On your first day, as the cityscape of Madrid unfolds before your eyes, you’ll find it’s not just a place; it’s an experience. An experience stitched together with the threads of history dipped in the colors of diverse cultures and peppered with the delights of tantalizing cuisine. 

But before you pack up and embark on this journey, let’s take a moment to balance the scales and uncover the real Madrid—the highs and the lows, the delights, and the challenges. This is your intimate look at the pros and cons of living in Madrid.

Pros of Living in Madrid 

I think that Madrid is definitely a city where the pros outweigh the cons. To save time, I didn’t turn every single museum and Tapería in Madrid into a pro. But seriously, each of them offered their own unique experience that I would love to delve more deeply into.

  1. Rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene
  2. World-class nightlife
  3. Delicious food scene with an array of local and international cuisines
  4. Excellent internet connectivity
  5. Wide variety of coworking spaces and work-friendly cafes
  6. Great public transportation system
  7. Highly walkable city
  8. Networking opportunities
  9. Leisure activities and sightseeing options
  10. Warm and pleasant climate
  11. Central location for travel to other Spanish and European destinations
  12. Availability of long-term stay visa options for digital nomads.

Rich cultural heritage and lively arts scene

You’re going to be spoilt for choice in Madrid! Picture yourself strolling through the Museum Triangle, holding hands with your special someone, taking in the majesty of the Spanish masters at the Prado. It’s an art lover’s paradise! You can lose yourself in the ethereal beauty of Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” and be in awe of Velázquez’s “Las Meninas.” You can spend days exploring and still have more to see. 

The Reina Sofia, home to Picasso’s “Guernica,” stands proudly, daring you to step inside and face the haunting memories of Spain’s past. If contemporary art is your thing, the Thyssen-Bornemisza is a treasure trove of modern marvels. There are dozens of significant museums here.

World-class nightlife

You think you’ve partied before? Darling, you haven’t truly partied until you’ve experienced a Madrid night! The city practically hums with energy as the sun goes down. You can’t help but be pulled into the rhythm of Madrid. Imagine sharing a pitcher of Sangria in a plaza, the energy of the city growing around you as the night deepens. The streets are alive with laughter, chatter, and the clink of glasses toasting the good life. From traditional Flamenco bars in the heart of La Latina to trendy nightclubs in Malasaña, there’s something for every night owl. Madrid puts you at the heart of it all!

Delicious food scene with an array of local and international cuisines

Let me tell you, Madrid is a haven for foodies! You won’t believe the variety and richness of flavors the city has to offer. Imagine sharing tapas at a little hole-in-the-wall on some lively Madrid street- Each bite is a revelation. The food is as much a part of Madrid’s soul as the art and music. From succulent Iberian ham in Mercado San Miguel to the hearty cocido madrileño, just recalling every dish ignites my hunger. For the gourmets out there, the city also boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants, serving up culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you begging for more. So, grab a fork and dive into Madrid’s food scene, because this is one culinary journey you won’t want to miss!

Excellent internet connectivity

Madrid is a very romantic city, but there’s nothing romantic about an important call getting dropped due to a poor internet connection. Fortunately, these things rarely happen in Madrid. The city boasts top-notch internet connectivity. Even that one time when we had our day out in El Retiro Park, I was uploading our photos on the go, and let me tell you, not a single one was left unshared. Working online is as smooth as a dream, making it a digital nomad’s haven. So, rest assured, you can work – and play – without a hitch!

Wide variety of coworking spaces and work-friendly cafes

So, here we are, sipping our café con leche, as the world carries on around us. In Madrid, every day feels like a scene from a movie. You know what makes it even more perfect? The plethora of coworking spaces and cafes that Madrid has to offer. They’re not just places to work, darling; they’re community hubs, places to connect and collaborate. From sleek, modern coworking spaces like Impact Hub to quaint cafes like Federal Cafe, each place offers a unique ambiance and vibe. You will be spoiled for choice.

Great public transportation system

Madrid is like that efficient assistant you always wish you had. It seems to anticipate your every move, getting you where you need to go with the utmost ease. Public transportation in this city is top-notch, designed to make your life a whole lot easier. From the Metro with its sprawling network to the Cercanías (commuter trains) connecting you to the outskirts, Madrid has you covered. One of my most hilarious memories is when my partner and I got on the wrong train, heading straight out of the city! But thanks to a helpful fellow passenger and Madrid’s efficient transport system, we got back right on track with just a quick hop onto another train. It’s smooth sailing! (Without the boats).

Highly walkable city

With its wide avenues, Madrid is the kind of city that’s meant to be explored on foot. The streets are clean, the neighborhoods are safe, and each corner holds a delightful surprise. There’s nothing quite like wandering around the city, hand in hand, letting Madrid’s charm slowly unveil itself. The best part? You won’t need a gym when you’re logging so many miles walking around town.

