Rebecca Annesley, an Indiana native, had always wanted to live in a big city. But after university, the economic downturn and high costs of living made moving to a metropolis like San Francisco or Manhattan a near-impossible feat.
“I had studied abroad in Madrid and was counting down the seconds until I could move back. Spain’s capital has all the excitement of a big city, like endless cultural offerings and a trendy food scene, but also has a small-town feel that’s comforting when you’re living far from home,” Rebecca explains. Plus, after harsh Indiana winters, Rebecca was ready for Madrid’s almost year-round sunshine.
Rebecca is able to live the good life in Madrid using an income opportunity that sees her working just 25 hours per week. She didn’t need any prior experience—just a university degree, a solid grasp on the English language, and a positive attitude. “I never thought I would end up earning this way and I didn’t have any prior experience,” Rebecca says. “But I really enjoy being able to interact with other expats, as well as local Madrileños (Madrid natives).”
“My life in Madrid is stress-free and relaxing,” Rebecca says. She has the best of both worlds: a solid job with a salary (you can earn between $1,100 to $1,500 per month) that allows her to live comfortably, while also having enough holidays and vacation time to explore Spain, and travel Europe.
For a one-bedroom apartment and utilities in Barrio de Salamanca, an upscale, residential neighbourhood in Madrid, Rebecca pays just $800 per month. After several years in Madrid, she’s still surprised at the low cost of living, especially for fresh food. “I contribute my good health, to a Mediterranean diet with plenty of olive oil, seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables—and for a fraction of the cost it would be to eat organic and healthy in the U.S.,” she says.
Unlike many large capitals around the world, it’s easy to do drinks and dinner on a budget in Madrid. “I love frequenting the many small wine bars and taverns scattered around the city with friends. A typical evening of tapas and wine on an outdoor terrace (evening temperatures are mild in Madrid most of the year) can cost as little as $14 per person—think heaping plates of patatas bravas, steaming hot croquets, and roasted shishito peppers delicately sprinkled with sea salt.”
Each day, she strolls along tree-lined streets and through bustling historical squares to hop on the subway. At less than $2 per ride, it’s an economical and easy way to get around. She enjoys the freedom of not having to own a car, pay to park it, or drive in the big city.
Rebecca even gets to head home for lunch on weekdays. “I’ll typically stop for a fresh baguette—about 25 cents at my local panadería (bakery), and then pick up some free-range chicken or a salmon filet and veggies at the supermarket for a couple of euros.” Occasionally, her two-and-a-half-hour lunch break includes a light siesta too.
Now that Rebecca is settled in Madrid, she has no plans to live elsewhere. “There’s only one city in the world where I can spend the morning strolling in the Retiro Park, wandering through rose gardens to the sounds of chirping birds, eat a three-course lunch with wine for under $14, and enjoy an afternoon perusing classical Francisco Goya paintings at the Prado Museum,” she says. “I never want to live anywhere else.”
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