House Hunters International

Authored by:
Danny S.

Danny S.

The Search

Skipping past orientation and my homestay for the time being, I wanted to talk about housing. If I remember the number correctly, approximately 2,000 expats move to the Madrid area in September. Some are moving for school, and others to do what I am doing. I was lucky in that I started orientation earlier and arrived on the 20th of August. This meant I was beating the rush. During my minimal downtime during orientation I started looking online for housing near my school. A lot of other participants in the program wanted to live close to the city center but this didn't appeal to me. I wanted to live with native Spanish speakers, be close to my school, and keep my rent lower so I could use my money for travelling and experiences. 

The first night of my search I sent 6 messages, but my phone wasn't working properly and sent via regular text and NOT through WhatsApp. Almost everyone here uses WhatsApp because you can use it on the WiFi and its free that way (think Facebook Messanger). This means I only received 1 message back from someone my age with an apartment that was a 15 minute walk from my school. My friend Camille came with me to check it out the following evening. It was within my price range and the location was perfect. Alex, the roommate I met, seemed really great too. She gave me a contract so I could look over it. My phenomenal orientation leader looked over it for me and said it was a perfectly normal contract so I messaged Alex and said I wanted it. I had to remember that places here aren't the same as in the US. Rooms are smaller, and things are not so up to date. Overall though, I was insanely lucky.

Things I Wanted vs. What I Got

  • Walking distance of school
  • 15 Minute walk from school
  • 450€ max rent and utilities
  • 400€ with everything included
  • Good roommates! This has been an issue for me a lot in the past and was really important for me
  • 2 wonderful roommates! There was a roommate switch just a few days after I moved. It was for the best for sure!
  • Safe and quiet area
  • Neighborhood mostly filled with older people so it is very quiet
  • 2 bathrooms 
  • 2 bathrooms
  • Clean
  • 2 very clean roommmates and therefore a clean home

The Early Roommate Drama

I paid for September 1st but wasn't moving in until the 7th, and on the 7th the other roommate decided she wanted to move out. Alex wasn't upset about this because she didn't seem like the best roommate to have. I offered to post in the CIEE group because it was the time that most of the people were coming in. I posted in the Facebook group and had 4 responses within an hour. I was messaging one of them while sitting in Madrid with a Camille. I looked next to me and realized the guy I was messaging was sitting one person away from where we were. I went over and talked to him although I was sure I was being creepy. Luckily it worked out, he's wicked cool and he met Alex the next day. 

Current state of bathroom renovations

Now I have two roommates- Alex and Callum. Alex is from Spain but worked/studied in England for 2 years. She teaches English here and has perfect English. Callum studied in Spain before and speaks pretty good Spanish himself. We all get along really well, and they have both been SO helpful. For a while I wouldn't run any errands without one of them. I immediately felt comfortable with both of them and we decided to start a little band. Callum plays guitar and sings, I am working on the keyboard (because I bought one here) and sing, and I am teaching Alex the ukulele. Its really fun and I'm extremely happy with my home life here. Plus Camille works at the same school with me and lives right next to the school. This means she comes over a lot too. Its a very nice little group I've got here.


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