Living in Madrid
Madrid is the capital of Spain, located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the second largest city in the European Union, with a population of 6.7 million in its metropolitan area. However, its size does not translate into impersonality: Madrid is known for being a welcoming, multicultural and cosmopolitan city. Furthermore, Madrid is a relatively compact city, occupying a quarter the size of London or half the size of Paris.
Living in Madrid means enjoying a great lifestyle and quality of life in an environment rich in cultural and gastronomic heritage. Since landing in the city can be a challenge for a student from outside Madrid, here you can find basic information and some tips for arriving in Madrid.
Moving around in Madrid
The Reina Sofía School of Music is located in the midtown Madrid, in the heart of its historic centre. The Plaza de Oriente, where it is located, also houses some of the best-known monuments of the city: the Royal Palace and the Teatro Real. A few minutes' walk away is Puerta del Sol, considered the core of the city. In the immediate surroundings of the School there is a great commercial, cultural and restaurant offer.
Most of Madrid's students live in the Argüelles and Chamberí neighborhoods, close to the Ciudad Universitaria and a few Metro stops from the city centre. Broadly speaking, the cost of rent decreases the further away you get from the centre and tends to be higher in northern neighborhoods than in southern neighborhoods.
The Community of Madrid is the region that surrounds the city, with multiple opportunities for cultural visits - it has several spots considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO - and leisure activities in nature, such as the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. All of this is easily accessible by public transport.
Both the region and the capital have a dry climate and without too much rainfall throughout the year, with quite hot summers (reaching a maximum of 40ºC) and cold winters (with minimums frequently below 0ºC).
As a student in Madrid, the cheapest and most accessible accommodation option is to rent or share a flat. The Reina Sofía School does not have a student residence, but it is easily accessible by public transport from the rest of the city.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment can cost from € 700 to € 1200, depending on the area and the conditions of the accommodation. In the case of sharing a flat, the cost of a room in the centre of Madrid is around € 400 on average, and may drop to € 300 in other more remote neighborhoods. It is important to know that the costs of electricity, water and heating are normally not included in the rental price, both for an entire apartment or a shared one.
Leisure and culture
Madrid has a very rich cultural and leisure offer. Along with a very lively nightlife -it is said that Madrid never sleeps- the capital offers a multitude of first-rate museums, theaters, auditoriums and cinemas. In addition, the proximity of the city to natural environments and historic cities allows for day-trips of great interest.
Several of the most important art galleries in the world are concentrated in the Paseo del Prado, also called Paseo del Arte: the Museo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Reina Sofía. Along with these there are dozens of museums that cover everything from fashion to the naval world. Very close to the Paseo del Prado is the Parque de El Retiro, the most emblematic gardens of Madrid. Another great green space in the city is Casa de Campo, five times the size of Central Park in New York.
The musical offer in Madrid is very wide, with weekly concerts of all kinds of genres. The Classical music concerts are concentrated in the Auditorio Nacional, headquarters of the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain, the Teatro Real (Madrid's opera house), and the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Discounts for young people and students are frequent in these institutions.
Less than two hours from Madrid there are several towns declared World Heritage Sites for their architectural and historical richness, all easily accessible by public transport: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez, Segovia and Toledo. 50km away from the capital is also the Parque Nacional de la Sierra de Guadarrama, where you can go hiking.
Cost of living
The cost of living for a student in Madrid varies from € 800 to € 1,200, depending on the rental cost and the area where you live. For reference, these are the most common costs for common products:
- Food: € 150 per month
- Transport pass: € 20 / month (for children under 26 years old) - (see Transport section below)
- Single metro / bus ticket: € 1.50-2
- Cinema ticket: € 9
- Coffee in a bar: € 1.50
- Bottle of water: € 1.30. The tap water in Madrid is of high quality and it is not necessary to buy bottled water.
- Entrance to a museum: € 12. (Almost all museums have student discounts)
- Mobile phone line: € 10-30, depending on the number of calls and mobile data included in the rate.
- Menú del día: € 10-15. The menú del día is a combination of two courses, dessert and drink that is served in most restaurants on work days and at lunchtime. The School has an agreement with an establishment that offers students a very reduced price (€ 4) in the daily menu.
Madrid's airport is the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, with direct connections to most airports around the world. Madrid is only two hours away from Rome, two and a half hours from Paris and London and less than eight hours from New York.
Access to the airport from Madrid is very simple, since it is integrated into the Metro, urban bus and train networks and has both taxi and VTC services (Uber, Cabify, etc.). The Metro is the cheapest method of reaching the city centre, taking about 40 minutes at a cost of € 3. A taxi or VTC from the airport to the city centre costs around € 30.
Madrid is a very walkable city and all services are often within a short walking distance, especially in the city centre. However, Madrid also has a very solid public transport network, made up of:
- Metro: the subway system of Madrid. It is the sixth largest subway network in the world and covers almost the entire city. It is the method of transport most used by the people of Madrid. More information.
- Urban buses: also known as EMT (Municipal Transport Company), they are an alternative to the Metro. The tickets for both services are shared, so a Metro voucher also allows you to access the EMT buses. More information.
- Renfe Cercanías: train network that connects the centre of Madrid with other neighborhoods and cities in the Community of Madrid. It uses a different ticket system than the Metro and buses, and its usefulness for a student who lives and studies in the centre is limited on a day-to-day basis. More information.
- Taxis and VTC: taxis (they are white with a red band on the door in Madrid) have a high cost for short trips. Shared transport vehicles (VTC) such as Uber and Cabify are a somewhat more affordable alternative, and allow you to calculate the cost of the route in advance.
- BiciMad: system of electric bicycles that are rented by the minute and allow you to move around the city. Madrid's network of bike lanes is not very developed and most of the time the bike shares the road with cars and motorcycles. The cost is very affordable and can be rented with the Public Transport Card (Tarjeta de Transporte Público, or TPP). More information.
The TPP is a personal and non-transferable card where you can load Metro, urban, and interurban bus tickets, and monthly passes.
The Community of Madrid offers a monthly transport pass that allows you to use the Metro, the EMT buses and the Renfe Cercanías network for only € 20 (up to 26 years). You can find the offices where you can get the card on the spot at this link, or if you prefer, you can request your card online if you have residence in Spain so that it can be sent.
The situation of the Covid-19 pandemic is constantly changing in Madrid, as in the rest of the world. To obtain the latest information on the measures and recommendations in place, we recommend consulting the official website of the Community of Madrid.