By Gian Paulo Paglinawan and Laila Muriel Lange

One of the amazing elements of Euroculture is the mobility aspect. The students start their semester in one European city, and seemingly just as the Master programme starts, they already have to choose the second semester university (at least the ones without the scholarship). In that sense, the mobility aspect is constantly embraced throughout the two-year programme. Hence, finding housing in different local contexts is a constant issue for Euroculture students.

Finding housing can be, above all, one thing: stressful. Of course, finding accommodation in a country where you have never lived in is scary, frustrating, and time-consuming. The stress of knowing your semester is about to start, but you do not have a place to stay yet, can be not only demanding for the mental health of the student, but it can also take away attention from the act of actually studying. Contrary, finding a room or an apartment in a foreign country can also be a positive and rewarding experience as it not only teaches the student the life-skill of endurance, but also the skill of promoting yourself in order to be invited for a house viewing. 

Notwithstanding the emotions evoked from the house search, it is a reality that Euroculture students have to look for a room to stay in (probably) more than once, and, thus, the room search is a key element of the programme. Ultimately, how involved the students are with looking for accommodation depends greatly on the universities they chose to study at. Depending on the university, the students are offered different levels of support concerning housing, and the most common types of student housing vary per country, as well as the housing situation generally (speaking of the amount of available housing and, hence, competition) that differs per city. Despite the cooperation within the Masters programme, there is NO common approach to housing, hence, NO housing organised by the Consortium cities, and the students themselves are responsible for finding, renting and paying for their accommodations during the Masters programme.

In case you will attend the University of Deusto during the Masters programme, one of the first considerations is how to find your room or apartment in Bilbao, as well as when you will have to start looking for it. 

Where to look 

When organising housing in Bilbao, you have two options: finding housing with the help of the University of Deusto and its system, or searching for accommodation yourself. 

The University of Deusto supports its incoming students (relatively effective in our opinion) in finding a room in Bilbao. The university is connected with local landlords, and reaches out to its incoming students to provide them with a map including all available housing. Usually in early November, you’ll receive an email from one of the mobility coordinators in Deusto who will advise you to contact to receive information about the different properties in Bilbao. The students from the 2021-2023 cohort received this email from the university, and then had some weeks to submit a Google sheet with 5 properties in which they would like to live. A few weeks after the deadline, the students receive an email with an offer, including one room assigned to them. This room had to be accepted or declined within a few days, and if one is not satisfied with the assigned room, the university updates the map and, thereby, shows after the first deadline which properties are still available.

For the 2022-2024 cohort students, the most popular site used is Erasmus Play, the official accommodation search engine of the university. Visit the Erasmus Play website, choose “Bilbao” as your university campus, and you will see all available rooms. You can customise your search according to your preferred rental type (apartment, residence, homestay, or the Colegio Mayor Deusto), price range, type of room, bedroom features, and housing rules and conditions. What is great about the Erasmus Play is that once you select an accommodation, it provides you with several photos of the room, its features (e.g., toilet, kitchen, appliances, etc.), the details about deposit and monthly rent, and most importantly, the names and contact information (phone numbers and email) of the property owners. When you request booking, make sure you indicate the duration of your stay. Usually, landlords require a minimum stay of 4 months! 

Pro tip: Email the landlords immediately that you are interested in the available room. They usually prefer direct communication with you as they seldom check the website. Double-check the language/s they speak as shown on the accommodation page. Most of them speak English and Spanish, of course, but some only use Spanish. A few Euroculture students said their chances of getting replies from property owners were higher when they communicated en español! What an exciting way to start your journey in Bilbao, right? 

Another platform open to everyone, not only Euroculture students, for  finding accommodation in Spain is Idealista. It is an independent website for all kinds of properties, and after creating an account (free of charge), you can react to housing and room announcements. Through messages, you can contact the landlord directly, and Euroculture students experienced that finding housing via Idealista was very easy and can be organised within one or two weeks. Other students also found their room via rental websites such as Badi or Piso Compartido

Lastly, some students found their apartment through private contacts in Bilbao. Of course, it is always possible to get a room or apartment via contacts; however, presumably only a few Euroculture students already know people in Bilbao. If this is not the case for you, don’t worry, Euroculture students in the past years were still very happy with the room search options in Bilbao. 

When to look

There is no perfect point in time to start your search, however, it is advisable to start looking for accommodation at least two to three months before arriving in Bilbao. If you’re lucky enough, you may still even find a place at least a week before your arrival! 

Similarly, also if you are looking via Idealista, looking in advance can be a helpful way of orienting yourself to find housing on time. However, it is not necessary to start looking too early, as the rooms on Idealista are often also available on short notice. Some students started looking around Christmas and within one or two weeks, they found a room in Bilbao. Hence, no need to panic right after finding out you are going to Bilbao next semester! Since the housing market is not as saturated (as for example in bigger Spanish cities or the Netherlands), you can first concentrate on other important deadlines, as well as explore all the possible options, and then make a decision for your second-semester room in Spain. 

Where to live

The different areas of a city all come with their downsides and benefits, but it is for sure important to consider where to live, depending on your priorities and standards for a room. Deciding where to live does not only consider the geographic location, though: the details about the house itself are also essential to keep in mind.  


Bilbao is the largest city of the Basque Country in the northern part of Spain, with more than 350,000 inhabitants. It was designated as a UNESCO Creative City in 2014 and is home to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum built alongside the Nervión River. Public transportation is also very accessible, connecting you to all parts of the city and the neighbouring areas. Hence, maybe have a look at the metro connections before deciding on a particular room, as being close to a metro station can make your life a lot easier! Especially if you love the beach, you can take the metro to Plentzia station and Playa de Plentzia is just a walking distance from there! You can also find tram stations or bus stops that take you to places you want to go, so again, it might be worth having a look at the public transport connections before deciding to reserve a room. 

