a Spanish bank account with money in it and BIZUM—essentially Spain’s Venmo—you can pay through there, but seeing as most people reading this are just arriving in Spain, you probably don’t have a Spanish bank account or money in it as you haven’t started working so use Wise to at least get your first payments to your landlord.
Again, Wise is the easiest, safest, and most reliable way to transfer money internationally.
You have now found an apartment in Spain! Get settled in, explore, and enjoy living abroad in Spain!
Make sure to check out our other posts on things to do when you arrive in Spain, so you can get settled in right away and start your life abroad without it feeling too overwhelming.
Our Apartment in Madrid
While it’s just one example of an apartment in Spain, we were able to find a great apartment in Madrid after a lot of searching. Take a look at it to see one example of what apartments are like in Madrid and Spain!