How to find a flat in Madrid.
Finding a flat anywhere can be quite a stressful process.
Madrid is no exception.
This post is to assist those looking for a flat in Madrid for the first time, in the hope it helps the process be a little easier and more efficient.
Firstly, there are several different websites you can use to find potential flats, but be wary of agents using these sites and charging ridiculous fees.
Spot-A-Home is a new small business that specialises in finding quality homes in Spain (with windows) and is a good site to start looking on.
To rent one room in an existing flat, you want to alquiler de habitación or if you want an empty flat and you want to sign the lease yourself, you need to search alquiler de piso.
The biggest decision when searching is choosing where you want to live. Each barrio has it’s own distinct vibe, and comes with it’s own pros and cons.
I’ve described some below to give you an idea…
Sol is the very centre of Madrid. Durring your time here at least a dozen people will probably arrange to meet you at ‘the bear’ in Sol, which is a bear statue in the square towards the Apple Shop. It is usually hectic, loud and touristy, but it is close to everything, including multiple metro and train lines.
Malasaña is just above Sol, so is still very central, but with it’s narrow old town streets, it’s got far more character. The area is full of quirky shops and old Movida Madrileña bars which all the cool kids keep alive. It can get quite loud at night, as there are a lot of bars in the neighbourhood, although this depends on what street you’re on. But because it’s so popular many of the rooms here are priced higher then similar rooms in other nearby neighbourhoods.
La Latina is similar, but perhaps with more families and more of a tapas vibe as opposed to bar vibe. The pinchos in this neighborhood are possibly the best in Madrid, and Calle Cava Baja is perfect for long lunches that roll into dinners. I like this neighborhood a lot, the only real downsides being that it can get loud and there are the limited metro connections, only being on the Green line – although the walk to Tirso de Molina isn’t too far, depending on where you’re coming from.
Cheuca is right beside Malasaña and is known as the gay district of Madrid – something that is pretty obvious once you’re there. It’s super central and is usually quite busy, so can be a little noisy at night. There are a lot of bars and restaurants around here and the San Anton market has a fabulous rooftop dining area.
Salamanca is the rich area and is popular with the kind of families who have nannies. It’s a great area for shopping and is close to Retiro Park, which is always busy and is a nice place to run in or hang out. Personally I think this area is a little ‘far’ from the centre of Madrid as I always have to get the metro to go there and I associate the metro with far places, however in saying this, I do live on the other side of town and the walk would probably only take around 25 minutes. It is a really safe area and perfect if your work is nearby too.
Argüelles and Moncloa are quieter neighborhoods, popular with students and families. People here tend to have a decent sized apartments and seem to like living there. These areas are close to Parque Oweste the large park to the west of the city, which make it great for runners and those that like to be near some open space. It’s also close to the Intercambiador de Moncloa, a key bus terminal for areas north and west of the central city, and the University.
Atocha is also a popular spot. Apartments here are still fairly central and are often priced a bit more economically. It’s great for those with substantial work commute, as it holds main train station, which makes for easy access to numerous suburbs around Madrid. Atocha is also close to the southern end of Retiro Park, a particularly nice Thai restaurant and the monstrosity that is Kapital. It’s also super handy for BlablaCar users, as many rides leave from the Atocha Renfe station.
Lavapies is culturally diverse and you can find some bargain apartments here, though I know several girls who don’t feel comfortable walking alone there at night. Others vehemently disagree, so you might want to feel it out for yourself. It’s known for it’s vast choice Indian restaurants which all have ridiculously cheap and delicious menus. There are also some great bars along Calle Zurita, which are worth checking out.
That’s most of the main areas, but there are other options too!
Chamberi, Cuatro Caminos, Embajadores and Legazpi are also very popular, although each are a little further away from Sol. The further away you go from the centre, the cheaper apartments tend to be and the neighbourhoods’ are often quieter.
But there are a lot of other things to consider too.
It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and choose a flat simply because it’s in a cool area… but you might want to consider the nearest metro links, if the price includes gastos (electricity, water etc.) the number of other flatmates, the proximity to the centre, security and if there’s heating, air conditioning, laundry facilitates or simply a double bed!
Also the WORST time to look is between August and October.
This is when new students, erasmus, auxiliaries and others are arriving in Madrid and looking to set up in the centre for the new year. Around this time you’ll find room prices are often hiked up, and minimum lease contracts are extended – so be careful what you sign up for!