Apartment hunting is ROUGH regardless where you live. Trying to find the perfect combination of location, amenities, and price is no easy feat.
Throw in a foreign language, logistics you don’t understand, and a housing market that is very much in a landlord’s favour, you’ll have my most recent experience when looking for a “piso” or an apartment in Madrid.
Here’s a bit of insight into my recent housing search and how not to get an apartment in Madrid.
Having all your documentation ready.
Apparently having all your documents in order is irrelevant. Not in that you don’t need your papers, but in the way that even if you do have them, they might reject you. For example, many places asked for three months payroll. No problem. I showed them my bank statements showing regular incoming money.
The problem was, it wasn’t in a Spanish bank account, nor was it from a Spanish company (nor were any of my documents in Spanish). Well of course not. I moved to Spain all of a matter of days ago and don’t have any Spanish income.
Also, having proof that you have enough money to pay for the apartment you wanted to live in still deems you as a “risky tenant” for insurance purposes.
Being ready to rent NOW.
One would think that having an available (read: empty) apartment as a landlord would mean that you’d want it filled as soon as possible in order to be making income as soon as possible.
Many places wanted me (and other’s I’ve spoken to) to obtain bank guarantees or go through the “Comunidad de Madrid” for insurance purposes. This can take a week or more to process and you could still possibly be rejected (see issue one) – all despite having the funds to rent the place.
Attempting to Communicate in Their Language
I’ll be the first to admit my Spanish is terrible. Particularly when it comes to speaking. Due to this, I always sent emails or a WhatsApp (the preferred messaging system here) when trying to communicate with potential landlords. I would write in Spanish (which is much better than my speech) and words I didn’t understand in their response I would run through a translator.
Initially, I would send the message in both Spanish and English (in case the Spanish translation was incorrect). I learned that many of those didn’t get a response. So I started sending messages in just Spanish. I got a lot more responses, but so many people decided it was “easier” to call. This was particularly true for agencies. Once they realized my Spanish was terrible (most noticeable by my lack of understanding from their initial speaking at hyperspeed when I first answer the phone) more than half of them would just hang up.
Talk about discouraging.
This was even after asking many of them (in Spanish) to speak slower – so I could at least attempt to understand. No dice.
Thankfully, after a while, I found a lovely landlord who is fine with communicating with me in Spanish over E-mail. While she speaks no English, that’s fine. She just laughs it off. When we do have to speak in person we do it in very slow and broken (on my end) Spanish. Anything of importance is through email.
I do still have some things I’m not 100% clear on when it comes to my place, but that would’ve been the case anywhere.
Overall, trying to find an apartment in Madrid is a headache. Having everything in order makes it a bit easier. Though it seems the idea of here’s my money let me live here is lost here.
What’s your experience looking for apartments in foreign countries?
Let me know in the comments below!