Apartment Hunting: Expat Style

So – I’m not really an expert in this topic. Maybe some poeple would say I’m barely a beginner since I’ve only actually gone through this process one time. However, it’s time again for me to start thinking about my next move within Spain. This time – I’m moving to a much smaller city – Cartagena. It’s also a center for tourism. Because of that, I need to carefully look at my criteria for finding an apartment.

Location:

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If it isn’t obvious – my broader location is determined by my program that I am currently here with. However, eventually I would really like to be able to pick my own city. Within a city, there are a few things to consider – do I want to be in a more traditional building in the historic center or would I like to live somewhere a bit further out which might have more conveniences.

Here in Zaragoza, I chose a more traditional building which had been re-done. It is in the center of the city but right at the edge. It had good connections to public transport but it’s close enough to school that I very reasonably can walk every day. The street isn’t the absolute best but it’s by no means crime riddled – if anything it’s just a little abandoned.

Personal Space:

For me, the absolute most important thing is that an apartment/room starts clean. Preferably, I would like it to be painted white or very light colors. I like there to be great natural light. Those three things: clean, painted light colors and lots of natural light, are the biggest things I’m looking for. Also the floors being some sort of tile or wood for the simple reason that it is so much easier to clean.  However, some other things I need to consider are – furnishings (girlfriend is not about to buy a dresser until it’s absolutely necessary), internet speed, and the electrical socket count of a room. I’m not sure if it’s regulated, but I only have two electrical sockets in my room now. I make it work but it is something to consider.

Roommates:

Roommates are one of those things that you may not want but you may end up having. In my last apartment, I shared with up to 4 other roommates. We didn’t share any communal space other than the bathrooms and kitchen. I. Am. So. Glad. Now I have two roommates, with a kitchen and living room – however, my roommates are almost never home on the weekends.

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I could not handle having to contend with my roommates’ decorating or inhabiting communal spaces in an aggressive way. Prior to this year, I spent two years in an apartment in Buffalo where every other room except mine was absolutely full of chachkis, doo dads and just dust. It was a huge apartment, but all that stuff made it feel so small. I would prefer to have a smaller space to live in but for it to remain clean at all times.

It’s also good to see roommates as sort of distant from you in my opinion. We live together but we aren’t lifelong friends. One of my roommates is a lot older than I am. I think in the future something I will look for is the age of my roommates being closer to my own. The oldest roommate last year seemed to have different expectations and customs than the rest of us. In the future, I would appreciate living with people who are somewhere from 25-40 years old.  Mostly done with hard partying, considerate and normally relatively likeminded.

Number of Bathrooms:

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In my five bedroom apartment, we had two bathrooms. At any given time, there are either 2 or 3 people sharing each bathroom. It was never really a problem. If there was only one bathroom – I think we would have some problems to iron out. Now I have two other roommates and we share one bathroom. Again, there’s almost no issue (except for the fact I need to desperately clean).


 

Those are some of the most presient things that I look for when shopping for an apartment. I feel like I mostly struck gold in my current apartment and I have a little bit of worry that this isn’t going to be the case in my next apartment. However, I have faith that I can find something that checks a lot of the most important boxes.

What do you look for in an apartment? Does it differ dramatically from what I look for? Let me know below!

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