Fun places to live in Madrid.
March 9, 2007 4:53 AM   Subscribe

What is a fun area to live in Madrid? La Latina?

I'm moving to Madrid in May. I've been there on a (very busy) familiarisation trip for three days a few weeks ago. This brief visit is the only experience I've had of Madrid or of Spain in general.

Now I need to decide where to live. I'm not setting up permanent residence, this will be for one or two years.

My work is located near San Lorenzo metro station, so a relatively easy connection via metro/bus is essential. I don't mind a bit of a walk to the station, however. We were shown some properties near Nuevos Ministerios, Salamanca and Colombia. NM and Salamanca both seemed a bit too pricey and, well, a bit sterile. Colombia was more like it, as I'm interested in a place that has an active night life, mostly in the way of bars and restaurants. I'm in my mid 20s, so an area with a similar crowd would be good. Madrid seems nice and compact (in comparison to London at least) so the distances to fun areas aren't too critical but a some good local hangabouts are absolutely essential. Also, as my budget is somewhat limited, the most expensive areas are out.

From the brief bus tour of Madrid and the information I can muster up, La Latina looks ideal. Any other areas that are similar in 'feel' that anyone can recommend? Personal experiences of living in Madrid would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, if you can draw comparisons between areas in London to give me an idea of the feel, I would greatly appreciate it. (For example, Sol was like Piccadilly Circus, touristy and good for shopping...)
posted by slimepuppy to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've never been to London but lived in near Diego de Leon for 5 months and when I went to visit my GF in December she was temporarily living in Chueca. If your work is near San Lorenzo, you may want to consider living near Linea Cuatro. Switching trains can sometimes be a pain in the ass because they are jam packed especially during rush hour. If you lived in La Latina then you would have to transfer at Alonso Martinez which gets busy. Forget the transfer at Diego de Leon, it is a long walk underground between trains.

Barrio Salamanca was somewhat sterile in spots but generally less noisy at night. Unfortunately our apt was next to an alley where the neighborhood kids hung out and partied. It was reasonably priced too. OTOH, the Chueca apartment was in the middle of a rich entertainment district and as such was always loud. It is also more expensive for quality apartments. We didn't have to take the metro at all to go out to some excellent restaurants and bars.

One other thing I'd recommend searching for in your quest is nearby groceries. Sabeco and Eroski are a couple of the best-sized stores. DIA is ok and El Corte Ingles is large but more expensive. Many neighborhoods have good sized public markets where you can the same sort of stuff at different vendors but supermercados are more convenient.
posted by JJ86 at 6:05 AM on March 9, 2007

Hello! First of all I am oh-so-jealous. Why are you moving to Madrid, if you don't mind me asking? I am looking for an excuse to move back there myself...

Anyway, when I lived in Madrid I lived by the Concha Espina stop, near the soccer stadium Santiago Bernabeu. I can't make connections to London, but this would definitely be 'uptown' in NYC. My particular block was very quiet and on top of a great little park, and we had a movie theater and some local bars and a supermarket all close by. Colombia is a nice place too, easy commute to work, and a bit more busy in terms of shopping and nightlife, but it will take you from 35-45 minutes to get to downtown/Sol from there.

If you are looking to live more downtown and in the hustle and bustle of the city center, and considering San Lorenzo is a ways up on the 4 line, I would recommend living near a stop such as Alonso Martinez or Principe de Vergara. La Latina is a lovely neighborhood but in terms of commute might be a little long (not sure what you're used to.)

The ultimate downtown concentrated-area-of-bars-clubs-restaurants-everything is Anton Martin, but it can be a noisy neighborhood as you'd expect. People party into the wee hours in Madrid. (It's awesome.) That being said, all the train stops clustered around the city center are relatively close to each other - it's a very walkable town for the most part.

Wherever you live, though, there will be something amazing nearby, I can pretty much guarantee that. Every 'hood has got something cool going on, though I would avoid the outer most train stops around the city perimeter - a bit more suburb-y as you would expect.

Let me add that if you are a 'serious' club/party-goer, that while there are many establishments downtown in the Sol area, the BIG discotecas are often in out of the way neighborhoods like Chamartin or outside the city altogether, where public transportation is more sparse. Not that I'm saying this is where you should live, just throwing it out there that the [can be quite touristy] bar/club scene in Sol is not the be-all and end-all.
posted by infinityjinx at 7:10 AM on March 9, 2007

The company I work is moving our department to Madrid. So it's not really my choice, but I am more than happy to go along. I might try to organise a short weekend trip to scout out the locations that get suggested in this thread...

Thanks for the great suggestions so far!
posted by slimepuppy at 7:42 AM on March 9, 2007

What method you are using to apartment search?
posted by JJ86 at 7:51 AM on March 9, 2007

JJ86: Well, at the moment I'm waiting on a few local friends of friends to get back to me (yeah, I know how iffy that sounds). I know the market moves really quickly so is only useful as an indication of prices/availability of flats in certain areas. I also know about the growing desire by landlords for bank guarantees. I'm also still trying to decide between a furnished and unfurnished flat.

If I'm not able to get friends to help me find a place and sort out utilities etc. I am going to go with a local relocation company. Doesn't help that I speak no Spanish whatsoever. My company has offered me a relocation package, but for me (single guy with absolutely no furniture) it's more beneficial for me to take the money and handle it by myself.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:14 AM on March 9, 2007

Not knowing the language is going to make it more difficult for you but I also suggest segundamano. You can probably save money by renting a furnished apartment. The furnished places my GF and I rented were not fancy but were decent.
posted by JJ86 at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2007

Per my girlfriend, a former resident of Madrid, "Chueca is the gay neighborhood, and is generally considered to be one of the coolest and most fun to hang out in . . . it's where i lived, and it was great."
posted by saladin at 9:48 AM on March 9, 2007

I lived in Malasaña, which is the old bohemian hippie part of Madrid. It's very central, borders Chueca, and calle Fuencarral (which is still pretty hip, I'd imagine). In the 1980s, Malasaña became more of a club and bar neighborhood. However, there are some very old cafes and shops in the area and close by at Bilbao ( metro station, where you can also catch línea 4, which takes you to San Lorenzo).

It still has a sort of small, bohemian neighbory feel, but definitely a nice place to party, close to supermarkets, cinema, and shops, and a very short walk from Sol and more touristy areas. It's pretty much a straight 10-15 minutes or so right down Fuencarral to Sol. I lived around the block from the Tribunal station, so it would be a bit longer if you're approaching from a bit further away, like in the area of Glorieta Bilbao.

I attended an international university there for a while, which was up in Chamartín and I would walk there daily from home, and to neighboring areas, like Salamanca with ease. (I enjoy walking and exploring cities, so I'd walk regularly to places I was going.)

Madrid is highly walkable and taxis aren't very expensive at all when they're needed. It's a beautiful city, and definitely explore all around. I loved my time there.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:16 AM on March 9, 2007

non preview -

This should read:

However, there are some very old cafes and shops in the Malasaña area and close by near Bilbao...
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2007

Late in the day, but here goes: I got myself a nice if slightly worn 1 bedroom apartment between calle de Fuencarral and calle de Hortaleza, only a few minutes walk away from Bilbao station. The area is lovely and I look forward to moving into my apartment in a few weeks time.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!
posted by slimepuppy at 3:59 AM on May 10, 2007

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