So you are moving to Madrid! You found your school placement and you are itching to make your way to your new home. There is plenty to do between now and your arrival but one thing that you cannot stop thinking about is where you are going to live.
Your probably scratching your head wondering how you are going to arrive to a new country and find a place to live. Maybe yours Spanish is not as strong as you would like. Or you have no idea about how to go about starting the process. I also thought these things when I first arrived and have this post in mind to help answer some questions and give you a foundation to be successful.
Sure most of you want to live in the city center. That's awesome go for it. Some of you want to live closer to work. Splendid. What it comes down to it it's your own preference. There is no right or wrong. It's your life. Make it the way you want it to be. These next things will apply to all and everyone who is looking for an apartment regardless to where you want to live.
Research the neighborhood you want to live in.
Being an Language Assistant is great opportunity to live abroad for a year and to be in Madrid. One thing to keep in mind when searching for a new apartment is that Madrid is a huge city, There are 21 districts with more than 125 Neighborhoods. Do not let that overwhelm you but put into perspective that there are other places to live besides Malasaña or Chueca. Each of these 21 districts offer unique living experiences and should be considered for your home for the next year. If you want to do a quick read of some of the neighborhoods check out Naked Madrid with their overview of a few neighborhoods.
Check out websites or Facebook Groups
Be on't book a place or send money without viewing the place first. Yes, yes most of you are already searching on websites like Idealista or Spotahome. Go for it! Check it out. Get a feel of navigating the sites and what your possible options are. But please please please do not book anything till you get to Madrid! Pictures are deceiving! Posts can be deceiving.
What I do recommend is joining Facebook groups such as these below:
Consider looking into other Companies or agencies such as these:
Agencies or companies who assist with housing may require a service fee which can range from a flat fee of 50 euros, a fee of a full months rent of the flat you acquire, or the fee of the full months rent plus an additional percentage. Agencies can be useful if you are desperate and you are willing to pay for a spot. Make sure that you meet with the individuals and ask to speak to someone who is bilingual to help with any questions that you may have. Read the contracts carefully and if you have any doubts post to one of the many Facebook groups to see if someone is available to help you; as there are many wonderful people out there that are willing to.
Check out these Youtube videos that showcase neighborhoods around Madrid. The Youtube Page MadridEasy does a great basic overview of the different barrios in the center of Madrid.
👉🏽 La Latina
Check out other similar Youtube Pages to see other more specific neighborhoods that you may want to live in. Spending an evening of exploring different links and videos will give you a bigger picture of what is out there and may help you decide on what area works best for you. Take the time to watch the videos or to click on blogs to see what others have to say about the area. Opinions do matter in this case and its best to get an overall idea of what can be the best pick for you.
But where should you live?!?
There's really no bad place in Madrid. Each neighborhood has its own charm and vibe that contributes to the overall energy that makes Madrid so great. Explore different areas and give yourself the chance to see what is out there. As you walk around Madrid you will be able to feel the vibe of each neighborhood and what it has to offer. Many will often ask... Where in Madrid is the most unsafe? Or the most dangerous? The simple answer that many people will agree upon is that Madrid is a very safe and positive city. There are not any dangerous parts of the City that should raise flags. Crime can happen anywhere and at anytime. Even in the most popular "rich" neighborhoods crimes can still occur.
You'll see posting all around Madrid outside of apartments. Buildings. Light posts. On cars. That will say "Se Alquila" meaning "for rent". Take down the numbers and call if possible, best way to do so is by using the app Whatsapp. Most people who are renting out their flats will either want to be contacted by phone, email, or Whatsapp. If your Spanish is rusty or you don't feel confident, ask a friend to help you. We are all here to help each other out and do what we can to be successful when it comes to finding a flat.
Talk up yourself
Make a little tidbit about yourself in English and in Spanish that you can easily copy and paste in messages and emails so that you don't waste time writing messages and missing out on opportunities. I had mine saved in my notes and just copied and pasted when I stumbled upon a listing.
When considering what to write think of the basics, something along the lines of: "Hola, I saw your posting. I'm an Auxiliar de Conversacion here in Madrid and I am very interested in your room. I will be living here for from October through June and would like to see your listing. I am clean, quiet, and respectful. Please let me know if I can come view your flat."
Ok ok yeah I know it's a basic note but that's all you need to put for the most part. Provide them with a little extra if you would like. People who are renting out their flat receive hundreds of messages for these rooms. There is a high demand for housing the late summer months into the fall. You must be persistent when it comes to finding a room. You most likely won't get your first pick, yet alone the other three. But you must remain calm and patient with your time in finding it. Refresh your Idealista postings, walk around side streets of your neighborhoods of where you want to live. Keep in contact with friends, others may have a room open up in their flat and need someone to fill it.
Cost and Fianza
Things to keep in mind when looking for an apartment the cost.
Your rent will consist of your deposit and first months rent. Keep note you don't get paid till November. So make sure you have enough money to pay 3 months worth of until we receive our first payment for work if you arrive in September.
Rent and deposit (fianza is what they call deposit) will take a big chunk of your savings that you brought to Madrid. Look for anywhere 2-5 roommates. Its not necessarily cheaper with more roommates but can help aide in the total cost of the flat you rent the flat as a whole instead of room by room. Try to find a place that is within 350-450 euros. It can get demanding with all the new Auxiliares and students coming to Madrid.
If you do a quick breakdown, expect to have 350-450 for deposit. Plus the month of September and Octobers rent. So let's say you find a room that's 375. Rough figure of 375x3=1125....deposit plus first two months because you don't get paid till November. It adds up quick but that's what you will most likely be looking at. If you chose to live outside of the city center or in Alcala you can expect rent being anywhere from 200-350 euros. It comes down to your preference and what works with your lifestyle.
Now what do you do?
From here you can relax for the time being. It is a long process and full of many emotions.
You are probably asking yourself what to do in the mean time as you search for places.....
Consider booking Airbnbs and hostels for 3-5 days at a time. These can be a pricey investment but may be necessary to finding your home. You can also ask friends if you can crash with them for a few days, be mindful that they are trying to settle into their new homes as well.
Future posts to follow in regards what are the next steps after finding and leasing flat.
Dreamer. Lost in the moment.
Podunk Wyoming native, living and thriving in Madrid. Lover of Craft beer and art.