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Housing in Spain

Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home

Renting accommodation in Spain is not always a straightforward process as some landlords rely on spoken agreements. As a foreigner, buying a house might be simpler than renting, but be sure you do not fall prey to a con artist. This guide will help you navigate the Spanish housing market and ensure you find exactly what you are looking for.

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In this detailed guide you will learn about the different types of housing in Spain and the requirements you need to fulfil in order to secure a place. We cover your options whether you are looking for a house or apartment to rent, as well as your rights as a tenant. One such right is to never accept a spoken agreement and demand a written contract. Spanish law is also heavily in favour of tenants and it takes a lot for a landlord to evict someone.

Spain has many different types of houses offered both as short-term and long-term rentals. The first has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of websites like Airbnb, Booking, and Uniplaces.

Buying a house in Spain as a foreigner is definitely easier than renting. There are no property limits in Spain and purchasing a house worth more than 500,000 EUR (540,000 USD) grants you a Golden Visa with a residency permit of at least two consecutive years.

Renting a House or Apartment

Wondering how to rent houses or apartments in Spain? Are you asking yourself what the average rent is, or if renting as a foreigner is difficult? Look no further because this housing guide will answer all of your questions. We provide information on the rental process and rules you can expect to come across in the Iberian country, as well as the standards on rental contracts and deposits, the requirements and documents for renting, and how to set up utilities.

What Is the Average Rent in Spain?

Wondering how much the rent is in Spain? Rent prices of apartments and houses in Spain have slowly, but consistently, been on the rise in the past few years. The minimum rent for a house or apartment in Spain depends on your location. Rent prices in metropolitan areas are much higher than in small towns. All in all, the average minimum rent for a 45m2 apartment is about 650 EUR (705 USD).

European Pricing and Sizing

In Europe, average renting prices are classified in price per square meter. To give you a sense of how this would look like, we have listed them here for you: The average renting price in Spain is 8 EUR (9 USD) per m2, although this price varies widely depending on the region.

The Most and Least Expensive Areas in Spain

If you are planning on renting in Spain, you can expect cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Palma de Mallorca to be the most expensive. Madrid is the most expensive at 13 EUR (15 USD) per m2, way above the national average. It is closely followed by Cataluña at 12 EUR (4 USD) per m2. Prices in the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country are also above the national average.
The cheapest areas to live in Spain are Extremadura, Castilla la Mancha, and La Rioja. These areas fall below the national average at around 5 EUR (6 USD) per m2.

In Madrid, you could pay an average of 1,000 EUR (1,125 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, whereas outside of the center a one-bedroom sets you back 700 EUR (790 USD) per month. The price for a three-bedroom in Madrid’s hotspot areas cost on average 1,700 EUR (1,900 USD). In the suburbs it is around 1,180 EUR (1,330 USD).

Barcelona ranks just slightly behind Madrid in terms of housing costs. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs on average 950 EUR (1,070 USD). If you opt to live outside of the packed city, you will save 250 EUR (280 USD). A three-bedroom in Barcelona can cost between 1,100 and 1,700 EUR (1,240 – 1,900 USD) depending on how close you live to the city center.

Other popular cities for expats are Bilbao, Seville, Malaga and Valencia. If you do not yet know where you would like to live in Spain, you should check out the our Best Places to Live in Spain guide and find out which city fulfils all your requirements.

How Can I to Find a House or Apartment to Rent in Spain?

If you are looking for an apartment or house to rent in Spain, it is recommended to check different sources in order to get an idea of what the market is like in your location. Look at local newspapers, browse real estate websites, and consider talking to locals, who might be able to give you specific insights into renting in the area. A good place to start is at an InterNations event or group, where you will meet local expats who have gone through the process of renting of buying property in Spain.

You can find houses and apartments on these popular websites:

  • Fotocasa;
  • Idealista;
  • Spainhouses.

Furnished or Unfurnished?

It is possible to find both furnished and unfurnished homes on these sites. However, rent prices will vary greatly between the two. Unfurnished places might have a kitchen with appliances or be completely bare, whereas apartments advertised as furnished might be equipped in a very Spartan fashion.

