Flat-Finding Faux Pas
As I enjoyed a warm, sunny afternoon towards the end of a family holiday in France, it suddenly dawned on me that I should probably think about somewhere to live when I get to Madrid. There would be nothing worse than spending my first few nights in Spain sharing a cardboard box down an empty alleyway with a litter of stray kittens and a bad case of hypothermia.
Many people arrive at their destination and stay in a hostel for a few nights whilst flat hunting during the day. This is a perfectly good idea and a safe way of checking who you’ll be living with for the next few months. However, being the nervous wreck that i am when it comes to change, I thought it was best to have a look online.
There are plenty of websites (easypiso, segundamano, Craig’s List, idealista etc) that enable people to find rooms/flats/houses for rent. I was interested to discover that on one particular website the majority of advertisements went a bit like this:
“Dos laid back chicos looking for a bit of fun aged between 30-40. One spare bedroom to rent, including internet and central heating. ONLY ACCEPT CHICAS IN THEIR TWENTIES. PREFERABLY GUAPAS”
OK. I exaggerate a bit, but I’m not fibbing when I tell you that there are a lot of “lonely” single men out there looking for a 20 something housemate. Safe to say I steered clear of these particular advertisements.
Eventually I came across the perfect flat. Or so I thought…
It was quite central, very cheap and I’d be living with two “fun-loving” and “friendly” chicas. Note: the word “chicas” meaning “girls” in English implies that they must be around my age/in their late twenties. Oh no, my friend, it seems that something had been slightly lost in translation.
I had been emailing the main “chica” advertising the room to rent and I was extremely close to paying the deposit, when I thought It would be a good idea to actually research the area I’d be living in and the people who i’d be living with. So I did…and this is what I found:
1. I was actually going to be living in the outskirts of Madrid in an ever so slightly dodgy and industrial area… but of course that wouldn’t matter as long as I was careful.
2. After a lot of Facebook stalking and name-Googling I came across the Facebook profiles of my potential housemates… two large Latin American ladies (so not what I thought when I read the word “chicas”) in their mid- to late-40s with an evident passion for thick, cement-style foundation, lashings of lippy and shovel loads of eyeshadow, not to mention an interesting assortment of fishnet tights, and tight boob-squidging tops in a myriad of colours.
I’m sure they were perfectly nice people, and they did indeed look “fun-loving and free”, in fact maybe a little too much. The only problem was that I didn’t really fancy a year of living with these beauties when I could find a flat much closer to the centre of Madrid (that was my excuse when I politely turned them down).
Now I have a flat booked with 5 other Spanish people who are much younger and more normal than the previous ladies I was telling you about. So, the moral of the story is:
Please, please please do your research on where and who you’ll be living with before paying a deposit on a flat when sorting out your year abroad. I suppose most normal people would have had a bit more common sense than me but I’ve learnt from mis errores.
Oh, and remember, if a “care-free, sociable, fun lovin’ chico” contacts you offering you a cheap room right in the centre of the city, think twice. It most probably means you’ll be sharing a squeaky double bed with a stubbly 36-year old man (although I’m sure some of you would quite like the idea of that. Message me and I’ll send you his address).
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