Housing & Rentals in Spain

When it comes to housing in Spain, this country drastically differs from other developed European countries, such as Germany and France. The case is that a majority of Spaniards (the number almost reaches 80% of the population) own houses instead of renting. Also, there are lots of other issues, associated with renting or buying property in Spain. The guide, published below, offers an insight about the present-day situation in the rental market, types of accommodation you can find in Spain, and the ways you can find a suitable apartment.
The present state of Spain’s rental market
In the 2000s, Spain experienced a huge growth in the property prices, largely thanks to purchases of the Spanish property by foreigners (especially residents of developing countries). As the prices soared and a real construction boom took place, this all came abruptly to an end in 2008.

Even though the property prices had sharply fallen then, they are still pretty high, compared to the level of incomes in the country with the unemployment rate of more than 20 percent. Considering that the majority of Spaniards tend to live in their own houses instead of renting apartments, young people tend to live with their parents longer (up to 30 years old).

Naturally, prices for housing in large and economically developed cities are noticeably higher than in the rest of Spain
When moving to Spain, one should be aware of the huge differences in prices across the country’s regions: Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao appear to be, naturally, more expensive. Renting a one-bedroom flat costs 600 Euro on the average. In other regions, like the country’s south for instance, the prices may be up to 50 percent lower. You can also look for a shared apartment (known as piso compartido), the price of which starts at 300 Euro per month in Madrid and Barcelona. Considering that many Spaniards tend to go abroad for work (Germany, Norway, etc.), the task of finding accommodation may be not that much tough – yet, there are certain aspects you should take into account when seeking to rent an apartment (see below).
Types of accommodation in Spain
As in a property market of any other country, there are different types of housing available in Spain. Most popular types of property include the following ones:

People in large cities, such as Barcelona or Madrid, tend to live in apartments (pisos or apartamentos). Yet, touristic cities like Benidorm are also stuffed with lots of apartment blocks, and there are both huge supply and demand on the property market. In fact, you will find apartment blocks scattered across the entire Costa Blanca. Apartments significantly vary in size and quality, but anyone who owns an apartment must be necessarily a member of the owners’ community (comunidad de propietarios). This means that, if you are an owner of an apartment, you should abide by the rules of the community and pay regular fees.
Detached houses (villas). Generally, Spaniards tend not to live in villas or detached houses in large cities, and it is actually difficult to find such houses out there. But the country’s coasts abound with a large number of villas, which belong either to wealthy Spaniards (who use it as a second home) or to foreigners. The minimum cost of a villa is 200,000 Euro, though it may be many times higher in popular locations, such as Costa Blanca, Majorca, or Ibiza, where prices start from 1 million Euro.
Known as casas adosadas, townhouses represent a very popular type of property in Spain. Lots of Spaniards in large cities tend to live exactly in townhouses. Often, such rows of houses have a mutual, communal pool and a garden. Such townhouses tend to be spacious and feature garages, as well as to have at least three or four floors. Prices start from 100,000 Euro on the outskirts of the least popular destinations.
Country properties. In the last several years, more and more people have opted to move to the countryside, where one is able to live in a not so crowded place and at a moderate price. Anyone willing to move to the countryside seeks to purchase a finca, a term that stands for any property in the countryside. Typically, you can find a large house with a large plot of land with various fruit trees available there, though such a house is likely to require renovation.
Urbanizaciones are actually a type of housing in Spain that represents an area of estate, which may include townhouses, villas, and apartment blocks. Basically, urbanizations are something similar to separate districts and built with necessary facilities and amenities. Though, urbanizations vary both in size (they may include just a handful of townhouses or be as large as a district) and amenities (some even include shopping malls, sport complexes, etc.).

A layout of a Spanish urbanizacione

How to find housing in Spain
Regarding the issue of finding housing in Spain, there are several aspects you should take into consideration: the best time for seeking accommodation in Spain is from May until July. It is highly not recommended to look for an apartment in August – a lot of people go on vacations, so the supply of property drops. September appears to be the worst month to look for housing in Spain – students arrive in the country and look for accommodation, as well as other people get back to Spain as well.

The majority of Spanish real estate agencies deal with buying/selling property rather than with rentals
You should keep in mind that most landlords require tenants to meet before signing a rental contract, so you may find it difficult to rent a property before you will arrive in the country. So, meeting face-to-face is almost a must for signing a tenant agreement.

As in any other country, the ways of searching housing in Spain are not that different than in other countries:

Real estate agencies (inmobiliarias). Typically, it’s landlords who should pay the fees to real estate agents. However, you must be aware of the fact that the majority of Spanish real estate agencies deal with selling and buying property, not renting it, so you should be clear with the real estate agent from the very beginning. In some cases, though, a real estate agent may ask you to pay a fee of up to 250 Euro.
Newspapers and magazines. In particular, you can find lots of ads in El País, El Mundo, Expansión, and El Economista.
Word of mouth. If you have friends or acquaintances living in Spain, maybe they or their friends may help?
Strolling across a city. If you have already arrived in the country and looking for an apartment or housing in Spain, one of the really great ideas is to stroll across the city and look at neighborhoods. You may notice a sign “se aquila”, which means “for rent.” If it’s going about a huge apartment block, you can talk to its concierge.
Property websites. There are certain professional companies that specialize in selling/purchasing and renting housing in Spain, namely:

Idealista
Comprarcasa
Servihabitat
Venta De Pisos
Tucasa
Easy Piso
Spain Houses.

Other useful sources
Rental Law of Spain (in Spanish)

House Prices in Spain

Price to Rent Ratio of Spain