The survivor’s guide to renting in Madrid

Madrid's rental market is booming. That means prices are on the rise and the competition for affordable lodging in desirable zones of the capital is steep.

The survivor's guide to renting in Madrid
Finding a great place to rent isn't always easy. Photo: AFP

Madrid's rental market is booming. That means prices are on the rise and the competition for affordable lodging in desirable zones of the capital is steep.

The Local spoke to relocation expert Mary Clare Bland from Moving2Madrid for the lowdown on how to avoid the common pitfalls when searching for an apartment. 

1. Make sure you have the time and resources to finding an apartment. 

The Madrid apartment market has often been challenging, and with the recent real estate recovery, the challenges have been amplified. Make sure you have at least three weeks (this has been researched) of searching full-time to find a place.  Landlords don't like to have apartments vacant, so it’s not recommended to starting looking more than a month in advance.

2. You must speak at least basic Spanish to find a place.

If you don't, find a translator or use a professional buyer's agent like Moving2Madrid. The same is true if you don't have the time to dedicate to a proper search. We've heard of people searching for literally years if they don't speak Spanish and perform the search in a focused manner.

3. You're going to have to “kiss a lot of frogs”.

Although things are changing, much of the apartment stock in the city is quite old. Many places still have appliances and bathroom fixtures from the 1950s, water heaters without the capacity to take a hot bath and ancient kitchens.

READ ALSO Renting in Spain: How to survive and thrive 

4. Make sure the apartment has heat.

Photo: olly18/Depositphotos

Like many homes in southern Europe many buildings in Madrid don't have central heating. However, the wind can blow down from the mountains in winter and it can get quite cold.

This is such a problem that the city has introduced new Airbnb regulation requiring owners to provide heat. Buying electric heaters can be a solution, but they are often quite energy inefficient in a country where power prices are relatively high.

5. Check the apartment's energy certificate.

 Apartments are now required to have them, and the rankings go from A (the best) to G (the worst). Many of the older apartments are a G, which can result in very high electricity bills, especially if you have to fork out for electric heating or plug in air conditioners..

6. Check if it has central air conditioning. 

You will want more than a fan to keep you cool in summer. Photo: AFP

Madrid can be extraordinarily hot in the summer (45 degrees or more) and very few apartments have central air. And even if the apartment does have it, the air often doesn't function well. Test it and make sure it works well, especially if you're from a cooler country or a place with very strong air conditioning like the US or Hong Kong. 

7. Start your search online. 


The best sites are Idealista and Fotocasa. Idealista is free, with the largest number of apartments. Fotocasa is very well designed and easy to use. Keep in mind there are pros and cons associated with these sites. The Pros: they will give you access to the largest database of apartments and rooms to share. They have powerful search functions and alerts and are easy to use. The cons: anyone can upload anything, so there’s a risk of scams and 90% of the ads are only in Spanish. We do not recommend Craigslist because it’s full of scams.

8. Keep in mind that Spanish landlords and real estate agents are not user-friendly. 

They often don’t return phone calls, or fail to turn up for viewings. Sometimes they don’t bother to tell you the apartment has already been let until you phone up to ask why they are not on the doorstep. In fact, they can be downright untrustworthy and have been known to lie on occasions. Be persistent and do your due diligence.

9. Decide if you want it furnished or not. 

Photo: podsolnukh/Depositphotos

Part of this is based on personal preference (you might have furniture that you love and want to ship). Otherwise, you should base your decision upon the amount of time you are planning to be here. If you are here for less than a year, you will find many furnished options. If you are planning on staying more than a year, your choices will be limited to 20 percent of the available apartment stock if you want something furnished. Those numbers are for the center. If you want something in the suburbs, like Pozuelo, there are very few furnished apartments which this will limit you to less than 10 percent of the market. It is harder to find larger apartments that are furnished.

10. Have all necessary documents available before you start your search. 

Photo: photography33/Depositphotos

The Madrid apartment market has become a seller's, and landlord's, market. They are performing stricter credit checks and if you don't have your supporting documents readily available you can easily lose your dream apartment to another bidder. We recommend you have as many of the possible in hand when you start your search:

  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of NIE
  • Copy of your work contract showing, contract length, position and salary
  • Letter from your company conveying your employment status
  • Tax slips
  • Bank statements
  • Portfolio with lists of assets
  • Reference letters from former landlords
  • Pension plan statements
  • Letter from your bank confirming that you are economically capable to pay x amount per month

11. If you like somewhere don’t attempt to negotiate

It's a seller's market right now and if you find an apartment you like, you need to focus on quickly signing a contract to make sure you don’t lose it, so bear that in mind if you are tempted to negotiate. If it’s a good place then there is likely to be someone in the wings who is prepared to pay the asking price.

12. Be prepared to pay upfront and keep in mind that things can move quickly

Once you have found a place you like, then it’s standard on signing the contract to hand over one month rent in advance and the equivalent of a month’s rent for a security deposit. If you have gone through an agency then the usual fee is the equivalent of one month’s rent but it can be more.