Networking opportunities

Ah, the life of a digital nomad, Madrid is the type of city where you’re always on the go yet never alone. The city attracts people from all corners of the globe. At our favorite coworking spot, my partner and I have met fellow digital nomads, startup entrepreneurs, designers, artists, and so much more. Having so many people in one place increases the opportunity for connection.

Leisure activities and sightseeing options

Just because we’re working doesn’t mean we can’t play, right? When the laptops close, the fun begins. From museums holding artistic treasures (we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve visited the Prado) to lush parks perfect for picnics (Retiro is our go-to), Madrid has a plethora of activities that never fail to amaze. And don’t even get me started on the sightseeing. Picture this, we spent a whole day just chasing the sunset from different viewpoints in the city. From the Templo de Debod to the Circulo de Bellas Artes rooftop, the views were just breathtaking!

Madrid El Retiro
Madrid El Retiro

Warm and pleasant climate

Now, let’s talk weather, dear. As someone who’s always been a bit of a sun-seeker, Madrid’s climate is just perfect for me. With over 300 sunny days a year, it’s like the city has its own natural filter. Throw in mild winters and glorious springs, and you have a climate that beckons you to step outside and embrace the day. Take it from someone who’s seen her fair share of gloomy weather; Madrid’s sunny disposition is a refreshing change. It’s like the city is saying, “Come on out, let’s make the most of this beautiful day!” And who am I to refuse such a charming invitation?

Central location for travel to other Spanish and European destinations

Let’s talk geography for a moment, shall we? With its strategic location, Madrid is your ticket to the rest of Spain and Europe. Fancy a weekend trip to Barcelona or Seville? It’s a breeze with high-speed trains. And let’s not forget about the Madrid-Barajas Airport, an international hub with connections to countless destinations. My partner and I once decided on a whim to fly to Lisbon for the weekend. The spontaneous trip was unforgettable – pastéis de nata in the morning, exploring the colorful streets and enjoying fado music in the evening. Madrid, with its connections, made that possible.

Availability of long-term stay visa options for digital nomads

Throughout your journey as a digital nomad, the ability to set down roots, even temporarily, can be invaluable. Madrid’s digital nomad visa is your golden ticket to a prolonged stay in this enchanting city. The process is straightforward, you just have to show proof of remote work and income. You donàt need to be a tourist that’s just passing through. It’s your chance to truly become part of the city’s fabric, engaging with locals and fellow nomads alike. This isn’t just a holiday; it’s life as you’ve chosen to live it. In Madrid, that life is filled with exciting possibilities.

Pros and cons of living in Madrid
Pros and cons of living in Madrid

Cons of living in Madrid

Of course, Madrid isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, it might even rain about once a week! Jokes aside, every city has its downsides, and most of these are not abnormal all things considered. Just be aware of the issues ahead of time and prepare accordingly.

  1. Accommodation can be challenging to find in peak seasons
  2. Scorching hot summers
  3. Can be crowded, particularly during the tourist season
  4. Spanish is often required
  5. Higher cost of living compared to other Spanish cities
  6. Noise levels can be high in certain neighborhoods
  7. Air quality can be poor, particularly in summer
  8. Business hours can be confusing due to the siesta culture
  9. Some find it hard to integrate with local culture
  10. The pace of life might feel slow for some
  11. Difficulty finding parking spaces if you own a car.

Accommodation can be challenging to find in peak seasons

When we first decided to call Madrid home, we found ourselves competing with droves of tourists and other nomads for a slice of real estate. A dreamy apartment we’d spotted online in the morning would be off the market by noon. In peak seasons, the demand for accommodation can skyrocket. So here’s a tip: if you’re looking to settle in during the busy months, be prepared to search swiftly and secure your lodgings without delay.

As for the best platforms to use to find apartments? Most rental sites have posed major problems for me, and I know I’m not alone. Just finding an apartment with a functional desk can be a challenge on traditional booking websites.

If you want a more consistent solution, we’re in the process of curating a large database of digital nomad apartments in Madrid, Spain, and beyond. Enter your name and email below to get access to them as soon as they’re released.

Scorching hot summers

Then there are the summers – yes, they can get hot, real hot. Picture days when the mercury tips 40 degrees Celsius. My friend mentioned this one August afternoon when the heat was so intense it was like stepping into an oven every time she ventured outside. Tourists often find themselves seeking out the shady retreats of Madrid’s parks, or ducking into air-conditioned cafes just to cool down. But it’s all part of the Madrid experience – siesta in the afternoon, anyone?

Can be crowded, particularly during the tourist season

And of course, being the attraction it is, Madrid has its fair share of crowds. The city is a magnet for travelers from all around the world. The sheer volume of people can feel a bit overwhelming, especially during the peak tourist season. I remember this one time when we tried to visit the Reina Sofia on a Saturday. The line was winding around the block! We opted for a quiet café instead, sipping our coffees and watching the people go by.

