Choosing your Madrid neighbourhood is your most important decision, after the one to move to Madrid.
It determines your lifestyle, the space you can afford, the access you will have to your office, to entertainment and green areas.
However, it’s the single most overlooked phase of the relocation. Follow these 3 steps and make sure you’re taking the right decision.
1. Clarify your lifestyle and priorities
“Know thyself” – Look within, as it’s also the key to not only a effective flathunting but also a happy relocation. Write your answers to the following questions for yourself, each one a blank page.
- Where do you live currently ? What do you like about your neighbourhood ? What are you missing ? if you want me to help you find the equivalent of your current neighborhood in Madrid, do send me an email.
- What is your ideal day ? Describe it in details, from the time you wake up to the moment you go to bed. This will be key in visualizing your life in your future neighborhood.
- What type of home do you want? Are you interested in a single-family home or an apartment ?
- How long should be your commute ? Will you have a car ?
- Do you want to be in a historic neighborhood or a new development?
- Do you want to be able to go places on foot ?
Now, review all your notes, and list on one page:
- Your “must-have” and “nice-to have”
- Review this and write as the title the 3 words that sum-up your ideal neighborhood – these will be your priorities.
2. Complete your reality check
You now have a profile of your perfect neighborhood. Let’s find which real Madrid barrio will make you happy.
Start with this great video to give you a first idea of the 7 most famous neighborhoods: La Latina, Sol-Gran Vía, Chueca, Las Letras, Salamanca, Austrias, Malasaña.
Then, go a bit further match your 3 words you defined for your perfect neighborhood to my 3-word descriptions of all Madrid neighborhoods.
Finally, define how much home you can afford:
- Set your budget – see my low-down on the cost of living in Madrid for more details
- Divide it by 3500 € if you are buying and 18 € if you will be renting (as of May 2012). This will give you an estimate of the square meters you can afford in the city center, for a quality apartment.
- Compare this to the space you think you need. If it’s not enough, you will have to go into details and check the pros and cons of each neighborhood according to your lifestyle and budget. And do send me an email if you want me to help you get more bang for your buck.
3. Visualize & trust your gut
By now you should have an idea of what you value most in a neighborhood, and where you can find this in Madrid: your shortlist in other words.
Now it is essential that you leverage your gut feeling.
The rational first part, the preparation, is made to eliminate.
The final choice should be made by “experiencing” your shortlist and asking yourself not “what would be the best for me ?”, but “do I see myself living here?”. As the saying goes, the best is the enemy of the good, and in fact of happiness.
Thus, I recommend you take your shortlist and do the following:
- Before you come to Madrid, immerse yourself as much as possible:
use my map of the best Madrid neighborhoods to navigate the city,
click on the neighborhoods to have access to my detailed articles of key neighborhoods,
zoom in to see shops, restaurants and street views.
- for your viewings, make sure you include 2 different neighborhoods to get a “gut feeling” check of your shortlist.
- in Madrid, walk and get lost in your “shortlisted neighborhoods” with no other objectives than “feeling the atmosphere”. Take a coffee, have lunch, talk to people, go shopping and dedicate at least a couple of hours in your shortlisted neighborhoods, at night and during the day.
Remember, trust your gut feeling, focus on your priorities and on this single question: “Do I see myself living here ?”.
If you need help, just send me an email!