As stated in the last post about renting an apartment in Spain, searching for a flat can be a trying and frustrating process, especially in a non-native language! However, the virtual search before really delving into the house-hunt is crucial and so helpful in terms of getting to know the market, learning vocabulary, and preparing yourself for the in-person part. However, we know that when apartment-hunting in a foreign country you may feel at a loss as to where to look. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a short-list of the must-know websites to get you started!!
Top Five Sites*
Pisocompartido: If you’re looking for an apartment with flatmates, my first recommendation is always Piso Compartido (translation: Shared Flat). Perhaps it is getting less common these days with the prevalence of Facebook, but it has served me well each time I’ve looked for a shared apartment. You make a profile in which you indicate what you are looking for and people often reach out to YOU! When filling out your profile you can enter important personal information such as whether or not you are a smoker, if you have a pet, how long you are looking to rent a room, specific flat ‘characteristics’ (such as having an elevator, balcony, or air conditioning) that you are looking for, etc.
I still did a lot of searching on my own and went to check out places I had personally selected but I actually ended up living with roommates who had reached out to me on both occasions I found a flat through Piso compartido. I really appreciated the two-way street this site offers. I’ve shared more about my experience with it in this week’s Dreaming Domingo post.
“Pisos en ____” Facebook Group: You’re sure to find a number of these groups if you’re in a decent-sized city and the people who advertise their apartments are usually other young people looking for flatmates. Occasionally, you’ll find landlords (or renters who are moving out) advertising completely available flats, but this option is generally best when you’re looking for flatmates. Facebook groups can be a preferable option as some of the ads you’ll find for shared apartments on other sites are listed by the landlord who may show you the place when flatmates aren’t home, meaning you would have to agree to a place without meeting any of the people you’d end up living with.
This is a also good option as you can easily stay up-to-date as to which announcements are the most recent (and often tell which have already been scooped up), meaning you won’t waste your time going after one that’s not actually current. As with option #1, this option gives you a higher likelihood of knowing something more about the people who you might live with before you even agree to tour the place.
Idealista: This is one of my favorite sites when house-hunting but beware of two important things—this is a more ‘official’ search engine meaning that it costs money for the renters to advertise and tends to be used more by real estate agencies than individuals. Likewise, because advertisers have to pay once they take down the ad, some people will just leave their announcement up indefinitely (meaning that the place is not actually available!). Be conscientious about the date the apartment was listed as well as if it is through an agency or not (agencies or inmobiliarios, will likely charge you a month’s rent for their assistance). Definitely be sure to call, not write, when you are interested in one of the listings―especially agencies never seem to respond to messages!
Fotocasa: I haven’t personally used this site as much as Idealista, but it is essentially the same idea and therefore you can find many of the same places advertised (although there’s an occasional diamond-in-the-ruff that only goes up in one place). All of the same fore-warnings above apply. Again, I personally enjoy browsing these sites to get an overall idea of pricing and availability in different areas of town but don’t always end up using them in the end. If you find somewhere you really like at a decent price and listed by a particular (individual), I recommend following up but sometimes the different inmobiliarios get frustrating to contact and work with.
Pro-Tip [for both Idealista and Fotocasa]: If you notice that there are 3+ apartments you are interested in listed through the same real estate agency it might be more beneficial for you to go into the office of that agency and work directly with the company. At least in my experience, agents are far more likely to assist you when you seem serious about using them to see multiple places not just ‘bothering’ them about one.
Milanuncios: Literally translated to “Thousand Ads,” the name is quite accurate—this is the catch-all advertising site of Spain. It’s free for anyone to put up an ad and so you will find everything from apartments for rent to cars for sale to second-hand baby strollers and clothes. It feels less formal to me so I haven’t used it personally when looking for an apartment but it’s definitely a good search engine to be aware of when looking for a good bargain! The people who post on this site tend to be more cost-conscious (compared to those paying for posts on Idealista or Fotocasa) and therefore often offer better prices, too.
At the same time that it can be of benefit to you to deal with an average person rather than a real estate agent or seasoned landlord, keep in mind that the ads and photos you find on Milanuncios will probably not be as professional (and therefore it may be worth it to see a place in person before discounting it). Likewise, be especially prepared to repeat yourself in case the person you call struggles to understand your foreign accent accent.
Some Important Side-Notes
While it may be tempting to find and agree to rent a place before you move to Spain, I REALLY recommend you wait until you can meet the person (or agency), see the place in person, and sign an official contract. Although I know a few people who have had success taking care of everything in advance, more often than not it’s hard to tell if the person you are speaking with is legitimate and if the flat is really in good conditions and worth your money (assuming it exists).
While you’re still in your home country, you can certainly start browsing the above websites―even just for the fun and excitement―but I wouldn’t bother starting to contact anyone until you arrive (or just a few days before). Simply put: it’s not necessary, especially because sometimes the places that you see online this week will no longer be available next week). No matter what you choose to do, be very leery about transferring money and do not share your credit card details! Unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of your position as a foreigner who may not understand the process well.
If you do some researching ahead of time, I personally believe you will have no problem finding the right place for you within a week. I’ve personally never spent more than three days touring places, typically moving in within one-to-three days after that. The process moves quickly and so it’s just not worth the risk of agreeing to rent a flat from abroad. Besides, with these websites at your fingertips, you’re now prepared to do it as a local!
Have you used any of the above sites? Be sure to share your experiences and/or opinions in the comments to help each other out!
*This evaluation is based solely on my experiences in Granada. Please give us a shout-out if other sites are better in your area!