If you’re a persistent wanderer who makes your living from freelance writing then you have two great reasons to base yourself in the wondrous city that is Madrid.
The first reason is largely ideological: Madrid has a very strong literary heritage so pounding the streets where the likes of De Vega and Cervantes drew inspiration, and sipping on a cerveza or two in one of big Ern Hemmingway’s favourite bars is always a massive draw. The second reason is slightly more pragmatic. Madrid has become - relatively recently I might add - one of the very best cities in Europe for 21st century freelance writers (and digital nomads in general) to establish themselves in. Indeed, the vibrant cultural scene, inspiring architecture, and intoxicating nightlife, along with the favourable living costs created by the lackluster Spanish economy, ensure the city is an ideal place for any wandering scribe to lay their hat for an extended period of time.
So what’s the best way to make the most of this infectiously liberating city? Well, it is safe to say heeding the following words of wisdom will undoubtedly steer you in the right direction...
Step 1: Get settled
If you’re going to be sticking around for a while then you’ll need to ditch the hostels and get yourself a semi-permanent address. Fortunately, finding a decent pad that won’t put a sizeable dent in your living budget is a relatively easy thing to do in Madrid. If your Spanish is pretty good then you may well find looking through the accommodation listings in local newspapers to be a good option. However, if you’re after a more convenient approach then going down the route of using an online accommodation marketplace, such as airbnb, is often the best way to go. Indeed it is quite possible to find a spacious, comfortable flat in a desirable neiighbourhood like La Latina, Las Rozas and Majadahonda, Chamartín, and Chueca and Malasaña for less than £600 a month via the Airbnb website (you may even find cheaper options if you use lesser known accommodation marketplace sites).
It is worth noting that Madrileños like to stay up late and make a lot of noise during the early hours. If you’re someone who enjoys getting plenty of shut-eye then aim for a high floor flat or opt for one that faces into a courtyard rather than the onto the street.
Step 2: Get wired
Unless you are an old school novelist, chances are you’ll need to be hooked up to the Internet in order to upload content to your clients/publishers. Again, this is a breeze in Madrid as Wi-Fi – both in the home and at city bars and cafes – is very fast and reliable. While working from home is convenient and peaceful, it is definitely the case that Madrid’s cafes are outstanding places to write in. To be sure, the vast majority of Wi-Fi cafes here manage to maintain really cool, relaxed vibes that make you feel like you’re working in some kind of 21st century bohemian idyll. Comfy chairs, chill-out music, cheap drinks and a friendly ambience are all standard in Madrid’s Wi-Fi cafes so getting comprehensively wired – in every sense of the word – always feels like a genuine treat.
Step 3: Get around
One of the great things about Madrid is that it - despite being the third largest city in the European Union - is really quite a compact city. This means that, unlike some other popular digital nomad cities on the Continent, Madrid is eminently walkable. When you factor in the agreeable weather and the stunningly beautiful architecture, walking is not just a very practical, healthy and economical form of transportation, it is also a genuinely enjoyable way of getting from A to B. If you do find yourself needing a break from hot-footing it around the charming calles and alluring avenidas then you can always make use of Madrid’s highly efficient yet reassuringly inexpensive Metro system. One-way tickets (Billete Sencillo) on this clean and comprehensive network (the 8th longest in the world) cost no more than €1.50-€2.00, although the ’10-trip tickets’ on offer afford even greater value.
While the likes of Berlin and Prague remain more prominent on the radars of most Europhile digital nomads, Madrid is slowly but surely gaining ground. For sure, the secret is well and truly out now, so if you really want to make the most of all that this genuinely beautiful and buzzing city has to offer, you should definitely head here sooner rather than later.
Are you a freelance writer living in Madrid? If so, please feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences with us in the comments box below: