Madrid, Spain Report of what it's like to live there - 11/28/11

Personal Experiences from Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain 11/28/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Portland, Oregon.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Federal government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Live in a townhouse in Aravaca, which is very quiet. Downtown Madrid is noisy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

American food.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Yes. Expensive.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Spaniards are meat eaters.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

10-11 euros an hour. Many are available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Easily accessible.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Digital plus - US$60 per month.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I get by fine. Have a vocabulary of 200 or so words.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Unknown. Probably not.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I have a Honda CRV and it works. Don't bring a big car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. US$50 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

American vet in Aravaca.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Probably not.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

None.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Decent.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Warm and sunny.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through American School.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The American Club is huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Good.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Spainards don't seem to like Latin Americans/Mexicans.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Seeing all of Spain and Europe.

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11. Can you save money?

No way.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Definitely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Big car, American appliances and king size bed.

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3. But don't forget your:

Coat. It can get very cold at night

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?


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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Love living in Madrid, and particularly in Aravaca. I find the people to be nice and helpful.

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