The best method is to always look at the place before renting, and ask what is included in the price. Rentals are also advertised with a monthly rent price and the size of the living space in square meters.

Rental Process and Rules for Tenants and Landlords

If you are wondering what your rights are as a tenant in Spain, and what rules and processes you should expect from your landlord, the following insights will be useful.

Long-term rental contracts are typically five years long, or seven if the landlord is a business. For these standard contracts, you should not be asked to pay more than two months of rent as a deposit. When applying for a property through an estate agent, expect to pay a month’s rent upfront as a reservation fee. This amount is usually used as your first month’s rent after signing the contract. If the landlord does not choose you as a tenant, the agency will pay you back.

You will also need to provide the same documents as if you were renting short-term:

  •  employment contract including the last-three month’s payment slips, or proof of financial means such as the latest tax return;
  • NIE (Spanish tax identification number);
  • passport, ID;
  • one month’s rent as reservation fee (if you rent through an agency);
  • private guarantor (in some cases).

If you found your property through an estate agent, you will be happy to know, that according to Spanish law, the agent will be paid by the landlord. If you specifically hired an agency to help you find a home, you can expect to pay a commission between 200 EUR (225 USD) and a month’s rent.

Tenancy Agreements in Spain

Tenancy contracts (contrato de arrendamiento) in Spain can either be written or verbal, but having a written agreement is always recommended. In case you find yourself looking at a contract in Spanish, knowing these important terms can help you deal with the legal part of renting a house or apartment. However, it is still better to have the contract translated, so you can be fully aware of what you are signing.

If you need help, our relocation experts at InterNations GO! have extensive knowledge in home-finding abroad and are glad to give you a hand along the way.

Important Legal Vocabulary:
Spanish terms English terms
Arrendador Landlord
Arrendatario Tenant
Aval Surety
Certificado de ingresos Certificate of income
Contrato de arrendamiento Tenancy contract
Documento Nacional de Identidad National Identity document
Renta Rent
Normally, apartments with short-term leases are rented for the duration of 12 months and can be renewed annually. If you give notice before the first six months of the lease are up, you will have to pay the remaining year’s rent in full.
Regardless of the duration of the contract, you can terminate your contract:
  • after six months, with a notice period of 30 days;
  •  if your landlord included a clause stating that you can terminate the contract at any time.
The Spanish government provides the full details of rental law in Spain on its website. Be aware that it is only in Spanish.
Finally, be aware that utilities and payment of bills fall under the responsibility of the tenant. Most rentals are leased without utilities, unless you have a different agreement with your landlord.

Tenant’s Rights in Spain

Rental law in Spain is on the tenant’s side. Even if a tenant stops paying rent for a long period of time, it is difficult for a landlord to evict them. Shutting off utilities and changing locks to make the property unhabitable for the tenant be considered harassment, and a landlord might even be fined for taking such measures.
Eviction processes in Spain have to go through social services in order to determine the tenant’s current situation and set an adequate date for the eviction.

Short-Term Rentals

Whether you are waiting for your home to be ready or just have not found the right spot, sorting out a place to stay on a short-term basis upon arrival is a good idea. There are many websites to look up temporary rentals or monthly furnished rentals, such as Airbnb or Uniplaces. These sites are targeted at tourists and people looking to rent for just a few months. Of course, renting an apartment from Airbnb or Uniplaces might turn out more expensive than renting a regular half furnished apartment.
Some of the most popular websites to look for rentals in Spain are Fotocasa or Idealista. If you are wondering if there is an average price for rent on rentals, there is not. As mentioned before, the average rent prices in Europe are always listed in price per square meter. In Spain the average is 8 EUR (9USD) per m2 and about 650 EUR for a 45 m2 apartment.
There usually is a minimum renting period of 12 months. If you terminate your contract before the first six months, you will have to pay the remaining months of the year’s contract.
You can also contact local real estate agents, or agencias imobiliarias, to find the right place for you. The type of documents you may need will typically be the same as long-term rentals:
  • employment contract including the last-three month’s payment slips, or proof of financial means such as the latest tax return;
  • NIE (Spanish tax identification number);
  • passport, ID;
  • one month’s rent as reservation fee (if you rent through an agency);
  • private guarantor (in some cases).

