There’s nothing quite like dining outside on the streets of Madrid, enjoying the sweet-smelling, spring breeze. If its Indian food you crave, take your friends to Lavapies—a trendy, multicultural neighborhood in the heart of the city and the best place in town to get a good Indian.
Sipping glasses of rose and hungrily attacking golden-brown veggie samosas among friends was one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon in Madrid. At times like this, I would often catch myself wondering at my life overseas. I never imagined that I’d just leave my job and travel half-way across the world the way that I did.
The city of Madrid is a regal, Old World masterpiece filled with the energy and life of a modern city. The narrow, winding streets are lined with cobblestone, and stunning, world-class architecture is a feature of everyday life. I would often be walking to the grocery store, watching the folks dining al fresco at any of the city’s many restaurants, when suddenly a 19th-cathedral will rise up in front of my eyes. Madrid’s just one of those great cities that can regularly take your breath away.
I moved to Madrid in the fall of 2013, on a special government program that sets you up with an income and access to an easy-to-get visa. I worked roughly 20 hours per week, and had Friday’s off completely.
Initially, I was worried the pay wouldn’t be enough to live comfortably on. You certainly couldn’t live in a major city in the States on it. However, I found it was more than enough. Expenses of the flat I shared with roommates in the Quevedo area of Madrid totaled $350, including utilities. I lived a mere 10 minutes walking from Malasana, a hip neighborhood lined with bars, restaurants, and cafés. To get to the city center, Sol, I was only five stops away on the Metro, a ride that took about 20 minutes.
My life was incredibly full and in no way limited by finances. I felt free and I learned to embrace the art of slowing down to relish in the stiller moments of life. When I wasn’t strolling the Spanish streets, taking it all in, stopping for a café con leche, I jetted off to nearby countries—Italy, France, the U.K. Budgeting to have extra money to travel was never something I had to bend over backward to do. With such a low cost of living, it happened with ease. For anyone considering looking for a more affordable, relaxed pace the pace of their life, I’d recommend Spain.
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