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Accommodation for Expats in Spain

Living in Spain holds many attractions, but is not without its challenges. Life on the Iberian Peninsula will indeed be more laidback once you have gotten used to expatriate life there. InterNations supports you with essential information on Spain, from housing to healthcare.

Types of Housing

Apartments are the most popular option for people living in Spain, but houses and small chalets can also be found in the suburbs of major cities and in the countryside. There are different types of apartments for rent (alquiler) or for purchasing (ventas):

  • estudios: one-room apartments ideal for a single person in a large city
  • apartamientos: have 1–2 bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen, and bath
  • pisos: larger 2–3-bedroom apartments more suitable for expatriate families.

Apartments may be rented furnished (amueblado) or unfurnished (sin amueblar), although the latter option is more common in Spain.

Madrid’s Districts

The city is made up of 18 municipal districts (barrios), the central one being the business district. The city center is very noisy and rather polluted, but its beautiful old buildings offer apartments for almost any budget. If you want to live in a more quiet district, the west and the north of the city are definitely the best options.

Popular areas for Europeans are La Moraleja (an affluent suburb), El Soto de la Moraleja (a very green area in La Moraleja), Parque Conde de Orgaz (where the Lycée Français is located), and el Retiro (a quiet, centrally located neighborhood). American expats, on the other hand, prefer living near the American school in, for instance, the Húmera, Monteclaro, or the Monte Alina areas of the Pozuelo de Alarcón municipality.

Barcelona — Coastal and Urban Living

For those willing to live by the sea, Barcelona is the best choice. This city of approximately 1.7 million inhabitants is divided into ten barrios, some of which expats have claimed as their own. The best expatriate neighborhoods are in west and central Barcelona.

Many of the city’s numerous international schools are located in the western neighborhoods, e.g. in Bonanova, Tres Torres, and Sarría, resulting in very family-friendly areas. Families will also like the very green Gràcia barrio. Manyexpats also recommend Les Corts, which is well connected in terms of public transportation and hosts more modern apartments fitting with the financial district there. Last but not least, l’Eixample offers modern architecture as well, along with good shopping opportunities.

An alternative for getting away from the noisy city center are the housing areas along the coast, such as El Maresme (to the north) and Castelldefels (to the south). Most of these communities have higher rents, but they do offer the luxury of living away from the busy metropolitan city center. Trains are usually the easiest and least complicated way of getting back into the city, and most locals prefer this way of commuting.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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