If you are new to Madrid, it’s worth doing some research into the city’s different neighbourhoods to see where you might enjoy living. Do you want to be right in the centre, where all the action is? What about multicultural Lavapiés or the LGBT district of Chueca? With rental prices on the rise, you might prefer to move a bit outside the centre, to one of Madrid’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Be aware that the more central you live, the more street noise you are likely to have to hear.
Once you’re ready to embark upon your search, one of the best ways to look for housing is by browsing some of Spain’s biggest rental websites. Idealista lists apartments to rent and to buy that are being rented by both private landlords and estate agents. Other good websites to check out are Fotocasa, Easypiso and Pisocompartido (ideal for those looking for flatmates or to share a flat).
Top tip: it is always preferable to call the number listed, not send a message or email, to get an immediate response. Good flats in Madrid don’t stay on the market for long so, if you see something you like, get in touch with the landlord as soon as possible.
One thing to bear in mind when renting an entire flat is whether you want it furnished or unfurnished. For relatively short-term rentals (around one year) a furnished apartment is probably the best bet. Be aware that furnished apartments often require a larger deposit (usually two months’ rent) than unfurnished apartments (one month’s rent).
This one sounds quite obvious but, before you start searching, make sure you do a bit of research into prices in Madrid, and then work out what your monthly budget is. Rental prices in Madrid rose by 7.8% between the first three months of 2017 and the first three months of 2018. Today, the average rental price is €15.9 (£14) a month per square metre (per 10.7 square feet), according to figures published by Idealista.
If you are moving to Madrid alone, it is worth considering moving into a flat share. Prices are likely to be lower and it’s a great way to meet people. On the other hand, you’ll be living with strangers and might prefer to have your own place.
When using sites like Idealista, you will quickly notice that next to each listing is either a phone number for an estate agent (usually accompanied by the company’s logo), or a phone number and name, which usually means it is a private rental and the landlord is renting out the property. Getting in touch with the landlord directly is often a cheaper option, as estate agents will usually charge you at least one month’s rent as commission. Estate agents do often advertise some of the best apartments on offer, so they can be worth looking into, but do bear in mind the extra costs involved.
If possible, give yourself a few days or a week upon arriving to view as many flats as possible. Book into a hostel or hotel and try to arrange as many apartment viewings as you can, so as to narrow down your options and avoid feeling too panicked or rushed into anything.
When viewing an apartment, have some key questions in mind to ask the landlord (many will only speak Spanish – another thing to bear in mind).
Some of the most important questions are:
‘What is the deposit?’
‘What is the length of the contract?’ The minimum contract length is six months, but most contracts are a minimum of a year.
‘Are any bills included?’ Internet is usually set up by the tenant, but whether electricity and water are included in the rent price depends on the landlord.
‘What are the community fees and are they included?’ In Madrid, a building of apartments is called a comunidad (community) and community fees are usually paid on a monthly basis to cover cleaning the hallways and putting out the bins. They are sometimes included in the rent and sometimes not, so it’s worth asking.
Madrid can get very nippy in the winter and it absolutely swelters during the hot summer months, so checking whether the apartment has air conditioning and heating is essential. Many older apartments will not have air conditioning and plenty of Madrileños get by with fans. Keep in mind, however, especially when viewing apartments high up in a building, that they will get very hot during the summer.
Most adverts will stipulate whether an apartment is ‘interior’ (on the inside of the building with windows usually looking out over an inner courtyard) or ‘exterior’ (with windows looking out onto the street). Exterior apartments are brighter, and usually more expensive, but also tend to get more street noise.
All apartments in Madrid have to carry an energy certificate, which ranks them from A (very energy-efficient) to G (not very efficient at all). If an apartment has a G certificate, bills are likely to be much higher.