There should be challenge-type TV show where contestants have to compete to find an apartment in Sevilla.
After running away from my previous job and town, the first things I had to do were find a job and an apartment. I checked into an Airbnb in Sevilla – the only one that was available for the dates, price range, location and number of people that I wanted (my parents and sister had came and would stay with me for the week). Still, it wasn’t fully available and I needed to book a hostel for one day afterwards. I had to try my best to find an apartment by the end of the week, because staying in Airbnbs can get expensive. So, I immediately started the apartment hunting process.
Unsure of where to look, I asked the few contacts I had in Sevilla – a random girl I met on the streets who asked me if I was a tourist, the woman I was renting the Airbnb from and the director of my workplace (who hired me two days later). Most of them referred me to websites I could check that were mostly in Spanish or to places they have heard of which were way over my budget. There was no way I would get my own apartment as the rent here is expensive, but if I found a shared place, the rent would cost about half of what I would pay in Canada.
I consulted each of the websites, about nine of them, and only found two listings that seemed to fit my requirements.
I then posted in a Facebook group that I was new to the city and really needed an a place to stay. Shortly after, I received a message from someone saying he was looking for someone to share his apartment. I arranged a visit that day and was glad I did. The place was a bit more expensive than what I was looking for but it was in a great location, and had everything I needed. I told the tenant I was interested, and he told me to get back to him within two days.
I spent the next two days researching more websites, just to have something to compare the first one to. A few of them had English or French versions, which made things easier. But since those are geared toward foreign students, most of the places were already taken, and need to be booked six months in advance.
I decided that I would go with the one I visited. I message the tenant telling him I wanted to visit one more time to confirm. Shortly after, he let me know that it was no longer available.
So, with two more days left in my Airbnb, I scrambled through the rest of the search process. It kind of went like this:
Trying to find a student housing centre at the university:
Me: (walking into the university administration office) Hi! Where can I go if I’m looking for student apartments?
Women: I don’t know. Try walking in the hallways looking for ads. Or maybe go to the city library.
Me: Ok… (walking in the hallways, there are no ads) To some students: Hi! Do you know where the city library is?
Students: No sé. But try asking in that office in the back.
Me: (walking in to the office) Hi! Where can I find information about housing?
Man: (With a very heavy Sevillian accent) Hablas español?
After listening to my broken/Mexican Spanish, he basically told me to come back the next day when the international student centre would be open, but he wasn’t sure how much they would be able to help me.
Responding to a housing ad
Walking down the hallway, I saw an ad! Someone was looking to share an apartment. I took the number down. That night, I messaged her asking for information about the apartment. The conversation kind of went like this:
Me: (in Spanish) Hi, I saw your ad. I’m looking for a place. Can you give me some information?
Girl: Hola! I can call you and we can talk.
Me: Do you understand English or French? I probably won’t understand you over the phone.
Girl: No… no hablas español?
So not only wouldn’t I be able to communicate well with her, she lived with her husband who also only spoke Spanish, and the rent was over my budget.
Visiting a housing agency
I headed to a housing agency that helps people find shared accommodation . When I got there, it was closed. It was siesta hour, so I would have to come back later. When I went back, the best thing they could do was tell me that they are only taking applications for three weeks later, and that they would email me their listings the next day so that I could start visiting some places. I never got their email.
Blasting posts on social media
I joined every Seville foreigner/student and traveler Facebook group I could find and posted that I needed a place right away. About 3 people responded and put me in contact with people, or in one case, people who knew people, who were looking for a roommate. None of them spoke English, and I decided that if I couldn’t fully understand them, it wouldn’t be easy to live with them.
A few hours before the deadline…
In the end, I checked one of the websites that had an English version again. I came across a place that was in the area I wanted and that wasn’t too expensive. I contacted the tenant, and didn’t hear anything back until later that afternoon. After playing phone tag and having her confirm that she does speak English (and French!) we were finally able to set up a visit the next evening, my deadline for finding a place.
After visiting and trading stories and information with one of the tenants and making it clear that I really needed a place, she told me that I could move in the next day. It was 9pm, and I would be checking out of my Airbnb the next morning.
If you’re looking for an apartment in Sevilla:
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