One of the reasons I’m glad I live in Madrid is because it makes it that much easier to attract great au pairs who are happy to share their culture and language with our family.
As a city, I think Madrid has pretty much everything(*) a young person could ask for, including the following Top 7:
- Great weather. An au pair spending six months in the city, at any time of year, will be hard-pressed not to catch some great weather. Even in winter, while the rest of Europe spends their money on Vitamin D tablets, Madrid enjoys sunny skies four days out of five.
- Big but not too big. Around 4 million people live in the city of Madrid (the Comunidad de Madrid must be close to 6 million by now), which in my opinion makes it the perfect size: it’s a place where things can happen (and by “things” I mean restaurants, theaters, exhibitions, shops, etc.) but not so big that it takes you all day to get around.
- You don’t need to be rich. Madrid is still a bit cheaper than other large European cities, which means an au pair’s pocket money stretches further. If you know where to go, and know to avoid bars near the Plaza Mayor, you can enjoy cañas & tapas on almost any budget.
- Friendly folk. This one is questionable, as Madrid is very much like any other city in the world, in that you can find friendly people, rude people, and the whole spectrum in between, but my impression is that Madrileños, on the whole, are friendly and open, and enjoy helping foreigners practice their Spanish.
- The Prado museum. Without getting into the Prado vs. Louvre conversation (Las Meninas or Mona Lisa?), the Prado is a great place to get lost in. Free access on certain days of the week means you don’t need to see it all in one go, either.
- Brunch is still popular. Madrid hasn’t quite caught up with today’s Brunch-is-so-passé culture, so you can still enjoy a good Brunch out with friends on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This is Spain, too, so expect Brunch to be available until 3 or 4 pm.
- Christmas lasts longer. Great Christmas traditions abound all over Europe but here you get to enjoy Christmas a little bit longer, until January 6th, to be exact (aka 3 Kings Day). There’s also a brilliant 3 Kings’ parade (cabalgata) on the evening of January 5th, wheb the three kings arrive and get handed the keys to the city by the mayor.
For the sake of transparency, I’ve asked a group of au pairs to share the things they personally dislike most about Madrid, I’ll be sharing those soon.
(*) I freely admit my bias here: I was born in Madrid and, though I’ve lived in quite a few other cities, I somehow always gravitated back.