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Things to know
about Madrid

One of Europe's Cultural Capitals!


Madrid, Spain's central capital and most populated city with an estimated 3.4 million people in the city itself and approximately 6.89 million inhabitants in the Madrid Metropolitan area, is a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks such as the Buen Retiro.

As one of the top 5 largest cities in the EU, Madrid is renowned for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters.

Madrid’s status as the national capital reflects the centralizing policy of the 16th-century Spanish king Philip II and his successors. The choice of Madrid, however, was also the result of the city’s previous obscurity and neutrality: it was chosen because it lacked ties with an established nonroyal power rather than because of any strategic, geographic, or economic considerations.

Madrid is a city of contrasting styles, reflecting clearly the different periods in which change and development took place. The old centre, a maze of small streets around a few squares in the vicinity of the imposing Plaza Mayor, contrasts with the stately Neoclassical buildings and grand boulevards created by the most eminent architects of their day.


Modern office buildings in the centre and swaths of apartment blocks around the outskirts attest to the styles and economic realities of present-day development.

Being the centre of government, finance and insurance have long contributed to the prosperity of Madrid, along with tourism and the city's position as Spain's transportation hub.

In addition to its famous museums, busy streets dotted with all kinds of shops, restaurants with world cuisine and unbeatable nightlife, Madrid will surprise you with its tranquil historic spots that charm everyone walking by.

Modern pressures have perhaps 

inhibited the extensive street life for which Madrid has been famous, although people still live very much in the streets, especially during the intense heat of summer when the café terraces fill and people stroll up and down in the evenings. 

A welcoming city with an abundance of things to see, do and eat!


Cheerful and vibrant at all hours, Madrid is famous for being an open city with all kinds of people from anywhere in the world.


Here you'll find traditional family-run, century-old bars where friends meet up for a drink, every style of the neighbourhood and cultural centres that offer up an alternative type of tourism.


Madrid's authenticity is hard to beat. It is welcoming and diverse. Madrid is, without a doubt, one of Europe’s most interesting cities.

Walking around Madrid means coming across iconic spots such as the stunning Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor with 400 years of history, the buzzing Puerta del Sol, the famous Gran Vía full of shops, or the four tallest towers in Spain.

When it's time to eat, Madrid has many different options, each more appealing than the last. On the one hand, traditional bars where you can discover the old-fashioned, unpretentious atmosphere known as ‘castizo’, and why tapas are so much fun.


On the other hand, there are its cutting-edge restaurants like DiverXO and traditional markets that have been turned into new gourmet spaces, such as San Miguel, which has become a true gastronomic shrine.


In Madrid, the time is always ripe to enjoy an animated, urban atmosphere. For example, the increasingly famous weekend brunches in enclosed glass terraces, courtyards, rooftops, etc.


Fashionistas will find all options: luxury shops on the "Golden Mile", vintage establishments in areas such as Fuencarral, new designer markets like the Mercado de Motores, and craft workshops and bookshops over 100 years old.


At dusk, some of the city’s viewpoints will surprise you with unique sunsets, at the Temple of Debod or the rooftop bar of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, for example.


And at the end of the day... nightlife in Madrid is legendary with live music, all kinds of ambiences, and music until the sun comes up.

How does Madrid Compare? 

The average cost of living in Madrid is €1450, which is in the top 29% of the most expensive cities in the world, ranked 2725th out of 9294 in a recent global list and 2nd out of 153 in Spain.

The median after-tax salary is €1873, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.3 months.


Ranked 95th (TOP 1%) in the list of best places to live in the world and 1st best city to live in Spain.


With an estimated population of 3.4M(City based), Madrid is the 1st largest city in Spain.

Although the cost of living in Madrid is expensive in comparison to other Spanish cities like Seville and Valencia, it’s still more affordable than the other European capitals like Paris or 



Without the rent, your monthly expenses will be €720 on average. For accommodation, expect to pay at least €800 monthly. So with a total of €1,520, you can afford to live in Madrid.

The accommodation hunt in Madrid is fierce: it’s especially competitive at the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn because of incoming students. The high demand also makes the prices go up. So the best advice we can give you would be to start your housing search as early as May.

Public transport-wise, Madrid has an extensive and affordable public transport system. While the cheapest option is a bus (€1.50 for a single-way ticket), the most convenient option is the metro.


You can use the metro by purchasing an initial top-up card for €2.50 and then buy a multi-zone single ticket for €2. If you know you’ll be using public transport extensively, you can buy a 10-trip ticket pack for just €12.20, which you can share with friends.

Alternatively, you can purchase a monthly subscription for both bus and metro. If you're under 26, you'll pay €20 monthly for Abono Joven subscription which allows you to travel all of the zones freely. If you're 26 or older, you'll pay for a standard monthly 

subscription for each zone. The base price, which covers zone A, costs €54.60.

Cost of Living
in Madrid

Not everyone is subject to income tax in Spain. If you are a resident for less than 182 days in each calendar year, you do not need to pay tax. Also, if you do not make more than €17,707 per year, receive a rental income of more than €1,000 and/or receive a capital gains and savings income of more than €1,600, you will not need to pay tax.

