The language you need to understand a Spanish property advert

Just like in English there is a totally unspoken language used within property adverts in Spain. Graham Hunt, a property expert in Valencia gives the lowdown on the lingo you need when house or apartment hunting.

The language you need to understand a Spanish property advert
Photo: AFP

Where in English you need to read between the lines and understand that “bijou”, “compact” and “cozy” all mean “Oh my god never mind a cat you couldn’t even swing a hamster in here” Spanish Property Adverts have their own language and you need to understand it before making any decisions to view.

Therefore below we have ten examples of what to look out for, the actual translation and what they really mean.

“Luminoso” as in “Piso muy luminoso”

Literally it means with a lot of light. The reality is that it means “With a lot of light as long as you turn every light in the flat on even at midday”. Luminoso is another way of saying that you will be living in the equivalent of a cave and will step out blinking into the light whenever you venture outside asking what is that yellow orb in the sky.

A genuinely “muy luminoso” apartment. Photo:


“Espacioso” as in “Piso muy espacioso”. 

Spacious taken in its literal sense. Small when used in a property advert. Beware of the variable, “Una sensación de espacio”. The only way any property described as such will feel spacious is if you remove all of the furniture, paint it white and add on an extension that effectively doubles the size.

“Con mucho estilo” as in “Un ático con mucho estilo”.

Well style is a matter of opinion of course but I have noticed that every single apartment that claims “con mucho estilo” means that it has a white leather sofa and black shelving units with a large flatscreen television dominating the “espacioso” room.

“Impresionantes Vistas” literally “Incredible views”.

However what this really means is that your view is not blocked out by a brick wall on the other side of the street just yards from your main living room window. When you see “Impresionantes vistas” in an ad think about what an impressive view actually is. As I have said before do you live in the spectacular facade or opposite the good looking building in a plain 70’s block?

A real “Impresionante Vista” In a Spanish city. Photo:



You'll know this means modernised of course.  What this usually means is that the flat has been freshly painted and possibly a new cheap Leroy Merlin kitchen has been badly installed. “Completamente reformado” means completely done up in a cheap way of course rather than just the kitchen.

“Ubicación inmejorable”

It means really well positioned (Beware of “bien situado” too). However as we know what is written usually doesn’t really correspond to reality. There is a difference in mindset between the average Spanish person and the usual foreign buyer. “Ubicación inmejorable” will often mean it is above a bus stop, metro stop and a main road and even better above the loud and late opening bar that the current owner works in meaning he never has to go far to get to work. Remember you probably won’t be working there.

“Primeras calidades”

Literally this phrase means “top quality materials”.  However this usually means that the windows are double glazed rather than just single pane and the tiles that were chosen for the bathroom were only the second cheapest available rather than the dog ends of production. It also invariably means that the taps are “Monomando” meaning there is not a separate hot and cold tap. Apparently that is the limit of top quality materials.


This means central of course.  However what it really means is, “not really near the centre…. actually half way to the outskirts but we don’t want to tell you where exactly” If an apartment for example is on the main shopping street or the most exclusive residential road the owner will let you know. “Centrico is much too vague.

“Muy cerca del pueblo”

Photo: PMRMaeyaert/CC/ Wikipedia 


This literally means “Very near to the town” and just like time, distance is relative. You would assume this means you could amble into town and stroll back to your house in the country after a nice meal and a couple of drinks but what it really means is fill up your tank in the car just in case you run out of fuel on the journey back or more realistically don’t expect to be able to walk home with the groceries because you would die on the side of the road in a trough of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

“Terraza amplia”

Again literally means “Ample or good sized terrace”. However as we know that is not exactly the case. What this means is that you can stand looking out over the street on the balcony and on a good day two of you might be able to stand there. What it does not mean is room for a table and four chairs and room to move around overlooking the Mediterranean. Believe you me if the terrace is a good size in Spain the actual square metre size will be mentioned. Anything into double figures is the usual cut off point for this consideration, ie 10m2 and above. If the words used are “Terraza amplia” expect a balcony…. maybe.

So there you have your dictionary of terms used in Spanish Property Adverts and what they really mean… usually. There may be some agents out there telling the truth but after 15 years doing this job I have never seen a “Luminsoso” flat that actually does have a lot of light and all of those places described as having a “Terraza amplia” have been sore let downs.

Remember to read between the lines.

If there are other typical examples of “estate agent speak” you have noticed let others know in the comments!

Graham Hunt is a real estate agent and relocation expert based in Valencia. Originally from just outside Liverpool he came to Spain as a student and never left. Read more at his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want him to show you around some properties in Valencia, drop him a line.

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How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 


In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

READ ALSO – Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in


In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  


In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

READ ALSO – Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in


While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.


Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.


If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options.