Everybody who goes to Spain makes Barcelona their number one priority. So even though Madrid is the capital city, Barcelona is usually number one. After spending a couple of months in Madrid, I had to wonder why Barcelona is so much more popular.

We’ve been to Spain before, and yes, we skipped Madrid in the past. But this time around, my partner and I have been gallivanting through the enchanting streets of Madrid, Spain. The city that combines the old-world charm of Europe with the modern spirit of a cosmopolitan city, had us wrapped around its little finger from the moment we stepped foot there.

Is Madrid good for digital nomads?

When it comes to your daily needs as a digital nomad, Madrid covers everything. The internet is some of the best in the world, so no worries there. There are plenty of coworking spaces and cafes for you to work from too.

Now, before we dive in, let’s address the elephant in the room. “Isn’t Madrid too upscale for digital nomads?” you may wonder. Well, you’re not entirely wrong, but as your guide to the posh-nomadic lifestyle, I am here to show you how it’s done. If you’ve got the money, the time, and a knack for finding the finest things in life, why not live it up in Madrid? Why not settle for the best? 

First Impressions of Madrid

When I first got to Madrid, I must say, I was enthralled by the gorgeous streets, abundance of museums, and delicious selection of food. 

Turnons:

  • Madrid Is Incredibly Lively: Madrid’s culture of staying out late is perfect for me since I often have to work all day and take calls all the way into the evening.
  • I’m Overwhelmed With Options: Do I visit this museum? Do I go to that Flamenco class? And of course, some days, I just want to relax at a park on your lunch break.
  • Literary City: Book lovers, rejoice! Madrid is a haven with numerous charming bookstores waiting to be explored. Something I think doesn’t get touted often enough.

Turnoffs:

  • Everything Starts Late: Didn’t I already mention this? Yeah, it’s lovely to be out with everyone well past midnight socializing, but trying to get stuff done before 8 or 9 is a bit of a pain. This is not a city for early risers.

Everything You Need To Know Before You Get To Madrid

So you’ve actually gone ahead and booked your flight to Madrid. That’s incredibly exciting. Almost as exciting as a night out in one of Madrid’s lively barrios. 

You will still need to get work done while you’re there though. As tempting as it can be to munch on tapas and drink cervezas well into the morning, I’m going to give you some tips to enjoy a healthy, productive stay without breaking your budget or getting stressed out.o

What’s the best time to visit Madrid?

There’s no time like the present! But seriously, Madrid is a delight all year round, each season bringing its own unique charm. I haven’t been there for every season, but given that we went in March and April – hardly peak tourist season – there should be lots of things to do no matter when you go.

Spring (March to May) is absolutely delightful. Picture this: the city awakening from its winter slumber, trees blossoming, the sun shining more often but the heat not quite at its peak. Temperatures range from the 50s to the low 70s (°F), making it a splendid time to explore the city’s parks and outdoor markets and soak up that crisp, invigorating Spanish air.

Digital Nomad Madrid
Digital Nomad Madrid

Summer (June to August) is quite the sizzler, and I do mean that quite literally! Temperatures can reach into the 90s (°F), but don’t let that deter you, dear. If millions of Madrilenos can handle it, so can you! Just think of all the rooftop bars, outdoor festivals, and balmy nights under the Madrid sky. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to cool down with a delicious tinto de verano or indulge in some heavenly ice cream!

Fall (September to November) is when Madrid truly shows off. The leaves are turning, there’s that lovely nip in the air, and the city is a riot of crecolor. It’s also when many cultural events take place. The weather tends to be moderate, with temperatures typically in the 50s and 60s (°F).

Winter (December to February) has its own charm. Imagine sipping on a warm cup of chocolate con churros while strolling through the city under a soft blanket of snow. It can get chilly with temperatures often in the 40s (°F), but hey, that’s what cozy sweaters and stylish winter boots are for!

