A Single Female Retiree’s Journal Of Her New Life In Madrid

A Single Woman Of A “Certain Age” Reinvents Her Life In Madrid

It is an odd feeling. Definitely something is different about being back in Madrid this time. As a single female of a “certain age,” it is both empowering and overwhelming to be here starting a new life abroad.

I’m staying in an Airbnb home for the next 30 days while I try to learn my way around my new city.

My place is adorable. It has everything you could need… in about 80 square feet… and that includes the bathroom!

Don’t get me wrong. I did see pictures ahead of time, and I knew the place would be small, but I thought it would be attached to the rest of a home. I was wrong.

Now, I have heard of bathrooms like this, with the toilet in the shower, but I think I’ve only seen them on HGTV, as part of the trendy tiny house movement. And I’ve been on cruise ships that know how to make use of every nook and cranny, but even they could learn a thing or two from my little pad.

I have a shower, toilet, sink, mirror, desk, chair, and shelving complete with dishes, glasses, cups, and utensils. There is also a toaster oven, a microwave, mini-fridge, mini-dresser, end table, bedside lamp, bed, coat hooks, rug, and (the most extravagant item) a 30-inch flat-screen TV, complete with remote. There is nice artwork on one wall, as well.

A new acquaintance ventured that this might have been a storage closet before being “renovated.” I concur.

But I love a challenge. And when embarking on a new adventure, everything seems fun, at first, right? So I will work on trying to see what I can take out of my five suitcases and what will have to stay packed.

More important, I will have to think about where to put the suitcases. Maybe I can create a new coffee table out of them…

The real selling point to this place was the cost… which is low enough that I don’t have to share a room with anyone while still managing to save money for everything that’s more important to me right now than a big apartment—things like more travel and keeping my home in the United States for the time being while I try out the idea of living in another country.

Meantime, I’m building up my freelance writing income.

The other great thing about this place is that I have a terrace. To have a terrace in the middle of Madrid is a delight. I’m on the inside of the building, so the evenings are quiet. And yet I can see the tops of other buildings as I sit at the outdoor table and have a glass of wine and bread and cheese while chatting with friends.

Now I just need to make the friends and buy the food and wine.

I am only here in this place for a month as I search for a more permanent address. I just wasn’t comfortable booking an apartment for a year that I hadn’t seen in person. Turns out, my hunch was correct. Just as the camera makes me look a lot bigger, apparently the same can be said for apartments.

Of course, space is at a premium in a city like Madrid. Everyone wants to be close to the action, including foreign students. Many live in the area where I’m staying, so roommates are common… so common that it’s not unusual for people to treat apartments and houses like dormitories, with as many as a dozen residents sharing a place, male and female, with two to three people per bathroom.

From doing my research and having visited Madrid several times before (thanks for the push, Live and Invest Overseas), I felt comfortable moving to the heart of the city. Handgun crime is almost unheard of, and Madrid is very safe in general.

With the U.S. dollar so strong against the euro, now was the time to make this move.

I am looking to take advantage of the strong dollar by making a property purchase, as well. I’m interested in an investment along the beach in Spain or Portugal. I want to buy a rental property to generate cash flow to boost my retirement income and offset some of my expenses. It makes sense to me to earn income in euros to cover expenses in euros.

As soon as I get more settled, I expect to start my house hunt. It would be better to have the help of a Spanish-speaking friend as I look, as the best deals will come direct from a local.

I won’t starve, but I can’t count on my current level of Spanish for much more than that. Time for an immersion language program.

Make new friends… shop for wine… improve my Spanish…

So many things to do. I’d better get going…

Melanie Veah

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