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Expats moving to Madrid will find a wonderful city that is a pleasure to live in, with great restaurants, lively bars, interesting art galleries and two world-famous football teams.
While retirees searching for sunnier shores and a relaxing descent into their twilight years may not relish the prospect of emigrating to Madrid, it is beyond a doubt the place to go for those looking to further their career in Spain while capitalising on an attractive quality of life.
Living in Madrid as an expat
Madrid is the commercial and political capital of Spain, and although the centre is convincingly international it retains a distinctly Latin feel. Foreigners have no need to fear the pressures of a high-speed lifestyle that are so often attached to other Western capitals.
Madrid is the best city to find a job in the country, boasting both large multinational businesses and a fair amount of direct foreign investment. The service industry is the city's most prosperous sector and, while competition for jobs is rather high in the city, expats can generally also find jobs in tourism, teaching, IT and skilled labour.
In terms of accommodation, expats will find that quality housing in Madrid can be difficult to find for a good price and the right neighbourhood, and it is important to know where to search, how to negotiate and how to make a deal quickly, knowledgeably and efficiently.
The city's transport system is efficient and easy to use. Expats will definitely not struggle to get around the city using the Metro, high speed train or bus system. While expats can also rent or buy a car, this is not necessary. The roads can be congested and rather dangerous, and parking is scarce.
Cost of living in Madrid
The cost of living in Madrid is rather high, especially when considering the average salaries offered to workers in the city. People in Madrid are generally paid less than in other major European capitals, yet living costs are not much cheaper.
Accommodation is expensive, and expats wanting to send their children to international schools will also need to consider how pricey these schools can be. That said, the price of food, eating out and drinking is cheaper than in many other European cities.
Expat families and children
Healthcare in Spain is considered some of the best in Europe, and the Spanish National Health System (SNS) is available for free for all employees in Spain or EU citizens. The public education system is also well regarded, although many expat families choose to send their children to one of the many private or international schools that have a bilingual or full English curriculum.
With the good schools and ample activities on offer, Madrid is a good city to bring up children. The many green areas, the zoo, aquarium and science museum are just a few of the places that expat children can visit in the city. Families will also find larger houses with gardens just outside the city centre, and a good public or international school is never too far from home.
Climate in Madrid
Madrid is blessed with great weather that allows for ample time spent outdoors throughout the year. That said, the summer months can be blazing hot and air conditioning is a must. Winters are cold, with the occasional snowfall drifting down every other year.
On the whole, expats living in Madrid will find that the city’s rich history and youthful enterprise make for an exciting opportunity for individuals and families alike.
► See Pros and Cons of Moving to Madrid to learn more about life in the city.
► To find out more about how Madrileños entertain themselves throughout the year, see What's On in Madrid.
"Spain has a lot of great qualities: friendly locals, beautiful beaches, nice weather, low cost of living, etc.There’s also a huge expat community so it’s easy to make friends, and Madrid’s location makes it the perfect launching pad for trips to other European capitals such as Paris and Berlin, as well as African nations like Morocco and Tunisia." Find out what Madrid holds for expats in our interview with Mimi.
"The Madrileños love to say that ‘if you’re in Madrid you’re from Madrid’ and I was overwhelmed by the welcoming nature of all the locals." Read more about expat life in Madrid in Kate's interview.
Are you an expat living in Madrid?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Madrid. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.