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Buying Property as a Foreigner

Looking for property to buy in Spain as a foreigner? This guide will give you an insight into the process and steps for buying a home in Spain and the current house prices, as well as the requirements needed to buy property. If you are wondering if you will get citizenship or permanent residence in Spain when buying a house, the answer is no. Acquiring Spanish land does not automatically grant you citizenship. It does, on the other hand, give you access to a Golden Visa.

What are the Requirements to Buying Property?

If you are looking to buy property as a foreigner, you will be happy to know that there are no restrictions on property ownership in Spain. If your biggest wish was to own a farm and a vineyard in the countryside of Spain, then pack your bags because you can have all that.

However, there are some requirements you need to look out for. In general, all foreigners need to have an NIE (foreigners’ identity number). Non-EU nationals will also need a visa, mortgage and insurance to be able to buy property. Hiring a lawyer to handle the closing deal and a mortgage offer might be a good idea.

If you wish to buy a house to get residency, there is good news. Purchasing property over 500,000 EUR (562,000 USD) will grant you a Golden Visa, which allows you to live in Spain for two years. This visa has to be renewed every two years. Just like with the regular residence visas, Golden Visas grant permanent residence in Spain after five years of living in the country, and Spanish citizenship after ten years. You can find more information on how to obtain a Golden Visa in the Spain Visa & Work Permit guide.

Buying a House in Spain: Process and Steps

There are several ways you can search for property in Spain. Your best bet is to look at different sources, such as specific websites, local real estate agents, magazines, and newspapers.

To look for properties, you can use some of the same websites you would to look for rentals, such as Idealista or Fotocasa. When you select comprar (buy), you will see all the options available for purchase.

If the house or property you go for is being sold through an estate agent, know that they are paid by the seller. It is especially advisable to buy through estate agents as they know the laws and the region well.

All issues concerning housing in Spain are managed by the Ministerio de Viviendas. Here, you can get more specific information on architecture, sustainable building, or evaluation reports.

In general, you should follow these steps when buying any type of property in Spain:

  •  acquiring a mortgage offer, which usually requires a credit check;
  • searching for the type of properties you want;
  • checking the Registro de la Propiedad, the Spanish property registry;
    This should give you more legal details on the property, such as the registry name, if it is debt free, and information on its dimensions and other status.
  • paying the deposit to secure the property, once you have found the right one;
  • signing the deed of sale and paying the remaining property price on a monthly basis.
Lawyers are not legally required when buying a home, but some mortgages and insurances might need a notary to complete the sale. Generally, it is advisable to have legal representation in these instances, as they will keep you from falling prey to con artists.
Is the property legal?
Extra caution when buying homes in Spain is especially necessary, as a lot of inexperienced foreign buyers are conned on a regular basis by developers and estate agents trying to sell illegitimate property. This means that in some particular cases a planning permission has not been acquired before starting to build. As a buyer, these are the steps you should follow to make sure the property you are interested in is legitimate:
  • check if the company you are dealing with exists and is listed on registradores.org;
  • check if the project you are interested in is in the land registry;
  • enquire at the local city hall if a planning permission for the project has been granted;
  • always take an interpreter to meetings if you do not speak Spanish;
  • do not sign anything, if you do not understand the language;
  • get proof of payments and proof that your money will be returned if the property is not built.
Is the property debt free?
When buying a house, or when building property on a land, make sure that it is debt free before signing anything. In Spain, any mortgage, property taxes or debts tied to a house will be transferred directly to the new owner.
Fees and Charges

Estate agents hired by the seller are paid by the latter. If a buyer hires an estate agent, then obviously the buyer pays the agency fee.

Other fees related to buying a house that are usually paid by the buyer and include:

  • property transfer tax 6-10% (depending on region);
  • VAT 10%;
  • notary costs, title deed tax, and land registration fee 1-2.5%;
  • legal fees 1-2%

Types of Property in Spain

These are some of the common types of houses you can find in Spain.

