A Guide To Working Abroad in Madrid
Working in Madrid can be like drinking from a firehose. You’ll need to learn a lot about the unique language and culture of the city to understand Spanish business values and be successful at your job in Madrid. Whether you’re headed off to work in the high-powered financial sector or as an in-home English tutor, you’ll face some challenges while adjusting to life in Madrid. That being said, the payoff of your endeavors in Spain will be enormous; you’ll gain important international experience and drastically improve your language skills, at the very least!
Job opportunities in Madrid for foreigners are always expanding. Though there is an ever-increasing demand for foreign workers in a variety of fields, that is also a steady need for English instructors any time of the year.
Madrid is an especially great place to work abroad in Spain for those interested in journalism, tourism, and finance. Serving as one of the most important publishing centers for Spanish material in the world, foreigners can find gainful employment in one of Madrid’s larger publishing companies or take a gander around the city’s bustling independent publishing scene. Tourism jobs in Madrid are widely available for obvious reasons. Madrid is an electric city, and there’s no shortage of people coming from around the world to sample the city’s food, music, and traditions. Financial services in Spain are largely centered in Madrid, so it’s an exciting place to pursue jobs in economics or finance if you want to better understand the economic opportunities present in the Spanish economy.
A knowledge of Spanish will be your key to landing most jobs in Madrid, but there are job opportunities for English speakers in Madrid as well. As mentioned above, there’s a huge demand for English teachers in Madrid. Some Spanish students go so far as to participate in international exchange programs in high school just to study and practice their English skills for a year in the United States! Education jobs in Madrid can be lucrative for qualified professionals, and can also help you meet and greet your way into Spanish culture.
Culturally, Spanish business culture can be a bit different. The pace is generally considered to be slow and easy going, and personal relationships are the key to building a career in Spain. Spanish people prefer to form social bonds before talking business, so it’s important to understand that your network in Spain is more than a set of professional contacts. For example, there may be (and likely will be) plenty of eating, drinking, and socializing before you can create a real business partner.
Madrid is a rare mix between bustling metropolis and easygoing city. The center of multiple very important parts of Spanish society (like government), Madrid is an especially significant city because of its art and sport. As one of the most important art cities in all of Europe, Madrid is home to many famous works of art, by artists like Velázquez and Goya. Though the Prado is the most well known museum in Madrid, to view Dali and Picasso you’ll need to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.
In the sporting world, what team is better than Real Madrid? The most valuable sporting franchise in the world fields a powerhouse team consistently, and seeing a match at El Bernabéu sits at the top of many people’s bucket lists. The city also hosts the monstrous Colchoneros (Mattressers) at Atlético Madrid. If futbol isn’t your thing, you can also experience the craziness of bullfighting in Madrid too. Madrid is well known as having the largest bullring in Spain, and you’ll be sure to get a unique experience if you take an afternoon to experience this Spanish tradition first hand.
The crucial piece of your plan to relocate to Madrid is your ability to afford it. The good news is: the cost of living in Madrid can be quite affordable for students and professionals alike. Food, transportation, housing, and drinks can all add up to less than €1000 per month. The average salary for a standard job in Madrid is just north of €3400 per month, while English teachers can make closer to €1800 per month.
Additionally, Spain’s labor laws provide extra benefits for local and foreign workers. The majority of jobs in Madrid cannot require you to work more than 40 hours per week, and no more than nine hours in a day, so you’ll get at least 12 hours of rest before you are required to start your next work day. All workers are also entitled to 30 days of paid vacation each year (after working in Spain at the same company for at least one year), so don’t worry too much about not having time to explore the rest of Spain.
Central accommodation is affordable for most professionals who obtain jobs in Madrid, but you should be careful about which neighborhoods you choose to live in. Some areas are full of manicured public parks and small shops, while others are rife with loud nightclubs and late-night food joints. Like many big cities, the type of lifestyle you’re looking to live should dictate the type of neighborhood you choose to live in.
There’s a few different options when it comes to housing in Madrid, ranging from cheap apartments to deluxe flats. Some larger employers will provide foreign workers with assistance in securing accommodation, but you’ll most likely be on your own. Many young students and professionals opt to find roommates to minimize living costs and optimize their social life; this is also a great option if you’re looking to improve your language skills, since you’ll quite easily be able to find local roommates, though you can also find roommates from elsewhere in the world. There are still cost-effective options for those who prefer to live in private housing units, you’ll just have to increase your budget a bit.
In order to legally work abroad in Madrid, you will need to acquire a visa if you’re not an EU citizen. However, you’ll have to secure a job in Madrid before applying for a visa. Any foreign worker must apply for authorization before they begin the visa application process. The visa process can take up to eight months and worker’s visas only last one year (though it’s renewable), so it’s best to plan as far ahead as you can.
The best way to stay up to date is to check with your local Spanish embassy for work visa requirements specific to your country of origin and length of stay.
The beauty of a city like Madrid isn’t in the big sights. You can spend a lifetime in the museums, shops, and stadiums, but what’s incredible about the city is the lifestyle. People spend their entire lives trying to balance their professional passions with a need to relax and have fun; Madrid is a city full of people who live and breathe that balance. For every person seeking out meaningful employment in Madrid, there’s a new person dancing the night away until dawn breaks. Part of the adventure of working in Madrid will be learning to live and understand the balance between work and play, and you’ll definitely be able to take that home with you so you can live a better life for many years to come.
However, on the flipside, you’ll sometimes face the challenge of not knowing something that others intuitively understand. You won’t be able to understand why employer is taking so long to process your paperwork, or why the relationship you were hoping to build is moving so slowly. There’s likely to be a serious dichotomy between your work performance at home and your performance in Spain. Conquering this dichotomy is ultimately what makes the journey of working abroad worth it!
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