Pierre is a French and British world citizen, as he has lived in Paris, London, Barcelona, Beijing, Toronto, but still, he prefers Madrid. He loves discovering new things, tapas and wine, writing, reading and rugby. Pierre has been living and working here since 2008, and now helps expats to find a place to rent and to settle down in Madrid via his company FlatAway.
I’ve been living in Madrid for nearly 3 years now. And as in relationships, three years is the key moment to look back and think about why I love to live in Madrid. Of course, every guiri in Madrid has his own reasons, but I hope my “why I love Madrid” post will give you some keys to understand if Madrid is the city for you.
To start with, Madrid is a capital city but it still feels personal and human-sized. Having lived in London, Paris, Beijing and Toronto (the economic capital city of Canada), I can tell you other developed country capital cities do not feel the same. They are gigantic worlds where you seldom get a personal connection for your everyday chores. In Madrid, I already had the first year my favorite places where people recognise me, and this is true for my local supermarket, favorite bar, favorite tapas place, favorite restaurant and sports activity. There’s always some Spanish happy to make you feel you belong to the place.
Then, Madrid is still authentically Spanish and Castilian, but international at the same time. Barcelona, for instance, in which I lived 4 months, is more international, to the point it was impossible to find a restaurant with “typical catalonian food” in the city centre. The best calçots, typical catalonian recipe, had to be found out of the city. Madrid has a good old taverna with cocido madrileno in every neighbourhood. And at the same time, it has all the international food you want: Lavapies is there with its great Indian restaurants, and I tasted Russian, Ethiopian, Colombian, Ecuatorian and authentic Mexican food (not tex-mex) for the first time in Madrid.
All in all, Madrid is small and has everything you need at the same time. I live near the city centre, near Bilbao, and I can say I usually walk to all places I go too, apart from work. The centre as such is quite small, and has an impressive number of tapas place, international restaurants, theatres, operas, pubs, shops, universities… Of course, the suburban sprawl and the spanish real estate craze means most of the 3 million people living around Madrid live more and more outside the #6 metro line. But still, if you live in the city centre, you still feel like sometimes as if you were in a town or a village. Go to my favorite square, Plaza Olavide, and feel the village side of Madrid.
As a conclusion, I believe you have more opportunities as a foreigner in general to find a job in Madrid than in any other city in Spain. Madrid has been growing faster than Barcelona over the last 10 years, and my feeling is that the Madrid job market needs more international profiles than it has right now. Madrid until the 90s had few foreigners compared to other capital cities. So it’s catching up, and it is still the richest region in Spain! For instance, I landed a job in Madrid in the largest management consulting company, and guess what? I was the only employee who did not speak Spanish as its mother tongue. So I was then the guiri, and everyone knew in the company knew I was the French and British guy. And it was clearly a factor the recruiters took into account. But that’s another story: I’ll talk about how a foreigner can differenciate and land a job here even with a 20% unemployment rate in another post.
One last thing – In “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gisbert, the main character and author, has to define what is the word for her new city, Roma: “Sex” her Roman friend says. If you could read the mind of the people in a given city, then the single thought on a majority of people’s minds is this word you’re looking for. What is Madrid’s word in your opinion?
Wherever you are, already in Madrid, or just thinking about moving here, I hope this post will make you think and that we’ll exchange about why you chose or are going to chose Madrid! For other specific information on renting and relocating to Madrid, visit my website for Flats, Apartments and Rooms to Rent in Madrid with Free Relocation Support.
If you have any question, or if I can help you in any way, please leave a comment.
Pierre – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.flatawaymadrid.com