Madrid wins out as European favourite for expat life

Published:  17 May at 6 PM
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A recent survey has identified Madrid as one of the top world cities for expat life.

Deciding to live and work overseas often involves a tricky choice between top-waged, elite jobs with unsatisfactory lifestyles and a more laid-back, enjoyable environment with an acceptable salary. With its central location, finance and commerce hubs, job opportunities, friendly locals and sunny weather, it’s no surprise that Madrid is highly rated as a favourite destination for expats searching for a congenial way of life at reasonable cost.

The historic Spanish city is Europe’s third largest capital and an important centre for commerce and finance, but isn’t plagued with the fast-track, must-have lifestyle common in other European hubs such as London and Paris, The expat lifestyle here is more sedate and more enjoyable, and there’s a good choice of jobs based in multinational companies and in the financial sector. It has to be said that wages are lower than in Europe’s other major commercial hubs, but the cost of living in the city is also far lower, creating a work-life balance difficult to find elsewhere on the continent.

According to the latest Expat Insider survey, Madrid is expats’ all-time favourite for living overseas as well as being the third most popular destination of all the countries surveyed. Rated positively by 93 per cent of respondents in the General Satisfaction category and holding the top score in the Ease of Settling In index, many of the city’s fans claimed they felt completely at home and found new friends easily. Almost ten per cent of the city’s residents are expats, and public transport, eating out, entertainment and fashions are all affordable.

As for expats travelling with their families, there’s a good selection of reputable multi-lingual international schools, and healthcare hits a high standard with its ultra-modern facilities and medical professionals. Leisure activities include theatres, leisure and sports centres, art galleries, world-class museums and a great choice of malls and international eateries. Madrid is an international hub for rail and air travel, making trips to family and friends in the home country straightforward.

Downsides for expats include the country’s still-recovering economy, meaning there’s stiff competition for jobs in Madrid, especially in the English teaching, IT, engineering and finance sectors. Housing costs are comparatively high, as are fees for education and healthcare, making negotiating for a decent relocation package a priority. For those searching for peace and quiet, exploring the outlying suburbs is the best bet, although it’ll mean a daily commute to the office.
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