In January, I decided it was time to move. Since living in Spain, I’ve had like 10 rotations of roommates. While in general, I wasn’t bothered, I suddenly realized I needed to live alone. It all came to a head when yet another new roommate moved in. They (don’t really want to reveal a gender here) were seriously obscenely loud. They were constantly smoking weed inside. Oh and they were just disgustingly unclean.
While in general – this person was nice enough – I just couldn’t live with other people anymore. I started my apartment search seriously in the end of January. The problem was – there just aren’t very many one bedroom apartments in Cartagena. For those who are looking for an apartment in Spain, there are many options for how to look. You can go directly to companies and ask them to let you know when certain types of apartments become available. You can cruise the photos at companies around town and look for something you like. But let’s be honest. It’s 2019 and all of us just use the internet here.
There are three main sites to use – idealista, fotocasa and milanuncios. In general, I used idealista because I liked that they had a way to give a specific area on a map you were looking for and they also had e-mail reminders of new apartments that fit my criteria.
I only saw two apartments. The first was a studio – I think it came out to be more expensive than where I live now and it was really weird. I didn’t take any pictures (sorry) but basically there was this weird industrial tube lighting and no oven. There was decent natural light and a nice enough bathroom but it didn’t make up for the weird layout. The unit itself shared a common area with what the landlord was using as a storage room. I just didn’t really get good vibes.
The second apartment I saw was significantly better (duh, I live here now). The visit was similarly weird though. When I arrived, there was a woman and her very young son. She was sitting in the living room watching TV. The reason this was weird for me was that doing simple things like checking the bed comfort or opening the closets seemed really personal. I noticed the large windows and decent sized kitchen and I decided to give a deposit. I didn’t take any pictures. I didn’t specifically make tons of notes. I knew that the market was such that if I didn’t take this apartment, someone else would. They let me know that I could move in on the 5th of March and that they would have someone clean the entire apartment before that.
Flash forward about a month. I went and got the keys. I decided that night to stop into the empty apartment just because I was excited and I got a huge surprise. And not a good one. It was absolutely filthy. It was dark and I still could tell the level of cleanliness. First off, there were tons of personal affects left behind from clothes to magazines to scraps of towels to lamps. I rented this apartment furnished so obviously I didn’t mind any of the furniture. It was everything else that was a problem. The open containers of food and the dishes in the sink; the random broken chairs and salt lamp; the smell of nacho cheese. It was all too much for me.
This is my ninth apartment in my life. I know things aren’t going to be perfectly clean. This was filthy. There’s a difference. I got in touch with the company that I was renting from immediately to let them know my horror. (That sounds like an exaggeration but truly – I was horrified). It was evident that no one had come to clean. Not even to clean out. I was really upset at my company and immediately let them know of my feelings.
The next day, the company had someone to clean out the apartment. They told me it took around 7 hours to finish. I stand by the fact that they should have done this in the previous days and not waited until I was upset. But they were pretty quick in their response to me.
Over the next couple of days, I began moving things to the new apartment. Just a reminder: I don’t have a bike. The first two or three loads were done by taking my suitcases over in a taxi. I would then unload whatever I had immediately and took the suitcases back for future load. This system actually worked pretty well for me to be honest because suitcases have wheels. While the new apartment wasn’t terribly far – for me it was far enough to not walk with my suitcases on cobbled streets. I was able to pack a little more haphazardly (aka not removing things from hangers) and quickly.
The Saturday after I got my keys, my best girl friend, Elena, took me to Ikea. Seriously, Elena is a saint. I told her just about every minute. She is the most helpful human on earth. Our trip to Ikea was incredibly fun and it was her first time eating meatballs! The main things I needed to get at Ikea were kitchenware. I bought some plates, cutlery, pots, pans and knives. The one piece of furniture I got was the desk that I can work at. This is something I absolutely need in every house for writing, planning and working on lesson plans. I also got a couple of decorations and a new plant. I had a strict list so I was able to get everything I needed in around an hour from start to finish.
The next day Elena offered to help me again (have I mentioned what a saint she is). I thought she just was going to give me a ride with my last couple of boxes – something which would have been more than enough – but she stayed and CLEANED WITH ME. She figured out how to clean my floor to ceiling windows. She ran home and got a vacuum and cleaning supplies. Her mom actually made a cameo by spotting me from the streets and telling me to let her know if I need more help. Seriously – salt of the earth people. By the time Elena left, I felt so much better about everything.
The final mandatory purchase for me was a mattress pad. I knew this was something I needed. The bed here is awful. I am not a diva but I do have some back and shoulder problems. I needed a decent bed. So I went and paid and arm and a leg for a memory foam mattress topper.
Overall, I would say every part of this move was expensive – maybe around 600 Euros for all aspects. My rent in this apartment is 450 Euros a month. While I will say that I feel that’s expensive I have to kick myself in the ass and remind myself what a bargain it is. I am in the center of a city in a mostly pedestrian area. I’m a 5 minute walk to the port and this apartment is closer to my school. The idea of having a central apartment in most cities by myself would be completely impossible. It would just be too expensive. A room would be more expensive often (I gave it a google and on average single rooms in a shared apartment are minimum 500 Euros a month).
I am really content to be living alone. I do not miss roommates even for a minute. I’m able to get ready faster in the morning. I’m able to cook when I want, shower when I want and I don’t feel uncomfortable using the whole space. While it is more cleaning, I don’t mind the maintenance.