Ready to fulfill your dream of moving to Spain? Well, you’ll need a place to live, and renting an apartment in Spain can be challenging. There’s a language barrier, seasonal fluctuations, and many Spanish landlords are not anxious to rent to foreigners in the first place. Keep reading for everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Spain!
Where and when to rent in Spain
Let’s cover where to rent in Spain, then get to the less obvious when. For big cities and nightlife, there’s Madrid and Barcelona, but you could also give Valencia a look. Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, is up-and-coming, cosmopolitan, less intimidating, and still a little lighter on the pocket. For beach lovers, the south coast is fine, but there are other options, too. The area north of Barcelona is gorgeous and temperate, while the Atlantic beaches are more rugged and fronted with lush mountains. For mountains and skiing, it’s the Pyrenees, the range northwest of Madrid, or the Sierra Nevada down south. And then, for culture and architecture, there’s Sevilla, Córdoba, Toledo, and Granada. And now for the when. If you’re flexible about when to start renting an apartment in Spain, you’ll save a lot of time and money. Price and availability vary greatly based on four factors: weather, holidays, tourism, and university life.
As for the weather, summer isn’t the best time to find an apartment on the coast, but it is a bargain anywhere in the interior. Why? Because it can feel like hell on earth — also something to think about — and many locals go elsewhere. Alternatively, winter is an excellent time to rent on Spain’s northern beaches.
What’s Spain, if not one big party, right? And all that fun affects property prices. Besides Christmas and Easter, every Spanish town has its own festival, sometimes two. Make sure to find out when that is because it will make the town extra busy. Regarding tourism, spring and autumn are the best times to look in the most touristy places—a month or two can make a massive difference in price and supply.
Finally, university generally begins in September and finishes in June. So avoid apartment hunting when the students get to town and search for the best bargain when they leave in June. This is especially important in university towns under 500,000, like Granada or Salamanca, or if you’d like to live in a student district.
How to find long term rentals in Spain
Most people use websites to find long term rentals in Spain. The most popular site to find an apartment in Spain is Idealista. It’s easy to use, and you can translate it into any language. Keep in mind that issues can arise when you need to speak with the landlord. Luckily, many listings are from realtors who sometimes speak English, French, Russian, or another language. Another helpful site is Spotahome . This site’s got rentals for less than a year, and more of the owners speak English. Finally, good ol’ Airbnb is probably your best option if you stay less than three months. Most landlords want to avoid dealing with the hassle of renting short-term. And before using any Spanish rental site, make sure to read about the common scams down below.
There’s also the old-fashioned way to find a long term rental in Spain. Go to a real estate agency in the district you’d like to live. I recommend searching in Spanish “agencia inmobiliaria”. You can also walk into the shops with windows filled with property photos. Selling is their primary function, but most will also have a few rental properties or can point you in the right direction. They’re also likely to speak some English.
My favorite way to find a long term rental in Spain is through Facebook groups like Expats in Spain or search for “Rental properties in Spain.” There are lots of these groups, you won’t have a language problem, and you may have an easier time with a landlord who is foreign or has dealt with foreigners. Join the group, peruse the posts, and post something about yourself and what you’re looking for. I recommend this first and foremost, but the results are hit-and-miss.
Do you need a realtor in Spain?
Do you need a realtor in Spain just to rent a place? Not really. As mentioned above, you can deal directly with owners through online platforms and groups. However, there are three reasons you may end up dealing with a realtor. One is language: if you don’t speak Spanish, a realtor will eliminate that problem. Another is convenience: it’s easier (but a bit pricier) to have someone else do most of the work. And a third is the reality of the market: many owners find it simpler and less risky to rent through a realtor, so you may have to use one.
What do Spanish landlords love, hate, and not mind so much?
