There are rules in architecture for building houses or anything that will be used by a human being. The layers are part of the wall construction and they should not be missing bridging elements or insulation. Those are basic rules that architects study at university if they really want to become someone who cares about not killing anyone and creating a home adapted for any season. When something is missing… your health and quality of life drop.
I live in Granada – a beautiful touristic city I call Granáland, and for a long time I have wanted to write about renting a flat in this city, so many expats can avoid my mistakes. My journey with landlords, renting rules and ugly interior designs is full of attractions. Renting a flat is a hell of a ride and a huge investment of your own money, so my descriptions are based on my personal experience and many talks with expats.
As I have mentioned many times, Granada is an extremely interesting city, but it’s not for everyone. The journey of facing the real problems that employees deal with here helps me to get a clear view of many things and write about them from my own perspective. The global issue that comes with renting a flat happens to exist as well in Granada. But those issues are helpful to know before moving in. It would be nice to mention that I am a house worm, I studied Interior Architecture and I like to surround myself with nice objects.
Lack of pretty interior design
First of all, they always lack a beautiful Scandinavian interior style, and second of all, they never come with a reasonable price. Spanish salaries are very low and you, as an independent bird, have to live somewhere, so you take the first thing you see without noticing mistakes that will reflect on your living comfort.
After arrival to Granada, it was the biggest shock I had to struggle with and still is. The huge disappointment lies in the inadequate architecture of the buildings. It makes me anxious. Times change and climate as well. Maybe if flats were prepared for any season it would be easier to get through summer or winter and stay in the same flat for more than 3 months. Unfortunately, in most cases, landlords sell or rent their parent’s unrenovated flats with no effort to improve the construction or to throw the old furniture from the 30s. Prices go up, salaries don’t and everything remains untouched. Even the newspapers like “Ideal” or “Granada Hoy” wrote about that issue already in 2020.
From my point of view, there is an explanation for why they do not care about that issue. Granada is a student city. No one stays more than they have to, locals live with their parents, and students live off their parent’s money as well. Full-time employees spend more than half their salary on a flat and bills, so they are forced to ask their parents for help too. Inflation raises and employers don’t care. Even if you are helping your family at the expense of your quality of life.
Many flat’s descriptions sound perfect, but they’re tricky like the modern words “remote” and “hybrid” in a job offer. I’ve moved here seven times in over three years. And by the time you’re reading this – I can be somewhere else. I am constantly looking for a “better” flat and in the end, I end up in a worse one than before. So I might stay in this one for longer.
After all, you are renting an apartment, so you expect quality. Unfortunately, after the Covid-19 pandemic, landlords don’t make anything easier. Most of the time they demand Avalista (it’s a document certifying that if you fail with business, get fired or anything – someone will pay for you for the rest of the contract. To be accepted by this document, someone from Spain must certify that they will look after you if something happens). If you do ask something, you’re disqualified as a potentially problematic tenant. I even experienced something that’s called “Rent-racism”.
This year, the new law that is supposed to help “young” people get a little of their money back, helped the landlords to raise their prices up to even 25% already in January 2022. This doesn’t help anyone and the new “help” is only promoting those unrenovated flats letting landlords earn much more than before. Besides that, Andalucía has still not opened its application deadlines (EDIT: Applications opened from November 14th 2022 to February 14th 2023).
The fact is, more and more people want to live alone. For the sake of the need for independence and peace. And that comes at a price. Unfortunately, rent prices are mostly made for couples or students looking to gain a social life. Not for digital nomads. Maybe AirBnb or illegal helping the nomads will be a better option as landlords are not open to it and prefer long-term contracts.
- Divided Flats: One thing, that I’ve never seen before in my life is that many flats in Granada are usually converted into two flats (sometimes three!) from one existing big apartment. I’ve lived before in one such flat, and now it’s my second time. I wasn’t informed about it while signing the contract with the real estate. Anyway, they haven’t told me a lot of things. I only learned later that such flats have the most expensive electricity potential, and you can’t change it because it’s shared. In theory, you’re renting a flat alone, but practically you have flatmates with incorrectly divided bills.
