When looking for housing in Madrid, there’s a lot to think about. Are you planning to share, or find your own place? Whatever you end up doing, it’s always a result of your budget, expectations and preparation - quite often, it’s also a result of luck, whether good or bad. That’s why we’re here - to try and swing the odds back in your favor!
You’ve got two options: renting a single room within a house/apartment (una habitación) or renting the entire property (called un piso). The habitación is obviously the easiest option, since you don’t have to organize utility bills, buy kitchen utensils and so on. The majority of the time, it’s simply a matter of showing up for a meeting (you could say "interview", but it’s just a chance for those in the flat to get to know you), agreeing a move-in date and paying your share of rent and bills.
Renting an entire apartment in Madrid is more hassle, but gives you more flexibility. You’ll have more control over how the apartment looks, who your other flatmates are (if it’s not a one-bed place) and so on. However, you’ll also need to take responsibility for the entire piso, including payment of bills and rent, and reparation of any damaged property.
In today’s world, finding accommodation in Madrid (or any other city, really) is best done online. There are countless media you can use, like the Housing Anywhere Madrid search, which can be tailored to your exact budget and any location specifications.
With the efficient and comprehensive public transport system in Madrid, you can take advantage of good apartments outside the immediate city centre. In fact, you can live anywhere for miles around and still have effortless access to the capital, so finding accommodation in Madrid could be considered a little easier than some of its European rivals - if you aren’t too fussy!
If you don’t know where else to start, just open up Google and search for apartment rentals in Madrid - if nothing else, this will kick-start the process and give you an idea of what’s out there. An alternative is to use Facebook to find fellow students who are looking to share an apartment. We run a few Facebook groups which aim to connect students from Madrid’s universities to find accommodation, so check them out and see if your new flatmates are in there too:
Always read the rental agreement minutely, from back to front. If your Spanish isn’t fluent, have someone else check over it with you to ensure that there are no nasty surprises hiding in there. Find out who is responsible for paying for repair work, or the emergency plumber if a pipe bursts during your tenancy. Other factors like where your deposit is stored are just as important, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into when renting in Madrid. This is probably more relevant to those renting an entire piso, rather than a single room.
Room prices always vary, but as a ballpark figure you can usually get a room within a shared apartment for €300-600 quite comfortably. If you do choose to rent a room (una habitación) then check whether or not internet and bills are included in the "room price" - quite often this is just the rent, which can be misleading.
A 3-bed apartment could cost as little as €1200-1500 per month, but some fetch easily twice as much. The best thing you can do is look around and, unless it’s an exceptional offer, try not to leap at the first half-decent deal you see. Play the game a little, view a few different apartments and try to get a feel for what you like, especially the different areas in the city. There are loads of things to do in Madrid, but you might find that there are some areas you’d love to live in, while socializing happens elsewhere.
Finding apartments that are within budget and in a certain area is easy enough online, but to actually get a place, you usually need to be on-site. Whether it’s to meet the landlord or current residents, to sign contracts or anything else, you definitely benefit from being in Madrid during your search. It’s also much easier to avoid scams if you always view the apartment before committing - it sounds obvious, but sometimes a “great deal” comes along and you have to act fast. Unless you are using a secure website, such as HousingAnywhere, also never transfer the money beforehand as there are a lot of scammers. A very good option, however, is to arrange a Skype meeting with your future landlord, which allows you to get to know him/her better and also to view the apartment better. This allows you to build a more personal contact and can save you some time and money as you can do it from your home. If you are still sure that you want to view the apartment personally before you book it, you can consider some short term options, such as hotels or hostels. Use them and spend a week or two viewing properties and exploring the city before you move - it should help you find the right place, for a good amount of money, and in an area you’ve already gotten to know.