When me and my friend Laura decided to head for Spain at the beginning of the summer of 2013 to look for a seasonal job, we had no idea how challenging it would be. We thought if we would choose a touristic place like Salou, it would be easy to find a job. Well, it wasn’t. Truth is finding a job in Spain with the unemployment rate higher than 25% was quite a struggle. Even my more than basic Spanish didn’t help so much. Now it seems a little bit silly that I thought a good Spanish knowledge was all I needed.
Finding a job wasn’t even our biggest problem. As a surprise for us it appeared that finding a short term apartment to rent wasn’t easy at all. Should have dig into more details about finding a job and living in Spain before booking the tickets! Keep on reading and I will tell you the biggest problems we faced while moving to Spain and some tips to avoid these difficulties.
As I mentioned above first and possibly the biggest struggle we faced while moving to Spain was finding a short term apartment for rent with a reasonable price. It was almost impossible!
Here are some tips for finding a seasonal job and an accommodation in Spain:
- Search for job offers online (do it long before the season starts), and if you’re lucky and get an approval, ask for accommodation options. There are job offering companies who provide the accommodation as well or at least help to find and arrange one for you.
- Don’t head for the most touristic sites located right next to the sea, unless you have observed the first tip and already arranged the accommodation before arriving to Spain. It may be easier to find a seasonal job in these places, but not the accommodation.
- If you decide to go to Spain in the last minute and haven’t observed the previous tips search for short term rentals through real estate agencies.
As you’ve probably guessed we didn’t thought everything through before going. And these tips are the result of our own experience. Well, you learn from your mistakes, right?
Ok, we did search for the vacancies online before going, but only about a WEEK before departure. That was our first mistake. You should start looking for the offers as early as January or February if you are planning to go there at the beginning of summer. Why? Most of the companies that seek for seasonal employees like hotels, bars and restaurants are preparing for the high season very early, so they are starting to look for additional workers almost half a year before. That’s why nobody even replied us, when we sent our CVs in the last minute. And I made sure of that this January when some of the companies who still had my CV sent me a job offer for this coming summer.
Second biggest mistake we learned from last summer was aiming for the touristic place by the sea. Living there is very expensive in summer. If you are looking for a short term apartment rental you will overpay a lot. The thing is that most of the property owners are taking advantage of the popularity of these places with amazingly beautiful beaches in summer. They are renting the apartments for weekly prices to tourists. The prices are as high as hotel rooms or even higher. That is why there’s almost no chance of renting an apartment for reasonable price for the summer months.
We were looking for an apartment to rent for 3 months and due to the reason mentioned above we couldn’t find one for affordable price. Many lessors were offering two options:
- Rent apartment for weekly prices (which was 5-10 times overrated, when it comes to renting for months)
- Rent apartment for long term: at least a year (in best case – half a year)
The other part of the owners/ real estate agents didn’t even offered the long term rental during the summer period since this is the most profitable time for them. Their proposal was to rent the apartment starting from September which was obviously not an option for us.
The third mistake we did was trying to deal with this challenge all by ourselves to save up some extra bucks. After all we had spent more money than we would have if we would settle for the first offer we found through a real estate agency. We did even end up sleeping on the street at some point. I’ll tell you about that later.
When we arrived in Salou we went to the nearest cafe straight away with all the suitcases on our hands and researched some websites offering apartments for rent. We found one apartment that we liked and met the real estate agent within an hour. What a luck we thought! Could it really be so easy? Have we found our dream apartment for a great price within just a couple of hours? That sounded too good to be true and unfortunately it wasn’t.
The real estate agent lead as to his agency, just a few blocks away. Unluckily for us it appeared that the owner of our dream apartment wasn’t willing to rent the apartment for a period shorter than one year. However there was other apartment available and the owner agreed to rent it for 3 months for just a little bit higher price. The apartment was pretty good, but just not so good as the one we were hopping to rent. At that point we had a bright idea that we could find apartment without agency services in that way avoiding extra payment which is equal to rental payment of one month. And again we underestimated the difficulty of finding a short term apartment for rent.
The next week we spent searching for rental offers online in all the possible Spanish websites who offered these services; we also asked the locals we met on the streets and cafes as well as just roamed around and looked for the sideboards on the terraces. We called hundreds of apartment owners and real estate agents. The goal for doing this on our own was to avoid the agencies but irony is that most of the time the ones who picked up the phone were real estate agents. All the offers we got were the two described above: weekly, extremely expensive ones and the long term rentals. We spent about 50 EUR just in the phone bills (and that’s with a local number!).
At the time we were living in hostels and affordable hotels checking in and out again, looking for cheapest options and promos. There were two nights when we thought we would rent a place by the end of that day so we checked out of the hotel. But for some reasons or others (like the apartment was already taken or the owner didn’t pick up the phone or it was too pricey after all) at the night we had no place to go. After checking the prices of the last minute accommodation options and reviewing our budget we decided that we should save some some money and so we stayed on the street; yes, you heard it right! Actually it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds, as one night we stayed on the bench at the platform of the train station and the other one next to the city hall, which seemed quite safe places to stay.
For us it was a part of an adventure we will never forget. When will you do crazy things if not when you are young? It was fun after all, we laughed and made videos. It was an experience. Because of those nights I now appreciate having a home and a bed to sleep in so much more.
After all this crazy experience we went back to the agency that we had visited on the first day and rented the apartment which they offered. And the most funny thing is that we ended up loving our apartment! It was located in Cap de Salou, about 4 km from the city center. The house was surrounded by pine trees, so we could have a fresh air and a small breeze every morning while sitting on our charming terrace and having a cup of coffee. The neighborhood was peaceful and relaxing, so much better than the one in the center of Salou. And I didn’t even tell the best part yet – the most beautiful, pictureque beach in a cove between the cliffs was almost at our doorstep, just 50 m from the apartment. A perfect beach for lounging on the mattresses and drinking juice straight from the coconuts in our free time.
Even now when I remember our summer apartment in Salou, I have only the warmest memories of it! Maybe the experience with sleeping on the bench was just what we needed to really appreciate the good things in our lives!
My advice for you is to prepare well before going to Spain for a seasonal job: do your research; ask some friends who have lived there or still do; be an early bird – search for job offers; send CV; look and book accommodation etc. about half a year in advance. And if you do end up in the last minute situation like we did, search for reliable agencies that can help you with finding the apartment to rent much more faster than yourself since most of the phone numbers you will call will still be agents’.
Prepare and take the precautions to enjoy your trip even more. Or don’t if spontaneity and adventure is just what you are looking for!