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Expats moving to Madrid are likely to have many questions about adjusting to life in Spain's busiest city. Here are some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Madrid.
How do expats deal with all the Spanish bureaucracy?
Dealing with Spain's red tape starts with an expat's work permit and continues once they arrive when it comes time to get an Empadronamiento or place their child in Spain's public school system. It is not easy, and it can be frustrating for expats that are used to more streamlined bureaucracy. Speaking Spanish or having a translator is a great asset.
What will be the most expensive aspects of living in Madrid?
Recent rapid growth has meant an increase in the cost of living, though salaries seem to be stagnating. Accommodation will be the largest cost for expats, as house and apartment rental prices are disproportionately high in urban centres. Private schools, for those expats with school-aged children, are also more expensive in Madrid in comparison to other parts of Spain.
Is Madrid safe?
Madrid is very safe in terms of violent crime. Evenings are usually active in downtown areas, and people feel safe to walk home late at night. That said, petty crime does occur in Madrid. Expats should be mindful of pickpockets in crowded tourist areas and should be sure to lock their doors when they are not at home. Furthermore, if owning a car, it's best not to leave any possessions or valuables in clear view as this may invite a break-in.
Do I need a car in Madrid?
In short, probably not. There is excellent public transport in Madrid and unless planning to live in the city's outermost suburbs, expats will have no problem getting around. That said, if expats do decide to buy a car in Spain, they should be prepared to feel the full brunt of Spain's bureaucratic culture.
Can foreign children attend Spanish schools in Madrid?
While there are many international schools in Madrid that teach in foreign languages or are bilingual, there are also many Spanish schools that expat children can attend. Madrid has got both public and private schools that teach classes in Spanish. If expats are wishing to immerse their children into the culture and language of their new home, it is recommended to send their children to one of these schools.