Most Euroculture students live at least one to two kilometres away from the university, which results in a walking time of at least 20 to 25 minutes (or shorter if you ride a bicycle or take a public transport). During the second semester of 2022, there was not one very popular neighbourhood in which all Euroculture students lived. Euroculture students lived in Abando, Casco Viejo, Castaños, San Francisco, Uribarri, Deusto or Indautxu. A few students from the 2023 cohort live in Uribarri, but their apartments are located uphill. But don’t worry, there are escalators in most calles!

These all come with their positive and negative points. In Indautxu, for example, you are relatively close to the city centre, bars, the football stadium and the university; however, if you go out in the old part of town—Casco Viejo—you will have to walk back if the metro is not running anymore during the week. On the other hand, if you chose Casco Viejo to live in, you will be surrounded by old and historic places, as well as cute streets and small bars and cafes (and a bunch of tourists). However, it will probably take you more than 20 minutes to walk to university. All neighbourhoods in which Euroculture students have lived are relatively central, so you should consider all these parts, depending on the location of the accommodation that you would enjoy the most.  

Details about roommates/the house

Most Euroculture students live in a shared flat with one to three people  who are also mostly students at the University of Deusto. As many students use the university renting system, which is available for all incoming Erasmus students, the majority of Euroculture students live with other international students doing an Erasmus semester at the universities in the city. Some students also live in a studio apartment, but the rental price per month, depending on the housing conditions, may be slightly higher. 

For the people who found their accommodation via Idealista, however, it is more common to also live with Spanish students. This is due to the fact that Idealista is used by Spanish students as well, whereas the university system is mainly targeting incoming Erasmus (international) students.

Probably due to the size of the city and the Spanish architecture, the rooms of Euroculture students are mainly in apartment buildings, and, consequently, do not include a garden. Nonetheless, many apartments have a balcony as well as a shared living and dining space. 

What to pay

Let’s talk about money. Yes, a highly relevant topic for students, especially as a majority of Euroculture students are not receiving the Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Bilbao is considered one of the most expensive cities in Spain! If you want to have a look at what other websites say about prices in Bilbao, click here or visit this link

In terms of rent in Bilbao, Euroculture students have paid very different amounts per month. Generally, the range has been between 360 and 550 € per month. A thing to notice here is that some Euroculture students pay their rent in cash every month, which is not a common practice in all European countries but it still is in Spain. If you rent accommodation through the Erasmus Play site, you will only pay a one-month security deposit directly to the property owner. But for Idealista, and especially if you rent through an agency, you often must pay them a separate security deposit equivalent to a one-month rent on top of what you pay to the property owner. 

You read correctly, the accommodation costs in Bilbao are not lower than in, for example, Groningen or Göttingen, and fairly higher than in Kraków or Olomouc. However, consider that public transport, for example, is very affordable – after purchasing an anonymous Barik card (without photo) at any card vending machines (MEAT and miniMEAT) for only €3, you can charge it and then take the metro for a day trip to the beach for less than €4. Similarly, the costs for coffee and pintxos are, for example, very cheap in comparison to Northern European countries – and with that Euroculture cities such as Uppsala or Strasbourg. Whereas the rent is not as cheap as expected for Spain, the living and free-time costs might make up for that. 

Tips from the 2022 cohort

  • I really enjoy living in the old town, it’s very safe and there is always something going on! Look at the different neighbourhoods and the facilities they offer and pick the one you like the best most, everything is fairly close to each other and the metro system is great so it’s not an issue if you live further away from the university.” ~ Suzanne
  • Communicate in Spanish (there’s google translate), use your resources; past students / FB groups …etc. Paying a bit more might be worth it for a good apartment in a good location.” ~ Monica
  • There is definitely affordable accommodation to find in Bilbao, even after your arrival. If you want to be safe and secure something early on, it might get expensive. Also the uni’s homepage does not always provide the cheapest option.” ~ Wiebke
  • “Find something close to the university if you don’t like walking up and down hills because that could be exhausting. Learn some conversations in Spanish or Basque so you can find your way around.” ~ Jackie
  • I personally felt it’s very easy to find accommodation (in comparison to other EU cities). It is also nice that the University can check the landlord before paying the deposit to them. My landlord wanted a deposit and after the uni told me that the landlord offers student accommodation for many years to Deusto students I felt much safer to transfer money.” ~ Ana
  • It is most easy and convenient to find a room through Erasmus Play, as apartment owners need to be certified through the university and therefore are trustworthy. You might not get the cheapest rent, as they rent out the rooms separately, and you only get to live together with other Erasmus students (which, if you look for contact with locals, is limiting), but it is very comfortable.” ~ Gregor

In conclusion  

There are many factors for Euroculture students to consider when looking for an apartment in Bilbao: rental cost, location, distance from the university, size of the room, number of flatmates, among others. But the most important thing to remember is that Bilbao has an excellent urban design, which means every place – even the beach – is accessible by foot, by bike, or through the city’s efficient and cheap public transport system. 

Accommodation searching in Bilbao is rather easy. If you want to secure a room in advance that suits your needs or preferences, you can start looking for an accommodation two to three months before you start your second semester. In case you struggle to find one until the last minute, don’t worry, as some students still secured housing on very short notice. Communicating in Spanish with landlords can be advantageous, and as long as you pay the security deposit in advance, no hay problema

Make the most of your stay in Spain, and enjoy the Basque culture in Bilbao. Ondo pasa!

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