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Moving to Madrid … an Expat Guide

in Moving to … Expat Guides
Madrid - Indalo Transport

It’s the dawn of your new life in Madrid – Click for Map Guide

When you decide to become an expat, you’re embarking on a truly awesome adventure, and there are only exciting times ahead for you. The lure of a new life in another country is something which humans have found alluring since we had the means to get around.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century we Brits began colonizing America, in the eighteenth century we landed in Australia, and ran screaming from the scary wildlife, and by the early nineteenth century we were sipping Darjeeling tea in India. As our forebears packed up their belongings and braced themselves for a long voyage out at sea to a strange, new world, their anticipation for a new life in an exotic place must have been palpable. Or that could just have been the seasickness.

Luckily, in modern times, we don’t have to endure month long expeditions to move to another country, after all, Europe is now only a stone’s throw away.

Unlike our ancestors, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get all of your possessions abroad, because Indalo Transport have that covered. We specialize in removals from UK to Spain, giving you peace of mind that your belongings are safe, sound and fully insured by a team who genuinely love helping expats move to Spain.

Below, you’ll find a handy little guide, part of our series of guides about the villages, towns, cities, provinces and regions of Spain, which you may find useful in preparing for your upcoming removal to Madrid.

(All links in this article open in a new tab of your browser, so you don’t lose your place!)

So you’re thinking of moving to Madrid  —  Nice choice!

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and it’s also the largest city of the country, with nearly 3.2 million inhabitants. It is an elegant city, filled with beautiful boulevards, expansive, manicured parks, fashionable shopping areas, historical quarters with picturesque streets and rich repositories of European art.

Its landmarks include the Royal Palace, the Temple of Debod, the Almundena Cathedral, the Bernabeu stadium, the popular El Rastro market, a botanical garden, a zoo, an aquarium and a plethora of art and history museums.

market - Indalo Transport

A typical Spanish market stall

Madrid is an international commercial hub and political capital that still has deep Spanish roots, steeped in tradition. Expats needn’t worry about the pressures of a high-speed lifestyle that they may have experienced in the big cities of the UK. It is beyond doubt that this city is the place to go to for those looking to further their career whilst capitalizing on an attractive quality of life.

It is true that the economic climate in Spain suffered badly during the recession, but it is making a substantial recovery. Madrid is the best city to find a job in the country as it plays host to an array of large multinational corporations with direct foreign investment. That being said, you should realize that the average salary in Madrid, and all across Spain, are generally inferior to other major European cities. However, the cost of food, eating out and drinking is also significantly lower than it would be in London.

architecture - Indalo Transport

A typical Spanish apartment block

In terms of accommodation, it can be quite hard to find housing in Madrid, because the process of buying and renting a house is so different from how things are done in the UK. The main thing to do is research, in-depth, the apartments and houses for sale in the area of the city you would like to live in, as prices and quality can vary dramatically.

Even though us Brits aren’t strong on the subject, negotiation is key to making a deal quickly and efficiently with estate agents in Spain. If you can demonstrate that you have a strong understanding of the local market, you won’t get stung on the rental or sale price.

In regards to renting, make sure that you’ve saved enough for the first month’s rent, plus a deposit, which is equivalent to a month’s rent, and the agent fee, which can also be the equivalent of the first month’s rent.

Once you’re settled however, you’ll find that Madrid is a melting pot of cultures, as there is already a sizeable overseas community established in the city. Nearly a fifth of its inhabitants have immigrated from abroad. You’ll also find that the city’s healthcare system is considered to be one of the best in Europe, and there are an impressive number of private schools with a bilingual or full English curriculum available to children.

The only downside of Madrid is that it is not a coastal city, like Barcelona or Valencia, so you won’t be able to chill out at the seaside, unless you travel nearly two hours by train to the East coast. With Madrid almost at the geographic center of Spain, and quite high up, winters are cold compared to other parts of the country, with average temperatures about 7 degrees, the coldest month being January.

The summers in Madrid can also get very hot. During July and August the temperature will rarely drop below 30 degrees and during these months you get, on average, 13 hours of sunlight a day. Even in winter, Madrid has about three times more sun than in the Northern half of Europe.

On the whole, you’ll find that living amongst the city’s rich history and youthful enterprise makes for exciting opportunities for individuals and families alike.

