The coolest neighborhood in the world is in Madrid!
When one thinks of the coolest neighborhood in the world, most people think of New York’s Lower East Side (sorry, Williamsburg but this author is not a Brooklyn fan), London’s Shoreditch or Paris’s Haut Marais. But those initial impressions leave out one very important place. TimeOut Magazine recently did a ranking of the world’s 50 coolest neighborhoods. What came out on top? Madrid’s Embajadores.
Where exactly is Embajadores?
Sometimes people get a little confused about Embajadores, with good reason. Technically, Embajadores is an adminstrative zone in the city of Madrid with smaller neighborhoods tucked inside. The TimeOut article even got it wrong. It says that “Embajadores is in the Lavapiés barrio.” This is actually backwards. Lavapiés, which the article focuses on, is not technically a neighborhood. Rather, it is a portion of larger Embajadores, which is an official administrative zone.
Lavapiés is centered around two main plazas: Tirso de Molina and Lavapiés.
What makes Lavapiés the coolest neighborhood?
It is both authentic and diverse
Lavapiés is the one of the oldest, and definitely the most ethnically diverse, neighborhoods in Madrid. It has old fashioned bars and taverns that still serve traditional tapas and vermouth on tap. These rub shoulders with many Indian, Lebanese, Moroccan and even Mexican restaurants. If you are relocating to Madrid from a large, international city like New York or London you will likely find the neighborhood’s diversity a breath of fresh air compared with typical Madrid neighborhoods, which can be a bit homogeneous.
With an arty, alternative edge
Lavapiés has the best street art in Madrid. Many of the artists have broad followings- there are even tours devoted to seeing the best street art in Lavapiés. The artists aren’t just Spanish- they come from other parts of Europe, South Africa, Thailand and even Japan to spread their vision and message on the walls and sidewalks of Lavapiés.
The neighborhood also houses a number of art galleries that feature work by contemporary artists. One of the most interesting examples of these is Rizoma, located at Lavapiés, 22. It is not just an exhibition space, but an incubator for up and coming artists. In addition to regular exhibits, it has events and workshops for up and coming artists, including kids. One of its most recent events was for kids aged 6-12 years focusing on “Art and Neurodiversion.” It featured workshops on drawing, painting and sculpture aimed at developing the neuroplasticity of kids’ brains. Kids attending the workshop created art, which was then exhibited in artistic and cultural spaces around the neighborhood of Lavapiés.
And a vibrant nightlife scene
For many people, the nightlife is what makes Lavapiés the coolest neighborhood in the world. In fact, it is so lively at night that we do not recommend purchasing a property in the “party squares” of Tirso de Molina and Lavapiés. In fact, if you are considering buying a flat in this neighborhood, we recommend visting it around 11:00 pm on a Thursday or weekend night, just to check the level of street noise at night.
To get a feel for the neighborhood, we recommend a visit to Sala Equis for cocktails or even dinner. Once Madrid’s largest XXX rated cinema, it is now a restaurant, bar and event space dedicated to promoting film culture. The bar/restuarant is remniscent of NYC’s PS 1 with beach chairs and chillout spaces where you can eat, drink and watch films. You might even rub shoulders with one of the Moving2Madrid team members, as it is right around the corner from our offices.
Another of our favorite places is El Imparcial. Housed in the former headquarters of the daily newspaper El Imparcial, it has some of the best food in Madrid housed in an enormous, beautifully decorated space. It features a a lovely bar and community tables. When you enter, the first thing you encounter is a small shop on the ground floor selling a well edited assortment of hipster chic items. Walk up the splendid marble staircase to find the interestingly lit, mirrored restaurant.
Tell me about the real estate in Lavapiés
This is where the good news start coming! Lavapies has the best “quality-to-price” ratio if you want to live close to the center of Madrid. The price per square meter of real estate in Lavapiés is currently 10-20% cheaper than that of comparable properties in the traditional center of Madrid.
If it’s the coolest neighborhood, why is real estate in Lavapiés so cheap?
Well, because cool and gentrified are often mutually exclusive terms. The best analogy is New York City’s Lower East Side. Twenty years ago the Lower East Side was a little rough, albeit very ethnically diverse. The real estate was relatively low quality, many of it old tenement buildings. Because of the cheap prices, it was one of the few places in Manhattan in which artists could afford to live. Once the artists moved in, they brought with them nighlife, interesting food and edgy clothing stores.
People saw this and started buying apartments and fixing them up. Gradually the neighborhood became much safer, the quality of the real estate improved dramatically and prices went up.
This is where Lavapiés stands today. People are starting to notice it, purchase and renovate apartments. However, it is still early stages. We forecast that we will see a 15% appreciation in Lavapiés real estate prices over the next 3-5 years.
What is the best strategy for purchasing real estate in Lavapiés?
In short, you want a “fixer-upper.” According to Moving2Madrid Property Analyst Brian Mosbeux,
“Go for a place that is totally destroyed.”
As Brian actually owns property and lives in Lavapiés, he knows what he is talking about. In fact, both he and the CEO of Moving2Madrid live in Lavapiés, which says a lot about how we feel regarding this neighborhood.
Would you like to learn more about investment opportunities in Lavapiés? Contact us today- we will help you find a great fixer upper in the coolest neighborhood in the world!