Today’s Cost of Living spotlight features fellow long-term expat Kaley. Over her years in Spain, Kaley has called Toledo, Salamanca and Zamora all home, and though her passion for Toro wines and Castilla y León is infamous, she left it all behind to move to Spain’s bustling capital, Madrid, in 2013.
Name: Kaley Hendrickson
City and Comunidad: Madrid, Madrid
School placement: This year, I just called the ministry and asked if they had any open positions in the city. They gave me a few options, and I chose the non-bilingual high school located in the city center, which I felt was best suited for me!
Your living situation: I share an apartment with my husband. We have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. We share the master bedroom and the other room is for guests and our computer!
How did you find your flat? We found our flat on the Internet, but we had to go through a realtor to close the deal.
Rent: Together it’s €800 a month, so €400 per person.
Utilities: On average, we spend about €80 in the winter and considerably less in the summer, as we do not have central air. We have natural gas, so we tend to try to save money by keeping the house rather cool in winter. It helps that we both come from colder regions, and we don’t mind bundling up. But Madrid never really gets that cold.
Cell phone and internet company and plan? We have Movistar Fusión, which means we combine one smartphone plan (mine) with our Internet. Our Internet is fibra óptica, which is quite fast (100 Mb). We thought about going with Jazztel or another company, but the Internet wasn’t going to be more than 2 Mb, which wasn’t even enough to chat on Skype. So we pay a bit more than normal, around €72 a month for the smartphone bill (1 gigabyte of data), our Internet, and our home phone. On our home phone we get free calls anywhere in Spain, which comes in handy when you have lots of Spanish relatives to call!
What do you spend on groceries? I would say we pay about €125 a month on groceries, so approximately €63 a person. We mainly shop at the closest supermarket, Mercadona, which is conveniently my favorite supermarket. I also shop at local fruit shops when I can. I go to the store at least once a week, as I don’t have a car, and I have to carry the groceries back in our little carrito, which we got from, where else, IKEA.
Do you have any other sources of income? I don’t do private classes, as they’re a hassle in Madrid, but I do some freelance translation.
Are you able to save any money? Yes, definitely. We save quite a bit, as we’re a dual-income household. I’m not sure how easily I would be able to save money if it were just me, but I did while living in Zamora with only a €700 amonth income. I saved around $1,500 that school year.
Your favorite tapas or pintxos bar? I don’t really pick favorites, but I’ll say a great one I went to a few times was Jurucha, located in the Salamanca neighborhood. I got the croquetas de jamón a few times, and they are exquisite. It probably cost around €4 for a wine + the pincho.
What’s for breakfast? It was all about location for me, so I went to La Forja, located on Calle Toledo, near my school. I always get the bread with tomato and a café con leche. The total cost was €3.50 or so.
Nightlife? I don’t really do bar de copas/discos in Madrid; they’re too expensive, and I don’t really enjoy them.
How do you get around? We don’t have a car (and I don’t have a license), so my method of transport is public transportation. Madrid has a great network of buses, trains, and metro lines. I bought an abono for Zone A for €54.60 a month, since I worked and lived in that zone. That way I could do combinations of buses and metro lines if I was in a rush and didn’t have time to walk to the metro station.
Your favorite thing about living in Madrid? I like the public transportation. I think it’s unparalleled and it’s very cheap compared to other places.
What you dislike about Madrid? I don’t like the big-city feel sometimes. I grew up in a small town, and I first fell in love with Spain in Toledo. I later lived in Salamanca and Zamora, two smaller towns, so I prefer that. That’s not to say that a big city can’t offer me anything; it’s just that I would prefer to have everything be closer and more accessible.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Madrid? Extremely easy. I just have to take a Cercanías train for 30 minutes to Terminal 4 of the airport, and I can travel anywhere. There’s a lot of ways to get to the airport, including an all-night airport bus, metro lines, trains, and city buses.
Your guilty pleasure purchases: Definitely going to Calle Fuencarral to go shopping. It’s crowded, but there are a lot of cool stores on the street. Especially for those on a budget.
Madrid’s Top 3 Must Sees: I would say the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, and the Egyptian Templo de Debod.
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain? You can wear tennis shoes. It’s okay to look like a guiri if you are one. I suffered so long by wearing “appropriate” shoes to tour places. I’m on a no-more-blisters campaign.
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