Dreaming Of Madrid? Try It On For Style, Stay For The Housing Values

Who hasn’t dreamed of moving to another country? Where, certainly, the grass is greener. And the housing cheaper. Or life is more exciting.

New Yorkers fantasizing about the vibrant city of Madrid might be interested to know that a move there can chop 36% off their cost of living, according to Numbeo.com. A cappuccino, for example, will put you back about $2.25. A beer, about $3.50.

madrid market shops spain

That cappuccino comes at a steep discount in Madrid, when compared to New York City.

But what may seem like a bargain to New Yorkers, may not be so for ex-pats arriving from other areas. Using the calculator at Expatistan.com, you can plug in Madrid as the city you want to move to and, in the versus field, put in the place you are moving from.

Their estimate for people moving from Los Angeles is that housing will be 41% cheaper in the Spanish metropolis, while food and entertainment costs will be cut by a third.

The only category you’ll get dinged in is clothes, which will cost 6% more. That’s the high price of being well-dressed in the European Union’s second-largest city.

atocha railway platform madrid spain

Besides the Atocha Railway Station (pictured), Madrid is serviced by the Barajas Airport, which has international flights around the world.

While Madrid is one of the more expensive cities within Spain, it’s handy to the Barajas Airport, which has international flights around the world. It’s also a political hub, a financial center and the home to multiple museums and cultural institutions. The rich history of the city is reflected in its varied architecture, which includes European-influenced palaces.

Those interested in living in Madrid will want to have their NIE document in hand. The easiest way to get this non-resident identification number is to contact the nearest Spanish embassy before you go abroad. Having this number lets you open a bank account.

street in old mardrid with shops and buildings

Old Madrid is awash in rental housing, tapas bars and history.

Americans investing more than 500,000 euros (or roughly $589,000) can qualify for a Golden Visa. This makes it easier for home buyers to obtain a residence permit. It also permits you to work. The visa allows the home buyer to live in Spain for two years and then must be renewed every two years.

A recent check of properties in Madrid and the surrounding region run the gamut from a detached three-bedroom villa set on a cobblestone street for about $435,000 to a nearly 9,000-square-foot, six-bedroom house built in 2000 that will set you back $4.4 million. As in the U.S., the real estate agent fee is paid by the seller.

madrid restaurant tapas bar

If you hunger for a calamari sandwich, great wine at low prices and a city bubbling over with culture, Madrid might just be the ticket.

For renters, a basic one-bedroom apartment will run about $836, according to CheckInPrice.com. Figure another $83 for utilities. Depending on the location, two-bedroom flats cost in the $1,300 range.

Just like everywhere, rents by neighborhood and for furnished or non-furnished units vary greatly. You may not be signing a lease, however. Spanish landlords sometimes settle for verbal agreements.

If you hunger for a calamari sandwich, great wine at low prices and a city bubbling over with culture, Madrid might just be the ticket.


During four decades of covering luxury and celebrity housing, I’ve looked into people’s homes, lives and property records through many lenses. I was the Los Angeles Times Real Estate section editor for eight years, the Hot Property columnist for six and did stints as a newspaper reporter, copy editor and page designer. My work for The Times Business, Home and Real Estate sections has garnered in-house and national awards for blogging, editing and feature writing.

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