I never thought finding an apartment could be as difficult as in NYC (ok, yes, I made the process extraordinarily hard by moving 4 times in 2 years…oops.) but piso hunting in Madrid, Spain is a serious contender for a close-2nd place.
I arrived to Madrid with a 2 week window to find an apartment, and even though everything worked out within 7 days of arriving, it was rather treacherous. Many days were filled entirely with wandering around Madrid in the scorching August sun, squinting up at tiny signs in windows and writing down phone numbers, only to find out upon calling that “No, the apartment is not furnished” or “Sure, the apartment is ready today for 1500 Euro/month.” Ahem, SAY WHAT?!
Not to mention I limped around with a bum ankle like a boss (I mean it’s okay for bosses to complain every 5 minutes over how much pain they’re in, right?) after spending the majority of the past 5 months stuck in bed. Click here if you don’t know what I’m referring to.
Eventually, just as I was getting desperate and about to settle for an apartment I didn’t love, I lucked out and found one through Idealista. It’s near Plaza Mayor so it can be noisy, but with the balcony doors shut at night you can’t hear much.
While I’m not an expert on the process, I’m hoping my mistakes will make your search a little easier.
So here’s some tips on how to find an apartment in Madrid, Spain:
1) Do research on which neighborhood(s) you’d like to live in.
Maybe you’d like to live near your school, or perhaps you’d like to live near the center for easy transportation options, or maybe in Malasaña where the cool kids hang out.
2) Start searching on sites like Idealista.com before you get to Madrid,
so you have some idea of what’s out there and what the price range is for your neighborhood. Other sites include: Easypiso.com, Pisocompartido.com, Loquo.com.
**Note: It’s not a good idea to actually settle on an apartment before you come! Your apartment might not be available when you get here (I’ve seen this happen to people), or the landlord might be a total creep, or you might decide you hate the neighborhood once you get here. And definitely DO NOT wire money to someone you don’t know.
3) Once you get to Madrid, start walking around the neighborhoods you like.
Write down the phone numbers from the signs in the windows that say “Se Alquila”, with the street address so you can remember where it was. Figure out some basic questions in Spanish that you’d like to ask before making an appointment, write them down, then call the number and read them your list. If the apartment sounds like what you’re looking for, GO SEE IT RIGHT AWAY or it may be gone. And be prepared to jump on an apartment that you like, especially if you are coming around the end of August/early September. This seems to be the most effective way to find an apartment. It’s exhausting and time consuming, but that’s just how it is folks.
4) Walk around the streets you’re interested in on a Thurs/Fri/Sat night
and pay attention to how noisy they can get. You should take this seriously.
5) Don’t waste your time e-mailing people!
Calling them is so much more effective. Make sure you have WhatsApp set up on your phone so they can respond to you that way, without wasting minutes, but an initial phone call generally gets responded to 1290382109312 times faster than an e-mail. I’d say 75% of my e-mails went unanswered.
6) Join Ex-pat Facebook groups.
There are loads of people searching for roommates and posting about available rooms.
Initially I tried to find a temporary apartment in Madrid through Airbnb.com, but all of my requests went unanswered. Granted this was in August when half of the city is away on vacation, so it may be worth a shot during other times of year.
Here’s a quick video tour of my apartment plus some live music from my balcony.
(Mid-video a couple guys start performing Ai Se Eu Te Pego in the street. It’s funny how this over-played Brazilian pop song can still make me smile haha)
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips that I forgot to mention and please share on FB/Twitter if it was helpful!