If you are working in Spain, your employer can deduct your tax from your paycheck. It is also your choice not to have this happen, particularly if you are going to be paying tax in another country.

Most people in Spain do not have their tax deducted from their paychecks, instead choosing to pay their tax bill by June 20th for the previous year. Unless you are a good saver, this is not always the smartest option.



Personal allowances (tax-free thresholds) for Spanish income tax purposes are €5,151, which increases to €6,069 for persons over age 65 and €6,273 for persons over age 75.

Child allowances for Spanish income tax purposes are: €1,836 for the first child, €2,040 for the second child, €3,672 for the third child and €4,182 for additional children. In addition, Spain has a maternity allowance of €2,244 for each child under three years old.

Eligibility to Work in Madrid

Spain is an enticing country to live in. Unsurprisingly, thousands of people apply for jobs in Spain and many make the move each year. Non-EU citizens need a Spanish Work Visa to be able to legally start work.

If you want to live and work in Spain, there are two main branches of authorities that you will be dealing with: the immigration authority under the Secretary of State for Migration (La Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones), and the labour and employment authorities under the Ministry of Labor and Economy (Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social).


Fortunately for EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens, moving to Spain is simple, and they can live, work, and study in the country without restriction. However, most non-EU/EEA citizens, also called third-country nationals, need a work permit and must secure an employment contract before they can apply for one. 


UK citizens who wish to come to Spain to live and work post-Brexit will also need a residence and work visa. 

Work permit exemptions

Some people don’t need to obtain a work permit to work in Spain, however, they may still need a visa to enter the country. These include university professors, technicians, and scientists. Others who benefit from this exemption include those moving to Spain to develop scientific or cultural programs, foreign journalists, artists coming for specific performances, clergy, and trade union officials. If you are joining a family member who has a Spanish work permit, you may not need a visa.

Rules for volunteers

If you are a citizen of a country with short-term, visa-free, entry to Spain, you can enter the country to do volunteer work without a permit. However, you must respect the limits of the visa-free entry agreements that Spain has with your country; for example, 90 days for US citizens.

Required documents

When you arrive in Spain, to stay long term, you must apply for a resident permit (Tarjeta de Residencia – TIE) and a Foreigner’s Identity Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – NIE) through the local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police within 30 days.

What is a Work Visa?

Workers who are not from EU countries need to obtain a Work Visa to be able to live and work in Spain. Without a Work Visa, a company cannot legally employ non-EU citizens.

There are various types of Work Visas for Spain for different types of jobs and for different lengths of employment. Some of the most common types of work visas are:

  • Long-term Work Visas

  • Seasonal Work Visas

  • Au Pair Visas

  • EU Blue Card

How to get a Visa to Work in Spain

There are numerous different types of Spanish Work Visas. Most require going to a Spanish embassy or consulate in the individual’s home country although, for some certain types of visas, the prospective employer makes the initial application on the employee’s behalf.

Work as an Employee (Highly-skilled)

To work in Spain as a highly-skilled employee, non-EU citizens need to find a job which is listed as a ‘Shortage Occupation’. This is a job for which there is a lack of suitable candidates within the EU. The employer must then request a Work Visa from the Ministry of Labour.

Work permit applications can take up to 8 months to process so forward planning is needed. Once the Ministry of Labour has approved the application, the embassy or consulate issues the work and residence visa.

Visa for Seasonal Workers

The process of obtaining a Work Visa for Seasonal Workers is similar to the process for highly-skilled workers. Employers need to apply for the visa on the worker’s behalf from the Ministry of Labour.

In addition to this process, seasonal workers need to demonstrate they have suitable accommodation arranged, their travel costs are covered, and that they will return to their country once the job has finished. The visas are valid for the duration of the work contract.

Self-employed and Freelance Workers

To work in Spain as a freelancer, it is necessary to apply for a Work Visa at a Spanish consulate or embassy. The work visas are valid for one year but can be renewed if all the conditions are still met. The required documentation includes:

  • Proof of sufficient finances to support yourself

  • Proof of relevant skills and experience

  • A business plan (if applicable)

  • Any contracts or commissions from companies

  • Any required licences or registrations (industry or job-specific)

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is for people who spent at least 3 years completing a higher education qualification which allows them to work as skilled professionals.

People who have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience at a high level are also eligible. The employer submits the application on the behalf of the applicant.


A work contract that includes a salary which is at least 50% more than the average wage in Spain (or at least 20% more if the skills are in demand) is a requirement. Once approved, the worker also needs to apply for a visa from a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country. Blue cards are valid for one year but can be renewed as long as the conditions are still met.

Visa for Au Pairs in Spain

Au pairs can apply for a special Visa for Au Pairs at a Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country before coming to Spain. Applicants need to meet a few conditions to successfully apply:

  1. Be aged between 17 and 30.

  2. Possess an au pair agreement with a host family which states the salary and conditions.

  3. Provide proof of sufficient finances to self-support.

  4. Possess medical cover.

Visas for Au Pairs are valid for one year but can be extended if the conditions are still met.

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Want to work in Madrid? Click here today for information on all multi-lingual roles in Spain:

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