You have decided to move to Madrid. Now, what is the best neighborhood choice for you if you have kids ?
As always, choosing in which neighborhood to live in Madrid depends on your lifestyle and needs. And having kids, at least suggests a few lifestyle orientations. I will then underline the key criteria to have in mind when flathunting and then at the end give a shortlist of the neighborhoods I advise you to consider to live with your family.
Safe and quiet surroundings
Madrid is a very safe city. Compared to other capital cities I have visited or lived in, Madrid is by far the one in which you feel the safest. One reason is Madrid and Spain in general has the highest policeman to civilian ratio in Europe. Another one is the metro is very secure, clean and modern. The last reason would be that the Spanish lifestyle of staying out late makes that there is always lots of people on the streets when you come back at night, so you always feel safe.
As for quiet, here Madrid is not the best city of all. Again, the Spanish lifestyle implies that people party on the streets and have a different perception to noise that many have. Madrid has declared war to “noise pollution” and things are improving quickly. In general, you will have no issues if you live out of the party streets in Malasaña and Chueca. The best advice is to go by your potential future flat at night and have some drinks to see if party-goers gather under your window. Of course, some neighbourhoods are also quieter than others, and I will present them in this post.
Access to the best education
From preschools to best MBAs in the world, Madrid has all you need in terms of education. Depending on your needs, some neighbourhoods will have more to propose you: for instance, all MBAs are near the business district and to the upper-class Salamanca neighbourhood. Private bilingual preschools are found in majority n some affluent modern suburbs, whereas quality public bilingual schools will tend to be more towards Madrid center. To be sure if the neighbourhood you are considering is close to good schools, check this interactive map of the Best Expat Schools in Madrid and do a quick “Get directions” search to evaluate the time to get from the center or your favorite neighbourhood to the school.
Green spaces and/or playgrounds nearby
The center of Madrid has one great park: the Retiro. There are also plenty of little square with playgrounds, and the major Fuencarral street is closed every sunday and bank holiday to cars and filled with activities for children.
Of course, living in the center in a flat is not at all the same thing as living in a house in the suburbs with lots of space. Depending on your lifestyle and the age for your children, you have to choose the right mix between living right in the middle of the bustling life of Madrid and having space for yourself and your family.
Real estate prices which enable you to have the space for all your family and a parking
Prices in the center of Madrid are expensive compared to the purchasing power of Spaniards: 15 € / m2 / month to rent, 4500/ m2 to buy as an average. If you go out of the center or to less trendy neighbourhoods, prices can go down very quickly by 20 %, and you can find 10 €/m2 & 3000 € prices if you go to some great quality to price ratio neighbourhoods out of the center.
Take into account that if you live in the center of Madrid and that your kids are old enough to walk, you can really live without a car. This is the great thing about living in the center: you can walk to the school, to do your shopping and then make it delivered home, walk or take the metro to all kinds of entertainments and parks like the Retiro…
My advice would be to first set your budget, compare it to the minimum space you need for your family, and see if you can afford the 15 €/m2/month to rent or 4500 €/ m2 to buy prices. If you can, then you can afford to live even in some pricey neighbourhoods. If you can’t, than you will have to aim for better quality to price ratio neighbourhoods with cheaper real estate.
My selection of top neighbourhoods for foreign families moving to Madrid
There are 3 types of neighborhoods to consider, depending on your lifestyle, budget and needs (refer to this interactive map of Madrid Family Friendly neighbourhoods I made to see where these places are) – the furthest you get from the centre:
- Family-friendly neighborhoods in the centre:
- Pros: no need to take the car, all services and marvels of Madrid so close, the full Madrid experience
- Cons: For the same budget, it is much less likely to get a swimming pool, a garden or even an extra room or storage.
- Salamanca: the obvious choice for foreign families who want to live in a premium environment near the centre of Madrid – very quiet, great schools and services, small streets with large pavements, not right in the center, but very well connected, close to the Retiro Park. However real estate in Salamanca is very expensive.
- Retiro: the Retiro neighbourhood is very similar to Salamanca, located just south of it, and is defined by this very large park perfect for strolls and playing with the kids. It is less expensive than Salamanca, but not as well connected and thus a but further from the center.
- Chamberi: This neighbourhood is really just next to the center, south-west of Salamanca. It is a traditional madrid neighbourhoods, with many services for families, and for instance its major street, Calle fuencarral, and its major square, Plaza Olavide, are closed every sunday until 14:00 and filled with playgrounds and activities for kids. In fact Calle Fuencarral has kid playgrounds installed and available at any time. It is better located and less expensive than Salamanca, but not as upper class and quiet, but still very family friendly and traditionally Madrid way of life.
- Family-friendly neighborhoods in still urban environments, but not in the centre,
- Pros: more zen than in the centre, while still having access to services close-by, and you can still do without a car, even if it’s not as easy as in the centre
- Cons: usually very residential, lacks the distinctive Madrid character of the centre.
- Conde de Orgaz: a neighborhood with a very strong expat community, especially French speaking since it includes the Lycée Français.
- Arturo Soria: a favorite for professionals who work in the north eastern area of Madrid, many private or semi private schools around and easy access to the airport.
- El Viso: a secret, and in fact the only neighborhoods with the closest villas in Madrid to the centre. Such a secret that prices and properties are luxury, and the market is very closed, with very little movement.
- Puerta de Hierro: at the limit of Madrid, with mostly modern design properties, the solution if you want to be an exclusive but modern environment, and still very close to the centre.
- Family-friendly neighborhoods in affluent suburbs
- Pros: you get quality properties for the same budget: swimming pool, garden (private or shared), more space, storage, more light.
- Cons: you have to drive most of the times. Of course, there is still public transport, and can still go to your cafe by the corner, but you do need a car. Suburbs look mostly like other affluent suburbs.
- Around Madrid, just out of the limit of the circular metro line #6, and the circular road M30, are Pozuelo and Aravaca. They are the typical places where affluent families go and live to have more space than in Madrid, with a very high quality of life and flats of way better quality than in Madrid. Plenty of supermarkets, schools and services. The best of all is that it is only 1 station from Madrid, that the big forest of the West of Madrid is just close to you so you can also enjoy a stroll and quiet time with your family, and maybe you can afford a house in these neighbourhoods. In a nutshell, I would recommend Pozuelo, Majadahonda, Aravaca, Las Rozas, in the north-west, and La Moraleja in the north-east, Pozuelo and la Moraleja having the most exclusive properties and communities. Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho live in Pozuelo for instance…
Of course, “your mileage may vary” and this selection is a reduction of reality : it is intended to simplify your search and give you useful tools and insights to feel safer and more confident about your move to Madrid. I know many happy families in other neighbourhoods and if you have any doubts or questions, do not hesitate to comment and/or send me an e-mail if you have any kind of question or if you are hesitating on the neighbourhood you want to move to !
Pierre Waters – Moving2Madrid