Table of contents

    Moving to Madrid

    Planning a house move abroad to Madrid, Spain? Take a look at our short guide to living as an expat in Madrid. Helpful advice from choosing a location to moving to Madrid with children.

    Moving to Madrid

    Madrid is the capital city of Spain and the third largest city in the European Union. Madrid has a population of around 3.3 million, with almost 13% of this comprising of immigrants. With its high standard of living, good employment prospects, Mediterranean climate and fantastic cultural and sporting legacies, it’s an understandable choice of location to start a new life in Spain.

    Find out important information about immigrating to Spain.

    Moving home is always a daunting experience, but when it’s abroad to a foreign city in a new country, it can become an overwhelming time. If your move to Spain is taking you to Madrid, here is some useful information to have when moving abroad to Spain’s capital city.

    Where to live in Madrid

    There are 21 districts in the city of Madrid, offering people moving to Madrid different options to suit all lifestyles.

    Areas for families

    If you are moving abroad to Madrid with your family, you may have to look in the more suburban areas to find a property large enough to house you and your children, as residential property in the city centre comprises of mainly flats.

    The suburbs of Salamanca, Retiro, Chamberi, Nuevos Ministerios and Chamartin are popular districts for families moving to Madrid.

    Chamberi offers a traditional Madrid lifestyle, with local markets, authentic tapas restaurants and village feel. It is close to the city centre, but visiting tourists are scarce, so retains a residential atmosphere. You’ll also find many activities for children here, with a number of children’s playgrounds in the area.

    Outside of working hours, Nuevos Ministerios and Chamartin are quiet neighbourhoods, prioritising practicality over nightlife, with good transport links into the centre of Madrid, served by the Cercanias railway.

    Exclusive Salamanca is a very sought after area. It is close to the centre of Madrid, quiet, safe, and has excellent schools and local services. You should, however, expect to find property prices expensive here. Similar to Salamanca, Retiro is a quiet, residential area with excellent green spaces. It is less expensive than Salamanca, but isn’t as well connected to the city centre.

    Areas for professionals

    Popular areas for young professionals include Sol, Chueca and Malasana. Sol is in the heart of Madrid, with many shops, bars and restaurants, and a large number of English speakers. Chueca and Malasana offer a more residential feel, but still retains a trendy, vibrant atmosphere.

    With buses every 10 minutes to the centre of Madrid, in addition to a railway station and Metro line, Aravaca is a popular area for commuters working in the city. The high quality of life and good housing in this district also makes is desirable for families.

    If you are moving to work in Madrid, talk to your new colleagues before you move out to learn where they live or where they would suggest as good places to live, as this may help you decide on a location to set up home.

    Life in Madrid

    Public Transport

    There are trains, tubes, buses and taxis around the city, which makes it easy to get around and to visit other places further afield.

    The metro in Madrid, which is the fastest mode of transport in the city, is open every day from 6am to 1:30am, operating across 13 lines and more than 200 stations. The Madrid Metro is safe, clean, efficient, and the majority of the trains are modern and air conditioned.

    In addition to the Madrid Metro, there are 170 bus lines and 10 lines of local trains, the Cercanias railway, which links the suburbs to the city.

    For traveling during the night, there is a night bus, ‘buhos’, which runs from 11:45pm to 6am.

    Although you can buy single journey tickets, most residents of Madrid get a Personal or Multi-Personal Public Transport Card, which can be used across all public transport in the Autonomous Community of Madrid to recieve discounts on most ticket types.

    If you’ll be using the Madrid public transport services regularly, you may be best getting a 30-day or annual season ticket. The price for this will cary depending on your age and what zones you wish to travel in, it can also ONLY by purchased in conjuction with a Personal Public Transport Card (not Multi-Personal).


    Spain’s capital city is Madrid and like many other cities throughout Europe, it is busy and crowded. However, it has lots of green spaces and it’s an extremely safe city. There are pickpockets, so you must take care when you’re out and about, but it is safe to walk around in both day and night, and the public transport is very safe to use.

