My Apartment in Zaragoza, Spain

I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what my digs are like here in Spain and post some much needed photos. At the end I’ve given some pros and cons to the place and a rent/utilities breakdown for anyone who’s interested. It may surprise you to know that our rent is considered ‘expensive’ for a one-bedroom apartment but since we’re in the city center, I can’t complain.

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Here’s our fairly spacious living room. You can see the dining table in the right-hand corner. That bureau is my favorite part of the whole place, not just because it’s cute but because we store all of our ‘I have no idea where to put this’ items in there. It’s straight up full of junk.

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Here’s another view of the living room. That couch actually folds out into a bunk bed, although it’s not very comfortable and I’m pretty sure the top bunk would bend under the weight of anyone over 150 pounds. You can get a glimpse of our little balcony there.

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Here you get a little glimpse into the kitchen. It’s well-equipped with a washing machine, dishwasher, oven and four-burner stove. It’s quite small but it’s plenty big enough for both Reid and I to be in there at the same time cooking. I must say, I feel quite spoiled with that oven. I bake something nearly ever week, from biscotti to coffee cake.

Plaza de Pilar around the corner
Plaza de Pilar around the corner

The best thing about the apartment is it’s location – we are just a street or two from the Plaza del Pilar. I feel pretty lucky walking through the plaza every morning and seeing that gorgeous basilica. Also, most of the major events and fairs happen in the plaza, so we’re in a prime location. For example, during the Pilares Festival we could hear the main-stage concerts happening from our apartment. Also, when the Christmas market was up, I would head over during the afternoon and snag some chori-pan or just enjoy the Christmas lights at night.

Pros and Cons

I’ll start with the things that I love about our apartment:

-The location is unbeatable. I can walk to most major tourist sites in the city within ten minutes. This means that weekends can be spent strolling through sunny plazas and checking out the many museums, Roman ruins, and cafes nearby. Also the apartment is well placed for some serious noshing. The hip, student neighborhood is just next door and offers a delicious myriad of vegetarian tapas. Also, the famous ‘Tubo’ tapas district is about a ten minute walk.

Local Sunday antique market just around the corner
Local Sunday antique market just around the corner

-It’s quiet.  While some nights the stray drunkard or two get into a heated discussion right below my bedroom window, for the most part the street stays silent. That may seem like a given, but it’s definitely not in Zaragoza. If you’re on any sort of main street and don’t have good windows, you’ll be hearing all sorts of local gossip at night.

The street right off of ours (beneath la Seo)
The street right off of ours (beneath la Seo)

-The apartment has a lot of amenities. Having an oven and and dishwasher has been a real treat for days when I don’t feel like doing the dishes or need to find comfort in a baked good. Having gone an entire year without either in Thailand, I can tell you it makes a difference. Also, the shower and bath combo has been an unexpected luxury. Some nights this winter I treated myself to a little soak in the tub. I very well may have doubled our water bill but it was worth it. Also, all of the little knick-knack items have been provided with the apartment, like pots, pans, wooden spoons, wine and beer openers, and even a vacuum cleaner (sweeping gets old real fast).

-The heating is solid. I’m lucky that I’ve never experienced the hardship of a poorly insulated apartment or wonky heating system. The electric heating we have rarely runs us more than 100 euro for two months and allows for easy manual adjustment. That means at night I can turn it down and in the morning, when I’m the first one up, secretly crank it. Luckily I didn’t have to turn it on until early November and probably won’t need it after March, but damn was I glad to have it during December. The two days when it wasn’t working was hell. It may seem dramatic, but these insulating walls meant that it was almost warmer to be outside in the 40 degrees weather than inside. And showers were totally out of the question – I’m embarrassed to say that I flew to Krakow without having showered in almost three days. Nothing like being stinky on an enclosed airplane, am I right?

-All of the necessary shops are nearby. This is quite common in Zaragoza thanks to the abundance of small shops, but I still love the ones near my apartment. In less than a block or two I have my choice of two major grocery chains, multiple pharmacies, a carnicería where I can pick up fresh cheese, and multiple fruit and veggie shops. It’s really convenient for running out and grabbing any groceries you may need last minute (when they’re open, of course).

Me, strolling the main street right off of ours.
Me, strolling the main street right off of ours.

And now for the things that aren’t so great about the apartment (luckily there aren’t many):

-Our neighbors have a volatile relationship. I seriously know way too much about their relationship issues. One of the first nights in our apartment we overheard the loudest, most awkward fight in the history of fights. The two were straight up screaming at each other and eventually moved into the foyer of the apartment building where the man proceeded to use some choice words to describe the woman. She then screamed at him to leave, whereupon he slammed the front door of the building and sat in the alleyway where he continued sobbed loudly. As if it couldn’t get any more cringey, he started moaning ‘Mi amooooor!’ up at the balcony until someone finally came out and told the poor sod to cool it. Since then they have had a number of passionate altercations most of which take place around midnight.

-We don’t get much natural light. I didn’t realize this would even be an issue until I moved to Spain this year. With the small alleyways and tall buildings, our two large balconies don’t receive any direct sunlight. This may seem like it’s no big deal, but not having sunlight filtering directly into the room can be a real downer. I have no idea whether it’s sunny or overcast out and miss the pick-me-up that a bright blue sky can give me. This is something I would avoid in the future.