Above all, Spanish landlords love stability and a work contract. They love that much more than your actual salary. The longer you’ve been at your job, the better, and the more official-looking and permanent the contract, the better. Why? Because squatting is a big problem in Spain. Landlords have a real and valid fear of this. They even have insurance to cover squatting. Even so, sometimes they won’t rent to you because their insurance isn’t happy with something. If you need more than the work contract or don’t have one, offering more months in advance will often work.
What do Spanish landlords really hate, though? Pets. Filter for ‘accepts pets’ (acepta mascotas in Spanish), and it will filter out 80% of the results. Pet deposits aren’t common here either, but you can offer, and it may help your cause. On a positive note, they’ll often say yes to a pet once you’ve moved in and they know you.
If you’re having trouble finding an apartment with your pet, try using a realtor. You’ll pay for their help, but they typically have a relationship with the landlords and can negotiate for you and your furry friend.
Spanish landlords are sometimes ok with subletting or renting a room. I’m not saying you can run a full-scale Airbnb, but once you’ve moved in, they won’t bug you much about what you’re doing. Part of this is renters’ rights. Keep in mind that each owner will be different.
Common rental scams in Spain
In my experience, rental scams in Spain fall into two types: fake listings or a fake agent or landlord obtaining your contact from a real listing. In the end, both can be spotted and avoided.
If you find an apartment you like, you contact the person, and they immediately ask you to send documents or transfer money. That’s a huge red flag. You’ll have to do both of those things later if you decide to take the place, but never at this point. They may say they need your documents for insurance purposes, or you should send a small deposit to reserve the place because it’s “in such high demand.” Don’t fall for that. If it’s a normal listing, the next logical step is to arrange a time to view the property. They may ask you generally about your job, your income, how long you plan to stay, if you can legally live here… That’s normal, but never send documents or give personal info before you have a contract.
A trickier scam is when you fill out an inquiry form on a site like Idealista, and someone calls or writes you who is not the owner or the agent. I don’t know how this happens exactly, but it has happened to me several times. It’s the same red flags, though, as they’ll ask you for personal info, documents or money. The best way to avoid this is to skip these forms and call the number listed instead. It’s also the best way to check and see if who called you is real. It may be tough if you don’t speak Spanish, but it’s a good time to find out if you can proceed without Spanish. If you don’t share a language, getting through the whole rental process will be challenging, particularly with a private owner.
So what’s the rule? To avoid common rental scams in Spain, never give personal info, documents, or money before you’ve seen the place and decided to move in. Easy-peasy!
How to rent an apartment in Spain
Ok! You’re ready, but it’s still a bit unclear. Let’s go through step by step how to rent an apartment in Spain.
- Research where you want to live. Consider affordability, size of the city, climate, proximity to attractions, international connections, the expat community, job opportunities, etc. Once you pick the city, think about which district you’d like to live in. Views? Nightlife? Nature? Public transport? Gyms? Coworking?
- Once you’ve found your destination, join online groups and forums to inquire about rentals and start searching sites like idealista.com and spotahome.com.
- Arrange to see some places and choose one. If you’re serious about taking the place, they’ll want details about your job, income, passport, or other ID. It’s ok to give this info after you’ve seen the place and are interested in signing the official rental contract. At the same time, try to get the landlord to include as many utilities as possible, such as electricity, water, gas, etc. Each one they deal with is less of a headache for you.
- The landlord will write up your contract. Don’t be surprised if it’s 37 pages long and lists every damn item in the house. It’s just how they roll here. Check everything carefully, sign, and pay at the end for the wine glass or whatever you might break, and you’re good to go. Of course, if your Spanish needs to be revised, it’s always recommendable to ask someone else to go over the contract before signing.
- Pay and move in. Usually, it’s just a deposit, but it may be the deposit and the first month’s rent. The landlord may want it paid in cash, which is normal but get a receipt. Once you’ve moved into a place, you as the renter, have most of the rights, so the tough part is over. Maintain a good relationship with the owner, and enjoy your new place in Spain!
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