Thinking of living in Madrid? Experience Spain’s capital through the eyes of an expat: the lifestyle, the culture, the highs, and the lows.

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Laila Oliveira

Looking to live la vida loca in Madrid? As an expat, living in Madrid offers a vibrant blend of culture, food, and fun! Dive into the bustling streets, where history meets modernity in stunning architecture and lively plazas. With a rich tapestry of museums, parks, and nightlife, there’s never a dull moment.

Whether you’re sipping café con leche in a charming café or exploring the art at the Prado, Madrid’s charm will captivate you. The city’s efficient public transport and welcoming locals make settling in a breeze. Join the Madrileños in their love for life and experience Spain’s capital like a local. Madrid welcomes you with open arms to a lively, dynamic, and unforgettable lifestyle!


What is living in Madrid like?

Living in Madrid is nothing like you expect. While you might have prepared yourself for the lively atmosphere, Madrid has a knack for surprising you with even more delights than you anticipated. Madrid is where you want to be if you want to enjoy the bustling city vibe without missing the true Spanish experience. 

Madrid is among the few European cities that have found the perfect blend between history and modernity. While Madrid boasts ancient historic sites like the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace, this city is also home to modern-day architecture like Torres de Colón and Torre Cepsa Tower. 

Like other modern cities, Madrid also has an efficient public transport system, allowing you to travel and explore the city and beyond. Essentially, Madrid has something for everyone. It’s a city that never sleeps, where every day is a new adventure waiting.

Neighborhoods in Madrid

Let’s face it: Madrid is a big city, and choosing the right one to anchor down and call home is easier said than done. Since we can’t cover all of Madrid’s popular neighborhoods here, let’s highlight three top destinations at the top of your must-visit list.


Salamanca is by far the most glamorous neighborhood in Madrid. It was designed back in the 19th century to be home to the affluent and influential people in the capital. Today, this city is characterized by its grid-like streets and beautiful facades. 

This posh neighborhood flaunts designer boutiques, classy restaurants, and elegant architecture. You can indulge in refreshing local meals in chic, upmarket restaurants between shopping. Salamanca is a favorite among expats seeking a luxurious lifestyle.


Malasaña is quite the opposite of Salamanca; it is the hipster destination of Madrid, boasting trendy bars, cool restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Speaking of nightlife, Malasaña comes to life during the night. 

Bars and clubs in the neighborhood open their doors, transforming it into a lively street party that lasts until the early morning hours. If you are interested in meeting new people while basking in the enriching sun, consider visiting the outdoor terraces of the Plaza Dos de Mayo.


Lavapiés is a special neighborhood in Madrid; it is the most multicultural destination, popular for its diverse communities. Here you will find different expressions of art and an electric assortment of varying food scenes. 

The streets are filled with different restaurants offering a variety of cuisines from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Essentially, Lavapiés is a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique and colorful living experience.

Who lives in Madrid?

You’ll find a diverse mix of expats calling the city home in Madrid. From young professionals seeking career opportunities to retirees looking for a vibrant place to settle down, Madrid attracts people from all walks of life. The one thing that makes living in Madrid special is the expat community.

The capital of Spain is home to about 945,933 people, according to the data from the most recent census. Regardless of where you come from, you can rest assured that someone from your country lives in Madrid. For expats, this environment can make the city feel more inclusive and welcoming, easing the transition to a new country.


Why are expats moving to Madrid?

For quite some time, Spain has been known both as a favorite tourist spot and a sought-after immigration destination. However, there has been a notable shift in recent years, with more individuals opting to immigrate and settle permanently in Spain.

Among the numerous cities in Spain, Madrid stands out as the primary choice for many expats, and for good reason. Let’s explore the three key reasons why expatriates increasingly select Madrid as their preferred destination.

Working and business opportunities in Madrid

For expats of working age, business and job opportunities are two major draws for them in Madrid. The city is a bustling hub with a diverse economy, offering many job prospects. From multinational corporations to startups, there’s a vibrant business scene here. Madrid is also a great place for networking, with plenty of events and conferences.

The city’s strategic location is a gateway to European and international markets. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or start your own venture, Madrid provides fertile ground for growth and success.

Good quality of life in Madrid

Madrid’s exceptional quality of life is a compelling reason for expats to choose the city as their new home. Madrid enjoys a mild climate with plenty of sunshine throughout the year, which enhances the overall living experience. The city’s healthcare system is renowned for its efficiency and accessibility, ensuring that residents receive top-notch medical care when needed.

