Monday, October 17, 2011

Tales of an Apartment Hunt

Blogoworld, I’m sorry. I’ve been terribly negligent with you, and you’ve perhaps thought of giving up on me entirely. I’m going to try to be better, though. I still have no internet at my apartment, so posting is slightly difficult, but I’ll try to be better. When I last wrote, I said I was going to tell about all the problems I’ve had so far, so I suppose now is the time.

Before I left the US, people asked me often whether I was worried because I was moving to a completely new city in a foreign country, and I had no idea where I’d be living. But I brushed them off, saying it would be easiest to figure it out when I got here. Well, I’m here to say now that that may have been a mistake.

Apartment hunting was way harder than I thought it would be. Apparently I had slightly too many expectations, although they seemed simple enough to me. They were that I wanted to: a) live with people my own age, b) have internet at home and c) live close to the city center, and I hoped if possible that I could: d) live with Spaniards or other foreigners, e) have a nice apartment and f) get along with my roommates. The last three were not requirements, but I wanted to try for them if possible.

During my first two weeks, I scoured about 9 different apartment hunting sites (including,,, etc.) for listings that sounded interesting and sent messages to the people listing the apartments. However, I didn’t think to look at first at when the places were listed, so oftentimes I was contacting people about listings that had been online for weeks or months and had been filled long ago. Now, in my opinion these people should have taken the listings down when they were filled…but I digress. So it took me a few days to figure out that I should only contact people about listings that had been done in the last week at the most.

Once I did that, I started getting responses, and once I finally got a phone I was able to call some people back and set up some appointments. I saw a few apartments during that first week. One was a youngish Spanish couple looking to rent out their second bedroom, but they didn’t have the internet. Another was a 45-year-old (ish) woman who wanted to have me rent her bedroom and she would go sleep in her big closet. Then there was an apartment full of international students, but it was far from the city center and it didn’t have the internet. None of these satisfied my three basic requirements, so I decided to keep looking.

After I had been in a hostel for a week, though, I started getting worried about how much money it was costing me to stay there (30 euro a night), and so I got anxious about finding a place as soon as possible. Finally I saw a place that I really liked, on a recommendation from another auxiliar. It was an apartment with a German girl and a Thai girl, both Erasmus students, and it was cute and close to the city center and it had the internet. Plus I seemed to get along really well with the German girl, from what I could tell after meeting her for 10 minutes. So I told her on the spot that I wanted to come live there, and she immediately called her landlord.

…However, he told her that he had already found someone to rent the room. She was very angry that he hadn’t told her, and that he had gotten a male when they only wanted to live with females, and so she tried to convince him to let me live there instead, but it was a no go. I was extremely disappointed and felt very disheartened about the whole apartment searching process.

So I kept looking at internet listings and made some more appointments, but then I got the stomach flu and couldn’t leave my bed for 4 days. After I finally felt better, I had almost been in the city two weeks and had no apartment and hadn’t been able to go get my NIE (foreigner identification number) or get a bank account or do any of the other things that I had planned on getting done before school started.

I went to look at the apartments where I had the rest of my appointments, and they all turned out to be older ladies renting out rooms in their apartments to students. That was just not what I wanted, and I didn’t want to settle for something that I hated and then be miserable for the whole year. So I decided to keep looking, even though I was running low on money from staying in a hostel and I was getting worried that I wouldn’t find a place before school started.

Luckily, though, my fellow auxiliares D and V realized that they had an extra bedroom in their apartment and let me come look at it. It was nice, close to the city center, they were planning on getting the internet, they are around my age, and I enjoyed their company, so I took it on the spot. I really like the place, actually. It has character. It belongs to an elderly woman, so there were all sorts of glass knick-knacks all over the place, and about thirty tea sets in the tearoom, and paintings from pre-Civil War Spain on all the walls. The best part is that there is this awesome retro tv in my room (that probably doesn’t work, but it looks so sweet), and my bed is a radio (which actually does work). Yes, you heard me right…the bed is a RADIO. Coolest. Thing. Ever.

I do regret slightly not being able to live with Spaniards or other foreigners, just to be able to learn about culture and language at home and to have built in people to teach me about Vigo, but I’m not really disappointed in my living situation. Not everything is always the way you dream it will be, after all. I just have to work a little harder to make Spanish friends, that’s all. And there are certain advantages, including being able to come home and relax and speak English after a long day and having people to whine about my Spain-induced problems with. So it’s not so bad after all. I’ve been here two weeks and we haven’t had any problems yet (well, except for not knowing how to manually change a gas tank in order to get the hot water to work, and not having the internet yet), so things are pretty good.

After all that text, I will now reward you with pictures of my apartment, including the evil gas tank and my awesome radio bed. Get ready to be pretty much blown away. 

Radio. Bed. Need I say more? And check out that awesome retro tv.

The tea room. How cute!

Kitchen, obviously.

Bathroom, nothing too exciting.

Laundry room

View from the laundry room

Stupid gas tank.

Our elevator door. TARDIS blue. :)

View from our living room (which I forgot a picture of, sorry...but it has a chandelier!)


  1. Tea sets, nice! That gas tank looked like a keg for a second. Glad you found a place! No one tells you how hard it actually is!!! It was difficult for me too. Good luck with everything else!

  2. The funny thing is I'm pretty sure the gas tank needs to be tapped like a keg as well. I'm still not entirely sure how it works!

  3. I'm about to move to Vigo to work as an auxiliar in Nigrán, and I just wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated reading some of your posts about getting settled. Even when it seemed like everything went wrong, you were still able to make it work, which gives me courage to do the same.
    ¡Thank you/grazas/gracias!


    1. And thank YOU for saying that! It's really gratifying to know that my writing is helpful for other people. It is harder than some people want to admit, but usually things work out in the end. I'm sure I'll be meeting you soon in Vigo, but until then, good luck!