- Windows: Most unrenovated flats offer “windows” that were installed more than 30 or 40 years ago. Mostly, they don’t have a double glass mechanism. They don’t protect against wind, rain or sounds. With a little of a storm – they’ll fall off the walls. But it’s only when you’re lucky to actually have a window. Quite often you can find rooms and bathrooms without them. I feel like a queen knowing that I have a window in my bathroom. It’s a success!
- “Patio” by Andalucía: If you do have a window in your room, probably it’s facing the “patio” that smells awful and is completely useless. Originally, architects thought it will be nice to create a square hole between buildings to make the flats “breathe” and create a kind of draft. Well, logically it’s not possible as the air doesn’t work that way and in the end, this “patio” goes against its architectural illogical original purpose.
- Real Estate / Inmobilarias: After the Covid-19 pandemic, all real estate triumphs. When I moved here, most of the flats could be rented without the unnecessary third “help”. Now, it’s just not possible. And in my opinion, property fees should be paid by landlords only because they hire them to deal with their own problem – possibly laziness. Unless you live outside of the city or country, this is what you need, but they almost always live next door, close by or even in the same building. PS Sometimes real estate asks you for a fee to help you look for a flat which might take some time. If you find a flat by yourself, you lose that money.
- Missing air-conditioning: The insulation of the building in many of the flats seems to not exist, so the problem of being too cold or too hot is growing. Many years ago air-conditioning machines didn’t exist, so grandparents had to find a way to cool down themselves during the summers. They used water bottles that they froze in the freezer. It actually works very well! I do that.
- Missing central heating system: Flats get drastically colder inside than outside because of the lack of any good insulation layers and a central heating system. People are very social here, so Spaniards spent their days in the air. My guess is they thought it wasn’t needed. Also, many years ago, they used round tables with a hole inside to place an electric heater. They placed it under the table and covered it with a warm tablecloth. It was supposed to be a family thing, a nice gathering that many foreigners cannot understand. Central heating was known already in many countries in the 40s, and in Granada seems like they still haven’t done the research. The thing is electricity is extremely expensive and this system is just too old. Now, they might offer you a radiator on wheels which… is also electric and maintaining this for many hours lets your eyes fall out of your eyeballs once you see a bill.
- Walls: It feels like they’re made from cardboard. Again: they lack layers. They’re also not prepared for any season. You won’t avoid it. You can hear your neighbours and write a book from their conversations or sex noises.
- Warm water: Another thing that surprised me. Remember the times when you had to place the gas bottle and force it to create a flame that heated the water? Yep, me neither! It was so many years ago. Here, they still use gas bottles for cooking or heating. Some flats still use an electric heater which means… higher bills.
- Kitchen’s rare designs: I don’t understand the phenomena of the kitchen’s strong colours. The kitchen filled with one colour, literally everywhere. Besides, it isn’t a well-thought interior style where everything matches or creates a modern look like on Pinterest. No, often you’ll find strong purple, red, green or even blue – all over the place. Where did it come from?
- Missing furniture: When you rent a place, why often it misses a desk to work on? A chair? A mirror? Curtains? Bedclothes? Pots? Cutlery? Plates? Every time, in every place, I had to buy it by myself. What if you rent a flat just for a few months?
It might be everything worth mentioning. Granada is an old-fashioned city, but it doesn’t mean you won’t like it. It teaches you many things by feeling like you’re travelling back in time. It pushes you to look for creative ways to find a way out of many existing housing problems. It gives you a new perspective and the weather makes you be out for walks to discover a new viewpoint and its sunsets. It’s magical.
It’s true that Granada is made to be living outside of your rented four walls. If you’re a nomad who travels back and forth, it can be hard to find something cheap, and for a few months. But as soon as you find a way to go over that bridge, the adventure that comes with living in this city is amazing. Especially when you love places where time seems to have stopped.