Moving abroad is definitely an exciting experience, and it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the glamour of it all and forget about the practical side of living overseas. Spain has one of the best standards of living in the world, which makes it a great country to move to. And its capital, Madrid, is a vibrant city with a wonderful mix of the cultural, artistic, and yes, the nightlife. If you’re planning a move to Madrid, you can avoid some serious expat blunders by taking tips from those who have been there, done that. Here’s 5 things you should know before moving to Spain’s lovely capital.
1. Finding a place to live
Apartment hunting in Madrid is bound to be massively different from how you do it back home. First of all, it’s extremely rare to have a landlord show the apartment he or she is renting out. You’ll have to go through a realtor when submitting your offer to the landlord, who can accept or reject it. Yes, you read that right, rent is actually negotiable in Madrid, there’s no such thing as a set price. So sharpen up your negotiation skills, because you’re going to need them!
2. Becoming a driver again
Just because you went through the whole rigmarole of getting your licence at 15 (which probably feels like forever ago), doesn’t mean that you’re free to drive around Spain. More likely than not your license won’t transfer over if you’re settling there for the long term, which means you’re going to have to go through the process of getting your license in Spain. Yep, this means taking driver’s ed, studying up for the written portion of the exam, and passing a driving test. If all of this just sounds like too much work, don’t worry, the public transportation system in Madrid is both efficient and affordable, so it’s not as if you REALLY need the licence, right?
3. Getting a bank account
Obtaining a bank account in Madrid can be a bit tricky, but there’s really no way around it. Things such as utilities and phone bills are automatically deducted from your bank account each month, so if you plan on living in Madrid you’ll need to get one of these ASAP. You’ll need an NIE (tax number) in order to open an account, so be sure to apply for this as soon as you arrive in Madrid. Also, opening a bank account is definitely more time consuming in Spain than it is in most other places. Book an appointment and arrive prepared to spend at least a couple hours at the bank or to have to return on another day.
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4. Adjusting to the weather
A lot of people have this vision of Spain as an eternally sunny country, but Madrid has its fair share of temperature fluctuations and the weather shouldn’t be taken lightly! Winters in Madrid are actually cold compared to a lot of the rest of Spain and temperatures can drop as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, summers can be scorching and you’ll find yourself dreaming of those freezing winter days once July rolls around. Temperatures can skyrocket above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer which is no joking matter! Just be sure to arrive prepared with proper clothes for both winter and summer.
5. Changing your approach to time
If you’re an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of person I hate to break it to you but those habits will probably go right out the window once you arrive in Madrid. In general, there’s a different approach to time in Spain. For starters, people love staying out late. Midnight is when a night out really begins, and dinner doesn’t usually happen until around 9 or 10pm. Mornings are also a bit later. Back home your gym is probably open in the wee hours of the morning on the weekdays, but in Madrid it’s unlikely you’ll find a gym that’s open before 7am on weekdays. It’ll take some getting used to, but you’ll get adjust to the different approach to time in no time at all (pun intended)! With all those late nights out, you’ll probably want to sleep in in the mornings anyway.
What are some of the things you’d like to know about moving to Madrid? Have you lived in Madrid before? Share your practical tips with us in the comments section below!