Regrets about living in Madrid

Regrets about living in Madrid

This week’s guest blogger is Naomi Swainson, talking about her time living in Madrid, Spain. A few weeks ago I shared my story about regrets I have about living in Berlin — now Naomi is sharing her experience in Madrid.

When I first moved to Madrid about two years ago, the first few months kind of whizzed past as an explosion of emotions ranging from, “this is so damn exciting, I must eat all the tapas available to me all at once!” to “good lord I have no idea how to even order the bill.” It was overwhelming at times, but mainly I was happy to have made the move.

However, as the months rolled on, I started being less driven by adrenaline and more…complacent. As awesome as the new surroundings were, there were times were I just didn’t appreciate the unique experience I was living. To put it simply, instead of choosing life, I chose Netflix.

Here are a few regrets about living in Madrid.

My job.

I was a tour guide in Madrid, and I honestly really enjoyed it. The company I was working for was the same company I had worked with back at home in Scotland. I knew they were very good to work with and that I would earn enough without having to stress about paying my bills, so it made sense to continue on with them. All good and clever so far.
The thing is with tour guiding though, is that it’s very seasonal work. In summer, I was working every waking moment, to save for the sad and empty winters that were about to follow. This was annoying for two reasons:

  1. I was so bored in January, February and March as a lone tour guide with no tourists.
  2. Then when the summer came along again, I was always working so hard to compensate for the dry winter that I never got to truly appreciate the wondrous joys that summers in Spain had to offer.

There would have been a really easy way to solve this problem: Get an extra job. Had I got a part time job as an English teacher, or a barista, or even as an oversized and unconvincing Mini Mouse wandering Plaza Mayor, things could have been different.

Getting any part-time job would have meant I could have had a source of income in the winter and therefore spent more time enjoying the beach in the summertime, in the good, old, traditional Spanish way. That was foolish of me and my pallor is a constant reminder of this fact.

Making friends.

I also wish I had tried a little more to expand my friend circle. When I first arrived to the city, I was ready and eager to chat to everyone and anyone that I found lurking about, whether they be my work colleague or my postman.

This hyperactive energy soon wore off though when I found my little group of friends and a favourite local bar where we could spend hours/weeks chatting and drinking beer.

Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. But having said that, Madrid is a major city, full of people from all over the world. Perhaps had I mixed a little out of my own comfort zone a bit more, I would have not only discovered new people but also new sides of the city in terms of art, sports and adventure.

I’m not going to lie though, I did enjoy those beers in our local bar.

The metro pass.

This one is simple. I could have saved so much money getting a year pass or indeed any sort of pass for the metro in Madrid. Instead of doing this, I would buy one single ticket every time I journeyed anywhere, resulting in a huge drainage of expenses and also paper.

I know this sounds so incredibly stupid, but until you live in Spain and experience Spanish Bureaucracy first-hand, I will ask you to spare me a tiny bit of sympathy on this matter. Anything involving any sort of documents or paperwork in Spain (metro pass included) sends me into cold sweats of panic and terror. I’m not sure any amount of money saved is worth the PTSD that dealing with Spanish bureaucracy leaves you with.

Actually, even recounting this is making me nervous, so I take it all back, no regrets on that one.

Bah, it’s not too bad I guess. And I am not going to spend my life bogged down in my own regrets. But perhaps this is a helpful nudge for all those who thinking of living in Spain — moving there in the first place is something you can never regret.

This guest post was written by Naomi Swainson, a writer and blogger for Living Abroad and – an online travel and language-learning portal.

  • April 05 2017

    Haha, I remember trying to get a monthly pass for the busses in Barcelona…

  • June 03 2017

    This is an awesome article – so relatable and honest. It’s nice to see some people acknowledging that they have regrets about travel or overseas life. Regret helps us learn and describing them helps other people feel less like they are doing something wrong if they encounter challenges travelling or living overseas. Thanks again!

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