Housing & Neighborhoods

Now, Madrid is huge, and just like its sprawling nightlife, its housing options are also found far and wide. But don’t worry! I’ve got the skinny on where to look and what to expect. If I managed to snag an apartment that made my boyfriend go “Wow”, so can you!

First things first, define what you need. Do you want a quiet neighborhood where you can concentrate on work during the day? Or are you after the hustle and bustle of the city center, where the rhythm of Madrid can be a little intoxicating? Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to finish a conference call amidst the symphony of Madrid’s street life.

Next, you’ll want to jump online. There are a bunch of platforms out there where you can scout potential flats for short-term stays. Personally, I haven’t found any of them to be particularly useful. Apartments on these sites always seem to be lacking something critical, like a comfortable chair for working, or a fully-equipped kitchen. 

I know I’m not alone, if you want a more consistent solution, we’re in the process of curating a large database of digital nomad apartments in X and beyond. Enter your name and email below to get access to them as soon as they’re released.

If you’re looking to stay for a longer time in Madrid, websites like Idealista, Spotahome, and Badi are like the holy trinity of apartment hunting for locals. Yes, they are in Spanish, but most of them have an English option, and Google Translate is always there to help you out!

Prepare to be amazed at the range of options – from charming apartments with balconies overlooking the vibrant streets to modern, sleek flats in hip neighborhoods. The prices can vary depending on the location and the size, but trust me, there are some absolute gems to be found.

You’re probably thinking, “Okay, Brittany, that’s all well and good, but I need more than pretty tiles and balconies to feel at home.” Well, darling, you’re in luck because Madrid’s apartments are usually well-equipped, with many offering Wi-Fi, washing machines, and fully stocked kitchens. And if you, like me, are a fan of homemade paella nights, you’ll appreciate having everything you need at your fingertips.

But don’t forget, it’s not all about the interiors. You’ll want to pay close attention to the neighborhood too. My advice? Go where the locals go. Malasaña, Chueca, La Latina…these areas are buzzing with character and life. Just imagine waking up, grabbing your laptop, and heading to a cute little café to work before exploring the charming local markets.

Oh, and one last thing before you go signing any leases. Make sure to double-check all the terms and conditions. In Spain, a one-month deposit is mandatory for any rental agreement (this does not apply to short-term rentals), so that can make the upfront costs a bit higher for an extended stay.

Best Neighborhoods

Remember, the right neighborhood for you is the one that resonates with your lifestyle, goals, and personality. Each one of these neighborhoods has its unique charm and advantages. You’re not just choosing a place to live; you’re choosing your home base for your Madrid, and possibly Spanish, adventure. Here is my list of the top 10 neighborhoods, I’ll go into more depth exploring the first 3. You can read about the rest in my article on the best neighborhoods in Madrid. Happy exploring! 

  1. Malasaña
  2. Chueca
  3. Salamanca
  4. La Latina
  5. Lavapiés
  6. Retiro
  7. Chamberí
  8. Arganzuela
  9. Moncloa
  10. Barrio de las Letras

When it comes to actually finding accommodations, you can always look for discounts, but Madrid is a city that’s full of options. The sky is the limit and the closer you are to the most desirable streets, full of bars and restaurants, the more you’ll pay.

Malasaña

Monthly Rental Price Range: $1,200+

Safety: High

Transportation: Highly Accessible

This is the neighborhood where hipster vibes meet traditional Spanish culture. You’ll be falling in love with the bohemian spirit and vibrant street art of Malasaña. Need a place to work and savor a delicious café con leche? Look no further. From cozy bookshops to fashionable coffee spots, this neighborhood is a digital nomad’s dream come true. Plus, it’s safe, lively, and oh-so-walkable.

Chueca

Monthly Rental Price Range: $1,200+

Safety: High

Transportation: Highly Accessible

Got a soft spot for nightlife? Chueca might be your match made in heaven. Chueca brims with energy, color, and life, offering a vibrant mix of trendy bars, clubs, and eateries. But don’t be fooled – it’s not all about partying. Chueca also provides tranquil corners for you to focus and get some work done during the day. Safety is high and transport links are plentiful. It’s a neighborhood that loves to work hard and play hard.

