I’m currently in the Altea region of Spain on vacation with my parents. Loving it so much, I’m already looking at short-term and long-term apartment rentals for a longer vacation later in the year – two months or more, I’m planning. Like anywhere in the world, if you plan on holidaying in Spain for longer than a few weeks, it’s usually cheaper to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel. But, like anywhere, you really have to know what you’re doing if you want to get the best rental price.
If you’re planning on a longer vacation in Spain and thinking about renting a vacation apartment, follow these quick tips I’ve figured out from my vacation apartment rental search, and you’ll find your apartment search easier and, frankly, an awful lot cheaper.
Don’t Rent an Apartment on the Internet – After looking at several vacation apartment rentals through agencies on the internet, I realized quickly Spain is not set up like Thailand, where I currently live. Unlike most Thai cities, which are chock full of rental agencies online, Spain only has a handful and most of these deal with high-end vacation apartment rentals. So, sure, if you don’t mind paying €2,000 ($2,800) a month for an apartment rental in Spain, then go ahead and use an agent. But, if like me, you’re looking for something more in the €400-800 range ($560-$1,120), then avoid the internet and look in person instead.
The other reason not to rent on the internet is, if you rent while you’re physically in Spain, you can check out the location of the apartment, the apartment itself and anything else you might need to know, before you sign a lease for a vacation apartment for two or three months. After all, online it may look lovely. In reality, your dream vacation apartment might be two bus rides from the center of town and an hour from any beach.
Stay in a Hotel for a Few Days – The best way to find an inexpensive and perfect-for-you vacation apartment rental in Spain is to be in the town you want to stay in first. Book a room in an inexpensive hotel for at least 3-5 days right before your planned longer-term vacation, which will give you time to walk around the neighborhood, talk to locals who might know of inexpensive short or long-term vacation apartment rentals, or to just start calling phone numbers from rental signs and knocking on doors yourself.
With the Spanish economy currently being in dire straits, and not likely to recover any time soon, now is the time to get an inexpensive long-term vacation apartment rental in Spain as just about every apartment building has boatloads of ‘For Rent’ signs.
Talk to the Locals – I’ve only been in Spain for three weeks and I already have leads on several apartment rentals for my longer vacation at the end of the year. While vacationing this time in Spain, I’ve talked to bartenders, waiters, bar owners (both Spanish and expat), and the tour guides at our current hotel
Almost all of them have given me information about possible vacation apartment rentals and three already know of apartments for rent in the area I’m interested in. They also said, when I come back at the end of the year, they’ll be more than happy to set up an appointment with their friends who own an apartment and let me take a look before renting.
Rent in Off-Peak Season – If you don’t have set times when you need to take your vacation, the best times to rent in Spain are in the off-peak season (from October to beginning of April). While rates in Spain during the summer are still high, during the winter months the weather is often still lovely and most Spanish nightlife, businesses, shops etc, are still open, yet rental rates are far lower.
I looked at two apartments last week with rates for off-peak season rental currently at €390 ($560) a month. One apartment is overlooking the beach in Altea, the other is just one block back near one of the main streets. In the summer months, both these apartments skyrocket in rental price to almost €800 ($1,120) because the owners know, in the summer, they can get that price. But, in the winter months, which are still lovely in Altea, the monthly rent for these fully-furnished vacation apartments is much more affordable.
Just make sure, if you decide to rent during off-peak season, you check out the town you’re going to stay in first. After all, you don’t want to arrive in Spain set up for a three month vacation of fun and sun and find out the town you’ll be staying in is deader than the dodo.
Plus, don’t forget – going with a local to look at an apartment, you usually get a much cheaper deal than if you try to figure it out yourself.
Don’t Forget to Negotiate – With the Spanish economy currently dismal (the Spaniards call it “The Crisis”), there’s much more room to negotiate for a cheap Spanish vacation apartment rental than in usual years.
Go and see several apartments in the Spanish town you want to stay in, then negotiate a fair rent with the landlords of at least two of them. With the landlord knowing his apartment is one of two you’re interested in, you’re highly likely to get a good deal (a fair price for both of you) and both of you will leave the negotiation happy.
Just remember, be polite and respectful and don’t be too cheap. You don’t want to end up renting from a Spanish landlord who resents the dirt cheap price he gave you.