Retiring in Madrid, Spain | Local Spotlight

Retiring in Madrid

By Georgia C - Madrid Resident

If retiring in Madrid is your dream, it can be an affordable and fulfilling place for retirees to settle. The living is easy and there are so many wonderful things to do.

Ahh, Madrid. It's a romantic city that hold the world's oldest restaurant founded in 1725, Sobrino de Botín, Western Europe's largest royal palace, Palacio Real, as well as being home to the controversial sport of bullfighting. 

Top Things Locals Like to Do in Madrid

  • Amazing Views
    Make the most of the views of the city and head up to one of its highest points to watch the sunset...or if you’re and early riser, watch the sunrise. The Parque de la Cuña Verde de la Latina or one of the seven hills at Parque de las Siete Tetas are ideal spots for this. 
  • Basking in Nature
    Nature lovers should head to Casa de Campo, a huge park in the city center, and sunbathe around the lake. 
  • Stunning Hikes
    If you want to get out of the hustle of the city, head to the Guadarrama mountains and take a hike. You’ll find scenic routes where you can swim in rivers and natural pools. If you're retiring here than you get a lot of time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
  • Flamenco and Music
    If you’re a music lover, head to Candela in Lavapiés where you can see an incredible flamenco show for €15 including a drink. Otherwise, go to Café El Despertar in Antón Martín to listen to some live jazz with the locals. 

Top 3 Things Locals Avoid

  • Avoid Shopping on Grand Via
    It may be famous as the central shopping district, but it’s crowded, dirty and just not worth it. Madrid is full of locally owned boutiques so it’s better to wander around the neighbourhood you’re staying in and pop into the little boutiques. Often you’ll find the shop owner is also the designer!
  • Avoid Ordering Paella
    It may be one of the most iconic dishes of Spain, but in Madrid you’ll only find overpriced, inauthentic dishes aimed at tourists. If you want good paella, it’s worth traveling to the coast to try a seafood one or venturing to the countryside inland to try a version with rabbit and snails.
  • Avoid Eating Out in Plaza Mayor
    This square is historic and certainly worth checking out, but don’t go hungry as the restaurants are overpriced and packed with tourists. No local would ever eat here! Better to have lunch somewhere first and then wander around Plaza Mayor.

Getting Around Madrid

Madrid is a pretty spread out city with a lot of distinct neighborhoods around the center. In fact, you can easily spend an hour on public transportation getting from one point in the city to another. The city center is very walkable and you can see the main central districts on foot. In case you feel like venturing further afield, there are great public transportation links. 

The majority of people take the metro, which is super simple to navigate, or catch buses. Other transportation options are electric scooters and bikes which you can pick up on the street around the city. The traffic is generally not too bad and it’s unlikely you’ll arrive late because of a traffic jam.

How is the Weather in Madrid?

In the Summer, the weather in Madrid is hot and sweaty. The majority of Madrileños escape to the coast during the hottest month, so if you visit over July and August when the temperature average is 90°, it’s likely you’ll be mostly surrounded by tourists. The winter between November and February is cold and rainy but also has a good number of blue sky days. In Spring and Autumn, the weather is bright, sunny and pleasant.

Fun Fact

It's the highest capital city in Europe with an

elevation of 2,188 ft.

Is Madrid Dog Friendly?

All around Madrid, you’ll see fluffy friends accompanying their owners. The city is pretty dog friendly. The majority of dogs in the city are small ones as most people live in relatively small apartments. It’s permitted to bring dogs on public transport, although the rule is one dog per traveler. 

You can also bring your dog to restaurants and bars, as long as you sit at a table on the outdoors terrace. If you plan on going shopping, it’s better to leave your pup at home as they won’t be permitted in grocery stores or larger clothing stores. If you have a dog and want to rent an apartment, be aware that not all landlords will accept pets. It’s probable that you’ll need to provide references and a larger deposit.

Do I Need to Speak Spanish to Live in Madrid?

The language spoken in Madrid is Castilian, the most widely spoken dialect of Spanish in the country. Whilst the level of English speaking is increasing in the city, it’s still likely you’ll find yourself in situations (especially outside of tourist zones) where you’ll need to speak some Spanish to be understood.

Restaurants that Madrid Locals Love

Food is an institution in Madrid, so you better take it seriously when you visit. Don’t be upset by slow service, the tradition is to take long, leisurely meals. Often, a lunch can last 3+ hours. 

One popular way to do lunch is to go on a tapas crawl. Avoid the Mercado de San Miguel, which is mainly a tourist attraction, and head to Mercado de San Fernando in Lavapiés, Mercado Antón Martín in Antón Martín or Mercado de la Paz in Serrano.

  • Casa Dani
    Located in the Mercado de la Paz in Serrano. Everything is excellent but their potato tortilla is a must try. It was voted the best in Spain!
  • El Boquerón
    Located in Lavapiés, this restaurant serves delicious seafood at a low price. You'll be glad you skipped out on the crowded, tourist areas to dine here.

Fun Fact

Sun lovers rejoice! Madrid has more cloudless days

than any other European city.

Retiring in Madrid, Spain Cost of Living Chart

Data from Numbeo



Cost of Living Rank

260th out of 558

1 Bdr Apartment in City


1 Bdr Apartment Outside City


Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line

Madrid is a fantastic choice for retirees. The weather is great and there is plenty to do so you won't get bored. Culture, history, many great things about Madrid!

If you have your heart set on Spain but want to be by the sea, how about Malaga?

If you'd like something affordable outside of Spain, check out our top picks for the 10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Europe for 2021!

Quick Facts about Retiring in Madrid, Spain






2188 ft


Because of the elevation, Madrid has short, hot summers with cold winters and cloudiness. Temperatures range from 33°F to 92°F.

Flight time to U.S.

8.5 hours by plane to New York



Retirement Programs


Retirement Visa

Yes. The Non-Lucrative Visa is for people who will not be earning a living while in Spain. Must meet minimum income level of about $2457 per month and $610 monthly for each dependant. 

Public Transportation

Trains, trams and buses

  • Please speak with a legal representative in regards to residency requirements, taxes and healthcare options for the location of your choice. 
About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.