Moreover, Madrid is known for its safety, with lower crime rates than other major cities. This sense of security contributes to the city’s overall appeal to expats. Additionally, Madrid offers a rich cultural experience, with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters showcasing its artistic heritage. 

The city’s vibrant nightlife and culinary scene further enrich the quality of life, providing residents with diverse entertainment options.

Golden Visa prospects

The Golden Visa in Madrid is like a golden ticket for foreign investors looking to immigrate. It’s a sweet deal that offers residency to those who invest a certain amount in property. The Golden Visa in Madrid isn’t just about residency; it comes with many other perks too!

Once settled in, you can enjoy the vibrant Spanish lifestyle, savor the delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich culture. Plus, once you’ve got the visa, you can travel around the Schengen Area hassle-free. It’s a win-win!

Expert communities and social life in Madrid

Madrid’s vibrant and welcoming communities are a major draw for expats looking to settle down. The city’s lively social scene offers a rich tapestry of cultural events, festivals, and gatherings where people from all walks of life come together. 

This inclusive atmosphere fosters a sense of belonging, making it easier for newcomers to integrate and make friends.

Whether enjoying a leisurely afternoon or joining in on the bustling nightlife, Madrid’s social fabric is woven with opportunities to connect and build relationships. This sense of community and social cohesion is a significant factor that makes Madrid an attractive destination for expats seeking a new home.

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Buying property in Madrid

Fortunately, Spain is among the few countries in Europe that allow expats to buy land and own property legally. If you’re considering purchasing property in Madrid, you’ll be pleased to know that Spain has a fairly simple process for foreigners buying property. 

Whether you’re a resident or not, you can buy various types of properties, including residential homes, commercial properties, and plots of land.

However, before buying property in Madrid, you must obtain an NIE. This tax identification number for foreigners is required for all property transactions. While expats choose to move to Spain for different reasons, many are drawn by this country’s relatively affordable property cost. 

This is particularly true compared to other first-world nations in Europe and beyond. According to data from Idealista, the average price of buying property in Madrid is €3,292/m2.

Renting a flat in Madrid

If you are considering living in Madrid but don’t have the budget to buy property, renting is a practical alternative. Not only can you find affordable accommodation, but you can also avoid the complexities of laws and regulations associated with property ownership. When renting a flat in Madrid, there are plenty of options for different budgets and housing needs.

Of course, the cost of the rental flat will depend on the location, size, and current condition of the apartment. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs €1,211. A similar rental flat outside the city center will cost you about €890 per month, as per Numbeo.

Is it better to live in Madrid or Barcelona?

Spain is full of beautiful cities, and sometimes you are faced with the delightful dilemma of choosing between the two popular destinations, Madrid and Barcelona. First, no city is better than another; it all comes down to your unique preferences and requirements as an individual. That said, how do these two destinations contrast and compare?

Madrid is like that warm-hearted aunt who invites you for a home-cooked meal. It’s a traditional Spanish city where locals embrace you with open arms (even if their English isn’t top-notch). 

The streets buzz with life and nightlife. Oh, it’s like a flamenco dance that never stops. Plus, Madrid boasts the purest Spanish – perfect for language learners.

Barcelona, on the other hand, is the cool cousin who lives by the sea. Picture modern architecture, tapas bars, and a dash of European flair. It’s a touristy playground where Catalan culture dances with the waves. 

But here’s the twist: Barcelona isn’t your typical big city. It’s more like a cozy metropolis where you can sip sangria by the beach. Unfortunately, this is one of those decisions you must make yourself. Do your due diligence research and seek advice before making any hasty decision.

Is living in Madrid better than living in Valencia?

What about the eternal showdown between Madrid and Valencia? How do you choose your pick? The same goes for these two destinations; the decision has to come down to your preference as an individual. 

However, while this is true, both destinations have their own unique charm that will appeal to different people. Since we already know about Madrid, how does Valencia compare to the capital?

This city easily qualifies as the sunkissed hidden gem of the coast. Picture yourself walking along the Turia River with the fragrance of orange blossoms filling the air. Life here moves at a leisurely pace, akin to a siesta under a palm tree. 

Expats delight in savoring paella by the sea, cycling through futuristic architecture, and participating in the Fallas festival, where enormous paper-mâché figures come to life. It feels like an everlasting holiday with a touch of sangria.

What is the cost of living in Madrid?

