- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Madrid Guide (PDF)
Expats working in Madrid can expect to be immersed in a modern city that lays claim to most of the population in Spain's central region, as well as the majority of its economic activity.
The job market in Madrid
As the country's capital, Madrid attracts both direct foreign investment and a fair number of multinational corporations. The city's largest economic sector is its service industry. The best performing sectors within the industry include corporate services, transport, communications, real estate and financial services.
On average, expats are likely to find more job opportunities in Madrid than in other Spanish cities, but competition for jobs is often much higher than in other major European cities.
Expats working in Madrid will receive some of the highest wages in Spain, which is an additional attraction for those moving to the city. The downside of this is that the growing population and increased demand for real estate mean that the cost of living in Madrid is also higher than the rest of the country. It should also be noted that salaries in Madrid are generally lower than in other Western European countries.
Teaching English in Madrid remains popular among expats in the city, while other industries popular with expat employees include tourism, IT, finance, skilled labour and engineering.
Candidates who can speak Spanish or are willing to learn will find themselves at an advantage. Those who are also able to speak a third European language will have more opportunities than the average job seeker in Madrid.
Finding a job in Madrid
Expats who come from European Union countries have the advantage of not needing a work permit for Spain. Employers also generally offer job contracts to other European nationals before looking outside the continent.
Expats who are non-EU nationals will need to have a job offer or apply to be self-employed in order to legally work in Madrid.
It is a good idea for expats to contact a recruitment specialist or head-hunter in Spain to assist them in finding a job. There are also several online portals which advertise job openings and should be checked regularly.
Work culture in Madrid
Spain's business culture is strongly rooted in tradition, and some business practices may seem old-fashioned to expats. Nevertheless, once they adjust to this, expats should find it relatively easy and pleasant to do business in Spain.
Hierarchy is paramount to business in Spain. Spanish managers are autocrats of a sort, having the authority to make important decisions without consulting their employees. Those in mid- and lower-level positions should therefore show the utmost respect for their seniors.
That said, Spain's business culture is slowly evolving. Those of a younger generation may uphold slightly different ideals and subscribe to more egalitarian practices.
Making contacts and networking in Madrid is also important. The power of connections is not to be underestimated and is a principle ingrained in the Spanish working world. Expats should take advantage of any attempt to interact with decision-makers and should make an effort to attend job fairs and group events.
It is also important for foreigners to learn at least some Spanish. International business may be conducted in English, but other transactions will most likely occur in the local language.
►See Doing Business in Spain for more information about the work culture, etiquette and best practice
►See and Do in Madrid gives working expats ideas on how to occupy their weekends
"Unemployment has thankfully been decreasing these days, although salaries remain low. If you want to find a job easily, teaching a language or having some other speciality skill is the safest bet." Read about Canadian expat Mimi's experiences in Madrid.
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
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world. Cigna are offering a 10% discount on all policies bought in November and December.
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.