Moving to Madrid
Moving to Madrid, Spain’s capital city, can be a daunting prospect, but also an exciting one. We talked to Marine Vanhagendoren, CEO of Madrid Expat Services, the newly opened branch of the well established relocation agency Valencia Expat Services. Marine, a former nurse and mother of four, understands the challenges of settling abroad and will take away the stress of the various administrative procedures thanks to her experience and her wide network of contacts in Madrid. Marine is trilingual (French, English and Spanish), and will do everything in her power to make sure your relocation to the Spanish capital is as smooth as possible.
What you need to know about Moving to Madrid
Madrid is known as a fun loving city where people eat late lunches and late dinners and enjoy a bustling nightlife. How family friendly is it?
Madrid is one of the most family friendly cities in Spain. People adore children here and bring them everywhere. Children go to restaurants, museums, shows, you name it and they are welcome!
Would you recommend learning some Spanish before you arrive?
I would definitely recommend some basic Spanish lessons before arriving in Madrid. Being able to make the first contact in Spanish will be greatly appreciated by the locals. However, if this is not possible, do not panic: Spanish is a rather easy language to learn, and there are many schools who offer language classes to suit all abilities.
How easy is it to become integrated in the local community?
The Spanish people and, even more so, los Madrileños, are very welcoming to newcomers. You’ll rapidly make contacts with your neighbours and they will gladly give advice on the local shops and services and daily life in the barrio in which you live.
How varied is the choice of schools?
From public schools to private establishments, Madrid offers a very wide choice of schools for children. Public school and Concertados (semi-private schools) follow the Spanish curriculum, while private and/or international schools will usually follow another country’s educational system or the International Baccalaureate. Most of the international schools also provide Spanish lessons.
Is it essential to secure a place in an international school before moving to Madrid?
Although it’s not essential, the choice of the school will dictate a lot of your expatriation decisions, starting with the housing. Consider choosing the school for your kids, then settle on your accommodation. Most schools will accept children even over the course of the school year, so don’t be worried for that.
How easy is it to get around the city using public transport? Are their facilities for parents using pushchairs?
Madrid is incredibly well connected and you can get almost anywhere by metro or bus. Although all buses and most of the metro lines are accessible for people with pushchairs the oldest metro lines are still not all well equipped. Nonetheless, people are always happy to help.
Which areas are popular to live in for international families?
There are several areas worth considering. In the centre of Madrid the neighbourhoods of Salamanca, Retiro, Chamberi are very popular. Outside of the city centre you will find the neighbourhoods of Conde Orgaz and Arturio Soria are very popular with international families mainly due to the presence of the Lycée Français de Madrid which has a very good reputation.
Outside of Madrid, the western suburbs – Pozuelo, Aravaca, Boadilla del Monte, Las Rozas, Majadahonda, Villanueva de la Cañada) – and La Moraleja in the north of Madrid also include many international schools, and therefore are popular with international families.
What are the main concerns for families relocating to Madrid?
When I relocated to Madrid with my family in 2018, our two main concerns were the kids and the language. How will the kids adapt ? Will they have friends ? How can we learn Spanish? They seem to be the major concerns of most families. A lot of people are also afraid of being isolated. Madrid is a fantastic place to relocate to as people are very welcoming. You’ll make new friends as well as your kids. And your children will probably adapt faster than you will!
Of course the choice of school was also important. There are numerous parenting groups on social media to help you in this choice. Moms and Dads in Madrid and Madrid Education are both very active groups.
What advice would you give to families thinking of relocating to Madrid?
Be open. Madrid is an experience, not just a place. There is a sense of community that is not common in other cities. Madrileños occupy the streets even when it’s cold, rainy, or too hot. They live outdoors. They will always welcome newcomers and be open to a good chat.
How would you describe Madrid in 3 words?
Stunning, Friendly, Enjoyable
Find out more about Moving to Spain
Find out more about International Schools in Madrid