I've been in the thick of an apartment hunt for the past few days, which has mostly consisted of wandering around downtown Skopje for hours, trying to find real estate firms that only advertise their location with a small sign in an upper window of whatever apartment they have crammed themselves into.
I have several factors counting against me here:
1. I am an American. Unlike, say, Paris or Prague, where you can probably find poor American students in abundance, Americans in Skopje are generally businessmen, diplomats, or work for NGOs. That means they have considerably more money than I do, and causes Macedonians to think that I'm fairly wealthy myself.
2. In Macedonia (as in most European countries) university students do not live in dorms. Dorms, if they exist at all, are wretched concrete communist hellholes where no one wants to live. The students at the university here have already snapped up most of the cheaper apartments.
3. I have to work with real estate agencies with English-speaking staff. Macedonians have the advantage of being able to pick up the classifieds in a newspaper and find a cheap apartment; if I did the same thing, there's a very good chance I would end up accidentally purchasing some sort of warehouse in a bad part of town. These real estate agencies tend to deal with higher-priced apartments, and have relatively few listings which are as cheap as I'd like.
Until then, I live in the hotel. It's nice enough, and the staff have been sympathetic, but only to the extent of a few free espressos.