Why is everyone moving to Madrid?
“You never know how it feels to have 50 days of straight indiscriminated sun, in winter, until you live it at least once in your life.”
I was born and raised in Italy, precisely in the sunny and rural Tuscany, a small province south of Siena, Grosseto is called, nah don’t google it, it’s really nothing special, a few wineries, boars and ok, some cool beaches. I have Persian origins, so I always had relatives all over.
I lived for work mainly in Southern California (Newport Beach), Argentina (Buenos Aires) and Brazil (Fortaleza) and a total of 12 different cities around the world. No, I am not the most experienced globe trotter in the world but I also did some traveling and I noticed some key differences among cities, and today I want to share them with you, especially regarding Madrid.
I have been living in Madrid for over 5 years now and the most surprising thing for me is that everyday when I hit the streets to walk somewhere, I smile, thinking that there is really no major negative factor that would push me to live somewhere else! I do not know how it is for you, but for me, an expat used to moving, new challenges and stimuli, after 2-3 years a place starts to smell like old.
Of course not that I focus every day try to find what are the negatives about the place I live. But I think it is healthy to question yourself from time to time. Enough introduction now. Let’s get to it!
Why is Madrid so great
I think the main factor, is that Madrid it truly feels like a small city, despite its 3 million inhabitants. After all, it truly was a small city until past week, in 1910 the population of Madrid and the area around it was 700.000 inhabitants! Let’s not forget that Toledo was the capital of Spain until 1561. So although the city is distributed in a fairly wide space, the core center, the oldest part, where still today most shops and restaurants and concentrated, remains extremely compact and walkable.
If this was not enough and you felt like exploring all the corners of the city, Madrid has one of the largest Metro lines in Europe. 13 lines and over 300 stations also directly connected with over ground long distance trains.
Ever heard of DRAGADOS? It is a world wide digging company, specialized in tunnels, underground transportation, and basically any version of digging you can think of (dragar=to dig, in Spanish). Some of the most challenging tunnels and metro lines were built by these folks.
Bye Bye Clouds
You never know how it feels to have 50 days of straight indiscriminated sun, in winter, until you live it at least once in your life. I admit I never really lived in a terribly cloudy or rainy city, so I won’t judge, but one of the things that make me smile every single day, is that it rarely rains. Madrid is officially the sunniest capital of Europe with its 250+ days of sun a year. I notice it impacts my daily life in many different ways: I can decide to walk to places instead of needing to take a public transport, or use my bike. It also messes up much less your plans, apart from the obvious pic-nics you can not do if it rains, if you think about it there are so many activities you could still do with your friends if it rains, but that are way more uncomfortable. I am so sorry if you are reading this on a rainy day somewhere not too sunny, but hey, move here and enjoy the sun with me!
It ain’t pricey
No idea how Madrid will be in 10-15 years, I suppose pretty much the same. But here a beer costs 1€, a lunch out 8 to 14€ (2 main courses + coffee AND dessert). An average taxi ride is 5-10€, I mean it is a cheap city, considering it is one of the main capital of Europe, the third most visited country in the world. In Italy touristy cities tend to rip you off more, thinking you will come only once. Not Madrid, a genuine and honest strategy towards success. If you live in it you benefit daily from accessible prices in tasty restaurants. If you come as a tourist, you realize it is a convenient city, you enjoy good food while being surprised every single time by how cheap it is.
Money is not a problem for you? Fantastic, Madrid remains cheaper at the higher levels too. Weather it is a presidential suite what you are after or a Michelin star restaurant, here you will find the same quality for half of the price of London or Paris, for example. Some of my friends mention that they spend +100€ on public transport every month. Here it is 55€ and if you add to this that supermarkets have very reasonable price (traditional markets are even better!) and that you can go out for dinner easily once a week, rental prices are some of the lowest in central Europe (among capitals) this makes it to a very affordable place to live.
How about the Salaries? They are indeed lower than London for example, but considering that the cost of living is substantially lower, technically your purchase power is still higher.
Smiley people will impact your life
Even if it sounds pretty weird, the main reason for which I decided to go to live in Brazil, was that up until that point, every single Brazilian person I had met abroad, had always been extremely friendly, smiley and positive. I wondered one day how would it feel to live surrounded by such environment, and the answer was pretty much this= :D .
Seriously, living one year in Brazil was amazing, it really does impact your every day mood to have 2 dozens people smile at you on the streets while you are just getting out of your home.
So Spain is a bit like that. Depending from which country you are coming from you will notice big difference. So as I said I’m Italian, not that it is the saddest place on earth, quite the opposite. People in Italy are social, open and friendly. But Spain is even better.
The ironic part in all this is that although Spaniards seem super cool to me, the Madrileños are considered to be one of the coldest people in all Spain (by the Spanish people). Once more, depending on the country you are coming from you will notice a positive difference even if Madrid is not Brazil or Andalusia (Spanish true smile capital, I would smile too with those beaches!).
This impacts your every day life and mood. Receiving smiles is a good thing, if you live in a place where you receive many every day even for no reason, than that is really good.
Unlike most of the other European capitals, Madrid has only one main airport. This serves domestic, international and low cost flights. If you are not from Europe you might not grasp the importance of this. Paris, Amsterdam, London just to name a few have the low cost airports over an hour away from the city. Few have convenient access and you often need to get an hour long bus or train. It sort of ruins the whole low cost idea too. With Ryan Air, Easy Jet or Transavia you can get a two way ticket for about 40€ nowadays, between any European capital. If you have to then pay 20€ one way for a 45 minutes bus to the center it is a bit meh.
Madrid has easy access to the airport via metro from any point of the capital. This is for whichever destination you need to fly to. You will be able to visit all of Europe taking advantage of the incredible prices of the low cost airlines, accessing the Madrid Barajas Airport in an easy, fast and cheap way.
Madrid does not suffer the crisis of Spain
If you are an ambitious business woman or men, Madrid could offer you plenty of opportunities. Definitely Spain is going through some rough times, it has a huge public debt, political uncertainties and an economy that is mainly rural and touristy. However, Madrid is not Spain. If all that I said stands true for the country, for cities like Barcelona, Ibiza, Mallorca and Madrid, this is not quite the case. You might not know that there are more German people living in Mallorca than Spaniards. No, not grumpy retired kartoffens, the financial and managerial elite. Many Germans decided to park their families there and work in Germany only for 3-4 days a week, but it is a small island, so.
Barcelona is trendy, has the beach and it is gorgeous. Cataluña is the industrial pumping heart of Spain and it totally is the wealthiest part of the country. Their innovation in the Hotel and Food industry made it one of Europe’s capital of fine dining.
Madrid: 6 times larger than Barcelona, Madrid gather many different interest magnets. It is the diplomatic center of Spain, few are the consulates in Barcelona whereas all of the embassies of Spain are present here. It is the Corporate Head Quarters, whereas it is a foreign office of a global company or simply the main offices of a Spanish business, they will have offices in Madrid. Politics, many are the people involved around this segment. These 3 sectors alone should be enough for you to find a thriving career in Madrid. It also is the most visited city in Spain, so if you are thinking of opening a food and beverages venture, you should not think twice about it. Simple look at the United Nations World Tourism Organization data (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Tourism_rankings) and take your own conclusions.