The first thing you need to do when planning a move to Madrid is to find a place to call home. Start by choosing the neighborhood that works best for you.
Madrid has many different areas with different lifestyles in different price ranges. Here is a brief, but by no means exhaustive, overview:
Sol: Madrid's center and beating heart are full of tourists, action and excitement. It's expensive too.
Palacio / Opera: Elegant and practical, this area is quieter than Sol, with fewer tourists, but still expensive.
Lavapien: Madrid's multicultural bohemian district is full of ethnic markets and restaurants as well as tourists. It's a 24 hour party. Would suit those on a moderate budget.
The Lavapies area offers rents at reasonable prices.
iStock / fotoVoyager
Las Letras: The literary district near the Prado, also known as Huertas, is exclusive, touristy and very expensive.
Malasana: This hip, fun, nightlife district is popular with expats, students, and tourists. In terms of price, it is moderate to expensive.
Chueca: Ultimate LGBTQ + friendly neighborhood with trendy shopping and nonstop party atmosphere at a high price.
La Latina: La Latina is one of the oldest and most charming areas and a center for a vibrant nightlife with many tourists. Moderate to expensive.
Madrid's charming La Latina neighborhood.
iStock / PUMAREGA
Chamberi: This middle-class residential area has good public transport connections and no tourists. You will find families, young professionals and students. It's expensive, but worth it. I live here and pay 850 euros a month for my studio apartment.
Salamanca: This conservative neighborhood with old money borders the leafy Retiro Park. Expensive.
Recoletos: Uber-elegant and very expensive neighborhood.
Puerta de Angel: Just outside the center, on the other side of the Segovia Bridge, this residential area offers easy access to the Madrid Rio recreational area. It is moderately priced.
User: Madrid's Chinatown is popular with immigrants and young people and is an inexpensive place to call home.
Vallecas: The working-class district on the outskirts promises a life without tourists. Inexpensive.
Legazpi: This formerly inexpensive, now inexpensive area is popular due to its proximity to the Matadero art complex and the Madrid Rio resort area.
Once you've identified the neighborhoods you are interested in, search online for available properties. Idealista.com is a popular website because you can draw a search area on the map. It also offers a lot of filters. Use them. Unless you're young and strong enough to carry groceries and luggage upstairs, you'll need an elevator. You will definitely need air conditioning in July and August. Check the map of each entry to see if there is a subway station nearby. You can also check listings on Fotocasa.com and Spotahome.com.
Madrid offers a wealth of rental options.
iStock / leochen66
Check if a property is represented by a real estate company or the owner. Real estate companies charge you a one-month, non-refundable commission. Owner-owned properties are hard to find but can save you a lot of money. Also note how many months of security the landlord requires. One month is the minimum. Properties with a deposit of several months can be a scam. Even if they are legitimate, giving it all back when you move out can be difficult. Here are some examples of properties currently on offer:
In Chamberi, recently renovated, furnished, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 915 square meter apartment with 3 balconies, wooden floors and air conditioning on the third floor of a building with elevator, rents for € 1,250 ($ 1,518) per month.
In Chueca, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom furnished apartment with a spacious terrace for entertaining costs € 920 ($ 1,117) a month. It is 657 square meters and has air conditioning.
In Usera, gardens surround a small, furnished, renovated one bedroom apartment with air conditioning. Located on the mezzanine floor of a building with an elevator, this 484-square-foot pied-à-terre is rented from the owner for € 595 ($ 722) per month.
Once you've found some rental properties that suit your tastes, make an appointment to see your favorites. If possible, bring a bilingual Spanish friend with you so you understand exactly what the real estate agent or owner needs.
When you've found your new home, sign a contract, likely at a real estate agency. Request a version of the contract in English and Spanish. Most contracts are a one-year lease that is automatically extended for five years. Landlords can only increase rent by the same percentage as the cost of living index. As a rule, tenants can terminate the rental agreement after one year with 30 days' notice. Negotiate all the exorbitant cleaning fees. Again, take a bilingual Spanish friend here to look after your interests.
Then … move in!
This story originally ran in International Living.