Trust me when I say the first few weeks after moving abroad are the hardest. This year, Spencer and I arrived about a week apart, therefore I had plenty of time to search for the perfect piso all by myself.
This year we knew all of the things we didn’t want and all of the things that were a necessary upgrade from last year. We wanted to have a real fridge with a freezer (not a mini fridge), an oven, more space, neighbors without babies, less mold and a better location. Our little box that we lived in last year was good to us and we thankfully escaped days before the black mold killed us, but we just knew we could live much, much better for just a little bit more money.
As soon as I arrived, I hit the ground running, but the search was not going well. What started with enthusiasm and excitement quickly turned to ugly tears and frustration. Every apartment that I toured just made me feel more hopeless than before.
I finally found a wonderful place with TWO balconies, only to be denied once the woman realized our American identity. Ouch. Then I stumbled upon another too-good-to-be-true piso, which led to a roller coaster of emotions and a potential scam. The crazy landlady, if you can even call her that, insisted that we leave nearly 2,000 euros with the woman downstairs at the bakery, claiming that we would receive our keys when she arrives back in town………. yeaaaaaah, no. But thanks for stringing me along for four days!
At last, I wasn’t alone and Spencer arrived like the knight in shining armor that he is and I was thrilled to have someone to share my misery with. We found what looked like a great piso online and I really thought that it was “the one” from the pictures we saw. Two bedrooms, brand new appliances–really, everything looked great! We showed up for our appointment and quickly realized that we had to be the butt of some cruel joke because there was no way this tiny, tiny place was big enough for a mouse, let alone two human beings. Now that I think about it, I don’t even think it had a bathroom…
So, as the sun set and the rain began to pour, we embarked on the long walk back to our hostel, dreading the idea of adding yet another night to this homeless adventure. I fought back tears as we walked through the rain, when suddenly we stumbled across a building with a “for rent” sign on the door. We went inside and inquired to the “porteria.” Angél, a little man teeming with energy, jumped up and offered to show us the available flat. Rather than walking, he bounced around like a chatty little Spanish leprechaun while we followed him down the corridor. He showed us a wonderful piso, but unfortunately, it wasn’t furnished. We thanked him for his time, when suddenly he insisted that we follow him to a different building where his best friend had an unadvertised place available. As much as I appreciated his refreshing, cheery spirit, I was mentally prepared to find another atrocious flat. But as soon as he unlocked the door and welcomed us inside, we knew we had found “the one.” Spencer and I exchanged our first smiles in days and the rest was history. Angél really lived up to his name after all… and he has even invited us to go on a road trip with his equally adorable family.
So here’s a photo tour of our cozy little piso. Remember, this is not how I would ever, ever, ever decorate in a permanent residence, but this is very temporary and until my life is a bit more stable and the money runneth over, this is what we’re working with.
We hung the flags for a fajita fiesta we hosted this weekend… they might not stay for long… but they’re better than an empty wall, I suppose.
We have totally upgraded to 1.5 bedrooms this year! Although technically a bedroom, we use it for storage. And if you come visit, we will make it a cozy, yet slightly claustrophobic, guest room for you.
We may not have much, but we have a bidet.
Our gloomy bedroom corner.
But thankfully the view from the bed is a bit brighter.
Our kitchen with an non-working oven, no counter space and a real fridge!
For a grand total of 600 euros per month–only 100 more than last year–we nearly doubled the size of our old place, found a great location right on top of the metro, have quiet neighbors that aren’t running from the police, and most importantly, we live in what is finally a comfortable home away from home. It was totally worth the wait.
If you ever get the urge to send me some Chipotle, craft beer, or a classic handwritten note, our address is:
Paseo General Martinez Campos 4 4° INT DCHA
Madrid, Spain 28010
And lastly, thanks to all of my Spanish friends who hosted me, made phone calls, translated, cooked me meals and encouraged me through the stressful search!