When Ben and I first moved to Japan, life was hard, we couldn't find an apartment, and the ones we could wouldn't rent to foreigners. Our company was apathetic, and ripped us off at every opportunity. We hadn't saved enough money before we left, and had no idea how we were going to get by. But the worst part in the beginning was the loneliness, we had no friends, or even any possible friends near us. It was tough, and at points all we wanted to do was go back home, where our friends were, where life would be easier. We anticipated that difficulty here, and despite the clear memories of how miserable it was sometimes, we decided to push through that pain again, for the chance to be more worldly.
I am happy to say, life has fallen into place here, and we couldn't be happier!
Ben and I thought we would be living in a hostel for the first couple of weeks while we searched for apartments, but we caught a lucky break. The hostel owner is also an property owner in the city, and runs many units throughout Madrid, he showed us the ones he had within our price range, one of which was right in the heart of Madrid, within walking distance of dozens of major attractions, and hundreds of restaurants and bars.Our place is 420 euros a month, and includes all utilities, maid service once a week, and is silent in the apartment at night (I defy you to find a better apartment deal in the center of Madrid for a couple). We decided before moving to Madrid that we wanted to have roommates, so that we could make friends more easily, and practice our Spanish. Our roommates so far are fantastic, they are a very kind couple from Barcelona, that don't speak any English, who are patient with my limited Spanish (and Ben's spattering of random words accompanied by gestures). Our roommates want to introduce us to their friends, and show us how to eat tapas.
Ben and I are taking TEFL classes here, and getting to get international English teacher certifications. The classes are great, the teacher is very effective, and I am learning a lot. The people who run the program are more than eager to help us with any issues, like where to by cellphones, how to set up a bank account, or even questions like where can I buy a hair straightener. Since we're in a classroom setting, we spend the day with many people who are new to the area, and interested in making new friends, so tomorrow night we are all going out together to a festival, to eat, drink, and enjoy Madrid.
We also have no money worries this time round, Spain is very inexpensive, and we saved up plenty of money before our arrival.
The food here is phenomenal, best I've had in the world, and completely affordable to Ben and me.
My Spanish is sufficient to get by here, I am learning quickly, and Spaniards tend to be very patient with my poor Spanish and eager to teach me more. I am very impressed by how well Spaniards can figure out my meaning despite my complete lack of grammar.
Without further ado, welcome to our home here in Spain: