Apartment Hunting Abroad

While sitting in the airport lounge at O’hare International Airport waiting for our flight to Madrid, Auston and I looked at each other and said, “What the hell our we doing with our lives?” And at least we agreed, “We have no clue.” We laughed at the idea of moving to Spain. How ridiculous! We’d be landing in Spain in about 14 hours with no job, no apartment, and yet no shame. 

Our first few nights were covered at least because Auston’s cousin is doing a study abroad in Madrid and has been living there since August. He and his roommates amiably put us up for three nights while we attempted to settle in. Soon after we arrived, the apartment hunting began and we had one thing in mind, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. When we lived in Chicago, we had to choose our apartment locations based upon where we worked and went to school, though we would’ve much rather lived in better neighborhoods. This time in Madrid, we can work from anywhere and were determined to find a good spot.

On the train to Chicago O'Hare to catch our flight to Madrid

On the train to Chicago O'Hare to catch our flight to Madrid

We then looked into our apartment hunting options. First, there’s GowithOh for vacation rentals. Being that we are technically in Spain as tourists (unless we get the English teaching jobs which are still pending), and are not legal residents, and we want to spend some time in France, finding an apartment through vacation rentals is an easy option. Another similar option for vacation rentals is AirBnB. We’ve also been told about a site called Idealista, but honestly it’s overwhelming. It’s quite difficult to sift through the ridiculous number of unorganized listings on that site and we didn’t spend much time bothering. The last option we looked at was Craigslist.

There were plenty of apartment options on Craigslist, but we suspected we were responding to a couple scams. Gorgeous apartments were located in ideal areas at unbeatable prices. A pattern emerged when we began inquiring about the units. The owner had just moved away for work and wanted to rent it out ASAP. But because they were out of the country and had the keys with them, they couldn’t show us the place immediately. One of the apartments was a steal we couldn't pass up though. After we wired them the money to secure the location, we never heard back. We’re starting to worry because we haven’t even seen the place yet.

Haha. Just kidding! We would NEVER do that.

We basically stopped corresponding with them before we assumed they were about to ask us to wire money to secure the apartment. It happened twice and was just way too sketchy. There were some valid options on Craigslist of course, but we ended up finding a studio apartment through Airbnb – a much more reliable source. It’s a studio apartment in a neighborhood in the center of Madrid called Las Letras, an area with a bohemian vibe where there's plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. We’ve rented it from now through August since we plan to go to France for a few weeks around then. After that, who knows where we’ll live? Depends on the teaching jobs!

airbnb3

Our new living room/bedroom

I'm elated about the apartment even if it is just for four months because we've not had a daily place to call our own in over a year!  However, I have to admit that the two of us living in a small studio scares me a bit. I fear one of us will get cabin fever, get fed up, and end up smothering the other with a pillow in his sleep. I suppose if we stock up on sangria, that should mellow any rising tensions caused by the cramped living quarters. And hey, it’s only a few months. It’s Madrid. It’s about enjoying the city. Not about having a luxurious apartment where I could have a door that closes me from the living room where I know Auston will get up before me and start making a bunch of noise and then wake me up and then I’ll get pissed because I’m a terrible sleeper and I’ll have no where to go because the apartment is a studio and I can’t really get mad at him because it’s not really his fault but I still am mad because I’m not thinking clearly from my lack of sleep.

Oh dear, I’ve gotten off topic… Where was I? Oh yes, we’re super excited about the new place! It’s our first time in a studio and we’re quite optimistic about the experience. :)

Have you ever apartment hunted abroad? What resources have you used? Have you ever shared a studio with a significant other? Are we crazy for trying? Let us know in the comments!

19 Comments on “Apartment Hunting Abroad”

  1. It seems like you managed to set yourself up with an apartment very quickly – congratulations. I’m mighty jealous. I want to be in Madrid. Waaaah. Oh, I forgot to mention – go to Club Nasti!

    1. Yea, we got pretty lucky David! It was only the second apartment we looked at. But the location was so great we couldn’t pass it up. Plus we were very anxious to have a home base. Club Nasti sounds intriguing! We’ll have to check it out. :)

  2. Kent @ NVR says:

    It feels good to have a home base, doesn’t it?

    Have a great time getting to know all about Madrid. We’ll be following along.

    1. It feels fantastic Kent! It’s been too long. I think that’s why we were willing to make a few compromises. Except the location. It had to be good and we’ve been very happy with it thus far.

  3. Sam says:

    Hahaha! This cracked me up. I feel your pain, David. As the one who sleeps in while his partner gets up early in the studio we’re currently renting, I get angry too! Asphyxiation by pillow smothering hasn’t occured to me yet. Good idea, though!

    1. Glad to know we’re not the only couple crazy enough to rent a studio. Auston’s woken up before me every morning so far. No surprise there. At least he knows that having coffee ready will put him on my good side.

  4. Adam says:

    Great that you found a place quickly! Love the typography poster too :)

    Enjoy the studio. Sounds like it’ll be fun regardless.

    1. Thanks Adam. We’re absolutely enjoying it! We’re getting pretty good at making any accommodation situation work. Comes with the territory…

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