Moving to Madrid: The Apartment Hunt

I am currently sitting crossed-legged on my single bed — fresh sheets from Primark — with my laptop sitting comfortably on (half of) our supposed dining table. I’ve shamelessly claimed and placed it in my tiny room, and thankfully my roommate Jannica understands. That was the only thing I wanted: a desk. And I got exactly that! I have no windows, but I have a desk. My new Madrid haven is complete.

The last 11 days have been a whirlwind of emotions and exhaustion. Every day consisted of desperate calls to landlords and real estate agencies, personal visits to apartments on the other side of the city, and rejections. Multiple, frustrating rejections. We had booked an Airbnb for our first 10 days in Madrid knowing that this would happen, but we had no idea that the apartment hunt was going to be that intense.

Our despedida FB cover photo!

Our despedida FB cover photo!

Jannica and I are friends from Manila, and when we started this journey we had decided that we’d be roommates. We went to our visa application together, booked flights together, and even had our despedida together. Naturally, the apartment hunt was also a burden we shared. That made things both easier and more complicated for us.

Easier… because who would want to struggle with Spanish phone calls alone? The anxiety! We would dial our potential landlords and put them on speaker — one would be talking (or mumbling, really) en español, while the other typed down questions on Google Translate. Team work, amirite? It was nice not being alone.

On the other hand, we’ve made our apartment hunt crazier than it already was because our requirements were quite specific. Too specific. We wanted a 2-bedroom in the center of Madrid, for under 900 euros a month. HAH. That’s a rare find, basically unheard of. Not sure if we were geniuses or idiots to have been so stubborn about that, but hey it worked. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it worked.

On our second to the last day in our Airbnb, I received a Facebook group notification about a 2-bedroom in Malasaña for 850. Serious inquiries only. Move in immediately.

I was in the patio of the lovely home we stayed at for the past week, the sky was darkening, it was getting late, and I was just hanging out on the interwebz hoping for a miracle. When I saw the post, I thought that it was too good to be true, and just like all the other attempts, it would be futile. I hadn’t even told Jannica immediately. I mentioned it nonchalantly when she came out to check on me, but that was it. We didn’t think much of it, but we were hopeful.

The real estate agent spoke perfect english, and she sounded like she truly cared about us finding a place. It was a breath of fresh air, especially after all that we’ve been through, and the heartless (lmao jk) landlords that sent us away. She scheduled us for a visit the following day — our last shot before we had to leave our temporary home. There were no longer Airbnbs available in the center within our budget, and if this hadn’t worked out, we might have found ourselves in a hostel, wasting a whopping €30 a night indefinitely. But even then, there was no guarantee that there would even be beds for us. Hostels in Madrid are packed by tourists.

To say that we were panicking is an understatement.

Palazzo Ice Cream Gran Via

The next day, I walked to the apartment leisurely as I still had time to spare. I bought an ice cream from Palazzo in Gran Vía, and I told myself that I’d enjoy this walk — claiming it — to my new home. I memorized the route, put my phone in my bag, and spent the next 15 minutes just looking up at buildings, humming music in my head, and licking the delicious Trufo-flavored cone. I was in a good, hopeful mood.

Jannica arrived 10 minutes later, and as soon as we met up, our landlord Rafael showed up with his sister as well. We didn’t know if he could speak English, and so out of politeness, I mumbled a quick “hola.” He fumbled with the keys, opened the door, and smiled, “Come on in!”

We immediately felt at ease with both of them. They were friendly and approachable, and they offered so much advice for us. They also chatted about the Philippines and Tagalog, and naturally we felt right at home. In less than an hour, we had paid a reservation fee and scheduled our move for the following day.

Nope, ladies and gents, we are not going to be homeless.

I have a desk. I have a desk!

I have a desk. I have a desk!

My new happy place.

My new happy place.

Thanks to our dedication, hardwork, and sheer dumb luck, we found exactly what we were looking for: a 2-bedroom in the heart of Madrid, just a few minutes’ walk to Gran Vía and other metro stations, a stone’s throw away from grocery stores, bars, and restaurants, and just an hour from our rather provincial school assignments. It has wifi, a washing machine, airconditioning, and a heater. It’s on the 4th floor of a lovely Spanish building, and it has a lift! I have a small room, and I have a desk.

I have a desk.

I HAVE a desk.

Life is so good right now.

Apartment Hunt vlog: