Spain. Oh, Spain. So I personally haven’t been to Spain and if I go (which is highly possible in the end of this year), I am definitely going to Madrid, especially after having this interview with Perri from the Seeking the Spanish Sun!
Who are you, where are you from and how long have you been living in Madrid?
Hi, I’m Perri from Seeking the Spanish Sun travel blog. I’m from the UK but I now live in Madrid, Spain. I moved from London to Madrid early in 2017, so have lived her for just over a year.
Why did you choose to live in Madrid?
My boyfriend Brad was offered a work opportunity which meant relocating to Madrid. I had always wanted to live in Spain and dreamed of buying a house there someday so we thought why not?… let’s do it now!
What do you do for a living?
I work part-time for a travel company that offers tour holidays in Spain. I welcome guests who are arriving at Madrid airport and coordinate the coach transfers to their hotels.
Do you speak the main language (Spanish) that is spoken in Madrid? If not, what are the main difficulties that you faced while you first lived there?
I speak basic Spanish but I am taking lessons to improve. I hope to be fluent by next year. Most people here speak English but when I first arrived and had to sort out paperwork and set up a bank account etc. It helped that I understood some things.
Do you like or hate the public transport in Madrid? Why so?
The metro in Madrid is great. It runs frequently and it’s pretty comfortable and clean. I don’t often use the bus, they always look so crowded. The trains are also good but sometimes they run behind schedule. The frequency of trains in Madrid are in between 2-30 minutes. I have an unlimited 30-day ticket that gives me access to all of them for €54.
Name 1 must-do thing in Madrid and why?
If you are visiting Madrid you must go to Retiro Park. It’s a wonderful city park with lovely green gardens, flowers, jogging paths, a crystal palace and boating lake.
Name 1 thing that you wish you had done but haven’t done so in Madrid.
I haven’t yet been inside the Prado Museum, which is the most famous art gallery in Madrid. I promise to go there soon!
Name 2 of your favourite neighbourhoods in Madrid and things you can do there.
My two favourite neighbourhoods in Madrid are La Latina and Malasana.
La Latina is the oldest part of the city and the famous tapas bar area. There are lots of amazing bars and restaurants there and some lovely open plazas, perfect for having a drink in the sunshine. Keen for some alfresco Spanish dining experience? Come here!
Malasana is the cool, artsy area in Madrid. It has seen a regeneration recently and has many interesting shops and cafes. I love to walk around there on my day off, it’s fun and vibrant and lots going on.
Name 3 restaurants/cafes that you frequent.
Cava 17 on Cava Baja
Ojala on Calle de San Andres
El Viajero at Plaza de la Cebada
Name 1 of your favourite bar in Madrid.
My favourite cocktail bar in Madrid is Hopper on Cava Baja because they have a great menu and are always very attentive (which is not very common in Spain). It’s a laid-back bar with a cool, industrial décor.
Where can you get the cheapest and best alcohol in Madrid?
Beer is the cheapest alcohol you can get in Madrid. Everyone drinks the local beer “Mahou” on draught. You can get a small beer called “caña” for €1-2. There are a few places where you can get a large beer for that price, look out for special days or happy hours.
Name 3 local specialties that you can get in major supermarkets in Madrid.
In the supermarket you can get great quality jamon (spanish ham), queso (spanish cheese) and bread perfect for a cheap snack. You can also get decent local wine for only €2 per bottle!
Where do you normally shop for clothes?
In Madrid there are some great high-street chains that do affordable fashion. I shop mostly in H&M, Primark and Zara.
Where do you normally shop for food?
There are so many great supermarkets in Madrid. My favourites are Dia, Mercadona and Lidl.
What’s the Craigslist-equivalent in Madrid?
There’s no Craigslist or Gumtree (which I used a lot in the UK) in Spain. For second hand items I always look at expat groups on Facebook, people will advertise there if they have something to sell. There are lots of second hand furniture shops in La Latina near El Rastro market and in Tetuan, North of the city centre.
How much do you spend for a month living in Madrid?
I have a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre and pay €1,200 per month including all bills, shared with my boyfriend. It’s 10 minutes on the metro to the city centre in a busy neighbourhood with lots of local amenities.
Breaking down my bills its approximately €35 for wifi, €40 for electricity, €20 for gas, €20 for water per month. So, my rent is quite expensive! It’s cheaper if you live in one of the neighbourhoods further from the city but Madrid has seen a huge rise in rental prices due to high demand. I found my apartment through Spotahome and company that helps people find accommodation overseas, they were a great help. My apartment is fully furnished and my landlord speaks English.
For 1 weeks’ worth of food shopping for 2 people I spend €60-70. That covers all meals, snacks and a couple of bottles of wine. If I go out for lunch its usually €10 per person with drinks and dinner €20 per person.
When it is sunny, how do you spend your day?
One sunny days I like to find an outdoor terrace or roof top for lunch and drinks or take a walk in one of Madrid’s lovely parks. When it’s really hot I go to the outdoor swimming pool with a picnic.
When it is rainy, how do you spend your day?
When it’s raining I like to go to a shopping mall or find a nice quiet café to have coffee and cake.
Let’s say you are taking a small trip over a long-weekend, where would you go and what would you do?
For a long weekend I would hop on the Renfe AVE train and visit one of the amazing historic cities that are nearby. It’s less then 1 hour to Toledo or Segovia and they are both very interesting historical UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Let’s say you are taking a small trip over a week, where would you go and what would you do?
For a week long holiday, I would fly out to the Balearic Islands. It would cost roughly just a few hundred euros to fly from Madrid to Mallorca with a hotel. I would just relax on the beach and eat lots of seafood.
What souvenir would you buy, from Madrid, for your friends/family?
The most popular souvenir in Madrid is by far anything Real Madrid Football Club related. They are the most successful football club in the World and the club memorabilia is everywhere here.
What is one habit you have picked up while living in Madrid?
I don’t think anything of putting ice and lemonade in my red wine, which I would never have done before living here. It’s called “tinto de verano” and is what locals drink instead of sangria.
Some must-have apps in Madrid?
MyTaxi is the perfect app for hailing a registered taxi quickly in Madrid.
What is the biggest culture shock that you have seen in Madrid?
The biggest difference between Madrid and London is the invasion of personal space. People in Madrid are very open and friendly, they like to hug, kiss and touch (even strangers). I like my personal space and also find it hard when people walk so closely or cram into a confined space.
If not Madrid, where then?
I would like to move to the South of Spain and live in a town like Nerja or Frigiliana, which are not far from Malaga city.
What advice would you give to someone who is planning to move to Madrid?
Try to find a job before you move, it can be difficult to find work here. Learn Spanish it will help you when sorting out all the formalities and paperwork. Explore the city and meet new people and make sure you travel to other parts of Spain to see more Spanish culture.
What is your worst experience/ memory in Madrid?
Being very cold in the wintertime and getting caught out in the rain with no umbrella. The winter is Madrid is very cold and wet!
What is your best experience/ memory in Madrid?
My best memory must be when I was showing my family around the city when they first came to visit me. They loved Madrid and I felt very proud to show them all the lovely things in the city.
Anything that you would like to add?
Madrid is a great city to live in and visit because there is so much going on here. It might not have those iconic Spanish beaches but it does have some great outdoor swimming pools and lovely parks. It has awesome shopping areas, fabulous restaurants and endless opportunities for a great night out!
Thank you Perri for doing this interview with me! If you are going to Madrid or planning to stay in Madrid, make sure you follow her blog and her Facebook page!