Indalo Transport’s Top 3 things you need to do to prepare for your move to Madrid.

1. Book your removal to Madrid from the UK

When you have a moving date, and you’ve gone through all your belongings and worked out what it is you’d like to take with you to Madrid, contact several removals companies for quotes. After you’ve got your quotes, do a little background research into the firms you’ve contacted, check out their customer reviews to see if they’re really as good as they say they are.

Check to see if the company is fully insured and have a look in to whether they offer a packing service or can provide you with advice and guidance on becoming an expat. Once you’ve taken into consideration all these things, book with your chosen removals team as soon as possible, to make sure they’re still available to help you move.
Whilst you’re here, why not have a look at the services we offer, and our glowing customer reviews. Maybe we’ll be your first choice of getting your things safely to Spain from the UK.

2. Make sure you and your pet have all their documents

As Britain is a member of the EU, you and your family don’t have to worry about filling in copious amounts of customs paperwork, or having to obtain a work permit or visa. You can enjoy living and working in Madrid for up to three months without having to apply for residency. All you need to hand is your passport, and if you have one, your driving licence.

If you have pets, there are a few things you need to do in order to make their journey, as well as yours, as smooth as possible.

  • Get your pet microchipped.
  • After your
    pet- Indalo Transport

    Even your dog will love relocating to Madrid!

    pet has been chipped, book them in as soon as possible for a rabies vaccination. The reason why you need to do this asap is because you must wait 21 days after it has been done before moving abroad. Some vets only give one course of vaccinations, but some advise to give two courses, therefore, the sooner it’s done, the sooner you can move.

  •  Ask your vet for a Pet Passport. Just like our passports, this is a little book, complete with photo page to help people identify your pet. It is also a handy record of when your pet will need to get revaccinated for rabies.

Luckily, Spain doesn’t have a list of banned pet breeds that aren’t allowed to enter the country. However, dog breeds which demonstrate certain ‘dangerous’ characteristics, like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler or Akita, or breeds which weigh over 10 kg, must be registered within three months of being in Madrid.

Vets are not permitted to administer any vaccinations to any new dog listed as a dangerous dog breed without a stamped letter of registration from the local Town Hall.

If you are travelling with more than 5 pets that are 6 months or older, your pets must meet the requirements as listed above and have endorsement from the government agency that regulates the import and export of animals. You will also need to have an Intra Trade Certificate and register the movement on the TRACES system.

3. Research, research and do more research


research- Indalo Transport

Preparing for your move to Madrid

Preparing for your move to Madrid

  • If you don’t have a job to go to, now is the time to start looking for jobs. There are plenty of sites you can visit to start applying:
  • If you haven’t already got a place to move to, now is the time to start perusing the internet for your new home:
  • If you’ve got the time, now would be a good idea to start learning a few, simple Spanish phrases and words.

Indalo Transport’s Top 3 things you need to do once you’ve settled in to your new home

1. Sort out your NIE

If after three months of living in Madrid, you do decide that the expat lifestyle is for you and you want to stay in Spain permanently, then you will have to apply for residency. You will be asked to prove that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself and any dependents and you may also be required to provide proof that you’ve taken out public or private healthcare insurance. Therefore it’s very important that by this time you have a job or can demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.

2. Find a Doctor and a dentist

It is important in Madrid, once you have your NIE, to get healthcare insurance.

Whilst Spain does have a public health system which provides free or low cost health care for those contributing to Spanish social security, much like the NHS, the system is over-burdened.

To be insured, you must have a Social Security number (that you get usually through your work).

If you have paid regular National Insurance contributions for two full years prior to coming to Madrid, then you are entitled to public health cover for a limited period from the date of your last NI contribution.

3. Register your car

If you travelled to Spain in your car, it’s nice to know that you’re allowed to use it without any worries for the first six months of you being in Madrid. However, if you’d like to keep using it beyond six months, you must register the vehicle with the Spanish government.

In order to register your car, it must undergo a safety inspection, similar to the UK’s MOT test. You will also have to pay a registration fee on the car, a tax which is based on your cars average market value.

After a successful removal to Madrid, now sit back, relax and start enjoying your wonderful, new life!


relax-Indalo Transport

Ahh, soaking up the rays in sunny Madrid, bliss!

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