Yup. You just read that headline right!
The Housing Hunt in Madrid or literally anywhere could be compared to The Hunger Games, but instead of kill or be killed, it's deposit or forever wish you had quicker.
The number one rule for house hunting in Madrid is make a ton of appointments to visit the location and also don't get scammed. While a week is enough to find housing, reserving an AirBnB isn't such a terrible idea. I had an AirBnB lined up even though I didn't end up needing it. So now I bet you're wondering how I did it? Well... first off, don't lose hope, but truthfully, you got to be on top of it every single day. If you're someone like me who wanted housing before the hotel accommodations ended and had a list of a lot of criterial for my ideal place, lower your standards because this is NOT the United States. You are going to have to compromise and make some trade offs. I was on several sites, and I suggest you send out requests to make house visits every single day. I used various platforms to make appointments and to do my research. Facebook Marketplace & Groups, Badi, BeRoomers, Redpiso, Idealista, Atmosphere Madrid, Spotahome, and HelpMadrid are some of the most popular however, of the list below, I found the most success through Facebook Groups and Idealista. Most places for rent will be on a person by person basis, meaning that it's much harder to find places if you want to live with a friend, unless you are trying to rent an entire flat or apartment.
When it came time to make my visits, majority of the landlords or agency representatives I met with spoke partial English. What's important is to know what you want. Here are a few things I had on my list and most of the criteria that is usually covered in advertisements:
Number of bedrooms, Number of bathrooms, How many roommates, double bed/single, how many showers, kitchen, wifi, locks on the doors, tv/living room, Furnished/Unfurnished, Monthly Rent, Deposit Full or Partial Refund, Agency Fee, Overnight Guests, Pets, Smoking, Girls or Boys wanted, Students or Young Professionals, Location, Barrio Good or Bad, Supermarkets close, Gyms close, Bank/Phone company close, Air Conditioning, Heat, Gastos(Utilities) included, Cleaning Services, Contract, Length of Stay, etc. All of which can be negotiated, but don't make a commitment if you don't know what you want. Remember we are staying for an entire year, so you might as well make yourself at home ;)
At the end of the day, there's nothing like the feeling of being accomplished in your quest to find housing. It'll happen eventually, and remember you have time! Start your search early and you will find your perfect fit! Reminder that there are hundreds of people in the same position as you. Just don't make the mistake of accepting outside tutoring and babysitting jobs anytime within a month and a half of being in Spain. You will need all your time to do legal stuff and find housing, open a bank account etc. Settle before you build your personal schedule. Wish they told me this at the CIEE orientation! A week in, and I've already scheduled myself too thin, good think everything can be fixed in these early stages!