Housing and Accomodation

Expats moving to Spain to work and live usually rent out a property first so they are able to familiarise themselves with the way of Spanish life before moving on to buy their own property.

Accommodation Types

It is fairly easy to find reasonable priced and good quality accommodation in Spain with prices depending on what region expats choose to live in. The best parts of the major cities in Spain will be more expensive.

Types of properties for rent and contract in Spain

  • Furnished property: These are aimed at holiday makers for a short term stay in the country. However long term lets are rarely furnished. It is essential to confirm details in writing with estate agents/landlord. Those looking for a family home can move into a furnished home directly.
  • Unfurnished property: An unfurnished property has no furniture but has kitchen appliances, light fittings and carpet. The details for this should be confirmed when viewing the property
  • Student Housing: There are many universities and innumerable language schools in Spain and students usually find their own accommodation in the private sector. Student housing is affordable and is in central areas which provide access to the universities
  • Short or Long Term Rentals: A landlord which is renting out property for a short period will need to have a license if renting for 12 months or less. Many landlords will choose to only rent out for long periods of time and the lease is generally for one year. The tenant will have the right to renew each year for five years and can be evicted in certain circumstances. If you want to leave half way through the year, expats will need to pay until the end of the 12 months period.
  • Apartment or House: In the city there are many apartments and homes which are converted into town houses or purpose built apartments. The apartments are single family homes and can be found on the popular and central beach side districts.

Renting property

Individuals who wish to rent properties in the major cities such as Madrid or Barcelona will find that there are not many options with only furnished and unfurnished apartments available in the downtown area and some maisonettes in the suburbs.

It is recommended that accommodation is secured with the contract of employment and the rent will become more expensive if living close to the city.

Many people do choose to house share which is renting a room in a larger house shared with other people. This is a popular option for foreigners and expats should check local newspapers and websites to find house listings.  When renting, leases are signed for one year and landlord require a down payment of two to six months’ rent.

Typical leases can be for 11 months with an integral clause where the tenant may renew the lease. Majority of the landlords however do offer 12 months contract as well. It is recommended that expats signing a contact which is in Spanish should take along a translator, lawyer or notary so that the agreement is understood. Expats should also ensure that the rent price includes all the taxes the tenant is responsible for paying.

Long Term Rentals can be unfurnished or furnished which range from three month to twelve month contracts. After twelve months this can be renewed as the tenant is given more rights.

With unfurnished apartments one month’s rent is usually paid but with a furnished apartment it is generally two months payment. Payments should be made electronically at the beginning of the month, if the payment is made in cash as receipt should be kept.

Furnished rentals has most of the furniture i.e. tables, beds. Chairs, cookware and basic items whereas unfurnished rentals may not come with white goods which expats will be expected to buy.

Utilities payment

The utilities payments are not usually included in the rent and can typically around EUR 100 per month in a two bedroom apartment. All long term rentals will come with an energy certificate which can be consulted with the landlord before signing the contract. Expats may be charged fees for maintenance, local taxes and garbage collections.

How to find property

Many expats do find property before moving to the country as they don’t want the stress when arriving in the country. There are different ways of looking for property including newspapers, websites and estate agents.

Properties are also now listed online but expats looking for a bargain or want to live in a particular area should speak to anyone that they know. As well as this there are a variety of estate agents who speak English and newspapers/magazines which will help you find the perfect property.

Estate agents take the pressure off expats of finding a property and most agents work for landlords but can help you find property quickly and easily. The estate agents generally cover the local area and there are some agencies which are run by expats who focus selling to other expats. Expats must note that estate agents will be expecting fees to help find property which is typically between EUR 250 and one months’ rent. Some buyers avoid using estate agents as it saves a lot of money and most sellers prefer to sell their houses privately so it is worth driving around looking for the for sale signs on houses.

In other areas of Spain, estate agents aren’t used but instead a corredore is used to help find property. A corredore is a broker who knows the local area and knows when someone is going to sell their property. Unfortunately majority of the corredores do not speak English but according to some expats they are the best way to find a property.

In addition to estate agents there are English newspapers which also list properties that are being sold privately without an agent. Some property owners also post listings in shops and bars.

Some useful Resources for finding property

  • Sur Magazine – surinenglish.com
  • Costa Blanca News – www.costa-news.com
  • The Barcelona Reporter – www.barcelonareporter.com

Mortgages and Financial

When purchasing property money to buy outright is not always available straight away and some may need to get a mortgage on the property. With additional costs on the property price it is recommended that the taxes and legal fees are highly considered.

The costs to buy a property in the country does include the deposit and when the agreement is signed the deposit will need to be paid. The deposit cheque should be paid to your own lawyer rather than the vendors lawyer who usually keeps the deposit until the sale is completed. From the purchase price 7% must be paid, this will cover the land and property taxes and will be paid to the Treasury of Spain through the lawyer. Expats will also be expected to pay notary fees along with the land and property registration fees which varies due to the price of the property

When applying for a mortgage which has been approved, the banks in Spain only lend between 60-70% of the sales value of the property if the busy is not a resident of the country. However, residents of Spain will be able to get more. Once this is done, an independent valuer will be sent to the property from the bank that will assess the value of property, for this a fee will be taken but will be included in the application fees.

To qualify for a mortgage with the bank, expats must meet certain requirements

  • Must be able to prove you have sufficient income to cover the mortgage and running costs of the property
  • You must be able to show pay slips or proof of income for the self employed or bank statements
  • Supply a tax declaration from your home country
  • Life insurance policy will be required to cover mortgage terms – This is compulsory

Expats are recommended to get professional advice from a Spanish mortgage lender especially if you are first time buyer. They will be able to give you an idea of what price range you are working with when looking for a home.

Capital gains are only payable on the profit that is made when selling the property and this can be avoided if you are an official resident of Spain who is planning on reinvesting the money into another property in the country