Choosing the right family neighbourhood in Madrid can be a difficult decision because there are so many factors to consider – budget, schools, commute, outdoor activities, bars, restaurants etc.
To make life a little easier and to help ease the decision making process, we’ve rounded up the best neighbourhoods for families to live based on schools, lifestyle, budget and each family’s needs.
1 – Family friendly neighbourhoods in the city centre
Pros: You will be right in the centre of this fantastic city amidst the hustle and bustle allowing you to experience all that Madrid has got to offer. You will not need to own a car as you are in close proximity to shops and services and public transport is very reliable.
Cons: You are not likely to have a swimming pool, a garden or even an extra room unless you spend a lot more money than you would purchasing/renting property in the city suburbs. If you are extremely fortunate you may get an apartment with a small terrace or balcony.
Short-list of best family neighbourhoods in the city centre:
- Chamberí: It is just north of the centre. It is a traditional Madrid neighbourhood with lots of facilities for families. It’s got a ‘barrio’ feel and is still very central. One of it’s main streets Fuencarral is pedestrianised every Sunday until 14:00 with lots of activities for kids. It is home to the fabulous Plaza de Olavide with lots of bars, restaurants and a great playground. And of course Calle Ponzano, Madrid’s foodies heaven is found here. There is a public pool (Canal) and a great outdoor pool at Go Fit which are excellent in Summer to cool down. But….there is not a lot of green space.
- Salamanca: This is a popular choice for international families who want to live in a premium environment near the centre of Madrid. It is relatively quiet and is close to El Retiro (one of Madrid’s biggest parks). There are some very well known concertado schools in the area, elegant bars and restaurants and the beautiful, quaint streets have large footpaths (great for buggies and prams). It is not right in the centre but it is very well connected. The snag is that property is usually very expensive.
- Retiro: The Retiro neighbourhood is very similar to Salamanca. It is located just to the south of Salamanca, adjacent to Retiro Park. It is less expensive than Salamanca, but not as well connected and a bit further from the centre. It remains a popular choice with international families and is home to one of Madrid’s most gastronomic streets (Calle de Ibiza).
2- Family friendly neighbourhoods in urban settings, but not right in the centre
Pros: More relaxed than the centre while still being closeby. You can still do without a car although it’s a bit more challenging. There is a good chance that your building will have a communal outdoor play area that includes a swimming pool (a huge plus during those hot Summer months).
Cons: Usually very residential, lacks the distinctive Madrid character of the centre.
Short-list of best family neighbourhoods:
- Conde de Orgaz: A quiet and residential neighbourhood with a very strong expat community, especially French speaking as it includes the Lycée Français.
- Arturo Soria: A favourite for professionals who work in the north eastern area of Madrid. It is home to many excellent private or semi-private schools and is close to the airport. You will most likely live in an urbanization and will have a communal swimming pool.
- El Viso: A secret enclave. It is the only neighbourhood close to the centre that has houses with private gardens rather than apartments which of course makes it a very expensive area to live in. There are also good schools in the area. And if you are a Real Madrid fan, El Bernabéu is within walking distance.
- Chamartín: This neighbourhood has a good mix of residential whilst still being relatively close to the city centre. As a family you can live in an urbanization with a swimming pool, lots of international schools close by and public transport is excellent. Parque de Berlin is a good place for a run or a walk.
- Príncipe Pío- Madrid Río: This neighbourhood has become very popular with families especially those who are fans of outdoor activities. Within a short distance you’ve got the gorgeous (my favourite!) Parque del Oeste, Jardines de Moro, Parque de la Bombilla, and Casa de Campo. Madrid Río (urban river walk) is a perfect spot for all of the family. However, school choice is a little more limited compared to other neightbourhoods.
3- Family friendly neighbourhoods in the Madrid city suburbs
Pros: You can get much bigger properties for the same price as a two bedroom flat in the city centre. It is easy (and more affordable) to find a home with a swimming pool and garden (private or communal). Lots of green space and all types of sports, clubs and activities are on hand at a much more reasonable price compared to the city centre.
Cons: You need a car as you have to drive almost everywhere. There are cafes and shops but shopping centres are most popular and convenient option. The buildings are all quite similar in appearance and really lack the hustle and bustle of Madrid city centre.
Short-list of best family neighborhoods:
- Located next to Monte del Pardo; Montecarmelo, Las Tablas and Sanchinarro are relatively new neighbourhoods and are very family orientated with quite a varied choice of international and public schools. Lots of green space and access to all types of sporting activites.
- In the north-west places like Pozuelo, Majadahonda, Aravaca and Las Rozas are nice family neighbourhoods. They have good schools (both public and private) and lots of green space.
- In the north-east there is La Moraleja, Madrid´s answer to Beverly Hills. Beautiful houses, fairy tale like streets and lots of green areas. Fantastic international schools in the area. It´s home to many politicians, sport stars and TV celebrities. As you’ve probably guessed it is a very exclusive neighbourhood and out of reach of most.
- Also located to the north or Madrid are Alcobendas and San Sebastian de los Reyes. Both these areas are popular with expat families – great choice of schools, AMAZING playgrounds and housing is more reasonable in terms of size and space.
Sinéad Galvin is an educational consultant and founded Steps into Spain (a boutique educational and relocation consultancy located in Madrid) to help families find the right school for their child in Madrid. She uses her professional and personal experience of Spanish schools, the Spanish education system and the Spanish way of life to ensure that parents are knowledgeable and informed about what to expect and can secure the best school for their child.
Steps into Spain will take stock of your children’s educational needs and overall family requirements (housing, paperwork and general settling in). Our trusted and expert service is provided to families who are moving to Madrid from abroad. And also, to families that already live here and need some extra guidance and support.