SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

MOVING TO SPAIN

Swapping Dublin for Madrid: The right escape from Ireland’s cost-of-living crisis?

Seventy percent of young Irish people are considering moving abroad to escape Ireland’s worsening housing and cost-of-living crisis. Could Spain’s capital offer solutions to those seeking a new home? Irish Madrid resident Cormac Breen breaks down the costs.

Swapping Dublin for Madrid: The right escape from Ireland's cost-of-living crisis?
Could swapping Dublin for the Spanish capital of Madrid be the right solution for Irish people looking to evade Ireland's cost-of-living and housing crisis? Photo: Diogo Palhais, Victor/Unsplash

More than a million people in Ireland (out of a population of 5 million) are struggling to make ends meet.

That’s according to the Irish government’s latest Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) survey, which also saw four in five Irish people acknowledge that they have less money than a year ago. 

Ireland’s cost-of-living and housing crises are affecting young people in particular, so much so that another survey carried out for the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) found that 70 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in the country are considering moving overseas.

Finding a home to rent in Dublin for under €2,000 has become almost impossible, even small one-bedroom flats are going for €1,500.

So, could Spain’s capital offer what young Irish workers and graduates are after? Madrid is certainly an exciting and varied city with lots to offer, and although it’s not on the coast, it certainly boasts better weather than the Irish capital.

READ ALSO: Where do Spain’s Irish residents live?

Is it possible for Irish people to find work and accommodation in Madrid relatively easily and have enough money to cover costs and save up?

English teacher Cormac Breen, who swapped Dublin for Madrid, explains what his countrymen should factor in.  

Average wages

As of 2022, the minimum monthly salary in Spain stands at €1,166 gross for a 40-hour work week. Despite this, the average monthly salary in Madrid is about €2,000 gross, about €300 higher than the national average.

Comparing this to Dublin, where the average weekly wage in 2022 is €850 a week, or about €3,683 gross per month, it is clear to see that salaries are much higher in Ireland. 

Earning considerably less may worry you, but as you read through this article, you’ll see how you will also be spending less in Madrid than in Dublin.

Job prospects

You’re probably familiar with the fact that Spain isn’t renowned for its great career prospects, but native English speakers often find they can access jobs that aren’t as easily available to Spaniards.

Many of them work in the education sector as teachers, particularly in private language academies.

Salaries range from about €1,200 to €1,400 a month net for about a 30-hour working week but with fluency in English being such a sought-after skill in Spain, there are endless opportunities to supplement your income with private classes which can earn you about €15 to €25 per hour. After Brexit, there are fewer UK nationals who can move to Spain to work as language teachers, so young Irish people will find it easier to get work and take advantage of their EU status. 

READ ALSO: The most in-demand jobs in Spain in 2022

There’s also remote working for a company, Irish or otherwise, from Madrid. The rules on remote working from Spain are a bit of a grey area sometimes, but you will generally be expected to pay taxes in Spain if you settle here

The Spanish government is also set to introduce a new startups law and digital nomad visa which will go a long way to remove the current bureaucratic hurdles that exist for non-Spanish residents wishing to work remotely from the country. Although this visa is aimed at non-EU remote workers, there are parts of the legislation which are geared towards making Spain a better place to set up a business, including for Irish and other EU nationals.

READ ALSO: New self-employed workers in Madrid to pay no social security tax

Accommodation

Irish salaries are among the highest in Europe but so are rental prices, with Dublin in particular proving to be very expensive to live in (recent figures place the average monthly rent in Dublin at just under €2,000).

According to comparison website Expatistan.com, on average housing in Dublin is about 79 percent more expensive than in Madrid.

If you’re looking to rent a place for yourself, or to share, prices in Madrid city centre will of course be higher, especially in more touristy areas and trendy neighbourhoods such as Chueca and Malasaña.

Finding a place slightly outside the centre can often offer cheaper rents, and more modern buildings. Renting a studio flat will cost you about €800 to €1,000 a month while a one or two-bedroom apartment can cost upwards of €1,200 per month.

Sharing a room is the most economical choice in Madrid, with a room in a shared flat costing on average about €400 to €600 a month. 

It’s worth remembering as well that finding a place to rent in Spain’s big cities is also becoming harder than it was, even though prices and the lack of rental units isn’t as severe as in Ireland. 