Salamanca

Monthly Rental Price Range: $1,500+

Safety: High

Transportation: Highly Accessible

If luxury and elegance are your things, then honey, welcome to Salamanca. This high-end neighborhood is filled with designer boutiques, chic restaurants, and stunning architecture. Yet, it’s not just about glamor. Salamanca also offers peaceful, leafy streets and a slower pace of life. The perfect haven to unwind and concentrate on your projects after a busy day in the city center. It’s safe, sophisticated, and well-connected to the rest of Madrid.

Worst Neighborhoods

Some neighborhoods are worse than others. In fact, the most discouraging area is La Canada Real, but I doubt you would have any reason to go there. The places I list here are not exactly dangerous, but they’re definitely among the least desirable parts of Madrid. So if you’re thinking of staying there, beware that the cheapest apartment usually isn’t even worth the discounted price.

  1. Villaverde
  2. Usera
  3. Carabanchel
  4. San Cristobal
  5. Puente de Vallecas

Entry & Visas

Getting into Spain is a breeze if you’re from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. You can waltz in with just your passport or ID, no matter the length or purpose of your stay. That’s right, you could decide to live under the Spanish sun without the hassle of a visa. Oh, how I envy you!

But if you’re not from the EU or EEA, things are a tad more complicated, but nothing we can’t handle. If your trip is short (think 90 days), and you’re from countries like the US, Canada, or Australia, you can enter Spain without a visa for tourism or business. But if you’re thinking of staying longer (which, trust me, you might), you’ll need a long-term visa. This could be a work visa, student visa, golden visa (if you’re planning a hefty investment), retirement visa, or a non-lucrative visa (if you’re lucky enough to afford to live without working).

Now, darling, if you’re a digital nomad like me and want to soak up Spain beyond the 90-day tourist visa, Spain has got your back. They’ve crafted a special digital nomad visa for those working remotely for a company outside Spain. But there are some requirements, sweetie. You’ll need at least an undergraduate degree or 3 years of work experience in your field. Plus, you’ll have to get an NIE number before applying for your visa. On the bright side, this visa also covers your family, so you won’t have to leave your loved ones behind. Just remember to grab all the required documents, including proof of your work and financial stability. Once approved, you or your representative need to pick up the visa within a month. And voila, you’re ready to live your Spanish dream.

Currency

There isn’t much for me to say here. Both credit cards and cash are pretty widely accepted in Madrid, it’s a big capital city after all. Obviously, they use the Euro in Spain, and since it’s such a common currency, you’ll probably get good exchange rates.

Getting to Madrid from the airport

Madrid is an exceptionally well-connected city. Fortunately for you, you will have exactly 4 options to get back from the airport: taxi, metro, bus, and train. The cheapest option is of course the bus, metro and train are also quite affordable and a bit faster. Naturally, the problem with all these options is that they don’t take you directly to your destination. If you travel with a heavy suitcase, that can pose issues. Taxis are quite affordable in Western Europe, you only need to pay 30 euros for a ride from the airport to the center. 

Madrid-Barajas is not too far from the center, and it’s the only airport around. Madrid also has two train stations, Atocha and Chamartin, which are decently close to Madrid’s best neighborhoods and are well-connected to its public transportation.

While you’re there

Touchdown! You’re in Madrid, the city of a thousand tastes, sounds, and sights. But before you immerse yourself in the city’s allure, there are a few practicalities to sort out.

What to do the day you arrive

First, get yourself connected, darling. Spain has a handful of mobile operators, but three of the most reliable ones are Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange. Just pop into one of their shops, grab a prepaid SIM card, and voila! You’ll be Instagramming your journey down the Gran Via in no time.

Now, about the water. You’re probably parched from the journey and wondering if you can drink from the tap. Well, darling, the answer is a resounding yes! Madrid’s tap water is as clean as a whistle and perfectly safe to drink. 