    Entertainment in Madrid

    Madrid has a constantly changing events list and wherever you live will have a community that has organised events too. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to suit all budgets, cinemas and theatres, and wonderful streets to explore.

    Shopping in Madrid

    Madrid is a shopper’s paradise; there are high end designer shops, together with high street chains and Sunday markets. Shops here are often open until late, sometimes until 10pm.

    The streets of the Salamanca district are popular with shoppers. Calle Serrano and Calle Velázquez are the main streets, but the smaller surrounding streets in the area also offer excellent shopping options. With a number of department stores and shopping malls in Madrid, there is something here to suit everyone.

    Green Spaces

    For a capital city Madrid is very green, the green areas cover over 250,000 hectares, and if you live on the outskirts of the centre you can expect to find plenty of green spaces, the river and parks for children.

    The Retiro, Botanical Gardens and Parque del Oeste Park are just a few of the many parks to enjoy in Madrid.

    Culture and sport

    Madrid is full of cultural amenities and entertaining activities. As the culture centre of Spain, Madrid is considered a top destination for art museums. Museo del Prado in central Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ is one of the most visited museums in the world. You’ll also find the National Archaeological Museum and the National Museum of Natural Sciences.

    If you’re a classical music and opera fan, you’ll find excellent venues to enjoy classical music concerts, including the Auditorio Nacional de Música and the Teatro Real.

    You’ve also got two of the most successful Spanish football clubs, Atletico and Real Madrid. Whether you’ll be supporting Atleti or Los Blancos, you’ll certainly have a lot of football to enjoy during your time in Madrid.


    You’ll find meal times in Barcelona differ from the UK, with breakfast, lunch and dinner usually taken later in the day.

    The long gap between lunch and dinner makes tapas a strong feature in the Spanish diet as an appetiser before dinner. There’s a large variety of choice in tapas dishes, reflecting the different tastes of Spain, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

    In terms of cost, a basic lunch within the business district will cost an average of €14, whereas a fast food lunch will be around €8. A standard 3 course dinner for two with wine, in a restaurant, will cost an average of €46, while a simple pub dinner will be around €29. Do rememeber though that these prices are just an average, and actual prices may scew higher or lower depending on where you go in the city.


    The nightlife is a significant attraction to Madrid, with a number of tapas bars, nightclubs, live music venues and cocktail bars. There is a selection of enjoyable destinations for evening events in Madrid, including Sol, Bilbao, Tribunal and Chueca, which is particularly popular with the gay community.

    It is notable that nights out in Madrid usually occur later, often not starting until 12am and going on until 6am.

    Alternative art is also well represented in Madrid, with a number of performing venues and festivals celebrating the alternative scene.

    Madrid Property Prices

    Property prices are expensive in Madrid, as to be expected for a capital city, but they are certainly lower than somewhere like Paris or London. The average price for a property in Madrid is around €5,246 per square metre in the city centre and €3,067 outside the city centre.

    If you are planning to rent in Madrid, you can rent a small 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre for around €932 a month. For a 3 bedroom property in Madrid’s city centre, the monthly rental price increases to around €1,681. If you would rather live outside the centre of the city, a 1 bedroom apartment will cost an average of €693 a month, and a 3 bedroom property would be €1,147 a month.

    Moving to Madrid with Children

    As the capital city of Spain, Madrid is home to a number of international and bilingual schools, so you’ll be well placed to enrol your children into an international school to allow them to continue with the UK curriculum.

    You may, however, wish you send your child to the local community school, of which there are many to choose from in Madrid. This would be a good way to get to know the other children around you and for your family you quickly become part of the community.

    Castellano is the official language in Madrid and you can be sure your children will be picking it up soon after you have moved. It might be helpful to get some private Spanish lessons for them after school, or let them loose in the park to begin communicating with the local kids. Mixing with other children will soon get them talking.

    If you would like your children to learn some basic spanish before the move, BBC Bitesize has resources available for children learning spanish in KS1 and learning spanish in KS2.

    Updated: January 2021

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