Guide to Choosing a Flat-Share in Spain By Yourself

So, you are preparing to move to Spain to study Spanish language. Great! You must be so excited….or, stressed.

While studying in Spain, where you live will play a significant role in the nature of your overall experience.

Let’s say that you have decided that a flat-share is the right type of accommodation for you (as opposed to other types), and that you have chosen to search by yourself instead of using an agent like UniSpain. You have already conducted your search and are ready to make a final decision based on your available options. Choosing the right flat-share is both exhilarating and daunting. But never fear! With our check-list you’ll be equipped to choose wisely on your own.

Let´s take a look at some important things to consider to help you make the right choice.


Rent

Depending on the city in Spain, renting a flat in the city centre could be significantly more expensive than renting one just outside the city centre.Rent

  • Determine a budget. Know the ideal price you will be willing to pay and the highest price you could (however grudgingly) accept to pay.
  • Adapt your budget to the Spanish city in question as some cities are pricier than others when it comes to real estate e.g… Barcelona and Madrid are generally more expensive than Málaga.

Tip: Clarify if the rent already has the utility charges included in the price or not-if not, you could be looking at 50 to 100 more Euros to pay. Better to avoid a negative surprise!

Bonus questions:

Will there be a security deposit to pay? If yes, how much (usually 1-2 months rent)?  Will you get the money returned to you at the end of your stay (Normally, you should-if certain standard conditions are met)?

Location

  • Verify that the apartment is within proximity to grocery stores, your school, your internship, banks, or depending-even beaches.
  • Ascertain the safety of the neighbourhood.
  • Note if it is a tourist neighbourhood

This may mean that the surroundings are generally more attractive, or more locals speak a foreign language. Or it could mean that the prices of things are elevated, higher chances of noise and rowdiness from tourists during the evenings or a higher rate of petty scams and crime e.g.  Las Ramblas at Barcelona is known for its pickpocketing gypsies and late night partying tourists.

Tip: Clarify that the there is adequate accessibility to public transportation to the apartment and use Google maps and the official public transportation website of the concerned city to look at relevant maps, schedules and layouts to give you a better idea.

Bonus Questions: Is this apartment difficult to find? Would my friends and family struggle to find me each time they want to pay me a visit?

Apartment Building

In Spain, there are many buildings that date back to centuries. Sometimes this gives a certain quaint charm and feel. But other times, this could mean outdated plumbing systems and apartment layouts that are begging for a touch of modernism.

  • Be sure to verify that the apartment has either been recently renovated, or has all the necessary components in a Home Sweet Homefunctional and liveable state.
  • Asses the overall state of the building; cracks in the floor, peeling paint, doorbell out of order etc.
  • Consider the general luminosity and beauty of the apartment. Some may dismiss this factor as unimportant, but sometimes subtle nuances are what keep our morale going.
  • Note if there is a washing machine and-or dryer. This could save you time and money of doing your laundry outside of the apartment at a laundromat. In any case, it is not unheard of to have drying racks in Spain.

Tip: Confirm the mailing system in place. Note how often you receive your mail and if it will be directly into a personal or collective mailbox or if you would rely on another resident to sort and deliver your mail to you periodically.

Bonus Questions: How is the apartment cleaning organized? Is there a formal cleaning service? If yes, how often and how much? How is the payment administered? Is it included in the rent? If no, how is cleaning organized between house-mates? Would you need to buy cleaning supplies?

Bedroom

This is huge! As this is where you will lay your head to rest – every.night.!

In Spain, rooms are categorized into double and single rooms determined by the size of the bed, and also in relation to the size of the room. And rent could be more or less expensive (by 30-100 Euros) depending on the room type.

  • Verify the actual size of the room and of course, the size of the bed.
  • Generally, rooms come with a desk and/or table, a chair, wardrobe and/or cupboard but any given room could have all or some of these features…Always a plus if the room has a mirror!
  • Take a good look at the closet space and visualize the way you would arrange your belongings.
  • Note if the room is well ventilated or not, dusty or mouldy.
  • Ideally, the room should have at least one window as in some Spanish cities it can get really hot during the summer months and being able to air the room is gold.

Bonus question: Will the bedding be provided or would you have to bring or buy your own?

Kitchen

  • Note the available amenities; dishwasher, microwave, toaster, oven etc.
  • Assess the size, general state and cleanliness.
  • Examine the size and organization of the refrigerator.
  • Investigate the strength of the freezer (it can get really hot in the summer in the south of Spain, and sometimes your ice-cream or popsicles could just melt away).

