Having moved to Valencia in September 2016 to start my year abroad, and finding the hunt for accommodation such a struggle, I thought I would write a list of my top 5 hacks when it comes to nipping it in a bud! I wish I had been more prepared when it came to flat hunting, as I would have avoided having to wait for over a month to move in, paying to keep my three suitcases in storage (yes I know I over packed!) and the stress that came along with it.
I hope my experience can help you in some way!
- Look before you leave!
As much as I gave this a go, I didn’t do it nearly enough. I had a quick stroll through the various websites I’d had recommended to me by friends, seen some rooms I liked the look of, and then shut down the tabs. I didn’t send any emails, contact any landlords, and instead thought that when I arrived in sunny Spain everything would magically fall into place. Do not fall into this trap! Getting replies from landlords takes time. Finding rooms that are still available takes time. Many of the rooms advertised are no longer available, and in fact haven’t been for months! The websites don’t bother to remove them from the listings. Be aware of this! Be prepared, and your search will be a lot quicker.
- Try before you buy!
Something I didn’t know before arriving is that most websites won’t let you look around the flat beforehand. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it is the case with sites such as ‘Easypiso’, and ‘Beroomers’, unless you find a nice landlord willing to make an exception. I had no such luck, and was almost caught out by this several times. Luckily, in hindsight, the flats I applied to live in on these sites got rejected because they were already taken.
The reason I recommend looking around before you agree to a contract or pay a deposit, is because photos can be so deceiving! In the first week I arrived I went to look around a flat I liked. The photos made it look okay – spacious living area, desk and wardrobe in every room, and best of all, for only €200 a month. The reality could not have been more different! There were no windows in the kitchen, bathroom or in the bedroom I was being offered. This bedroom was also different to the one I had viewed online, as the other girl living there decided she wanted that room and as we arrived, was in the process of moving her things in. The floor was blood red, which, in a flat with little light, created a horrible atmosphere. The girl living there told me in no uncertain terms to NOT move in. She said nothing worked, she felt depressed there, and was only living there because she paid €150 for her room and was moving out soon.
That was a big lesson for me. I would rather be patient than move in somewhere that I can only describe as nothing short of a prison cell.
- Don’t overpack!
One of the biggest stresses that came with flat hunting, was finding somewhere to keep my luggage. Luckily for the first week, I was in an AirBnB, and therefore kept my things with me. When this time was up, I moved into a hostel, and as you can imagine, it is not realistic to lug three suitcases into a shared room of 6. I decided to keep them in storage at Valencia train station. This meant that every time I needed something from one of them, I had to pay €5 euros to open the locker, and €5 euros to close it. It was €5 a day. This adds up, trust me! I also had no idea where everything was because I had so many bags, and generally the whole thing would have been much easier if I’d packed less! You don’t actually need that much, I must have thought I was moving to the moon! In reality, it’s nothing Zara or Mac can’t solve.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
At first when I was flat hunting, I was so determined to find a flat myself that I spent hours and hours trawling through websites with little success. I was so set on focusing my time on it, that I didn’t reply to the messages my friends had sent offering to help. People who have already done it, sometimes have the best advice, and may be able to pass on the details of their own landlord.
My best friend offered to let me live with her for the three weeks I was waiting for a flat, and at first I felt it was too much of a burden to say yes. In the end I realised it was the best thing to do, and I’m so happy I said yes and took her help, because we had such a good time living together and it made such a difference to that period of time.
- Don’t give up!
I’m not joking when I say I looked into an interruption of study when I was looking for accommodation! (I can be a bit of a drama queen) I know this is so ridiculous and I laugh when I think of that now, but I was so fed up and I couldn’t settle whilst living out of a suitcase. It’s so important to persevere. It will all turn out fine in the end, so keep looking, keep pestering landlords, and don’t give up!