I now have a place to live when I arrive in Madrid. That's right, I have not even left yet, never seen the city, never even been to the continent of Europe, but I have agreed to live in an apartment on the north side of Madrid, an apartment that I have never seen in a neighborhood I have never visited with people I have never met. If it sounds crazy to you, don't worry, it sounds crazy to me, too, and I'm the one doing it.
This came about during my search for a couch to sleep on for my first few days in the city. There is a very cool social networking site called couchsurfing.org that connects travelers from around the world. You sign up, create a profile, and then you can either offer your couch, request to stay on someone's couch, or both. The idea is that you can stay with a local, learn about the culture, get shown around the city, and you don't have to pay for a hotel or a hostel. Anyway, I was on this site, emailing various people to see if they would mind me hanging my hat in their living room for a few days. As I looked at people's profiles, I did my best to filter out the serial killers and overt weirdos while trying not to pick any "cool guys." I wanted to connect with the more laid back, young, chill crowd as that is more my style. After several "no"s and a few "I wish I could but..."s, someone sent me a surprising message. An American expat whose couch I had requested sent me a message letting me know that he had a room available for rent. When I read this message, a sort of psychological warfare began raging in my head. What should I say? How do I respond? If this turns out to be good, would I really accept it without ever having been there? (...the battle was much more extensive, but not worth describing in any great detail). So, I decided to email the guy back and ask some questions. Very quickly and energetically, he responded to my questions with some logistical information concerning the apartment, and here is what I found out...
- 4 bedroom, 2 bath
- Currently, 1 American (23 yrs old) and 1 Spaniard (24 yrs old) looking for 2 new roommates
- Lingua franca of the house = Spanish
- Rent = 335€ (+ utilities...comes out to about 365€ a month) (keep in mind that average for this area would be 400€+)
- Central heating/air, doorman, trash pick up, internet, furnished bedrooms, furnished kitchen, modern living space
- VERY close to two train stations and several bus lines
- In the university district (young population, lots of things to do)
Well, congratulations! At this point, you know as much about the place as I do. Like you, I have never seen it, but unlike you, I will be living there in about 6 days. As with everything else concerning this excursion, only time will tell if I have made the right decision. I will let you know in a few days...