And for getting around the city, Madrid’s public transportation is your new best friend. You have the Metro, a rainbow of bus lines, and even a suburban rail network (Cercanías) that will whisk you to every corner of the city. Consider getting a Tourist Travel Pass for unlimited rides within your chosen zones – it’ll be a life (and wallet) saver, promise!

Where to work in Madrid

Oh, the perks of the digital nomad life! Madrid is just brimming with gorgeous cafés and coworking spaces, honey, all set to inspire your best workdays. I can’t help but daydream about the hours my boyfriend and I have spent working in these gems. You’re in for a similar treat, darling!

Every street corner in Madrid seems to be graced with an enchanting café. My absolute favorite has to be La Bicicleta in Malasaña. It’s a fantastic blend of café culture and coworking vibe, offering comfy couches, a laid-back atmosphere, and most importantly, a robust Wi-Fi connection. And I must say, their coffee is as enticing as their ambient charm – it keeps the brain cogs oiled and the words flowing. Plus, they host art exhibits from time to time. Can you think of anything more inspiring?

Thankfully, Madrid is a large capital city and possesses a wide variety of coworking spaces and cafes to work from. 

If a proper coworking space is what you seek, you’re spoiled for choice in Madrid. I recommend Spaces Madrid Rio if you like open, bright, and stylish interiors. It’s a heaven for creative minds, the kind of place where you find artists, digital nomads, and tech entrepreneurs huddled over their devices or brainstorming their next big idea. It’s practically a hive of global innovation right there in Madrid!

And if you’re like me and you prefer a more intimate and quiet workspace, The Shed Co might just be your sanctuary. Its warm wooden interiors and cozy feel make it an oasis in the bustling city.

Food

Let’s start where locals do – the markets. The Mercado de San Miguel, for example, is a foodie’s paradise! It’s an entire century-old iron-and-glass structure dedicated to the most mouthwatering array of groceries you’ll ever lay eyes on. Picture rows of ruby-red tomatoes, the freshest meats, and a smorgasbord of olives. And oh, don’t forget to snag a wheel of Manchego cheese, the creamy, slightly piquant superstar of Spanish fromage. 

Then, there’s street food. The Madrid street food scene is a melodrama, full of drama and delight. Make sure you don’t miss out on the bocadillo de calamares – a calamari sandwich that locals swear by. Oh, and do remember to indulge in some churros con chocolate – it’s the perfect sugary antidote to any gloomy day or night out.

And when the sun starts to dip and the city lights flicker on, Madrid’s restaurant scene comes alive. You and your beau must try Botín, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world! The specialty? Suckling pig roasted to perfection. For something more contemporary, DiverXO, led by the punk rock star of Spanish cuisine, David Muñoz, offers an eccentric, mind-bending culinary adventure.

But perhaps, my favorite spot has to be La Bola. Nothing spells comfort like their traditional Madrid stew, Cocido Madrileño, a mouthwatering pot of meat, chickpeas, and veggies that’s slow-cooked to perfection.

Vibes

Social Life in Madrid

Madrid has been described as a melting pot of cultures, attracting a diverse blend of students, professionals, and travelers alike. Its multicultural population adds to the variety and makes it easy to meet people from all walks of life. Online platforms such as Meetup are popular for finding international meetups and pub crawls, which can be a great way to socialize and meet new friends if you don’t have time to meet some directly.

While Madrid is a bustling metropolis, its people are known for their warmth and friendliness, giving the city a welcoming, community feel. Locals in Madrid, despite some initial formalness, have a reputation for being friendly and hospitable. I should mention though, that although many locals speak English, there might be some language barriers as Spanish remains the primary language of communication. Madrid is a great place for someone to help expand their Spanish skills though!

Nightlife in Madrid

Madrid boasts unparalleled nightlife, a feature that has repeatedly drawn praise from visitors. With more bars per capita than anywhere else in the world, Madrid has a diverse nightlife scene, ranging from techno clubs and dive bars to live music venues and open jam sessions. Each neighborhood in Madrid has its unique atmosphere, catering to different tastes, whether that’s posh and high fashion, youthful and grungy, or traditional Spanish vibes.

