Flat-Finding Faux Pas

Flat-Finding Faux Pas

This article was written by Sophia Imeson, published on 27th August 2013 and has been read 37256 times.

Sophia is studying English Literature and Spanish at Exeter University and is spending her year abroad at the Universidad de Alcalá, 35km north east of Madrid. Here is her advice about the wonders of Googling potential flatmates...

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).

For 20% off the booking fee for your accommodation abroad, visit UniPlaces.com and use code THIRDYEARABROAD :)

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