Flat hunting in Madrid 2

How To Organize & Ask 


After reading Part 1, you now have the tools to look for a piso. Now what? First, here are some terms that you will see posted in the anuncios (announcements).

Vocabulary to know:

  • habitacion – room
  • piso – apartment
  • alquilar – to rent
  • amueblado – furnished
  • ascensor/ sin ascensor  – elevator/ no elevator
  • fumador/ no fumador – smoking/ non-smoking
  • calefaccion – heating
  • mascota/ sin mascota – pets/ no pets
  • fianza – deposit
  • gastos – utilities
  1. Is there internet/ heating/ air conditioning/ ascensor? Hay internet/ calefaccion/ aire acondicionado/ un ascensor?
  2. How much is the deposit? Cuanto es la fianza?
  3. Is there a contract and receipts of rent payment? Hay un contrato y recibos para el pago de alquiler?
  4. Is the room furnished? La habitacion es amueblado?
  5. How many people live in the apartment? Boys and girls? Cuantas personas viven en el piso? Chicos? Chicas?


Step two:

  • Write out a list of what you want so you can stick to it if you’re feeling pressured to make a decision. Pisos go quickly in Madrid, especially during peak times like September and February when school semesters are starting for college students.
  • Most pisos operate on the first come, first serve basis. Because of this you may need to decide that you want a place a day or two after seeing it. But remember that there are plenty of pisos out there, if something in your gut tells you that this is not the right place, then trust it.
  • Call or email the places you are interested in with your new Spanish phone that was mentioned in Part 1. You may be contacting a landlord or people who actually live there. People will most likely want to set up appointments within two or three days. You usually arrange to meet at the piso and the landlord will show you around once you get there. Make sure you don’t get your times mixed up! Remember that Spain operates on military time, so if you tell someone you will meet them at 9, they think 9 in the morning (21:00 is 9PM).

 

Things to look for:

 

  1. Is there internet/ heating/ air conditioning/ ascensor? Hay internet/ calefaccion/ acondicionado/ un ascensor?
    • Most pisos have heating, but many do not have air conditioning for the summer.  Don’t expect to find one if you plan on being there over the summer. If you do, expect to pay a lot for the bill. If you don’t find a piso with a big window or balcony on a higher floor where you will get more of a breeze.

 

  1. How much is the deposit? Cuanto es la fianza?
    • keep in mind that the fianza and first month’s rent will take a big chunk out of the money you bring to Spain, especially after the exchange rate to euros is factured in. Calculate the amount of money you need to support yourself until you can start making money and make sure the piso fits into your budget.

 

  1. Is there a contract and receipts of rent payment? Hay un contrato y recibos para el pago de alquiler?
    • This is important because you want something in writing that proves that you have paid your rent and fianza. You will need a housing contract for if you are applying to get a NIE (residence card that allows you to stay in Spain for over 3 months). Also, if you have a dispute with your landlord, you will have proof of paying your rent and fianza.

 

  1. Is the room furnished? La habitacion es amueblado?
    • Many apartments are furnished but if you are missing a small piece you can find it at Ikea.

 

  1. How many people live in the apartment? Boys and girls? Cuantas personas viven en el piso? Chicos? Chicas?
    • If there are people in the apartment when you are visiting, make an effort to talk to them and get to know them a little bit. Because nobody wants to get this roommate:


 

  • Ask the housemates questions

* Take time to sit down with the people living there. Get to know them, talk to them. What do they do? How old are they? Do they like things very clean? Do they like to go out? You will be living with these people so it’s best to know right then that your living habits are similar.  If you get a good vibe (buen rollo) from them, you know you’ll like the place.

        • How many rooms are in the apartment? Cuantos habitaciones hay en el piso?
        • If there are a lot of people living there, ask if there is someone who comes to clean. Trust me, this will be a lifesaver is you live with lots of people.

 

        • Where are the people living in the apartment from? What do they do? De donde son los companeros del piso? Que hacen los companeros del piso?

** In my experiences, Living with native Spanish speakers really helps improve Spanish skills.  Finding out what they are doing here in Spain will help you see if your schedules will mesh (ex: Erasmus students have a lot more free time during the week. They will probably take advantage of that, as I’m sure anyone living abroad would). 

        • Is there a window in the room? Hay una ventana en la habitacion?
          • You will definitely appreciate some natural light and air during the hot days of summer.
        • Are the utilities included? Los gastos son incluido?
          • price of utilities can go way up in the cold winter when you use the heating system

 

Now for a few last tips.

 

  • One of the best pieces of advice I got on the piso hunt: go with your gut. If you get a bad feeling about the place, trust that. There are plenty of pisos out there that will be a better fit.

 

  • If you aren’t thrilled about the place & just want something cheap while you’re gathering more funds, make sure your contract will allow you to leave in a month or two. Remember that you may need to give 30 days notice to your landlord in order to receive your fianza. In a few months, your spanish will improve and you’ll be more confident when speaking with landlords and potential roommates.

 

  • Go to a few more places than you planned on going. It may be a little more effort, but you never know if that place may look way better in person. The more places you see, the surer you will be of what you like and dislike.

 

 

Okay now you’re ready to get out there! Good luck! Buenas suerte!!

 

-Katy Zukas

 

 

 

 

 

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