Florence Robson, Sep 1st 2014, 14:08 Verified Guru
I never planned to live on my own during my year abroad. I found a 2-bed flat with a friend from my UK uni and we lived together for the first couple of months that we were in Madrid, but she struggled to settle into life abroad and just after Christmas, I received an email from her saying that she wasn't coming back to Spain for a little while. As she intended to return at some point, she asked me not to sublet her room, and I had signed a contract so was unable to move, meaning that I was effectively stuck living alone!
Although it was a situation that was sprung on me, rather than deliberately chosen, I ended up really enjoying the experience. After a busy day at work, I liked having my own space to come home to and as a neat freak, I loved being able to keep the flat tidy and not have to worry about piles of washing up in the sink every morning!
However, I couldn't have done it without friends living nearby. A close friend lived only 5 minutes up the road from me, and I saw friends most days after work, which kept me sane. There were definitely times when I was exhausted and wished that I had a flatmate so that I could have a conversation about our days without having to leave the house! However, that was when Skype became extremely handy and I spent those evenings catching up with everyone from home!
I would say that living alone abroad can be a great experience; you become completely self-sufficient and fearless when it comes to dealing with the practicalities of renting and it forces you to make more effort to do exciting things with your free time. However, it can also feel very lonely and it can be much harder to meet locals to practice the language with. Ultimately, you know best how keen you are on your own company, but if you're a proactive person and willing to make the effort to go out and meet people - particularly in the first couple of months - you should be fine!
Siobhan Elward-Jones, Sep 7th 2014, 14:25
I thought the exact same way. I had a terrible experience with flatmates in the uk so I didnt want any problems with flatmates in Spain with the language barrier and all...
When I got there I went to the estate agents and found an apartment to rent (it was someone's holiday home, so I had to leave straight after my contract ended with my school for the summer because the landlord wanted the flat for the summer)
However, just be aware that living alone will be very expensive, with rent and bills to pay yourself (i was averaging 400euro rent and 100/150euro on bills whereas my friends sharing a place were paying about 150euros a month rent and 50euro bills) and you probably will have to take up private classes to afford to travel with everyone etc.
It will also be very isolating at times, you will really have to put extra effort into socialising, especially with the locals. Maybe go to a cafe for coffee instead of making it at home or something? and look on the university notice boards for social events...or even better, tag along to them with some other erasmus people who may be uni student there :)
Answered anonymously , Sep 7th 2014, 16:33
Thanks so much for both your answers.
Siobhan, you said you had to take up private classes, what do you mean by this, don't think I've understood?
I am looking at about 550euros/month with all bills included, except internet. And it's true it is a lot more than sharing. However it is in the most prime location it's possible for an apartment to be in and it's fully furnished, so I am quite temped..
I hope it won't feel too isolating. I am actually in my year abroad destination now, and I don't know anyone, and I'm waiting for classes to start next week. Do you happen to have any tips for meeting people? :)
Lauren Stevens, Sep 15th 2014, 06:55
I lived with a local for the first 3 months, but she lost her job and had to move away so I started searching for a new flatmate. I received an email from a girl studying at another university who had found the blog that I was writing and was coming to the city for the last 4 months of my stay. I told her that I was looking for a flatmate and kept the spare room free for her.
I lived alone for about 2 months between my first flatmate leaving and my second arriving and this was a really difficult time. Whilst it was nice to have my own space and live in a clean flat (my second flatmate was incredibly messy!), it was very lonely and I was struggling. As I lived in quite a small city with few young people and my workplace wasn't very welcoming, I found it hard to make friends and it took time before I found my own social group. It takes perseverance!
I think it all depends on the situation: where you're living, how long you're living there for, whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert and whether you have friends close by. I consider myself an introvert and I don't have any problem spending a lot of time alone, so the concept of living alone wasn't a huge deal for me. It was certainly drama free that way! I also think living with someone you spend a lot of time socialising with outside of the house puts too much pressure on the friendship (both at and away from uni) and I don't recommend it.