What Happens When Your Friend Crashes With You During Their Apartment Hunt

Photo credit: Kārlis Dambrāns, CC BY 2.0.

I have to admit that I’ve had more luck than most when it comes to finding apartments. In college, my roommates always took on that arduous task, and I was able to waltz into the beautiful, spacious apartments they had found with minimal stress or planning on my end. My first year out of college I moved to Spain, allowing myself a laughable four days to find a place before my job started. I locked in on my apartment in three days, after only looking at a few places. It was in a great location, spacious and clean, with three other roommates whom I would come to consider friends.

Before I found that little gem, however, I went to go look at an apartment listing in a different part of town. The space was dark and cramped, and the man who showed me and another potential renter around seemed angry that we were even there responding to the listing. As he ticked off the numerous family members with whom we would be sharing the single bathroom, I glanced over at the young woman who was my unlucky companion on the tour of the Apartment From Hell. She seemed like she might be my age and she listened to the landlord rave on about kitchen etiquette and the laundry list of household rules with the same expression I probably had (dear-god-please-get-me-out-of-here-alive). After the door slammed behind us, I asked if she, like me, had moved there from America to teach English. It turns out that she had, and over the next few months she would come to be one of my best friends in Spain.

During our second year in Spain, her boyfriend joined us and they set out on the much more intimidating two-person apartment hunt. My apartment had an extra room that was somewhere between a storage closet and a shrine to the previous tenant, and I told them they could stay as long as they needed. I even suggested that maybe she could stay in my room a few nights, as the closet/shrine was not really big enough for two (or even one for that matter).

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had lived with friends before in college, but sharing an apartment with someone else is complicated in the best of times, and looking for an apartment is quite possibly the worst of times. Over the ensuing week, I learned a lot about what it was really like to have my friends crash at my place.

Pro: You have people to eat dinner with every night

It’s nice to take a break from re-watching The Office over mac-n-cheese for one. Having other people in the house means you are more motivated to cook something new and interesting, and you have someone to share it with.

Con: You get stuck making dinner because they are frantically looking for apartments

That fancy dish might have seemed like a good idea when you thought you had a sous-chef, but now that ten new listings have popped up on Craigslist you are stuck whisking and sautéing on your own.

Pro: Every night is a fun sleepover

Who doesn’t love a sleepover? On a particularly memorable evening, we stayed up late absorbed in the cinematic genius of The Prestige, trying on weird outfit combinations and cackling with laughter, and eating handfuls of snacks in bed. It had been years since I’d had a real sleepover and I had forgotten how fun they can be.

Con: Every morning there is someone else in your bed/space

Most people have a morning routine, and I am no exception. Waking up to someone else in your space that also needs to brush their teeth, shower, and eat breakfast throws off that routine. Sometimes I just want to wake up and be totally alone for a couple hours. Is that too much to ask?

Pros: You get to see the inside of lots of apartments without the personal stress

Maybe this is just a me-thing but I’ve always loved looking through other people’s apartments. I was secretly thrilled I had an excuse to scan the pages of Idealista and Yaencontre for the perfect apartment for my friends. We would all sit around with our laptops, vetoing places that were too expensive or too small and celebrating if we found somewhere that seemed like a fit. It was like a scavenger hunt with slightly higher stakes.

Con: It feels like all you do is talk about the apartment search

After many days of fruitless apartment visits and unanswered messages to various landlords, the apartment search starts to lose its excitement. You end up having the same conversation over and over about what neighborhoods they could reasonably live in, what the budget constraints are, and whether they should be more flexible on certain amenities. It’s hard to concentrate on anything else when the clock is ticking for the start of the month.

Pro: You have access to twice the stuff

You know that book that you’ve been meaning to read but never got around to? Your friend has it, and they’ll lend it to you. Need an immersion blender? Just ask, and its yours to use. Tired of all the clothes in your wardrobe? Have a look through your friend’s massive sweater collection. It’s as if all the things you own have suddenly multiplied.

Con: That stuff is all over your apartment

It all seems very reasonable when your friend shows up with a couple suitcases and a box or two. Three days later you can barely open the door because of the sheer amount of stuff that is all over every surface. I mean, sure, you leave all your stuff lying around too, but this is different somehow.

Pro: You learn more about your friends

Living with a friend means you really start to notice all their little quirks and idiosyncrasies. The way they make their coffee, their getting-ready routine, the face that means they are very frustrated and need to be left alone. It gives you a more complete look at a person and their daily ups and downs.

Con: Sometimes you learn more than you want to

The tension of looking for an apartment doesn’t exactly bring out the best in people. It can be hard to pretend you can’t hear your friends arguing about how much space they need for what feels like the millionth time.

In the end, my friend and her boyfriend did manage to find their apartment — and I was happy that I had been there to help them do it. It wasn’t because having them in my house made life better or easier. It wasn’t because I did some calculations and determined that the pros outweighed the cons. It’s because looking for an apartment is one of the most stressful and taxing things about moving to a new city. If you have the means to let someone stay with you, and if you can handle it, I think you owe it to your friends to at least try. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll go on absurdly long runs just to get out of the house. But trust me, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Grace Henes is a freelance writer and podcaster from Louisville, Kentucky. She hopes to spend the next few years living anywhere and everywhere she can.

This story is part of The Billfold’s Moving Series.

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