Finding a place to rent in Spain was one of the most stressful things we went through. Before leaving Canada we started looking online and even emailed a few of the ads. We didn’t seem to get anywhere. Except for one of the places we emailed, it was big, spacious, the right location and very low price compared to the other apartments available. I’ll explain more of this later on.
As an expat when you arrive to your new country you have lots to take care of. You have just moved to a new country, adjusting to a new language, finding where to live, getting bank accounts and more organized. I wanted to write this blog post and help everyone that is moving to Spain or are currently looking for a apartment somewhere in Spain. I put together a list of do’s and don’ts when finding a place:
Don’t start contacting renters from another country.
We found this to be useless to say the least. Start looking for a house or apartment right when you arrive and are officially in Spain. I understand, it can be scary to leave your country and not know where you are going to be living when you arrive. I would highly recommend getting an Airbnb or even a hostel if you are low on money.
We started emailing several of the ads I found online when we arrived in Spain, but ended up getting zero answers. It was frustrating at first because I wasn’t expecting to get no answers. I would email some in english and some in spanish to see if this had anything to do with this. I ended up calling the phone numbers listed on the ads and then I started getting somewhere. Call at all times or even add them to your phone and message them through Whatsapp. This seem to be the most efficient way for us.
Don’t pay a rental company upfront.
There are several companies that will get you to pay them before finding you a place. This is how it works. First, you can directly go to the agencies or you find an ad online under them and call to book an appointment. After, when you have an appointment they get you to go to their office and end up telling you that there is a fee to pay before they can show you the place. This is what happened to us.
They showed us many places we liked and said they would start scheduling right away. Once we paid they then told us that the place from the ad wasn’t available. They kept showing us places that we didn’t like so we decided to keep looking on our own. We saw one place and we really liked it, told the agency but we got nowhere.
By the time we found a place it was on our own and not through the agency meaning we lost the money we paid them.
Don’t think it will be quick, you need to be patient. It’s a fulltime job.
Looking for a place to rent can be stressful, disappointing and at times you will want to give up and settle for anything. Don’t worry you will find something you want you just have to be patient. It takes lots of calling around, and going to places, it will turn into your full time job. Like I said before be patient!
Ask about electricity bill and water
Before you sign the contract make sure you are aware what extra expenses you will need to cover. A lot of apartments will have the electricity and water included in the rent but others won’t. Ask any questions you need to ask before agreeing on something.
Try to see places listed by the owner
Some apartment will be listed by the owner. Try to go ahead with them instead of going through an agency first. If you didn’t know agencies will ask you to pay them a month of rent or 1000 euros for them finding you the place. That can easily be saved if you decide going through the owner. Be aware that most apartments are listed by agencies so again…be patient. Don’t rush into anything.
Try to to rent for longer periods of time instead of 3 months
A lot of expats tend to rent for 3 months at a time and don’t mind moving around every 3 months. The problem that comes with this is the fact that you have to pay the agencies fee every 3 months. Which can become very expensive.
Decide quick on an apartment
There is a high demand for apartments in Spain. If you like a place you have to be quick and make a decision. It is most likely that lots of people are looking at the apartment and you could lose it.
When we went to see the place we currently live in it had just been placed in the market. We were the second couple to go see it and they had many visit for the day after. We ended up deciding that same day and putting a “reserva” (deposit).
Cash in hand
We didn’t particularly do this but I know of a friend that did. I heard of people bringing the full amount to the viewing of the house. By doing this, if you are interested on the place you don’t give the owner many options but to rent it to you.
Be aware of deposit
They will charge you for a deposit. It can be 1 to 2 months, depending on the owner. So you can be looking at paying for your first month, 2 months for the deposit plus the fee to the agency all at once.
Be aware of scams
Like I said at the beginning of the blog if you come across an ad that sounds too good to be true. What do I mean by that?
Well, there are lots of scams happening in Spain right now. It almost happened to us. We started looking for places before leaving Canada. We saw this ad, beautiful apartment downtown, spacious, high ceilings, renovated, all new furniture and pretty much everything we had been looking for. It was our dream place. We contacted them and funny how it was the only ad that got back to us.
The process seem too easy, he just wanted a deposit. He mentioned a few times that he would give us the money back if we didn’t like it. He mentioned he worked with Airbnb, to make us trust the process. Right before paying he sent us a link and there it was. The page looked super fake. So we ended up googling a few things and decided that we were not comfortable. We felt like it was a scam. When we got to Spain I read several blogs talking about several scams happening, so be aware.
It is a long process to find a apartment to rent, but be patient. We are so happy we found a place to live and are slowly getting settled.