Tips to find good accommodations in Madridtoeflmad
- Easy peasy: Let us find you a home before you arrive! This option gives you the peace of mind that we will find you a place within the city centre with easy access to the school. You can let us know what kind of place you want, a studio to live by yourself, or a room in an apartment with built in roomies and future friends! Give us your budget and must haves, and we will do our best to find you the perfect place! Best part about this option? You’ll have a place ready for you when the course starts, and someone to show you right to the door!
- Still easy: More of a do-it-yourselfer? A great option for you would be to book yourself a hostel for about a week before class begins. During that week you can use the various tools at your disposal to find a place you like. Websites like idealista, and others are a great place to start. This allows you to try before you buy. Imagine finding what looks like an amazing room online and when you show up, you have 10 other roommates and only one shower. This way you can really see and get a feel for a place before you commit. This option is great for those who love to explore and compare the options to make an informed decision.
- Temporary: Airbnb is another great option. You can find short term housing for the duration of the course (or longer), giving yourself even more time to explore the different neighbourhoods. Some rooms go for as little as €15 a night and having a local to show you around is the absolute best! Would suggest this to those that love to get to really know the locals, and want the comfort and privacy airbnb offers.
- Not for the Faint of Heart: Couchsurfing! Great for those on a budget, bad for those who don’t like sleeping on couches, or (worst case scenario) floors. The most adventurous option and you need a certain level of comfort to be living with strangers, but some of the people I´ve met couchsurfing have been the most generous, amazing people I have met. Not only do you get all the local-know-how, but in most cases, you can walk away with some amazing friends! A great option for those who want the best of everything: local friends, cheap (aka free) lodging, and the chance to hunt for a place in person.
- For the serious explorers: Close your eyes and imagine walking down the most picturesque european street. Laundry is hanging from some windows, flower pots and ivy hanging from others. The bar on the corner is hopping with locals your age and has a happy hour! Everything about this neighbourhood speaks to you. You look up to gaze at the long lines of balconies and you see it: SE ALQUILA. For rent! You feverishly take the number down and give them a call. The next day, you’re moving in. Does this sound like the most amazing way to find an apartment? Well it is, it is also not that easy. The market is very competitive in Madrid and these signs are most likely not the only way that people are advertising. If you really want to find a room this way, brush up on your Spanish, prepare for long days, and a lot of letdowns. This option is great for those who really love to live life to the fullest, don’t mind walking, and love the thrill of the hunt!
Some things to keep in mind while house hunting in Madrid:
- Do NOT move in with the landlord. I repeat, DO NOT MOVE IN WITH THE LANDLORD (or lady). This will not end well. I have yet to find someone who has enjoyed this experience. It’s not just moving in with a new roomie, it’s moving into someone´s HOME. And they may or may not be fully prepared to accept what that means. In some cases, these landlords have: restricted kitchen use to the utensils alone, placed dibs on the living room, won’t allow visitors, or expect you to teach their children in return for cheaper rent. It’s not worth it, I promise.
- You just found the most amazing place and at an even more amazing price. But what is included in that €300? Does it include gaseos? Wifi? Cleaning? Check your facts before agreeing to move in. Some places have cleaners even if you don’t want it, you still have to pay for it. Your roomie might leave the heat or A/C on all the time, even when it’s not needed. And maybe the landlord might have all these bills sent to him and then comes knocking, asking for a suspiciously high amount in payment. Ask the current tenants what the bills usually amount to, in both summer and winter, to give yourself an idea of any extra costs.
- The living standards in Spain are not going to be what you’re used to. Imagine going back to school and living in a dorm. That may very well be the closest thing to what a lot of places are like here. Small, cramped, twin bed and no A/C. Not to say there aren’t some amazing rooms here. There are large rooms with multiple balconies, pool access and maybe even a terrace. But you will pay for it. Figure out your needs vs. wants and go from there.
- Contracts are almost always amendable. Maybe you signed a year-long lease and feel stuck in a bad situation. Most landlords are lenient when given proper notice. There are always options.
- How far is the metro? It’s always important to know what your transportation options are, no matter where you are in the city. Some beautiful apartments are outside the city centre, but if they aren´t close to a metro stop or bus station, it may just end up being more effort than it’s worth.
- Unless you want to spend a good chunk of your paycheck on your own apartment, get used to living with people again. This means: people not washing up, the shower is never free when you need it, parties when you want to sleep, toilets not being flushed (i don’t understand why this is so difficult), and passive aggressive notes being left around the apartment. It could also mean: new best friends, movie nights, tasting cuisines from around the world, the BEST parties, and people to look after you when you’re sick (flu or alcohol related). Learn to take the good with the bad.
- Neighbourhoods matter. They affect your wallet, the amount of sleep you get each night and the types of places you hang out on the regular. Madrid´s city centre is also small and easily walkable. Maybe you don’t end up in Malasaña, the uber hipster neighbourhood with all the hotspot bars, but you also won’t be paying 30% more for your room. You also won’t have to worry about all the drunks yelling throughout the night (how do they have the stamina to make it to 7am?) and you won’t get to experience the more local bars, because, let’s face it, we all get comfortable going to the same places over and over again. Its great to have your go-to Central Perk type place, but remember you’ve got a whole city to explore.
- Bring your deposit with you. If you find a place that you absolutely love, don’t let it slip through your fingers. Bring your deposit, in cash, and smack it down when you know you’re ready to commit. Or just hand it over, whatever. Either way, the competition is, as i said, fierce in the city, so it’s best to come prepared.
- Rooms are generally on the smaller side. I´m talking enough room for the bed and maybe a wardrobe. Floor space sold separately. Depending on where you are coming from, it can be a shock what they consider a bedroom here. Maybe not if you’re coming from a condo in Toronto or New York (hello lack of windows), but just be aware that the rooms here vary and some DO NOT have windows. Cheap it may be, but do you want to live in a box? The choices ya gotta make.