If you want to rent a long-term apartment in Spain, you might not find one immediately. Depending on the city, it can be either difficult or easy to find an apartment. In this article, we are guiding you through the process.
Renting an apartment in Spain
A lot of people move to Spain each year. That makes good sense in a variety of ways: Spain is a nice country with great weather for most of the year, the prices are quite decent compared to other countries, and there are plenty of things to do in all major cities.
In fact, Spain is one of the most popular countries in the entire world. It attracts pensioners looking to enjoy life, as well as young people looking to study or work abroad.
Most of the people that move to Spain opt for renting an apartment. Some prefer to buy property, but that’s a discussion for another day. In this article, we are focusing 100% on how to rent an apartment in Spain.
Things you should know before searching for apartments
You should know that it isn’t always easy to get an apartment in Spain. Especially if you are arriving in the country and want to find one immediately.
Almost all apartments in major Spanish cities are insured by insurance companies. When you apply for an apartment, you will be asked to provide proof of your work and your last three salaries. In other words, it’s usually a requirement that you have been working in Spain for a while and that you have a decent income. Otherwise, you will probably get rejected. (The exception is if you rent an apartment from an agency that is focused on foreigners. In that case, they might accept proof of income from other countries too.)
Along with that, you need a NIE number to rent an apartment. The good news is that the NIE is easy to obtain, but the bad news is that it might take you a month.
We recommend that you find a room or a temporary apartment for your first couple of months in Spain. After you have been working here for a while, it will be much easier to get an apartment. It’s really difficult to rent an apartment in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Málaga without a work contract and proof of three months salary.
However, if you have a job and you have been working for over 3 months in Spain, it is usually not a problem to rent an apartment. In that case, it is actually easy. There is always a wide selection of available apartments, so that is the good part. And the rent is generally lower than in other western European countries.
When you sign an apartment contract, you will probably have to pay a deposit worth of 1 or 2 months rent, an agency fee (usually equivalent to 1 month of rent), along with the first month of rent. Supplies will usually not be charged for until you have been living there for at least a month. You get the keys immediately after signing your apartment contract.
Where to look and how to apply
There are several ways to find apartments in Spain. Here are some of the best methods:
These two websites (particularly Idealista) have great selections in all major Spanish cities. They are free to use, so you can easily contact the landlords. Sign up as a user, search for the area in which you want to live, and browse the matching apartments. There are several filters you can use. Once you see an apartment you like, write a message or call the owner of the apartment. In most cases, apartments will be listed by agencies, but sometimes the owners are private individuals.
Be sure to get a Spanish phone number before contacting the apartment owners. A lot of them only respond to Spanish numbers.
ALWAYS go to see the apartment in person. Never commit to anything without actually seeing it. And you should go to see a lot of places because oftentimes the places are much nicer in reality than in pictures. So you might be able to find a true gem by being openminded.
Prepare to see and apply for a lot of apartments before getting accepted. When my girlfriend and I were looking for apartments in Madrid, we must have visited 20 different apartments before finally getting accepted. We actually got accepted by two different apartments in the end – one in Malasaña and one in Carpetana. We wanted to live in the center, so it was an easy choice, even though the other apartment was big for the price. The process took us around two weeks.
Visit an agency
There are plenty of agencies all over Spain that handle apartments and other properties. If you don’t want to spend time looking online, go into one of the agencies and tell them you are looking for apartments. Give them your contact information, and they will call you if anything shows up.
Popular agencies are Redpiso, Remax, Tecnocasa and several others. They have physical offices where you just walk inside and talk to them. In their windows, they usually have ads for available apartments and houses (for rent and for sale).
It costs nothing to go in there and give your information, but if they end up finding you an apartment, they will take a fee. Usually equivalent to one month of rent.
Use an asesoría
Asesorías are common in Spain. They are consultants and can help you with almost everything – getting residence, accounting, tax advice, law advice and much more. And some of them can also help you find an apartment. Look for asesoría inmobiliaria.
Tell them what you like, what your budget is, what documentation you can provide, and they will search the whole city for suitable apartments. You have to pay them upfront. But usually, they will also come up with something, assuming that you yourself have the paperwork in order to be accepted by the insurance.
It’s probably the easiest way, but also the most expensive.
You can look for asesorías online, but a physical meeting is almost always required at some point.
Here are the most expensive cities for renting
Madrid is known to be the most expensive city when it comes to properties. A studio apartment in central Madrid will cost you around 600-800 euros per month. Make that a two-bedroom flat and you’re looking at 1300-1500 euros. However, if you get a bit outside of the main centre, it also gets cheaper. Delicias and Acacias are two nice residential areas, where you can get two-bedroom apartments down to 700 euros.
In Barcelona, the rent is close to Madrid levels, but not quite. It’s slightly cheaper. You can get a studio apartment for 600 and a two-bedroom for 1200. But then again, it depends on the area.
Bilbao is the third most expensive city in Spain, and basically the prices there are close to Madrid’s and Barcelona’s.
These three cities are the top tier when it comes to renting. The rest of the country is a lot cheaper. In Valencia you can rent a two bedroom apartment for 700 euros, easily. Same goes for Sevilla and Málaga. These are the second tier cities, and they are all quite affordable. Usually, it’s also easier to find properties here.
Smaller cities and towns are incredibly affordable. But it depends on where in the country you want to live. In general, coastal areas are more expensive than inland cities. There are only a few exceptions to this.
Smaller towns are even cheaper. The ones above are all nice cities.
Of course, there are a few exceptions. Standout towns such as Marbella and Las Rozas are even more expensive than Madrid and Barcelona, but that is simply because they are rich towns.
If you browse around on Idealista, you can quickly get an impression of the prices.