READ MORE:

Maximilian Vitzthum

Madrid’s main street – Gran Vía. Photo: Gregor Schram/Unsplash

Utilities

Like most European countries, Spain has seen a sharp increase in the cost of utilities, with heating and electricity in particular becoming much more expensive. Even so, it may still work out to be cheaper than bills in Ireland, where the average household’s annual electricity bill in 2022 is expected to be €2,120.

All in all, you can expect to pay about €50 to €80 a month if you are sharing a flat in Madrid, with bills rising to about €100 to €130 per month if you rent a studio or one-bedroom flat.

Spanish homes normally have to pay for heating, electricity, water and internet access. How much you pay a month will largely depend on your usage, and whether you are sharing a flat or renting your own place.

Water tends to be the cheapest utility, costing about €10 to €20 per month. Shopping around can help you find the best deal on internet packages which often come with landlines or mobile services included. Prices start at €20 per month depending on whether you want to pay just for wi-fi access, and what speed of internet connection you want.

Transport

Dublin is the second most expensive city in Europe for public transport costs. Spain and Madrid on the other hand have recently introduced big discounts on public transport (or made it completely free) to help people deal with rising inflation.

Madrid has an extensive public transport network, incorporating metro, bus and light rail along with a range of individual options such as bike and scooter hire schemes. Having a car in the centre is not really necessary given the costs involved with parking and fuel, and most people prefer to take advantage of public transport as their primary means of commuting to work and moving around the city.

Transportes Madrid offers a range of options for those wishing to take advantage of the vast transport network, with the monthly pass by far being the most popular. For a 30-day pass, giving unlimited access to the entire transport network, prices start at about €25 for under 26’s, rising to about €55 for anyone above this age. In an effort to tackle costs, the transport authority introduced an almost 50 percent reduction on the cost of a 30-day pass meaning that someone under the age of 26 can expect to pay as little as €10 euro for their monthly pass, while someone availing of the standard rate now pays about €32.

READ ALSO: 12 Madrid life hacks that will make you feel like a local

The Crystal Palace in Madrid’s huge El Retiro Park, in the centre of the city. Photo: Maximilian Vitzthum/Unsplash

Enjoying life in Madrid

Dublin residents will know full well that eating out or having drinks can be pretty expensive. Not so in the Spanish capital.

From restaurants, museums, theatres and trendy bars to nightclubs, food markets and sports, Madrid has something for everyone.

And even if you’re on a tight budget, you won’t miss out on what this city has to offer.

A night out in Madrid usually involves food and alcohol. A glass of beer or wine in a modest city centre bar or terrace, can cost as little as €2 or €3 while a copa such as a gin and tonic, can cost about €7 or €8. Trendy wine and vermouth bars, cheap and cheerful cervecerías, late night dance bars, and some of the best nightclubs in Europe, Madrid’s nightlife has something for everyone.

A meal in a standard restaurant can cost from €20 to €25 for two courses and a drink between two people. For €12 to €15, you get a two-course meal, along with a dessert and drink as part of the popular menú del día

The city contains impressive and sometimes free public amenities, such as parks, gyms, swimming pools, sports pitches, museums, exhibitions, and theatres. A monthly gym membership costs between €20 to €40. Tickets to live music or cultural performances can cost as little as €10, but range upwards towards €100 for international acts. Madrid unfortunately lacks a beach, but it is very close to the mountains where you can enjoy hiking all year round, and for those with a bit of extra cash, skiing in the winter.

Madrid costs breakdown

With the above considerations in mind, here is how much you should expect to spend living in Madrid as a single person, renting a room in a city centre flat on a monthly income of about €1,600.

Rent: €600

Utilities: €50 – €80

Transport: €10 – €30

Food: €200-€300

Activities/Entertainment: €100+

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

WORKING IN SPAIN

Which startups succeed in Spain (and which ones fail)?

Foreigners thinking of setting up a startup in Spain should keep in mind that one in five new companies here doesn't last longer than 12 months. Here's what the data available says about the businesses that find success and those that don't.

Which startups succeed in Spain (and which ones fail)?

There are various interpretations about the differences between a startup and a company but, broadly speaking, a startup is a company in its early stages that’s looking for an attractive and innovative business model, whereas a company already has a pre-existing business model and is focused on executing it successfully.

According to a study by the Spanish Tech Ecosystem, Spain has 10,500 startups and more than 300 scaleups, innovative and more established companies that are already growing.

