Thinking of coming to Madrid to study Spanish? If so, you’re most certainly filled with thoughts about your upcoming experience: learning a new language, experiencing a different culture, meeting new people, seeing the world, and so forth. While you’re daydreaming about life in Madrid, however, your friends and family are thinking about the practical side of things; they’ll be wondering what you’re going to eat, how you’re going to support yourself, and without a doubt, where you’re going to live. Although while stateside these might seem to be trivial details, you definitely will need a place to hang your hat once in country. For better or worse, all of the good spots on benches, in doorways, and under bridges are taken, so you better sort out some accommodation! We´re going to talk about renting an apartment in Madrid.
Shared flats or whole apartment in Madrid
The most common living situation for expats living in Madrid is a shared apartment, or what is usually referred to as a shared flat. Obviously for college students and young adults in the States, sharing an apartment is very normal. Perhaps the strange thing in Madrid, however, is that among foreigners it is very normal to live with people you don’t know beforehand. The best way to find a room is undoubtedly through personal recommendations, but if you don’t know of anything, no worries. Check the Internet for rooms for rent and you’ll find plenty to choose from. The best websites to do so are idealista.com, segundamano.es, and fotocasa.es. There you can easily search for what you’re looking for.
Protocol for renting a room is usually visiting the apartment, meeting the folks who live there, and then waiting to hear back. It’s always a good idea to look at several places as there are often several people gunning for each opening; don’t wait for one person to get back to you before looking around because you may be disappointed. Typically you’ll be asked to pay one month’s rent deposit and the current month’s rent before moving in. Don’t be surprised if there is no contract and rent is paid in-hand, however.
If you’re not interested in just renting a room, you can always rent a whole apartment. This is obviously a somewhat more difficult process, as you’ll need to sign a contract and perhaps present documents proving you’re working or have sufficient funds. Also, you’ll need to get phone and internet service installed or connected, get the electric bill straightened out, and so forth. Living alone is very expensive in Madrid, so unless you’ll be coming here with friends/family, this is maybe not the best option at the beginning. Also, you may be asked to leave a three or even six-month deposit, so if you’re not willing to shell out that kind of cash, a room is probably the best bet. Lastly, be aware of agencies as they tend to charge up to a month’s rent commission and often don’t provide the services one would expect.
Tips to rent an apartment in Madrid
Whether you’re going to rent a room or an entire apartment, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First of all, where to live. The logical choice for foreigners is either the center or near to where you’ll be working or studying. Chances are after a few months in town you’ll have a better idea of what you like and perhaps relocate there. Living outside of the capital is not terribly recommendable, though, because you’ll face long commutes and have difficulty returning home after socializing in the evenings.
Another thing to keep in mind is heating and air conditioning, neither of which, unfortunately, are usually top notch. Above all, though, make sure the apartment you’re going to rent has heat! Believe it or not, many old buildings in the center do not, or have expensive electric heating. The best by far is central heat, which many other apartments do have. Air conditioning, on the other hand, is not so common and a majority of apartments for rent don’t have it. There is barely any humidity in Madrid, so you can survive without it, but if you have a chance to get a place with both good heating and AC, you’ll be more comfortable for sure.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Finding a good place to live is not always easy, especially in a new city in a foreign country on another continent. If you don’t manage to find something you’re happy with the first time, don’t hesitate in changing — there is no reason to be uncomfortable! “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” so the saying goes.