Are you moving to Madrid? If so, you’re in luck! Spotahome has done the runaround to bring you this complete guide to your new home. To compile this list of useful tips, we’ve asked our team and many other expats what they struggle with the most in Madrid, from the city’s public transport system to renting a room and sending packages back home. So if you, too, are planning on staying in the Spanish capital for a month, a year, or indefinitely, then look no further. Here’s your go-to guide to moving to Madrid!

Websites & Blogs

If you’re just arriving in Madrid, definitely check out our previous post on the most useful websites and blogs, where you’ll find everything from the official site for getting a NIE (national ID card) to the best foodie blogs and meetup groups.

How to get around Madrid – the city’s public transport system

Madrid’s public transport system is incredibly convenient, clean and affordable. Madrid’s airport seems to be the best example. From Madrid-Barajas, you can choose among various options, namely taxi, bus, metro or Cercanías to get to the city center! When it comes to your daily commute and getting around town, your options are just as varied.

Three things you must know about Madrid’s public transport system:

  1. Metro tickets: Sencillo or single ticket (1.50-2€); Metrobús, a 10-ride ticket that costs 12.20€; Abono or monthly unlimited travel pass (for bus, Cercanías and regular metro).
  2. Madrid’s areas: the city is divided into different zonas (A1, B1, B2, B3, C1 and C2). You should ask your school or try to make sure that you buy the right ticket.
  3. Madrid public transportation: not only bus, metro or Cercanias, but also electric bikes.

For more information, here is Naked Madrid’s handy guide for getting around the city.

Banks & Financial Services

One of the first things on your to-do list when you arrive in Madrid is probably going to be opening a bank account. As we wrote in a previous post, there are Great online bank account options for expats in Spain. We recommend opening an account with EVO. It takes no more than 10 minutes and you have 0% commission on all transactions here or in Europe.

Transferring money from US to Spanish account

As for transferring money from your American account to your Spanish one, we recommend using Transferwise. Here you can find a link to Pricing for transfers from USD.

Cell phones

Now that your money is safe, you should get a Spanish telephone number. We at Spotahome recommend unlocking your cell phone back in your home country before you get here. Mostly because technology-related matters can be costly in Spain.

As for service suppliers, we’d avoid big companies, such as Vodafone or Orange. They provide horrendous customer service (to put it nicely), especially over the phone, and they are expensive. These are cheaper providers that offer a higher quality service: Tuenti, Pepephone and Yoigo.

Before we move onto the next topic, don’t forget to download Whatsapp—a free instant messaging platform that’s very popular in Europe and particularly in Spain.

Health Plan and more

As an EU citizen in the auxiliar program you just need to have your European Health Insurance Card. For the non-EU folks, the program offers private insurance plans. You will also be covered; however, the terms and conditions can vary according to the Comunidad Autónoma (or Spanish region). For instance, my good friend Angela, entering into her second year in the program, told me that her insurance plan made her pay the treatment first and then would be reimbursed later.

You can also get private health insurance for around 40€/month, namely from Sanitas and Asisa. With these private insurers, you can choose your doctor, hospital or clinic, and schedule all your appointments online in a heartbeat. And most importantly, you can make an appointment with a specialist without having to be referred by your GP (unlike in the Spanish public health system where you always have to visit your family doctor first).

If you are getting medication back home, make sure that you stock up and bring it with you and double check that there is the same kind of drug here or an equivalent, just in case. You might have to check with your doctor here, normally Farmaciasdon’t supply drugs without doctor’s prescription.

Find your Farmacia here:

Food, games and other stuff…

Here comes a day-to-day list of things that you might miss or need from home.

  1. Deodorants are not good in Spain. At least they are not according to the Auxiliares de Conversación Facebook Group and almost every American I’ve met here.
  2. Food. Tapas are good but sometimes I just need a bag of Hot Cheetos! Here are some shops where you can find them: Taste of America and Only USA.
  3. Things you may need for your private classes: Books and games in English, such as Apples to Apples, Scattegories, and Bananagrams. Very helpful if you are teaching a 6-year-old and have nothing. You can check out J&J’s English-language Used Bookstore and Cafe as well. Also check out Naked Madrid’s posts on The Quest for Bagels in Madrid and Best American-style Brunches in Madrid.
  4. Makeup isn’t hard to get in Spain if you normally use stuff from Sephora or Mac; however, it’s a bit more on the pricey side here. Make sure you bring your favorite mascara and nail polish!

Sending your stuff back – Mail (Correos)

Want to send packages home? Then we recommend using the public mail service system called Correos.

Learning Spanish and making local friends

If you don't speak Spanish already, consider learning the basics before you move to Madrid. It'll make you feel less lonely, and you'll have more of a chance of making Spanish friends if you can communicate with them.

Enrol in a course to get you started, or try some free and more creative methods like Duolingo, Youtube, and Spanish podcasts. If you want to learn Spanish and make friends at the same time, check out some free Intercambio evenings in bars across Madrid.


Looking for a place in your new city? Spotahome can help you locate your perfect home in Madrid. You can have a look at all the rooms, studios and flats available on our interactive map at, and book your home online before you even arrive in the city. Our ‘runners’ have handpicked and seen each property in person, so rest assured that there will be no surprises once you unpack your bags. Get in touch with us if you have any questions; we’d be happy to hear from you!

One of our runners in what could be your new home in Madrid!

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