The introduction of Spain’s new Startups Law in early 2023 promises to make the country far more attractive for foreign entrepreneurs, investors and digital nomads.

READ MORE: Spain’s new law for startups and digital nomads – 15 things you need to know

But the road to success isn’t just guaranteed by less bureaucracy, tax cuts and special visas.

Twenty-three percent of new companies set up in Spain don’t survive past a year, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE). 

Of those that do make it past the first 12 months, 45 percent are not in business after five years. 

When it comes to startups specifically, nine out ten startups don’t make it past the three-year mark, according to the Map of Entrepreneurship drafted by Spain Startups, but they do grow at faster rates than SMEs. 

Although these figures may not seem very promising for anyone considering setting up shop in Spain, the Iberian nation isn’t last on the list when it comes to the longevity of startups in the EU.

Lithuania, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Malta and Portugal all have lower rates of success than Spain, according to Eurostat data. 

Spain also lost 311,000 SMEs in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so authorities are now keen to breathe new life into all types of sectors with foreign talent drawn in by the new startups legislation. 

Spain is also the fifth country with the most so-called ‘unicorns’ companies with a market value above €1 billion.

READ ALSO: What do the experts think of Spain’ new startups law?

Which startups and companies find the most success in Spain?

Insurance companies, reinsurance groups and pension funds are those with the companies with the highest survival rate, as 82.6 percent are still operational in Spain five years after their creation, INE data reveals. 

They’re followed by new companies involved in the supply of electricity, gas and air conditioning (80 percent survival) and those in the tobacco industry (75 percent).

Companies that offer financial services, assistance in residential matters, legal and accounting companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and those that deal with the extraction of metals and minerals also have a good life expectancy in Spain.

That’s not to say that if you have a business idea in a different sector or that your startup is completely innovative you should get discouraged. 

According to industry specialists Meetwork, among the 50 biggest growing startups in Spain in 2022 are a travel management company, a copyright protection business, a language app for kids, a digital platform for freight transport, a vegetable-based meat manufacturer and other businesses from a wide variety of sectors.

The same applies to most highly valued startups in recent years in Spain; many are companies focused on innovation or the improvement of pre-existing ideas.

Self-employment and entrepreneurship website autonomosyemprendedor.es reported that the ten Spanish startups which have found the most success in Spain and abroad are Brooklyn Fitboxing International (gyms), Freepik (image downloads), Bigbuy (dropshipping), El Tenedor (restaurant bookings), Heura Foods (vegan food), eDreams (flight and holiday bookings), Clicars (online vehicle sales), Mr. Wonderful (an ‘online store for happy products’), Cabify (e-hailing) and Glovo (food delivery). 

And it’s not as if a startup that’s set up in Spain should necessarily have to cater to a Spain-specific market – fintech, tourism, logistics, mobility, cybersecurity, education, foodtech, energy, cryptocurrencies, gaming, employment, retail or health are all sectors with signs of growth potential in Spain and around the world.

Which companies and startups find less success in Spain?

According to INE, among the companies that struggle to survive past the five-year mark in Spain are leather and shoe manufacturers (20 percent success rate), maritime industry businesses (29.8 percent success rate) clothing companies (33.2 percent) and entertainment and artistic businesses (33.7 percent). 

Civil engineering companies are the ones that struggle the most to make it past the first year (30.2 percent survival rate), followed by those involved in arts and entertainment.  

The life expectancy of new companies in Spain has worsened since the pandemic, according to the latest report by Spanish business database Iberinform, who wrote: “The critical moment for any business project usually occurs after the third year, since the initial injection of capital allows the vast majority to complete the first 24 months of life without problems.”

Interestingly, during the pandemic, the sectors which saw the biggest increase in earnings in Spain but also the most businesses closing down were hospitality and retail, which together with tourism are the pillars of Spain’s service-based economy.

Iberinform’s general director Ignacio Jiménez told El Mundo newspaper that “the incomplete and uneven recovery that we are going through, marked by new challenges such as price escalations and supply problems” directly affect business survival in Spain.

“Companies, especially SMEs, which have less capacity to transfer these cost increases to prices are suffering a reduction in margins and loss of profitability,” Spain’s confederation of SMEs reported. 

READ ALSO: What will Spain’s income requirement for the new digital nomad visa be?

SHOW COMMENTS