The week we found a house

Actually, it’s a flat. Un piso. Not quite the orange orchard we dreamily aimed for on arrival, but we love it. The four (!) balconies look out across a winding pedestrian street that is currently full of fairy lights, and the rooms are warm enough, furnished and comfortable.

Nuestro_piso
Four of those balconies are ours!

Renting a place in Spain has been a good introduction to the people here. Everyone we’ve spoken to has given us the number of a real estate agent they know, or a friend who might be able to help. We’ve had landlords and agents drive us from our hotel to check out apartments, meet us with a smile and try patiently to communicate, even though our Spanish is still woeful.

It’s also been an interesting interaction with the economic times in the country. I don’t pretend to know anything about it really, but there are hundreds and hundreds of places for sale here; ‘En Venda’ signs (for sale in Catalan) cover many of the balconies. To cover costs in the meantime many of the flats are also available for rent. Our apartment falls into this category. Goodness knows what will happen if the flat sells while we are here.

Given the level of bureaucracy associated with many other aspects of Spanish life, the turn-around time from finding our apartment to getting the keys was surprisingly quick. On Tuesday morning we looked at it – we liked it, tried (unsuccessfully) to bargain the rent down, and got the keys at 6pm on Wednesday afternoon. Easy! To sign the contract all we needed our NIE (those all important National Identity Numbers we waited for in Australia), a bank account, and the cash…

If you do not rent directly from the owner you need to pay a commission to the agent who helped you out. This is normally one month’s rent. That, plus a month’s rent for bond and the rest of the month’s rent in advance meant that we shelled out almost 900 euro in half an hour. BUT, considering that our monthly rent here is similar to a week’s rent in Melbourne, I can’t really complain.

spanish_pillowcase
A big long pillowcase for a big long nap.

Now comes the filling of the house. We have done three junk shop and supermarket runs in the last three days and have got all the essentials: tomato sauce, wine, cutlery and sheets. Did you know that pillows and pillow cases in Spain are sold as one long pillow slip, the same length as the bed? The lovely sheet salesman across the road got his mamá to cut ours in half, to fit our two pillows meant for single beds! The more you learn…

 

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