It’s easy to sh*t on Madrid. The city is sometimes overlooked in favor of its more aesthetically appealing rivals (Barcelona, Granada, and Sevilla). But Madrid is not to be ignored! Moving to Madrid has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Living in Madrid has made me appreciate it as a city incomparable to other Spanish cities, and for those that doubt its greatness, read on:
1. Cheap Rent
I pay 100 USD less livng in Puerta del Sol in Madrid than I did when I lived in downtown Iowa City. Unreal. Some other expats I know pay even less and live in the cooler, younger barrios of Madrid. Compare this to my friends in Chicago who pay between 700-900 USD. Even with the exchange rate, I still pay less.
2. Get Anywhere
While Madrid is a metropolitan city, it’s incredibly easy to walk around the center. I almost never use my metro pass on the weekends when I’m exploring the city or going out with friends. Needless to say, every part of the Comunidad de Madrid is accessible. I pay 70 USD for a 30 day unlimited pass. The price ranges depending on how far you need to get within the region, but compared to Chicago (100 USD) and New York (112 USD), Madrid is easily cheaper.
Madrid is also conveniently located in central Spain. There’s excellent day trips from Madrid, like Aranjuez. Take a BlaBlaCar to visit other Spanish cities or a flight out of Barajas (Spain’s busiest airport).
3. Amazing People
Madrid has a huge, welcoming community for foreigners. About one tenth of the population is made up of internationals and there’s plenty of events to meet other expats. Madrileños are very open and friendly people. My friend from Barcelona says he chooses Madrid over Barça solely on the people.
4. Thriving gastronomic hub
The diversity in its inhabitants makes it an excellent place to explore the international food opportunities, especially in Lavapies. Some places in Madrid still give free tapas (El Tigre anyone?) with an order of a drink. Check out the monthly food truck festival and my absolute favorite Thai restaurant, Maiia Thai.
Plus, there’s tons of coffee shops that do really unique collaborations (Do Design, La Bicicleta) that have high quality coffee for cheap (Toma Café).
5. Party all night long
Madrid is definitely a city that doesn’t sleep (and sometimes neither do I). Cafés become bars at night and Madrileños love their rooftops, patios, and sunny plazas. If you know where to look, you can find one euro beers and shots, or buy a cerveza off the street. There’s so many options.
6. Get Cultured
Madrid has its famous museums like the Prado and Reina Sofía. Also go to Thyssen-Bornemisza and small, art galleries (look in Chueca). The city offers plenty of free events, mini festivals, new music and more. I love checking out Naked Madrid‘s newsletter to see what Madrid offers on the weekends.
7. Learn Spanish
If you’re trying to learn Spanish, there’s no greater spot than Madrid. Madrileños are said to have the best dialect for Spanish language learners. Find an intercambio, an academy, or conversation classes all throughout the city.
8. New job opportunities
Despite Spain’s economic crisis, native English speakers can teach English easily thanks to the different program options. There’s also a high demand for private English classes. Even more so, the community of internationals is helpful in finding internships or job opportunities.
This is probably more of a disadvantage than an advantage, but Madrid has great areas to shop in. The obvious choices are Gran Vía and El Rastro, but there’s also the small boutiques around Chueca and Malasaña. Hit up Goya, off of metro line 2, for more choices.
10. Hang out at parks around the city
There’s nothing like a cloudless, lazy Sunday in Retiro. This park is one of my favorite spaces in Madrid, but there’s also Temple de Debod and Casa de Campo for great outdoor areas to hang out.
Coming from Chicago, Madrid’s winter was nothing. Short and sweet, the summer heat doesn’t start to cool down until the end of October/beginning of November and temperatures bump up again in the beginning of March. Although you’ll still see Madrileños in winter coats when it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Madrid, me mata.
Why do you love living in Madrid? What are you looking for when you get here?