As an Auxiliar de Conversación, finding an apartment (piso) is the most panic-inducing endeavor you will take on when you move to Spain. At least it was for me. In college, I made friends with type-A people who painstakingly screened and selected our housing, while I nodded enthusiastically. So when I moved to Galicia, not only was I finding my own housing for the first time, but I was finding it in another language. Gulp. Needless to say, and I made some mistakes. Here are some keys to getting a roof over your head – written with Santiago in mind, but applicable anywhere in Spain:
- DON’T pay anything ahead of time. If your head is even slightly level, this should be obvious to you. There are housing scams in every part of the world, and Spain’s no exception. Be patient. Wait until your feet are on the ground and you can see what you’re getting yourself into.
- DO browse ahead of time. Get familiar with what the going rental rates are and what they include.
- DO use these websites:
- USC Bulletin Board – This was where I found the most shared piso opportunities. Many students advertise for roommates here. After you get settled in, it’s also a good place to advertise for clases particulares. If you’re looking in a city besides Santiago, see if your city has a similar university classified section.
- Facebook. Your favorite time-waster just got more useful. There is “Santiago Piso 2013 2014” and “ERASMUS Santiago de Compostela 2013-2014” (updated groups: ERASMUS Santiago de Copmostela 2014-15 and Piso Santiago Erasmus 2014-2015).
- MilAnuncios.com – On the right-hand menu, click “compartir piso” if you are just looking for a room in a shared apartment, and not looking to rent an entire apartment for yourself.
- Fotocasa.es – As with MilAnuncios, click “compartir” directly above the search results to look for a shared space.
- DO break out your walking shoes. Sometimes, it’s that simple. If you know the area of town you want to live in, walk around and look up. Many apartments will have signs (“se alquila”) hanging from windows and balconies.
- DO make a list of criteria. Don’t take for granted the modern conveniences of home. Dishwashers and dryers are a thing of the past, friends. Get ready for a four-day delay between wash and wear. For me, my criteria included:
- Furnished (amueblado). Ask if the flat comes prepared with sheets, quilts, pillows, etc. Without them, you’re looking at some extra start-up costs.
- Heating (I prefer central because I’m a temperature diva)
- Hot water sin bombona
- Reasonable gastos (utility expenses, like internet, water, etc.). Ask for a monthly estimate to make sure the rent + gastos will fall within your price range.
- Washing machine
- NO MOLD
- DO be prepared to pay a deposit (usually equal to a month’s rent), and be careful about looping yourself into a contract.
Got questions? Fire away!