If you’ve been following my blog, then you know the first thing my flat mate told me when I returned to Spain. I immediately told everyone I know, posted on Spain’s equivalent of Craigslist, milanuncios. posted on the auxiliar FB group and posted fliers on lamp posts around town.
For a week, nothing happened. No interest. Nada (nothing). Nadia (No one).
And then over the next 2 weeks I hear from 5 people: Here are the stories.
1. I receive an email through milanuncios.
I’ll give you an overview of what was exchanged (all in Spanish, of course)
Hi My name is Antonio. I live in Barcelona but the city is choking me. I’m suffocating here. I need a change. I’m unemployed but collecting unemployment. I’m a quiet, easy going guy and expect the same from the people I live with. He included his number.
I responded a day later. My first question: Have you been to Roquetas? Roquetas isn’t the place most people from a big city are going to move to unless they have something lined up or know someone. I say a bit about myself and mention I love to cook.
He responds: No, I’ve never been to Roquetas but I’ve been to Malaga (you can’t compare the two.) How old are you? I hope this question doesn’t bother you. I’m sure I’m a better cook than you… tells me more about himself and then says: Please send photos of yourself so I know who I’ll be living with.
No thanks. This is not a dating site. I’m looking for a flat mate not a lover. Then the real kicker: He’s included photos of himself, both head shots,. One he’s lying against a pillow with his tongue sticking out. Oh. So not sex. Not attractive. Not ok.
I ignore the email and thankfully I don’t hear from him again.
2. A guy calls to see the place and comes over. The moment I see him I know, it’s not going to be a match. Just a gut feeling. Then when he doesn’t greet me and starts telling me he prefers to live alone but it’s expensive. I think, well good because I won’t say yes, anyway. He sees the room and is disappointed there is no cable for the TV. He asks if he can put a hole through the wall. No. Don’t think so. He says, he’s looking at more places and he’ll call me if they don’t work out. ( polite way of saying, not interested. But I ask his name, just in case, he calls, I can quickly say, Sorry. Not available.
3. A man calls and asks the cost of the room. 150 euros + gastos (expenses). He says that’s expensive + gastos.. How about 100 euros? No puedo ( I can’t).
Just for the record, 150 euros +gastos for a room in Roquetas is a good deal and with a view of the ocean, an even better deal!!!
With 1 in 5 people unemployed in Spain, any amount of money for rent is expensive if you’re not making any money. It appears people interested in sharing, are only interested because they want to pay less. They’re not interested in getting to know me.
4. A woman calls (finally a woman) and asks if it’s still available. I tell her the location but she’s confused. I give her the 3 landmarks in my area of Las Salinas, Roquetas and she still doesn’t seem to get it. She never came by. What part of, if you at the mall, go straight towards the beach. I’m the building before the beach next to Hotel Colonial. What part don’t you get?
5. A man calls, asks the price and asks to come over. He slips in he has a 2 month old baby. I say, the piso is too small, the room is too small. He says, No pass nada, no pass nada. (it doesn’t matter/don’t worry). There is a sound of desperation in his voice.My brain is trying to think in Spanish and English and I don’t think to say the simple but important words: No quiero vivir con un bebe. (I don’t want to live with a baby.) Adios. So he comes over. I know I’m wasting my time and his.
He’s with his brother, there both in there 20’s and they’ve just come from work 50 km (35 miles) where they pick oranges. Before I enter the complex, I mention my contract is only till the end of May, hoping they’ll say, never mind. They come up, They acknowledge they’re dirty from working in the orange orchards. They have to find a place quickly because the owner’s son is moving into the house. He looks at the room and seems surprised/disappointed but the smallness of the room doesn’t stop him. We go into the living room and he tells me, Tengo un mujer ( I have a wife) and un bebe. Lots of thoughts are flashing in my head. Why did I think it would be easier to say yes come over rather than just say, no? Eh, Lauren. Now he’s in your piso! But then there wouldn’t be a story…
It gets better.
People can stay over, yes? How long? Assuming he’s thinking if a friend comes over for the night. A month. He (My brother) needs a place to stay. He’ll pay you. It’s ok, right? I’m in shock. A family has stepped into my piso and sees no issue with 4 adults and a baby living in a piso designed for a couple or a family on holiday.
” I have a 100 euros in my pocket, I can pay the rest in 10 days. He repeats, thinking I don’t understand.
I continue trying to be nice, passive American, by saying, I need to think about it, which really meant! NO FUCKING WAY? What’s happening right now? There’s nothing to think about! The brother asks for a yes or no and I say, sorry, but it won’t work. As they walk out, the brother says, how about 100 euros for the room. I say, no. It’s expensive. Well I pay the same. Ant that was that.
I’ve now decided I only will allow a woman to live with me and I will screen calls, even if it’s difficult in Spanish. I don’t owe anyone anything. this is my place, my space.
But more importantly, I think I’m meant to live alone. When the woman called, I was relieved she didn’t show up. A big indicator of what I really want.
Friends, Now you know I officially have a spare room in my piso so PLEASE COME VISIT. I have my piso until May 31. Book your tickets already! See you soon!
Do you have any crazy stories of trying to find a flat mate while living abroad? In general?
Please share in the comments below. Thanks.
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