Let’s face it: before moving to any country, one of the first questions expats need to ask is about the cost of living in that destination. Like in any other capital, Madrid’s living cost is generally higher than in most other cities. 

However, the people in the city also tend to earn more than to balance the high cost of living. While true, Madrid is also significantly cheaper than other capitals in Europe and North America.

To give you some perspective, you would need around €4,025 in Madrid to maintain the same standard of living that you can have with €7,119 in London. Ultimately, your monthly expenses will vary depending on your personal choices. Although Madrid is generally more affordable, how you live your life will determine whether your monthly living costs exceed or fall below the estimate.

Safety living in Madrid

Safety is a big deal if you’re considering moving to Madrid for good. Madrid is an exciting city in terms of safety. It’s like many other European capitals with things like pickpocketing. But it’s also known as one of the safest and friendliest places. As an expat in Madrid, your safety is mostly up to you.

Stay alert, take care of your stuff, and you’ll likely avoid petty crimes like pickpocketing. While there’s a chance of encountering pickpockets, especially in busy areas, being cautious with your belongings can help. Thankfully, violent crimes against tourists and expats are sporadic in Madrid.


The healthcare system in Madrid

Healthcare in Madrid is top-notch, whether you’re a local or an expat. The city boasts a robust public healthcare system, the Sistema Nacional de Salud or SNS. This public healthcare system provides quality medical services that are accessible and affordable. 

Spain’s universal healthcare system covers most medical needs, including emergencies, hospital stays, and specialist consultations. As an expat, you can access this system by registering for the public healthcare system and paying into the social security system.

Additionally, Madrid has many private healthcare facilities, offering faster access to services and English-speaking staff. While private healthcare comes at a cost, it also provides added convenience and flexibility. 

Overall, Madrid’s healthcare system ensures that residents and expats receive the care they need, making it a reliable option for those living there.

Work labor in Madrid

Madrid has many companies popping up, so finding work is getting easier. The city’s buzzing with industries like electronics and machinery, making it a great place to job hunt. As an expat, finding work can be competitive, but Madrid’s international environment welcomes diversity, making it easier to integrate into the workforce.

The work culture in Madrid often involves longer work hours, with a break in the afternoon for siesta, reflecting the city’s relaxed pace of life. Labor laws in Spain provide workers with rights and protections, ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. 

As an expat, you may need to learn Spanish to enhance your job prospects and also navigate the local labor market.

Education while living in Madrid

In Madrid, you’ll find various schooling options for expat kids. From local Spanish schools to international schools offering different curricula like British, American, or IB programs, there are enough options to pick from. 

These schools can be a great choice to keep your child’s education consistent with what they’re used to back home.

Madrid is a hub for higher education, with several universities offering courses in English and other languages. The city’s universities are known for their quality education and vibrant campus life.

Whether you’re pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or even a PhD, Madrid’s universities offer a wide range of programs to choose from. Plus, studying in Madrid allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture and history, making your educational experience even more enriching.

How can a foreigner move to Madrid?

When you’re planning to move to a new country like Spain, your first step is to sort out the visa. Spain has different visas for entry, depending on why you’re moving. You need to meet all the requirements for the visa you choose. 

If this is your first time interacting with Spanish immigration, we’d recommend contacting our immigration consultants. They will be of great help in helping you maneuver the rather bureaucratic immigration process.

Is it worth living in Madrid?

Madrid is undeniably one of the world’s top places to live, offering a mix of culture, affordability, and quality of life that’s hard to beat. However, living in Madrid as an expat is different from living there as a local Spaniard. Judging from the national standard, Madrid is more expensive than other smaller towns in Spain.

However, as an expat accustomed to the high cost of living in other first-world countries, you will find it quite cheap here. It’s a vibrant city with a unique charm to it. The key question is whether you can maintain your desired lifestyle there. 

Remember that everyone has unique needs that should guide their decision when choosing a city in Spain.

Do you need help moving to Madrid?

There is no denying that Madrid is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. This city’s allure lies in its vibrant culture, rich history, and welcoming atmosphere. We hope that this post has given you enough insight into what living in Madrid is like. 

Whenever you are ready, do not hesitate to reach out to our professionals at Viv Europe. We will help you navigate the bureaucratic hurdles of immigration, allowing you to focus on embracing all Madrid offers. From securing the right visa to finding accommodation and understanding local customs, our team is dedicated to ensuring your move is stress-free. 

Also, if you have any further questions or concerns, join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, to connect with like-minded enthusiasts who will be glad to help you. See you soon! 



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