Monthly Rent and Utilities Costs:

Rent: The one-bedroom apartment costs 450 euros a month, which is on the high end considering it’s size.

Internet: The internet runs us around 42 euros each month which includes the router. It’s fast enough for high-quality skype and for two people to watch Netflix at the same time. We have never had any issues with it.

Water/Sewer/Garbage: This one is confusing but it seems as though we average out to around 40-60 euros a month. The sewer and garbage is paid every four months, so it’s difficult to give an exact estimate, but 40-60 euros is about right.

Gas/Electric: For gas and electric, it depends on the month and how often it’s used. I’d say that when we’re not using the heat everyday it’s around 50 euros a month, and during winter it’s closer to 80 euro a month.

Hopefully this has given you a good sense of what the apartment and rental situation is like in Zaragoza, Spain. What’s your living situation like in Spain or abroad? Let me know in the comments and feel free to ask if you have any questions!

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6 thoughts on “My Apartment in Zaragoza, Spain”

  1. Hi Blayne!

    First off, awesome blog!
    My name is Sara and I am applying to the Aux program as well to start in the Fall of 2015!

    I had a couple of questions about Spain and the program:

    1. I am inscrita 318 – I know Aragon has very few spots but do you think that number gives me a shot? Or am I looking at being in madrid (second choice with like a billion spots lol)?

    2. I have heard that people placed in Zaragosa sometimes get placed in far flung schools – how far do you commute to get to your school? What is the normal commute in your opinion?

    3. Ok let’s talk about the vegetarian thing!!! I don’t eat meat either (barring fish) – how hard is that to pull off in Spain? I know when I lived in Chile (with a host family) it was literally impossible – I would have bee surviving on pan y queso if I hadn’t just gone back to meat for those few months. Is it possible in Espana? To do it healthfully?

    Thanks!
    Sara

    1. Hey Sara! So glad you enjoy the blog. I’ll answer each of your questions.
      1. You have a great inscrita number. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be in Aragon unless the placements are completely wonky. There’s quite a few people renewing but there should be plenty of spots and most people don’t choose Aragon as their region.
      2. You’ll most likely get placed with a very reasonable commute if you get Zaragoza. I only commute 30 min walking or about 20 min if I take the bus which is very doable. I chose to live in the old town though, so I could have been much closer. That being said, the people who got placed later in Aragon ended up with schools out in the boonies. So you should get preference if you really want to be in Zgz since your number is so low. You can always harass Maria Pilar when you get placed about wanting to be in Zaragoza. That’s what I did! 😛
      3. Vegetarian is very doable in Spain. There are tons of great veggie restaurants in Zaragoza (I’ll be making a guide here one of these days) and some restaurants with great veggie options. Your friends will definitely be tortilla, patatas bravas, leeks in vinegar (so yummy), pisto, and bocadillos. If you eat fish, then you will really have no problem as sardines, bacalao, and tuna are quite popular in Zaragoza. So it will be very doable.
      Good luck! And let me know how your placement goes 🙂 You should be hearing soon.

      1. Thanks so much for the speedy reply!!!

        One last question, who is Maria Pilar? And will she get annoyed when I email her asking for Zgz?

        Thanks again!
        Sara

      2. Maria Pilar is the coordinator of the Aragon auxiliar program. She seems to get annoyed whenever we email her about anything, but it’s certainly worth a shot!

  2. Hi! Hope this comment finds you well. I had a quick question concerning neighborhoods in Zaragoza. I just received my carta and am planning on living in Zaragoza. Can you recommend any specific neighborhoods? My boyfriend and I are both 23 and doing the auxiliar program. We are looking to be somewhere central. I come from a large city so a busier area would not bother me. I would so appreciate any suggestions/ info you may have!

    1. Hi there! Sorry I missed this earlier. Here are some general tips:

      It depends what you are looking for and prioritize. Most of the people in our program lived near the centro or up by the university. They enjoyed it because it was less expensive, closer to parks (Parque Grande is, as the name implies, gigantic and lovely), and in a “younger” area as most university students live over there. However, you will most likely have to travel a ways to your school (depending on where it is) and when we all got together we were almost always hanging out in the casco antiguo.

      If you want that idyllic, old town vibe near all the great bars, Casco Antiguo would be good. That’s where we lived. We could literally walk to plazas, farmers markets, and our schools in a matter of minutes. It took us a while to find someone willing to rent to us for less than a year though and it was more expensive.

      If you’re willing to branch out a bit, La Magdalena is a very cool neighborhood that is less expensive but still has the Casco vibes. There are lots of students living over there and more alternative bars that are fun to hang out at. There’s also a great gym with a pool and it’s surrounded by fantastic parks.

      We were told to avoid the El Gancho neighborhood and the area around Aljaferia basically because it’s mostly immigrant families and “gypsies”. However if you are from a metropolitan city in the US this is no different than living pretty much anywhere else. Crime is supposedly more rampant in that neighborhood though so that is something to consider. It is also quite noisy along the main thoroughfair.

      Hopefully this helps! Also check out the Zaragoza facebook page as we are all on there and can give you more specific insight if you need it. Good luck!

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