  • Apartments, or apartamentos or pisos, are the most popular and abundant type of real estate.
  • Semidetached houses, or cassa adosadas, are usually found in rows, in towns or villages. These can have a communal garden with a pool and can have two or three floors, with a garage.
  • Villas, also called casas or chalets, are detached, isolated properties, with its own garden. These are rare in larger towns or cities and are very popular among wealthy Spaniards or expats.
  • Urbanizations, or urbanizaciones, are closed estates, usually with several apartments, townhouses or villas. These also tend to be expensive and are often chosen for providing tranquility and security.
  • Country properties, or fincas, are the typically farmhouses found more inland. Because of their location, these can be cheaper per square meter, when compared to other houses.

House Prices in Spain

Prices for property in Spain largely depend on the type of property you are looking for and your desired location. Overall, there is a trend in property prices going up. However, Spain is still among the most affordable countries in the world when it comes to income and property price ratio.

Capitals and big cities are usually the most expensive in terms of property prices, and the cost of living in those cities will also demand more of you financially. As explained before, house prices, either for rent or for sale, are always listed in price per square meter. To give you a sense of what that will look like, we have listed the prices for the most popular cities in Spain.

City Price / m2
Madrid 4,240 EUR (4,760 USD)
Barcelona 3,380 EUR (3,795 USD)
Bilbao 3,460 EUR (3,885 USD)

Depending on the size, a two- to three-bedroom apartment or house in Madrid can range from 500,000 EUR to 1,000,000 EUR (561,00 – 1,124,000 USD). Buying a two- to three-bedroom property in Barcelona will set you back between 400,000 EUR and 900,000 EUR (450,000 – 1,011,000 USD).

Utilities

If you are renting in Spain, you will usually have to sign a contract with utility companies to access water, electricity, and gas. Utilities are generally handled by tenants. Sometimes it is possible to arrange with the landlord to include them directly in your rent and have the utility contract in the name of the property owner.

What Documents Will I Need?

In general, you will have to sign a contract with a utility company unless you have a different agreement with your landlord. The required documents to set up a contract are:

  • NIE (foreigners’ identity number);
  • your bank account details for direct debits;
  • tenancy contract.

Electricity and Gas in Spain

An important thing to know is that electricity prices in Spain are some of the highest in the world, so expect this to take up a big part of your expenses.

The biggest utility companies in Spain supply both gas and electricity:

  • Iberdrola;
  • Naturgy;
  • Grupo Endesa;
  • EDP.

Some of the biggest utility companies supplying gas in the country are:

  • CEPSA;
  • Enagás;
  • Repsol.

Water in Spain

Water is usually provided by private or semi-private companies that have concession contracts with municipalities. Water is safe to drink in the majority of the country.

Depending on where you move, you may have trouble with a shortage of water in Spain. While northern and central areas may experience a surplus of rainfalls, the southern part of the country, along with the Balearic and Canary Islands, may experience a deficiency in the water supply.

There are sometimes restrictions on water usage, especially during the summer, which can make common tasks like watering gardens or taking showers challenging due to low water pressure or the lack of water.

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Internet, Cell Phones, and TV

Spain has one of the most developed mobile markets in the world, so when it comes to finding a phone provider, or getting a SIM Card, you should be covered. The same goes for the internet since Spain has the fastest fiber optic services in Europe.

Internet and Cell Phone Providers in Spain

Some of the most popular operators providing both internet and phone services are:

  • Movistar;
  • Orange;
  • Vodafone.

If you also want to access cable television in Spain, you will find a variety of channels through these providers:

  • DIRECTV;
  • AT&T;
  • Mediacom.

How to Watch you Home Country’s TV in Spain

Most television providers already offer packages for expats. The best thing to do is contact a provider in your home country and ask them for more details on how you can watch your home country’s channels in Spain.

Another option is streaming directly online from your country’s website. Depending on your location, the content may be blocked. If that happens, you should consider investing in a VPN, which allows you to access your home country’s online content.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: March 31, 2020
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