Photo: photography33/Depositphotos

These tips have been provided by Moving2Madrid, a buyer's agent that focuses exclusively on the Madrid market.  

“We help international buyers locate, negotiate and close the deal on apartments in Madrid. We work with renters, buyers and investors. We focus exclusively on an international clientele and speak multiple languages,” explained Mary Clare Bland.

“Our team is all international so have all, personally, been through the process of finding an apartment in Madrid and know how challenging it can be. We are on your side. Moving2Madrid has been rated the #1 Real Estate Service in Madrid.”

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REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you're considering making the move and buying property in Spain, but don't fancy purchasing in a rural village in the middle of nowhere, you should know where the cheapest, most in-demand parts of the country are.

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you’re thinking about relocating, Spain is a fantastic place to do it. Foreigners have been moving to Spain for decades, not only for its fantastic food and weather, along with a laid-back lifestyle, but housing is generally affordable – if you know where to look.

Though the rise in the Euribor has sent interest rates spiking, house prices in Spain are expected to flatten somewhat in 2023 and it could be a good year to find a bargain, depending on your financial situation.

Knowing what type of house you want and where in Spain you want to live is one thing, but knowing the cheapest, yet most in-demand parts of the country could really help you narrow down your search.

Fortunately, Spain’s leading property website Idealista has put together a list of the most ‘in demand’ municipalities of Spain and where you can find the most expensive and, more importantly for the house hunters among us, the cheapest municipalities of Spain to buy property.

It’s based on data from the last quarter of 2022 and is the average price of housing in towns with more than 1,300 sale announcements and costs valued at more than €1,100 per square metre. 

You can find the ten cheapest areas of Spain to buy property by average price below, but it’s worth noting that Idealista did these rankings by average price across the entire municipality, so there are likely individual towns and villages dotted around Spain where prices are significantly lower.

That said, this list gives you a good idea of the areas to look out for.

READ ALSO:  What will happen with property prices in Spain in 2023?

The 10 cheapest municipalities in Spain to buy property 

Santa Pola (Alicante) – Santa Pola, in the Alicante province, is the cheapest most in-demand municipality to buy a house, according to Idealista’s rankings. The average price for a house in Santa Pola costs just €151,796, though this may come as a surprise given its prime location in a foreign hotspot on the sought-after Costa Blanca. The main town of Santa Pola itself is a small beachfront community with a population of around 35,000. It also has a large foreign population and is a short drive or bus away from both Alicante and Elche.

Ourense (Galicia) – Next on the list is Ourense in Galicia where the average price is €154,941. The municipality is home to several towns and villages, surrounding the main medium-sized town of Ourense itself in southern Galicia. The town has a population of around 105,000 and is a little over an hour’s drive from both Santiago de Compostela and the coastal city of Pontevedra.

Oviedo (Asturias) – Third on the list is the municipality of Oviedo where you’ll pay an average of €154,968 for a property. Another area in northern Spain, the main city Oviedo itself, which is the capital of Asturias and has a population of 220,000. It sits between Cantabrian mountains and the Bay of Biscay. It’s known for its picturesque medieval old town and impressive architecture. 

Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) – Properties cost an average of €155,563 in the municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s commonly referred to. It’s located in the Cádiz province of Andalusia and is a real piece of ‘traditional’ Spain. Jerez city is a decent-sized place with a little over 200,000 people and is known for horses, flamenco dancing and sherry, as well as the Alcázar de Jerez, an 11th-century fortress that harks back to Andalusia’s Moorish past.

READ ALSO: Is it better to buy or rent in Spain right now?

Torrevieja (Alicante) – Another municipality in Alicante and another incredibly popular with foreign homeowners. Properties here go for an average of €155,787. Torrevieja itself has a population of 82,000 and is another coastal town, but also has nature trails and salt plains nearby.

Murcia (Murcia) – Murcia is often overlooked, wedged between Alicante and Andalusia, but you could grab a bargain here with average prices of €157,119. Murcia capital is a bustling city of almost 450,000 people, and is strategically placed for trips to the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, Costa del Sol, and Costa de Almeria.

Parla (Madrid) – The municipality of Parla lies just 20km south of Madrid and the town of the same name is home to 130,000 residents. It’s a great commuter area for those who work in Getafe or the capital. A house here costs an average of €160,652. 

Salamanca (Castilla y León) – The municipality of Salamanca surrounds the capital of Salamanca in Castilla y León in northwestern Spain. Buying a property in this area costs an average of €162,909. The main city of Salamanca is known for its university, which is the oldest in Spain and dates back to 1218. Understandably, much of Salamanca’s roughly 150,000 residents are students, which gives the town a lively atmosphere.

Burgos (Castilla y León) – Another northwestern Castilla y León municipality, is Burgos has around, where you can buy a house for just €163,164. The city of Burgos has around 180,000 inhabitants and is known for its medieval architecture and grand cathedral. 

Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) – The second most populous municipality in the province of Seville, properties cost an average of €163.274 here. The Andalusian town is just 15km south of Seville, making it great for commuters or those who want plenty of culture nearby.