Bonus Questions: Would I need to buy my own cooking and eating utensils? Is the refrigerator big enough for all the house-mates to share-or could it potentially be struggle?

Bathroom

Bathroom

I cannot stress how important the bathroom is in a living space.

In Spain, it is rare to find the toilet and the actual shower or bathtub in separate rooms. And often-times  there are still bidets in the mix.

Note the general layout; shower versus bathtub, toilet with a seat (sometimes this is not automatic), the strength of water pressure, the space available for your things on the toiletry racks.

 

Bonus Questions: How many people will be sharing the bathroom? Is it generally clean? How long does the water take to heat up?

Utilities

In Spain, there are several possible utilities within any given apartment. The utility bills could be paid collectively between house-mates or divided individually based on use and consumption.

Water - Confirm the drinkability of the water (in general, in Spain the water is perfectly fine to drink) and the availability of hot water.

Electricity-Gas/Heat - Confirm if heating is central or can be individually moderated. It is not uncommon to not have heating in apartments in the very Southern parts of Spain as it does not get extremely cold during the winter relative to Northern regions.

House Phones - Confirm if there is a land-line telephone in the apartment and the exact nature of the outgoing and ingoing calls that come with the line; local versus international and general usage rates. Most people in Spain have cellphones and it is not always a given that there will be a house phone in the apartment.

Television - In some cases there might be no television at all. If there is one available, note if the channels are local, national, cable and/or international. Sometimes there is a slight extra fee to be able to assess certain foreign channels.

Internet - Try to find out the bandwidth, the speed and the reliability of the internet connection and if there is WiFi that could be easily connected to a personal computer if you have one.

Tip: Verify, ideally, all of these factors beforehand and try to get a quote of monthly bills and the way they will be shared so as to be completely clear before you move in.

House-mates

Being that you have decided to live in a flat-share, you will inevitably have to live with others. Consider the sort of ambiance

If you do decide to live with others there are certain elements to consider:

Spanish House-mates - A great way to improve your Spanish through constant interaction with native speakers. As well as a great way to get to know your city and explore Spanish culture with invaluable indigenous insight.

International House-mates - Great way to explore diverse cultures and you could go on adventures together as you explore Spain. There could perhaps be certain pieces of advice they could give as foreigners that locals would not be able to give since the experience and perspective is different.

House-mates who Speak your Native Language – A plus, when you first arrive. As you will be able to efficiently Roommatescommunicate and be sure that you have understood all you would like and need to. A minus, if you are truly motivated to learn Spanish. As you could easily fall into the trap of “cheating” with your native language all the time.

Couples – Sometimes, couples rent out a bedroom in their apartment. This could be okay as the couple could be warm and welcoming, or keep to themselves and reduce the pressure to socialize if you are a “loner type.” But perhaps it could get awkward if there is a “lover’s quarrel¨…or even inconsiderate “lovemaking” to keep you at night (giggle).

Children – Sometimes a single parent might rent out a bedroom in the apartment. This means that you could be sharing the bathroom or common areas with a child or children. If this would not be an ideal situation, you would need to factor it into your search. If you enjoy children then this might be great for you as children speak with simple sentence structures and often have books filled with pictures and basic vocabulary – it could be an excellent way to improve your Spanish quicker.

Pets - And yes they count as house-mates too! In Spain, pets are adored and not at all uncommon within households. This could be great if you are an animal-lover and Ginger the kitty might be the only one you are able to communicate with in the beginning if your Spanish is not up to par. But consider pee in your suitcase, shedding on your bed, howling or barking at night. And of course, allergies and phobias if any.

Tip: Verify the age ranges and genders of your ideal house-mates to ascertain an environment to your liking.
If you prefer to live with women ages 19-22, the ambiance could be totally different if you live with men and women ages 28-32.

Bonus Questions: Is the apartment Smoking or Non Smoking? If smoking, do the house-mates only smoke outside or on the balcony? Or do they smoke anywhere and everywhere in the apartment. Is it okay to invite friends over? Is it more social and convivial? Or more reserved, individualistic and quiet?

In order to make the best decision, it would help to determine in advance what your ideal apartment would be based on what is important to you and where you would be most “at home” within your price range.

 

Go ahead and use the above factors as your check-list and  let your heart guide your decision 

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