How to Find a Room in Madrid

How To's / Where To's

by Niels Klok

Madrid being the capital of one of Europe’s most popular Mediterranean countries, it will not come as a surprise that housing its four million or so inhabitants is (to put it mildly) an issue of concern. The city rivals its sisters in Northern Europe in price; and with wages often being twice as low as “up North”, problems are bound to arise. As such, Madrid has taken the phenomenon of sharing an apartment to a whole different level: no longer simply a student affair, you may find yourself living with madrileños of all ages and occupations, couples included. Check your cupboards, you might find another flatmate in there.

Most newly arrived will not have the means to rent (let alone buy!) a place by themselves, and are consequently thrown into the madness of a market that is ruled by “castings” in pisos (apartments) of varying merit. How to become one of the lucky ones? The Internet, as is so often the case, is where it all happens:

  • is arguably the most popular and effective portal: every ten minutes or so, a new habitación (room) is marketed. Select Madrid from the menu on your left, and select compartir piso / alq habitación. The endless list that pops up is, to an extent, of limited use: the good stuff tends to be gone within 24 hours (depending on the zona (neighborhood) – you may still find a spot in Aluche or Carabanchel available after a few days, but don’t bother with anything in Chueca or Bilbao if you’re late). Regardless of your pickiness, it’s useful to become familiar with the location of the various zonas – they usually refer to metro stations, so get yourself a map of Madrid on which you can easily spot these.
  • is another popular one, even though the number of rooms advertised is significantly lower. Select Madrid, then Pisos from the drop-down menu, and mark se alquila before clicking Busca to check what’s on offer. Rumor has it that the print version of Segunda Mano (available at newsstands) has more rooms, which are not advertised on the web.
  • has less visibility but can act as an additional resource. Select Busco habitación en alquiler and MADRID from the drop-down menus.
  • has more search options than the others (smoking vs. non-smoking etc.) and you can select your area by navigating a map of Madrid. Do check the date of posting, however: ads are rarely removed. Start by selecting alquilar, habitación and Madrid from the menus on the main page.

When you have spotted a habitación in a zona that you wouldn’t mind living in, call immediately (sending e-mails will most likely get you nowhere). A basic level of Spanish obviously comes in handy here; fortunately, the conversations tend to follow a very clear pattern: you will typically ask if the room is still available (“he visto vuestro anuncio en – la habitación todavía está libre?”), and they will either disappoint you (“ya está alquilada”) or make you happy with a . Next thing: cuándo puedo venir? (when can I come to see it?). Make a note of day and time, and head out there. Things to double-check beforehand could be: está amueblada? (does it have all its furniture in place? unless, of course, you have your own somewhere in a truck), and: los gastos están incluidos? (are water, electricity etc. included in the amount?).

If you like what you have been invited to see, it is up to you to use your (foreign, mysterious) charm to pass the audition (there are typically between 5 and 20 contestants, depending on zona and season). Note that most habitaciones call for a fianza (deposit), usually one month’s worth of rent.

¡Suerte! (Good luck)


Comment from MrMark
Date: February 22, 2008, 1:37 pm

I’ve often used the services of to find accommodation initially when I’ve come to Madrid. It takes away the pressure for a month or two (and you can stay for a longer period if you so choose). Okay, so it operates like an agency but the small fee involved (I believe it was 50 Euros although that may have changed now) is worthwhile to avoid the stress (and cost) of staying in a hostel and trudging around different barrios in your first weeks.

Comment from Loquo
Date: February 25, 2008, 4:45 pm

Thanks for the note!

Comment from Keefieboy
Date: February 25, 2008, 8:44 pm

Innova offers a brilliant service. They’ll find you a place, negotiate with the landlord and check out the lease. They speak English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. We used them when we had reached the point of despair, and their fee was very reasonable.

Comment from MrMark
Date: February 25, 2008, 9:50 pm

I seem to remember you also have the choice of free expat magazines (normally available in Irish pubs) where they have “to let” advertising (In-Madrid is one, I forget the names of the others). Again you have to be quick though!

Pingback from How to Get an Intercambio in Madrid – Notes from Madrid
Date: March 5, 2008, 10:16 am

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