As we’ve already emphasized, Madrid operates later than many other cities. It’s not unusual for locals to start their evenings around 10pm with a nice meal and return home in the early hours of the morning. This late-night culture does mean that anyone who enjoys nightlife will feel at home here, but it might require some adjustment for early birds.

Activities in Madrid

Madrid offers a plethora of activities for every taste. The city is rich in art, boasting world-renowned museums such as the Reina Sofia, which offers free entry after 7 pm and is home to an impressive collection of 20th-century art.

The city is very walkable, with stunning architecture and beautiful streets that invite exploration. If you need a break from the urban hustle, Retiro Park, which is green and expansive, offers a tranquil retreat within the city. Madrid also has beautiful outdoor swimming pools and free outdoor gyms that allow you to maintain a healthy lifestyle while enjoying the city’s ambiance.

Food lovers can indulge in Madrid’s dining scene, which is highly developed and varied, with a multitude of good restaurants and tapas bars. The markets in Madrid are also highly recommended, offering a range of culinary delights.

Madrid is also conveniently located for quick getaways to other cities. Toledo, for instance, is only a 30-minute bus ride away and worth a visit.

One thing to note is that Madrid is known for its late dining culture, which may take some getting used to. It’s common for dinner to start around 9 pm or even later. While this might initially seem unusual, it’s all part of Madrid’s unique charm.

While Madrid is not the greenest city, it compensates with a dynamic mix of culture, entertainment, and activities. Madrid has just about everything you could want from a city, besides a beach, maybe.

Pros and Cons of Living in Madrid

We had a very positive experience in Madrid. But I understand that it’s not going to be a city for everybody. Nothing is. Here’s my best attempt at finding the good and bad in this city. I wrote a more extensive article discussing the pros and cons of living in Madrid that you should look at for a deeper dive.

Why you should come back

  • Culture and History: Every corner in Madrid has a story. The ancient structures, monuments, and parks, such as Cuartel de la Montana Park, which houses ancient Egyptian relics, make your daily walks feel like a trip through history.
  • Work-life Balance: The laid-back approach of the city coupled with the ability to set flexible hours as a digital nomad makes for a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle. Plus, breaking up your day with city exploration can feel quite refreshing.
  • Co-living Spaces: Madrid offers many affordable coworking spaces compared to most cities in Europe. So even if you can’t work in every cafe, there’s sure to be somewhere for you to sit down and concentrate on being productive.

Why you’ll never return

  • Adjustment to Late Meal Times: If you’re accustomed to early meals, adjusting to the local schedule where lunch doesn’t start until 2 pm might be a challenge.
  • Language Barrier: While many people speak English in Madrid, it is predominantly a Spanish-speaking city. This could pose a challenge, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish, and aren’t inclined to learn it.

The Final Word on Madrid

And there you have it, my dear wanderers! We’ve explored the nooks and crannies of Madrid, tasted its divine cuisine, marveled at its historical richness, and even managed to sneak in a workout amidst the hustle. It’s been quite the journey, hasn’t it?

True, Madrid does come with a price tag, but hey, what’s a little expense when you get to enjoy top-tier food, housing, and the most magical experiences in return? Besides, as I always say, the world is our playground, and as digital nomads, we get to pick the best swings. Madrid, my friends, is undoubtedly one of them.

So pack your bags, load up your wallets, and make sure to charge your laptops. As I’ve shown you, Madrid is an exhilarating city for digital nomads who know how to navigate its cobblestone streets with style. And remember, the next time someone asks you about being a digital nomad in Madrid, you can proudly say, “Been there, done that, and loved every bit of it!”

If you want to learn more about being a digital nomad in Spain, I wrote a separate article that outlines all the digital nomad logistics, some of the top destinations in the country, and more.

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