Where to live in Madrid

Monday, June 03, 2013

Moving to a capital city can be a really daunting task. I'm not sure how I'd cope trying to find somewhere in London, even though it's the capital of my own country, because sometimes when there's huge amounts of choice, knowing what to do can become even more difficult. Trying to find the best areas whilst balancing the cost of living and quality of life can be difficult, particularly in a country where you aren't sure exactly what's going on most of the time. At least when I moved to Paris, where there is a huge accommodation shortage, I was forced to jump on any sofa bed/servants quarters/two bed penthouse apartment (where I actually ended up due to amazing luck) that was offered to me. All fussiness went out the window. In Madrid, where there is an abundance of rooms available for less than 400€/month, a little help can go a long way.

In theory, Madrid is one huge city with "Sol" as it's centre. However, it quite often doesn't feel like that; it feels like clusters of smaller neighbourhoods all together under the name of Madrid. Each has it's own central plaza, parks, shops etc and they all each have their own character as well. Here's my attempt to clear up that terrible explanation (prices are based on one room in a shared apartment).

(Metro Atocha, Atocha Renfe, Anton Martín)

Source: Madridspain.ca
If you're working on the outskirts of the city but still want to live in the centre without a hellish commute, Atocha might be the best bet for you. Being able to walk directly onto the Cercanía train could really take a lot of time and hassle out of your journey which means more time to enjoy Madrid, or even better, more time to stay in bed in the morning. Atocha is a slightly more expensive place to live than other areas, at around 400€/month+ but you benefit from living close to the centre in Sol and Huertas, which has lots of great places to eat and go out. It's also a relatively quiet area to live, so if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Sol or Malasaña for example, it's perfect.

(Metro Chueca, Tribunal, Banco de Espana)

Source: Myjoyoftravel.wordpress.com
Chueca is famous for being Madrid's gay and lesbian area, as well as for being rammed with clubs and bars making it very popular with young people. Expect to pay more for less space but heaps of atmosphere and a central location. Want to embrace the Spanish way of life and live just a hop, skip and a jump from the club when you burst out into the sunlight at 6am? Then Chueca is right up your street.

(Metro Tribunal, Noviciado, San Bernado)

Source: Justbigphotos.com
The place to be if you're looking for chilled out, relaxed bars and restaurants right on your doorstep. Malasaña is famous for being Madrid's "Hipster" barrio, with streets lined with vintage shops, independent cafés and music stores. It's a great place for people watching and has a much friendlier vibe than other places in Madrid. (Just don't forget your thick rimmed glasses and bushy beard.)

(Metro Lavapiés, Tirso de Molina, Embajadores, La Latina)

Source: cosasdemadrid.es
If you want diversity and a mean chicken korma then Lavapiés is the place for you. Home to great Asian food and also plenty of traditional tapas bars near the La Latina metro stop, Lavapiés is relatively central and one of the cheapest places to live at less than 350€/month. Expect to trade off the low rent cost with a slightly more noisy environment and the the feeling of security you get walking at night in more residential areas like Chamberí and Salamanca. If I lived here I would essentially live off the 9.95€ three course curry FEAST at Baishaki Indian restaurant.

(Metro Goya, Principe de Vergara, Ibiza, Nunez de Balboa, Lista, Diego de Leon, Retiro)

Source: properysecrets.net
If you're feeling like flashing the cash and want your morning walk to work surrounded by well dressed ladies toting Prada bags, then try barrio Salamanca. Rent doesn't necessarily have to be drastically more expensive, working in the high 300s+ region, but you will see a difference in the price and quality of the bars and restaurants in the area.

(Metro Quevedo, Moncloa, Iglesia)

Source: Justmadrid.com
And finally, my neighbourhood! I'm biased, but living here near Quevedo metro stop has been perfect in terms of cost (350-400€/month) and location. It's well connected to the centre without being noisy or a tourist trap. Calle Fuencarral provides you with all the shopping you could need and following it all the way down you'll arrive at Gran Via and Sol within half an hours walk. If you're torn between wanting to be in the centre of the action and wanting a good nights sleep, Chamberí is a good compromise. It's a 15 minute walk from Malasaña and a 10 minute metro ride from the clubs in Sol. There's everything you need: supermarkets, green grocers, bakeries etc on every corner. I have a theory that you can get anything you need on just my street, someone's even opened a shop entirely dedicated to smokeless cigarettes. Why? No one knows. (This theory is obviously redundant on any Sunday or any day between 2 and God-knows-when in the afternoon).

Obviously, there are lots more places to live in Madrid. I've focused on great areas for students and young people who tend to want the cheaper rents and easier commutes. All comments about experiences living in any of these areas (or others!) more than welcome, unfortunately I haven't had the pleasure of living in them all myself.

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