Today marks my first week in Madrid. I’m back in my beloved Spain, the land of jamón, patatas bravas y café con leche. While I’m SO incredibly grateful and happy to be here, I’m not expecting this to be study abroad part dos.
If you applied to the North American Language and Culture Assistants program through the Spanish government, remember: you are on your own, folks! That includes finding accommodation for when you first arrive, finding your apartment, and of course, making friends. The orientation provided earlier this month was…somewhat useless.
Just a forewarning: save as much money as you can! They suggest about 1000, but depending on how much your fianza is and rent, that might be all the money you save. I’m not quite sure when I’ll actually get paid in October either. I heard Madrid is pretty good at paying you on time though. Read more about the cost of moving here.
As an auxiliar, you have access to Facebook groups like: Auxiliares de conversación en Madrid and Auxiliares de conversación 2014-2015. It’s the best resource. There’s information on dentists, hairdressers, where to fix your Macbook, etc.
It was through that website that I found Alyssa. She’s another auxiliar, on her fourth year in Madrid. For 10 euros a night, much cheaper than a hostel or AirBnB, I stayed in her piso. I had to take the metro into the city, about a 20-30 min, but I got to learn the metro lines pretty well. Seems productive in the long run!
I found my apartment on my second day. I was determined to settle in immediately. I used all my saldo (phone credit) to call numbers off of Idealista, trying to set up appointments with as many people as possible. I also walked around the barrios I liked, calling numbers as I explored the city.
I was looking for two available rooms, since Mackenzie and I were trying to live together. This blog was my favorite during my apartment search.
The apartment I found was centrally located, near the Opera metro. It’s a quick walk to everything. About 3 minutes to both Sol and Plaza Mayor, 10 minutes to Malasaña and Chueca, and 20 minutes to Retiro.
In hindsight, I could have searched a little harder for an apartment, but it was within my budget (400 euros for everything included), my roommates were awesome, and I was in the city center. I live in a ten bedroom piso with international students: Tobias (Cologne, Germany), Valentina (Bologna, Italy), Clara & Laura (Madrileñas), then two of my American friends, Paige and Mackenzie. It’s great for us because we can practice our Spanish with our roommates!
I had to pay Lucas one month fianza, depost, and then September rent. We all split what we need for the common areas and bathrooms (paper towels, trash bags, etc.)
I’m glad that I came a little bit early to have downtime to explore the city and settle in.