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RENTING IN SPAIN

Renting in Spain: Why it’s become very hard to find a flat to share

The amount of shared accommodation available in Spain has halved over the past year, making it increasingly difficult for young people and those with fewer financial means to find a room to rent. 

Why it’s become very hard to find a flat to share in spain
It's not just people in their twenties who are struggling to find a flat to share in Spain, others in their thirties and forties are also having lots of difficulties (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

Even though millions of people in Spain either prefer to share a home, or are forced to do so because they can’t afford to rent a place of their own, there are 45 percent fewer shared properties on the market in 2022 than in 2021. 

These are the findings of Spanish property search engine giant Idealista, which reported that in cities such as Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona or San Sebastián, the drop in availability is even more extreme: down by between 70 and 80 percent. 

The lack of property stock whilst demand remains high has resulted in another negative consequence for prospective tenants: a rise in prices for renting a room.

In all but three of Spain’s 50 provincial capitals, the price has increased. 

Whereas in early 2021 it cost on average €269/month to rent a room in Spain and rates were on a general downward trend as a result of the pandemic, prices are now on the up again. 

In coastal cities such as Tarragona, Almería and Málaga, rates for a room are now 20 percent more expensive, a larger price hike than in Barcelona and Madrid, where sharing a home is now 14 percent more expensive than in 2021. 

In the Basque city of San Sebastián you can now expect to pay €460 for a room, in Barcelona €450, in Madrid €420, in Palma €400, in Bilbao €370 and in Málaga €350.

With this in mind, the Spanish expression bueno, bonito y barato (good, pretty and cheap) is becoming increasingly hard to utter when it comes to finding a suitable place to share in Spain. 

“The search has become exhausting,” property seeker Miguel told Spanish TV channel Antena 3. 

“I don’t want to live in a dump, I want a room that at least has a window. I’m not asking for much, I just want something simple,” he added about the fact that what is available within his budget doesn’t meet basic living standards.

Competition is also fierce, another property seeker called Helio told Antena 3: “You see a place that’s suitable and within 30 seconds it’s gone.”

As an extra setback, an increasing number of landlords ask prospective tenants in shared accommodation to provide proof of a nómina (job contract) and other means of solvency, criteria they’re often not in a position to offer as much as they wished they could.

READ ALSO: How to rent a property in Spain if you don’t have a job contract

And still for many people looking for a room to share, renting their own place is simply not an option, as the average €845 that it would cost them a month in Spain in 2022 is well above the €320 that most renters can afford to pay.

According to the latest study by Spain’s Emancipation Observatory corresponding to the second half of 2021, only 15.6 percent of young Spanish people (aged 16 to 29) are fully emancipated from their families.

Of that 15.6 percent that were fully emancipated, more than a third shared accommodation with someone who wasn’t a relative or a partner. 

Getting on the property ladder isn’t an option for the vast majority of them either, with 73 percent of young people in Spain not meeting the basic requirements of the banks to get a mortgage, be it because of a lack of a job contract, low pay or lack of savings. 

It’s worth stressing that according to Idealista’s study, the average age of a person sharing a flat in a central part of one of the country’s main cities isn’t always someone in their twenties; far from it.

In Vitoria, Oviedo and Ávila, the average age of tenants in shared flats is 42, in León and Alicante it’s 39, in Madrid it’s 32 on average, in Barcelona it’s 34 and in Valencia it’s 26.

This reflects how Spain’s shared accommodation shortage doesn’t just affect the country’s youth, but rather Spaniards across the age spectrum whose low salaries and unstable work conditions, coupled with the low supply and strict demands and high rents landlords expect, make it impossible for many to even find a room in a flat.

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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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