Living in Spain?
Accommodation for Expats in Spain
Types of Housing: Know What to Look For
Apartments are the preferred type of housing 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.
If Madrid is calling, a few tips on preferred areas for expats in Madrid may be useful. The city is made up of 18 municipal districts (barrios), the central one being the business district. The best areas to live in are the west and the north, as the city center is very noisy and rather polluted. A good thing about the city center, though, are the beautiful, old buildings offering apartments accommodating to almost any budget.
Popular areas for Europeans living in Spain are, among others, 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 Monte Alina areas of the Pozuelo de Alarcón municipality.
Barcelona: Coastal or Centrally Located Property?
If your ideal life in Spain involves living by the sea, Barcelona is the best choice. This city of approximately 1.6 million is divided into ten barrios, some of which expats have claimed as their own. The best expatriate neighborhoods are in west and central Barcelona. Apartments are the most common form of housing in Barcelona.
Many of Barcelona’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. Lots of expats also recommend Les Corts, which hosts newer, larger, and more modern apartments fitting with the financial district there. The Les Corts area is also very well connected in terms of public transportation. 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 kinds of communities have higher rents, but they do offer the luxury of living away from the busy metropolitan setting. Trains are usually the easiest and least complicated way of getting back into the city, and most locals prefer this way of commuting.
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