Spanish is often required

There’s no sugarcoating this one: you will benefit immensely from speaking some Spanish in Madrid. Sure, many Madrileños can and do speak English, but there are times when your comfort with Spanish will tip the scales.

Once, when we had a mix-up with our food order at a small local tavern, having a rudimentary understanding of Spanish saved us from accidentally dining on pig’s ear – a local delicacy, but not quite our cup of tea! So pick up a few phrases, or even better, invest in some language lessons. You won’t regret it. There are plenty of other places that speak Spanish anyways. You could do with the lessons.

Higher cost of living compared to other Spanish cities

Now, we’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room – the cost of living in Madrid. It’s certainly not the cheapest city in Spain. Yes, it’s not as costly as some other European metropolises, but compared to Barcelona or Valencia, you might feel a pinch. I won’t lie; my partner and I were taken aback when we first started apartment hunting in the city. The prices of some of the centrally-located flats were certainly eye-opening. But hey, we adjusted our expectations and found a charming spot that didn’t break the bank. You might need to compromise a bit, but with careful planning, you can make it work.

Noise levels can be high in certain neighborhoods

Madrid is a city that never sleeps, and while that’s part of its charm, it also means that certain neighborhoods can get quite noisy, and cause you to be the digital nomad that never sleeps if you don’t use earplugs. Imagine the rhythmic beats from a nearby nightclub or the lively chatter from the tapas bar right under your apartment echoing into the wee hours. We once rented an Airbnb in Malasaña, a lively neighborhood known for its nightlife, and let’s just say earplugs were our best friends. But don’t fret; plenty of residential areas offer a serene retreat from the city’s bustling soundscape.

Air quality can be poor, particularly in summer

Madrid’s air quality is something to keep in mind, particularly in the summer months. Its geographical location makes it prone to high levels of pollution, a factor that can turn those bright, sunny days a bit hazy. I still remember our surprise when we first noticed a thin veil of smog hanging over the city skyline on a hot July day. But hey, there’s always an upside – it made for some dramatic sunset photos! Just remember, if you’re sensitive to air quality, ensure to check the air quality index and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

Business hours can be confusing due to the siesta culture

Madrid’s siesta culture might leave you scratching your head. Imagine strolling down the sun-drenched streets, craving a mid-afternoon snack, only to find your favorite bakery shuttered for siesta. That was us on our first week in Madrid, uninitiated to the local schedule. While many larger stores and restaurants have adjusted their hours for continuous service, the tradition of afternoon closures still persists in some smaller businesses. But don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it and might even come to appreciate these rhythmic pauses in the city’s daily life.

Some find it hard to integrate with local culture

Embracing local culture is always an adventure, but in Madrid, you might find it to be a bit of a challenge. At a local flamenco show, we were swept away by the passionate rhythms but also felt a pang of being outsiders. The sense of community in Madrid runs deep, and while the locals are friendly, it might take some time and effort to truly feel part of the social fabric. Attending language exchange events or joining local clubs can help to bridge this gap.

The pace of life might feel slow for some

The laid-back pace of life in Madrid is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a relief to escape the rush of typical city living, but on the other, it can feel a bit slow, especially if you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle. The first time we went out for dinner, we found ourselves checking our watches as the waiter leisurely chatted with neighboring tables. The meal was amazing, but it was definitely a lesson in patience! So remember, when in Madrid, do as the Madrileños do – take your time, savor the moment, and trust that things will happen when they’re meant to.

Difficulty finding parking spaces if you own a car

If you’re considering keeping a car in Madrid, take it from us – it might not be your best move. Our cute little Fiat seemed like a perfect idea for those spontaneous road trips until we spent an entire afternoon circling the streets in search of parking. The city’s narrow lanes and limited parking spots are better suited to pedestrians, bikes, and Madrid’s stellar public transit. Unless you absolutely need a vehicle, you might find that going car-free makes for a smoother ride.

The Bottom Line

Living in Madrid is an exploration of contradictions—a dance between the exuberance of late-night fiestas and the quiet of siesta afternoons, the mouth-watering delicacies served in chic cafes and the challenge of high living costs, the joy of well-connected public transport and the struggle of finding parking. 

As a digital nomad, it’s a city that has the potential to offer you a rich tapestry of experiences and memories. Every pro and con on our list is part of Madrid’s charm, a piece of the puzzle that makes up life in this enchanting city. At the end of the day, only you can decide if Madrid’s rhythm matches the beat of your nomadic heart. It’s not just about moving to a new city—it’s about embracing a new way of life. And who knows? Amid flamenco beats, beneath the shadow of grand architecture, you might just find your home away from home. Madrid is waiting. The question is, are you ready for Madrid?

If your answer is yes, I wrote an extensive guide to being a digital nomad in Madrid. Check it out!

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