Adjusting to the Culture Shock when Moving to Madrid

Moving to Madrid

Moving to Madrid

When you move to any other part of the world, there are going to be things that are different – after all, that’s part of the fun of going! Moving to Madrid is no different, although it isn’t as difficult as other places outside of Western Europe. In a nutshell, things are different, but not so different that you won’t be able to adjust. This brief guide is designed to show you what to expect when moving to Madrid, and how to adjust to the way of life in the Spanish capital…



Perhaps the biggest difficultly people have when moving to Madrid is the language. This is further enhanced by some peoples’ attitude – the attitude that there is no need to learn Spanish, as most people in Madrid speak English very well. This is the kind of attitude that will certainly not endear you to the local population, especially if they know you have been living in the country for a while.

In order to get the best start possible in Spain, it is highly advisable to take Spanish lessons before you leave the UK. These can be found in towns and cities throughout the UK, plus there are a number of very good Spanish courses online. Just a few words or phrases will help, and at least prove to people you are trying. Also, remember that while Spanish is spoken in Madrid, some other areas speak different languages. For example, people in Barcelona speak Catalan. Therefore, if you travel in Spain, don’t expect to understand everything people say!



The Roman Catholic Church dominates religion in Spain, and it extends into most aspects of the country. Despite this, if you are of a different faith, you’ll find places to worship and pray quite easily, plus people in Madrid are very tolerant of different religions. You will have to adjust to the fact that many aspects of life do have a Roman Catholic twist to them though – whether you choose to embrace this or not is up to you.

There is a view that Spain is very conservative, thanks to the influence of Catholicism, but this is no longer the case. Abortions are legal, as are same-sex marriages. Religious education is also no longer mandatory in schools; although you’ll find that most still include it within the curriculum.


Being a Woman

Moving to Madrid as a woman is not something to be scared of – the city is very tolerant and there are no barriers to women looking to advance themselves within their chosen career. Where women do sometimes struggle though is with the Spanish male attitude on the streets, especially when you get away from the more cosmopolitan areas of the city. Cat-calling does occur, and men will stare at women without embarrassment. This is unfortunately a fact of life and should be taken with a pinch of salt. As Spain progresses, hopefully this behavior will begin to become unacceptable, as it is in many other European countries.

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