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LIFE IN SPAIN

EXPLAINED: How to get rid of old furniture and appliances in Spain

Although you may see some fly-tipping in rural Spain, there is a system in place to safely - and legally - dispose of your old furniture and appliances free of charge. Here's what you need to know.

junkyard spain
Here's how to properly get rid of all your old junk in Spain. Photo: Camille Villanueva/Unsplash

What is a punto limpio?

Puntos limpios (or clean points, in English) are facilities where household waste is collected and stored temporarily, free of charge, either due to its size or potential danger, and therefore cannot be put into the public rubbish containers on the street. There are around 2000 puntos limpios across Spain, with Catalonia having the most, and Castilla la Mancha in second. On average there are 24,445 inhabitants per punto limpio across Spain.The main types are:

Fixed puntos limpios

Probably closest to what is known in some parts of the world as a ‘tip’, fixed punto limpios are larger sites on the outskirts of urban areas.

Mini or neighbourhood puntos limpios

Usually located closer to residential areas, they are smaller and more accessible, but therefore don’t accept all types of waste like the larger fixed sites do.

Mobile puntos limpios

Collection trucks that serve a district or neighbourhood.

Where is my nearest punto limpio?

Spanish consumer watchdog Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) has a handy search engine where you can find puntos limpios across Spain. Find it here. 

What are the regulations?

Puntos limpios are regulated: they will be signposted and easily identifiable, with opening hours, and be easily accessible for vehicles. The sites must be kept clean, and you must not leave debris on the floor.

All puntos limpios must identify each deposit area, and which type of waste must go there, and there should be a member of staff to assist users. Crucially, puntos limpios are free – do not pay anything to anyone (staff or otherwise) who offer to get ride of something for you for a fee. 

Electronic devices

For electronics, you should first consider if they still work, and prioritise reusing or recycling them if so. If they aren’t in working condition, they must be deposited in specific areas for electronics clearly identified on the site.  

What can I bring to a punto limpio?

Simply put, puntos limpios are for all household waste that cannot be discarded into public trash points, but only from individuals or households and not industrial waste. 

Many people discard batteries, electrical appliances, paint residues, oils (both kitchen and motor), halogens or fluorescent lamps, furniture and other bulky objects, aerosols and chemicals, medicines, debris, junk, and mattresses, among others.

At each punto limpio, there should be a member of staff there to advise on what is and isn’t acceptable, and where to deposit it.

What should I avoid?

Note that not all puntos limpios accept the same objects, so it is advised to look into the rules at your local point. You can do this at the town hall or by talking to staff at your nearest site. Banned materials include organic waste, radioactive materials, infectious waste, tires, and explosive materials.

What happens to my waste?

Puntos limpios are important component in Spain’s recycling system. Most of the waste that is collected is then moved to existing recycling facilities. Stuff that cannot be recycled is treated or disposed of.

What happens if I don’t use a punto limpio for my waste?

Be careful, the consequences of flytipping can be severe: failure to dispose of household waste at punto limpios can result in a fine of up to 30,000.

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MOVING TO SPAIN

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. 

Barcelona

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

Madrid

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.  

Valencia

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

Airbnb

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.

Vrbo

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.

Housesitting

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. 

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