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Moving to Madrid

What to know if you're moving to Madrid

After moving to Madrid, you will enjoy the warm atmosphere and artistic heritage of this colorful city. No wonder Madrid acts as a magnet for expats! Are you one of them? Read all about the city, including visa regulations, neighborhoods, and healthcare, on InterNations GO!.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Relocating to Madrid

Beyond the general flair and ambience, there are various reasons why moving to Madrid is something that many expats have done. Many of the city’s foreign nationals come from Latin America: in 2014 seven out of the top ten countries of origin for migrants to the city were Latin American countries, with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia being the most common out of them. Due to the employment opportunities (which were superior to those in many a South American country), they seized the opportunity of relocating to Madrid.

Due to its location, Madrid is Spain’s transportation hub, making it easily accessible from many locations. The Madrid Barajas Airport is located within 20 minutes of the city center by car and can be reached with the metro in an hour. Therefore, should you be moving to Madrid and leaving behind friends and family, it will be a reassuring thought to have a fairly quick transport connection back home.

Before You Get on the Plane…

If you are moving to Madrid for less than 90 days and are not a national of an EU member state, you need to apply for a tourist visa (visado de turismo).  If you consider  a stay in Madrid for more than 3 months, and do not fall into the category of an EU citizen or a national of the Schengen Agreement countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein), you should prepare yourself for a bit of paperwork. Depending on the type of visa you need, you must follow different regulations before moving to Madrid.

Here is a brief list of some of the more common visas required for Madrid:

  • Family reunification visa (visado de reagrupación familiar): this visa applies to people who are married or related (sibling, child under 18, or parent) to a Spanish citizen.
  • Work visa (visado de residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena): if you are moving to Madrid for a job, contact your employer when applying for a work visa, as you will need to supply an employment contract to the authorities. You can find downloadable application forms and more specific information on the website of the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
  • Student visa (visado de estudiantes): if you plan on moving to Madrid on a student visa, you must be enrolled in a Spanish school or university, or in an exchange program. Student stays may exceed 90 days. When applying for a student visa, you can simultaneously apply for visas for your spouse and children under 18 as well.

If you plan on moving to Madrid on a different visa, please contact your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate Again, keep in mind that if you are applying for one of the above visas, you must do so in your country of origin before your move to Madrid. Allow several months of administrative processing time before actually making the move.

An NIE — A Must for Foreigners

Any foreign national moving to Madrid also needs to apply for a Número de Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE). The NIE serves as both an identification number as well as a tax number for non-Spanish citizens. The application process for the NIE is relatively uncomplicated and should not be a cause for concern.

You will need to fill out the application form and personally bring it along with the following documents to the Oficina de Extranjería in downtown Madrid:

  • the application form and a copy thereof
  • your passport
  • for non-EU residents, documents indicating the reason they need an NIE (e.g. purchasing a house, business purposes)
  • proof of your current address in Madrid

You should allow a period of up to three weeks to receive your NIE in the mail. 

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Expat Info Madrid

The Right Location for Your New Home

Madrid is the third largest urban agglomeration in Europe and has a lot of different neighborhoods to choose from. Downtown Madrid is made up of 18 barrios or districts, which all cater to different tastes. Most housing in Madrid comes in the form of apartments, and it can be rather pricey. However, as compared to other European capitals, it is relatively affordable, and there is something to be found matching everyone’s budget.

As many expatriates moving to Madrid arrive with their families, the communities which lure in expats are those where international schools abound. These neighborhoods can be found in the western and northern parts of Madrid, as well as north of the city limits. The further away you move from the city center, the higher the rents, but, on the plus side, you are far from the hustle and bustle of the city as well.

La Moraleja, an affluent neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city, is a favorite among European expats, due to the number of well-known international schools located here. A suburb in the municipality of Pozuelo de Alarcón to the West of Madrid, which comes highly recommended by expats and boasts a number of upscale international schools, is Somosaguas. Although buses and trains run almost hourly to the various suburbs, it is useful to have a car to do your shopping and be independent of set schedules.

Healthcare and Medical Services

Spain has a non-contributory healthcare system, which is paid for with tax revenues. Every legal resident living in Spain has the right to healthcare, and you will automatically receive public health insurance if you are employed. Madrid’s hospitals come very highly recommended. There are numerous hospitals and private clinics throughout the city. Dentists in Madrid are also very competent, although their services are not covered by state health insurance.

Due to the fact that healthcare in Spain is so easily accessible, many hospitals are overcrowded, resulting in long waiting periods. Most expats therefore choose to invest in private healthcare, which delivers the same medical care with less sitting around in overcrowded waiting rooms, but at a higher cost. There are a number of private healthcare companies in Madrid. One of the most popular amongst Spanish residents is Sanitas (link in Spanish only).

Passing the Hours in Madrid

Madrid is a cosmopolitan city, offering you anything from fine arts and sports to amusement parks and zoos. Museums such as the famous Prado or the Reina Sofía can quench the thirst of any art aficionado, while the beautiful mountains around Madrid can satisfy the hunger of an active athlete. Located just outside of Madrid, a paradise for hikers, bikers, and climbers welcomes any nature lover with open arms.

Take a look at the websites of the mountaineering (el montañismo) and biking (el ciclismo) federations (both only in Spanish) for more information concerning these sports. Expat families with kids will be happy to know that Madrid houses a zoo with an aquarium and dolphin pool directly in Casa de Campo located at only two kilometers from the city center.

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

Updated on: October 21, 2021

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