Ok kids. Yes, I’m alive. After a series of (more) spastic events, I have made it to Madrid. I have been completely off the wander-radar for the past two and a half weeks, and if you ask me- I have DAMN good reason.
Why you might ask?
Cause I’ve been HOMELESS.
That’s right. Straight living out of this backpack for the past 3 weeks.
However, I haven’t been “backpacking” in the cool, nomadic, wanderlust way. I’ve been straight HOMELESS (don’t worry mom and dad…not on the streets homeless 😉 ). Not to mention I lost my phone to Rome, only for the beautiful Roman gods to return it to me in some god-forsaken way… in Madrid. Talk about believing in someone up there who loves you!
(Or great people. Yes, they do exist…shout out to Saint Vasco y Angel Ana!)
Anywhoo. As an incoming “Auxiliar de Conversación“ in Madrid, there are about 1,000 of us 20-something-year-old English speakers arriving here at the same time…looking for the same apartments…in the same areas. Not to mention all of the Erasmus and study abroad kids who are arriving to kick off the school year as well. The problem? That leaves about 7,000 of us foreign, poor-Spanish-speaking, well-educated, bright-eyed, young people playing Hunger Games against each other to snag the next available apartment on Idealista. Well you know what I have to say to YOU idealista?
Keep your dumb apartments. We’ll look elsewhere.
To all my homeless sistas and brothas out there livin’ the “vagabundo” (aka HOMELESS) lifestyle like me, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way. You’re welcome, everyone. I’ve made the mistakes for you. Ya’ live and ya’ learn, right? So, to save you all some bonding time with your backpack, I give you…
6 Ways How NOT to Find an Apartment in Madrid.
1. Search for an apartment at the start of a school year (AKA when everyone and their mom is looking).
Well, it just seems logical to look for an apartment when you move to a new city, and start a new exciting chapter of your life—right? WRONG.
SOLUTION 1: Settle for a “one-monther,” or airbnb. Book this babe in advance before your arrival, and you’re golden. This temp “One-Monther ” will give you a nice, comfy bed to sleep in while you gather your war weapons and swing through the daunting cement vines of Madrid (or global city of choice). The benefits of this? Because your “One-Monther” doesn’t have to be anything beautiful in the best-of-the-best locations, it shouldn’t be expensive. Additionally, you won’t feel the stressful time crunch to settle for the first apartment offered to you, because you know you have a place to go home to at night. Not knowing this, many people I’ve talked to are staying at hostels and even hotels. The issue with this? Every day you don’t find an apartment, you’re spending more €€€€ to sleep. This will make you more stressed out, and cause you to SETTLE for something you don’t actually love. Read number #6 to hear what Grandma Shirley says about that…
SOLUTION 2: Or, If you can swing it, arrive earlier than everyone else. This means arriving earlier than your program starts, and earlier than you’re really ready. WHY? Because you’ll beat the “everyone else is arriving in September” (or whatever month you arrive) rush. Chances are, whenever your program starts, so does everyone else’s. And think of how nice this will be: While all your friends and foes arrive and are crying homeless, you’re gonna be kickin’ it in your OWN BED, with your OWN CLOSET, and your OWN KITCHEN! Warning: If you don’t want to be a good friend and house some of your soon-to-be vagabundo program-mates, I wouldn’t recommend this. Buyer beware.
2. Idealista is your only friend (nowww you, don’t be shy… branch out!)
Idealista is pretty much the mother lord of all apartment searching in Madrid. It’s a wonderful resource, don’t get me wrong. However, there’s three problems with our dear(ish) friend Idealista:
1) Everyone uses it. The problem with this? You’re competing against everyone. And trust me when I tell you, everyone is a lot more than the number of apartments being posted daily.
SOLUTION : Use other platforms! Nestpick is a wonderful platform to find already-furnished, affordable apartments. They’ve got an excellent selection of apartments in Madrid! Or, search for postings on Facebook. Here are 3 good groups to join: Madrid Flats & Rooms, Pisos de Alquiler in Madrid, and Madrid Roommate and Flat Search) or Find-Roommate.net.
2) If an apartment is dated more then 2 days ago, it’s probably not available any more. I learned this after about 5 days of straight searching. I was contacting every apartment that was listed, and not understanding why no one was answering me. DUH Casie. The apartments I were reaching out to were listed over 5 days ago. Some even 2 months old. Talk about a waste of time.
SOLUTION: Look for the date that the listing was posted. DUH? You’d think. Also, hit “save” on your Idealista search, and choose to receive e-mails every time a new piso is listed that fits your search criteria. That way, you’ll get a direct e-mail every time a new apartment is posted! The benefit to that? You’re beating out the crowd.
3) There’s way more out there than what’s posted online!!
SOLUTION: Use the feet that the big man G gave you, and WALK. Walk around the barrios (or “neighborhoods”) that you want to live in, and look UP. You’ll be amazed at how many “Alquiler” signs there are. If you see one, CALL!!!
3. E-mail people
Oh, you think they’ll respond to an e-mail? The day pigs fly, maybe. Otherwise…GOOD LUCK.
SOLUTION: Pretend it’s 1970, pick up a phone, and call. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable with your Spanish, send them a Whatsapp message. My advice? Do both.
4. Respond to an “anuncio”…in ENGLISH.
Ok amigos. We are in SPAIN. What does that mean? The spoken language is…drum roll please…SPANISH!! So, if you are calling a 40-year-old landlord along with 50 other Spanish people…he’s not going to give you the time of day and try and understand you. Now, I understand it’s not easy when you don’t speak the language. But, if you want to be taken seriously, here’s my advice:
SOLUTION: Find a generous Spaniard to help you out, orrrr stick with Whatsapp. And consider Spanishdict.com your new realtor.
5. Look with your friends
Got friends? Great! I’m so happy for you. However, finding 2 bedrooms in a shared piso is often harder than finding one. Common sense? You’d think. If you want to live with your BBFLs, here’s what ya gotta do:
SOLUTION: Find completely empty flats, and don’t even bother with shared rooms. It’s a waste time. If you look on Nestpick, there are lots of great filter options to find the apartment of you and your friends’ dreams! Choose the number of bedrooms you want, the type of apartment you want (studio, student residence, 3 bedrooms, etc.), the district you want, if you want a drying rack included… yep, they’ve got you covered.
DON’T DO IT! I’ll never forget the time my Grandma Shirley said to me in her heavy Brooklyn accent, “NEVA SETTLE!” Now, she was talking about men. But men, apartments…same thing, right? You gotta clean up after both of ’em 😉 But really. Grandma Shirley knows best. Don’t rush into an apartment that’s just “OK,” because you won’t be happy in the end! Take your time, get a “One-Monther” if you have to, and find the right piso for you. After all, YOMO! You Only Madrid Once.
BONUS TIP! Find out how much your apartment in Madrid should cost based on the most recent rental averages in each neighborhood on RentIndicator.
SO, now that I finally have the perfect home (and a phone…), I can finally catch you all up on my 3 week Italy-extravaganza! Stayyyyy tuned!
And tell us…Have YOU been searching for pisos in Madrid? Or experienced the “homeless” struggle anywhere else in the world?!? If you’ve got any tips to share, SHARE!