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I'm helping someone organize a study trip to Madrid January-June 2018. We were looking at rooms to rent, and the offer is plenty. The question is,

Is it important to rent something in advance, or could this person first go to Madrid and then search for a room while there? Will there be enough availability in January?

The traveler is a Spanish speaker, so language will not be a barrier.

closed as off-topic by David Richerby, Ali Awan, choster, Michael, Kate Gregory Oct 22 '17 at 21:45

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about the availability of rented housing for people living in Madrid, not about travel. – David Richerby Oct 21 '17 at 16:53
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    @DavidRicherby This is clearly a question about people traveling to Madrid, not living there already. Long-term stays are going to be different from short-term ones in terms of what you want to look for in renting. – JAB Oct 21 '17 at 19:47
  • @JAB It's a question about somebody who wants to rent a room to live in Madrid for six months. The only connection to travel is the fact that the person is not currently in Madrid so will have to travel there at some point; the question is purely about living in Madrid. – David Richerby Oct 21 '17 at 20:48
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    Seems like this'd be more on topic at expats than here. – Dan Neely Oct 21 '17 at 21:55
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I've been living in Barcelona for a few years, and I've done my fair share of apartment hunting so I know the Spanish rental situation relatively well.

Is it important to book beforehand? I would say no. I don't know anyone who has done that unless they're coming with some pre-booked program that includes housing. It's very common for people to come to Spain and get a room at a hostel for a week or two while they search for apartments. That being said, it probably will take a week or two. You could contact landlords to set up appointments prior to arriving so that when your friend gets there he can immediately start the process.

Will there be enough availability in January? I don't think the month is very important. You will always find apartments. However, most apartments are rented for the beginning of the month, so you might have more luck the first week rather than the second week of January.

All said and done, it is risky to rent an apartment without seeing it. I wouldn't do it. And there are definitely scams out there.

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I don't know about Spain and Madrid in particular, but since it is a study trip, I suggest you to ask the university if they have a guest-house or opportunities for short-time rental (1 month, for instance). Then you can do the apartment-hunting directly from there during the first month, with less hurry and stress.

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I'm not familiar with Madrid, but I always have the attitude that certainty trumps uncertainty. If you know when you will be somewhere, why wouldn't you arrange your accommodations in advance?

The risk with waiting is that destinations have events. These events can make a sudden difference in the availability of accommodations. For example, here in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, most of the time if you tried to book a room here on short notice, you could find something, but if you tried to come when we were hosting the CFL's Grey Cup (every decade) or during our annual Agribition agricultural fair, you wouldn't get a room unless you booked months in advance. There is also the possibility of some natural event causing issues; you'd be hard-pressed to get a hotel room in cities and towns near San Francisco right now, because of the wildfires they've had recently (October 2017).

If your plans have greater flexibility and you don't need to be right in Madrid but could be an hour or two away, or you want the utmost in flexibility in your plans, then taking your chances isn't such a bad thing to do. It sounds, however, like the person you're helping would be greatly inconvenienced if room availability in Madrid became a problem, so I'd strongly recommend planning something soon.

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    I see your point, but we are not talking a hotel here. Paying in advance to share a house you haven't seen, with people you haven't met, for five months, is far from ideal. – Martin Argerami Oct 21 '17 at 14:28
  • @MartinArgerami Trying to find something with short notice under duress is far from ideal, too. Unless you're having to make a large deposit, I don't think that reserving something early is too suboptimal. – Jim MacKenzie Oct 21 '17 at 15:13
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    I don't see how this applies to the question. The asker could, today, book a room in a hotel for a couple of weeks to avoid the issues you describe. Those issues wouldn't affect the availability of rented longish-term housing. – David Richerby Oct 21 '17 at 16:50
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AirBNB has a nice selection of rooms for rent in the range of ~300$ a month in a variety of locations.

Since the payment goes through AirBNB you can use their conflict resolution in case of trouble which in my personal experience can really help. They also accept international payment easily.

  • I'm sure this is true but how does it answer the question? – David Richerby Oct 21 '17 at 20:52
  • @DavidRicherby OP wanted to know how to find rent in these dates and about availability. I've linked to a (big) site search that shows listings for those dates. OP can look at other dates and get a sense of availability and make an informed decision about ordering in advance. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Oct 21 '17 at 23:26

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