Madrid City Guide

By Victoria Fellows


The technology sector in Madrid has grown at an astonishing rate. Madrid is very much an up-and-coming technology hub, just waiting for its moment and with investments less expensive than in Paris and London, investors are starting to see the appeal. Entrepreneurs name the high quality of life and the low cost of living as key attractions to Spain, although Madrid also offers a jumping off point for the sizeable LatAm market.

Things you didn’t know about Madrid

Madrid is the third biggest city in the EU, following closely on the heels of London and Berlin. However, Madrid isn’t simply a city, it’s a state – one of 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain.

The Madrid municipality has launched a drive to connect a series of existing woodlands, creating a 75km-long green belt around the city, officials call the Bosque Metropolitano or Metropolitan Forest. Once complete, the forest would cover 35,000ha. It will help the city improve its air quality, counter climate change and create a wealth of recreational opportunities for residents, says Silvia Villacañas from Madrid’s urban planning department.

Madrid is home to 1,235 start-ups, has one of the fastest growing tech start-up scenes in Europe. This isn’t a well-known fact because many of these start-ups are still in their infancy and therefore don’t attract large investments. A stark contrast to Barcelona which saw projects launch at the end of the 1990s and now attracts around €871million in investment.

Madrid is already home to one unicorn, a ride-hailing service Cabify, however regulations imposed by the Catalan regional government may limit the growth of Madrid’s golden child.


If you’re looking to live in Madrid, you may find yourself looking to rent a flat (or a Piso). This is the most common type of accommodation in Madrid and is the most common rental choice for young professionals in the Spanish capital. You can expect to pay between €800 - €1600 per month for a piso, but accommodation in a more affluent area could set you back up to €2000.

If you’re moving the whole family, a three-bed apartment will cost you between €2500 and €4000 per month. Detached single family homes are available but these are found only within the suburbs.

Whatever type of accommodation you’re considering, make sure you find out where you will be working before committing yourself. Madrid is a sprawling city and, despite good public transport options, commutes from one side of the city to the other can still be lengthy.

Expect to pay one month’s rent up front when you sign a contract and check whether utilities are included – often in Spain, your rental doesn’t include water, electricity and gas.

It may be wise to rent or stay in temporary accommodation when you first arrive in Madrid, whilst you get to know the area. Some expat sites suggest it can take 3 weeks to find and organise your new home, particularly if you are preparing to start your new job at the end of the summer, start of the autumn, which is the busiest time of the year for lettings.

Madrid’s visa requirements

If you’re an EU or EEA citizen, you won’t need a visa to live and work in Spain. If you're a UK citizen you will. You can find out more information here. There are some exceptions to those not from the EU and EEA who wish to live and work in Spain such as academics, scientists working on specific projects, or close relatives joining family member working in Spain for a year or more.

Once you’ve secured a new position in Spain, your employer will need to apply to the provincial office of the Ministry of Labour for a work permit on your behalf but processing a work permit can take up to 8 months. A work permit is valid for a year and can be renewed providing that you still meet the criteria.

However, permits are typically granted for certain sectors, so once you have a permit, you can usually move jobs without having to renew the permit, providing you remain within the sector.

The Cost of Living in Madrid

On top of your accommodation, you’ll probably need to budget for utilities. In Madrid, you should expect these to cost around €150 per month.

On average, consumer prices in Madrid are 25% lower than in London. A litre of milk will cost you between €0.70 and €1.20 and a loaf of bread will take, on average, just €1.10 of your hard-earned cash. Rent averages out at 35% lower than in London. A good meal out will cost around €20, around 20% less than a meal in London.

In London, you’d pay around £5.00 for a domestic beer, whereas in Madrid, you’d be looking at a dramatically different €3.00.

Salaries in Madrid

Whilst the average salary in Madrid weighs in at just €1800 per month, salaries can range from €20,000 to €40,000. The average IT consultant salary in Spain is €40,000 but can creep up to €49,000 for those with heavyweight experience. Software developer roles average at €42,600 iOS developer approximately €36,500 and Senior Web Developers at around €38,750.


When choosing a school, your decision will be led by how long you are planning to stay in Spain and whether your children need to immerse themselves fully in the culture and the language or keep up with their peers in the UK, on a British curriculum.

State schools

State schools are state-funded and state-run. Some are bilingual, others aren’t. In bilingual schools, around a third of classes are taught in English. This is different to the Spanish curriculum, which is what students in state schools typically follow and is different from the British or US curriculum.

Privately-run, state-funded schools

Also known as Concertados, these schools are mainly bilingual.  If you’re employed by a Spanish company, your children will be entitled to free education in a state-funded school. Many Concertados are run by religious orders, so are likely to be heavily religious in their influence.

Private bilingual schools

These private schools can cost between €4000 and €10,000 a year. Most classes are taught in English and the curriculum is usually British and co-validated with GCSE and A’ Levels – essential if you have your sights set on a UK university. Usually in private bilingual schools, half of the students are Spanish or bi-national children, but this can vary.

Global Companies in Madrid

Many of the tech companies in Madrid are new and growing, but there are some market leaders already calling Madrid their home. These include Google, Microsoft, Telefonica, Accenture, E-Dreams, HP, Amazon, IBM and Everis.

In your spare time

Madrid is a city full of surprises, offering unique experiences and hidden gems beyond its famous landmarks. Here are some things you can discover in Madrid:

  1. El Rastro Market: Held every Sunday and public holiday, El Rastro is one of Europe's largest and oldest flea markets. You can find everything from antiques and vintage clothing to quirky souvenirs and street food.

  2. El Capricho Park: Tucked away in the outskirts of Madrid, El Capricho is a hidden gem known for its beautiful gardens, labyrinth, and whimsical architecture. It's a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  3. Temple of Debod: This ancient Egyptian temple, dating back over 2,000 years, was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid as a gift from Egypt. It's an unexpected sight in the heart of the city and offers stunning views of the sunset.

  4. Street Art in Lavapiés: Lavapiés is Madrid's vibrant multicultural neighborhood, known for its street art scene. Take a stroll through its narrow streets to discover colorful murals and graffiti by local and international artists.

  5. Cable Car Ride: For a unique perspective of the city, hop on the Teleférico cable car that takes you from the Parque del Oeste to Casa de Campo Park. Enjoy panoramic views of Madrid's skyline and landmarks along the way.

  6. Sobrino de Botín: Located in the heart of Madrid, Sobrino de Botín is the world's oldest continuously operating restaurant according to the Guinness World Records. Founded in 1725, it's a must-visit for traditional Spanish cuisine and a taste of history.

  7. Crystal Palace in Retiro Park: Retiro Park is one of Madrid's most famous parks, but hidden within it is the stunning Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal). This glass and iron structure hosts art exhibitions and offers a magical setting for a leisurely stroll.

  8. Madrid Rio Park: Once a busy highway, Madrid Rio Park is now a vibrant urban park along the Manzanares River. It features playgrounds, sports facilities, gardens, and even urban beaches, providing a refreshing green space in the city.

Madrid is a city teeming with life and cultural opportunities. One of its greatest secrets are its art museums and galleries, with their renaissance masterpieces and seminal 20thCentury artefacts. The legendary Prado is just one of these.

If you fancy a spot of greenery, head to Retiro park with its bald cypresses that turn golden brown in summer. Of course, there’s the Royal Palace to visit and the sports scene is active too with the 85,000-seater Santigo Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid.

If you would like to discuss opportunities in Madrid or a potential career move, please contact me Victoria Fellows @ IC Resources on +44 118 988 1150.

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