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Life Abroad: Madrid

One of the more interesting aspects of modern life is the ease with which people can move from one country to another for work. In many ways this is a result of a more globalised world, with businesses and people more internationally connected than ever before. One city that knows this first hand, ranking fairly high in attractiveness for expats and migrants, is Madrid.

Quick Facts:

  • Population – About 3.3 million people live in the city of Madrid. However, that number grows to over 6.5 million when you take the entire metropolitan area into account. Madrid is the third largest metropolitan area in the EU.
  • Currency – Euro
  • Average Rent – A one bedroom apartment in the city centre averages €750. The price drops to €450 outside of the city centre. A three bedroom apartment averages €1382 or €956 in the same areas.
  • Average Salary – €1453 (after taxes)
  • Getting around – Madrid has an excellent transportation system. The Metro is the second largest in Europe and is complimented by an excellent system of trains and buses. The main airport is one of the busiest in Europe; four smaller airports serve primarily regional destinations.
  • Healthcare – The Spanish healthcare system is considered to be one of the best in the world. Those living and working in Spain typically have access to free state healthcare, which is partially funded by payroll deductions. Expats are entitled to free state healthcare if they work in Spain (including those who are self-employed) and make social security contributions, receive certain state benefits, are recently divorced or separated from a partner that pays social security contributions, pregnant, a student under the age of 26, or a temporary resident with an EHIC card.

Banking in Madrid

Once you are settled in Madrid, even if you are going to be there only a few months for study or work, it is a good idea to open a local back account.

The Spanish system is somewhat different to most countries and consists of two types of institutions:

Bancos – These are the traditional banks that we are familiar with.

Cajas – These are regional or local institutions which offer a highly customer focused approach. They are owned by the state.

Spanish banks typically offer resident and non-resident accounts. The fees for a non-resident account can be slightly higher.

You must open your account in person, although some of the international banks with offices in Madrid will help you open an account at your local branch.  Many banks offer the service of an English-speaking consultant, although it may be necessary to make an appointment.

Documentation Required

Spanish banks (either banco or cajas) require the standard documents to open an account.

  • Passport or National Identity Card
  • Proof of occupation or status. This can be an employment contract or payslip, letter from accountant or lawyer, pension or disability payment confirmation, or student card). This is an extra requirement introduced in 2007 by the Bank of Spain as a measure to combat money-laundering
  • Non-residents also need to produce their Foreigner Identification Number (NIE)

Technically, non-residents are supposed to provide a certificate of non-residence, which is available from the local police station. In many cases the banks will not ask for this.

Lists of Banks

Here are some of main banks in Madrid. It should be noted that many of the banks offer online banking as well, but the instructions and the website are seldom in English.

  • Banco Mediolanum
  • ING Direct
  • Evo Banco
  • CitiBank España
  • Catalunya Caixa Bank
  • Unicaja Bank
  • Sa Nostra Bank
  • Caja Murcia
  • Deutsche Bank Spain


Where to Live

Like all major international cities, Madrid has something to offer everyone. Restaurants range from internationally known 4 and 5 star rated luxury spots to small family owned restaurants that serve up incredibly tasty local and regional dishes.  The city is also rich in museums, galleries, sports venues, and nightclubs of endless varieties.

Madrid is divided into 21 districts, which contain 128 barrios, each with its own style and character. From the upmarket and pricey brand shopping of Salamanca to the relaxed, trendy Chueca, popular with the city’s youth, or even Malasaña, the home of Madrid’s counter-culture, there’s something for everyone in Spain’s capital city. 


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