As a beginner, it's understandable if you don't want to buy flamenco shoes straight away, particularly if you can't get them locally. However, don't make the mistake of buying other dance shoes as a compromise - you'll waste your money! Most other dance shoes are totally unsuitable for flamenco – worse than dancing in street shoes, in fact! Character, jazz and ballroom dance shoes are designed to be flexible, so you can bend your foot and point your toe. Soft, flexible shoes like these are absolutely useless for flamenco – you need rigidity and strength!
Take a look in your wardrobe or shoe cupboard and see if you have something you can "make do" with (see ideas below). If not, your money will be better spent on some student flamenco shoes than on other dance shoes, even if it means waiting a few weeks.
Alternatives for Men
If you have tap shoes or Irish dance shoes, wear those: otherwise a pair of cowboy boots or riding boots is your best option. In flamenco, even men were heels for a reason—they make it much easier to do any footwork involving heel strikes.
Alternatives for Women
Again, tap shoes or Irish dance shoes are a good option. If you don't have either of those, wear a pair of sturdy high heels. Mary Janes (the style with a bar strap) are an obvious lookalike for flamenco shoes, but look at the strength of the shoe, too. You want a shoe that isn’t too bendy - and a heel that's not too high! If you have a pair of plain pumps with the right strength, they'll work better than soft Mary Janes. Just sew on an elastic strap.