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(24 Posts)
Socarrat Mon 10-Jun-13 21:18:23

There is an outside chance we could be off to Madrid.

We lived there for eighteen months and I was so unhappy there. So lonely. My Spanish is OK for getting by, but not in terms of letting my WONDERFUL personality fly free - I just felt like half a person. We made a few tactical errors, to be fair, but Im trying to be open minded about this job as it would be a Great Move.

We´ve gone through the list of the reasons we were so miserable there the last time and know what to of the main reasons were that we lived in Chamartin...I hate ugly big city buildings...if we were to move back, id want to love further out in the burbs, west of the city..Pozuelo, Boadilla etc.

So, where would be best to live? Id want to live somewhere
- green
- community feel with a town centre, pref something looking at least Spanish
- other SAHMs (we were the only guiris where we lived, so quite an insular wee place, would need to meet others like us).
...and if possible, somewhere it doesnt all drop dead at 1pm on a saturday
....somewhere where there is the slight chance of a breeze...

ive been trying to google those towns to see what theyre like, but it always seems like lots of scrub land and modern flats. I dont mind living on an estate but want to be able to walk to the shops etc.

Does anybody have any advice?

peterpie Mon 10-Jun-13 21:59:59

Hello Socarrat

Firstly, may I warn you and say I may not be the best person to "advise" you as I have been living out here nearly 7 years and am far from happy. Even after all this time this place isn´t home and I suppose I have just come to accept the loneliness sad Anyway...

I live in Torrejon de Ardoz which is to the East of Madrid close to the airport. It is a working class commuter town and not particularly "nice" so I wouldn`t recommend you looking here! However a bit further East and you have Alcala de Henares which is a beautiful University town with a lovely "casco antiguo". It is very Spanish. There has been a lot of building in and around Alcala, new flats and houses, shopping centres and new areas but the centre itself is quite special. Not sure about ex-pat community there though...

Pozuelo and Boadilla are pretty upmarket and I imagine you would find more ex-pats there, Pozuelo especially. You also have Las Rozas and Majadahonda close by and they may be worth a look. There are lots of British and International schools there meaning more demand for activities for small children in English.

Many of the ex-pats that come to Madrid live in La Moraleja

Community feel totally escapes me, sorry wink

I think to find somewhere green and with a breeze (tall order) you would have to travel much further out of the city towards to La Sierra...Having said that, Tres Cantos and Colmenar Viejo are both very nice places and only about 30mins out of Madrid, travelling North, both are on the Cercanias Chamartin train line. Tres Cantos is more modern than Colmenar.

As for SAHMs...erm... there aren´t any! I have been one for as long as I have lived here and have met very few women like myself. It´s just not the norm and that´s pretty much the same whether you are in the city centre or in the burbs

I hope this helps a little...please feel free to PM me smile

Socarrat Mon 10-Jun-13 23:01:52

Hi, thanks for replying so quickly....I wish my husband well of course but kind of wished this had never come up. Thanks for the info...Alcala....beautiful!

Why are you there your DH Spanish? Seven years is such a long time to be you have kids etc? Are you planning to move you ever get to events in Moraleja or Madrid?

We thought we could integrate quite well living with normal Spanish families but in reality it just didnt work; I was wandering around the local park each day with abuelas walking their doggies and bored nannies .... not one SAHM in sight. And its a pity because im not really of the expat mindset as such, but... can see why its easier psychologically just to hang out with yer own. Ive a 4 month old and a three year old ..If we go, I need to make friends this time and im bad at that...I felt out of it the last time and because I was so far away from the expat action, I never managed to get involved. Also we weren´t on an expat salary, so didn´t have the means to be getting out all the time.

If I cant hack it in Spain, which is just another part of Europe, ill never be able to deal with living in all the other places on our bucket list like China and Japan etc. I decided to get on with it, but im pretty apprehensive...and some things cannot be fixed...loike the climate (dreadful) and the insular family life (bad news for guiris)

SkiBumMum Mon 10-Jun-13 23:08:24

I was there as a student and found it to be an immensely lonely city. I'm surprised about the lack of SAHM. Given the unemployment it's really interesting families have both parents in work. My friend lives in Getafe which always seemed to me to be a nice family-sort of place. Hope you manage to settle.

peterpie Mon 10-Jun-13 23:31:43

Yes DH is Spanish. We lived together in the UK for 8 years and it was a joint decision for him to look for a job back in Spain - bad move.

When we moved I was already pregnant with DS1 and my priorities changed drastically. Maybe if I had come out and started working straight away things may have been different, who knows..?

I have been ready to go back to England many, many times but have now reached the point where I have had to accept for the sake of my mental health that my life is here now. Going back seems more and more unlikely as the years roll by. We have 3 children now, a mortgage and DH is more reluctant to change jobs as he was a few years ago.

I rarely go into Madrid without DH. I hate driving here and getting on the train and Metro with 2 children and a baby doesn´t hold much appeal for me at the moment and I doubt I´d have much in common with the inhabitants of La Moraleja to be honest wink In actual fact I have lost any enthusiasm I once had for making new friends, I no longer have the energy, and I´ve never been any good at small talk wink

It´s very hard to integrate in Spain and I have lost count of the times I have spent in parks with only abuelas or nannies around, the openess/friendliness is a bit of a myth...and yes the climate. My saving grace is my annual extended trip back home in the Summer, I would die if I had to endure the heat here.

What are your circumstances Socarrat? Is your DH Spanish too, has he/you found a job in Madrid?

Socarrat Tue 11-Jun-13 00:01:22

My husband is a suit, hes British though fluent in Spanish....that´s why we came over. then, like you, we got pregnant and stayed. Madrid is the third place I´ve lived in Spain and I lived in European countries growing up so I´m acclimatised to change..I´d like to give Madrid another chance as I can´t believe how unhappy I was there....

I was so desperate to come home, I am so content at home but part of me will always have a certain longing for adventure and´s like opening pandora´s box....I thought everything I would ever want would be back here, but..we´ve not been back that long, just long enough to make a baby basically, and my husband is definitely ready for the off. Me not so, but to be blunt, a move back would nearly double my husband´s salary.And id rather be a SAHM there than two of us working full time in the UK, totally frazzled.

What about work...could you work?

peterpie Tue 11-Jun-13 15:46:33

I think you are very brave to give it another chance. I know if I had had the chance to go back to the UK then that´s where I´d stay. Yes, it´s not perfect but it´s home for me. And I don´t think that because you say you can´t hack it in Spain, then you won´t be able to deal with other countries. If Spain doesn´t suit then it doesn´t suit, there are many more countries out there that probably will.

I have thought of a few other towns that may be worth a look; Alpedrete, Collado Villaba, Moralzarzal are all very nice, out off the A6. It all depends on how close to the City Centre you need to be.

Me working would be difficult at the moment. I have a 6 yr old, a 4 yr old and a 6 month old baby who I am not prepared to put in a Nursery like most of the populaton, DH´s family are not local so that would be my only option for childcare.

Socarrat Tue 11-Jun-13 20:58:17

Originally, I insisted on moving to Segovia smile but Why would I inflict that on him? I'll just have to make it work. It would be different.....we would be able to have a house with a garden, expaty area just for activities and making chums. I set up a book club last took off like a storm and we left two months later...I'd do that again.

But I hate the climate, the thieving landlords and fu d the insular nature if the Spanish really depressing., overall I'm v reluctant.

Never mind, if I do cine over we can def make play date....I've got a three month old and three year old ! smile

peterpie Wed 12-Jun-13 08:35:28

Segovia is great and you would have cochinillo on tap grin

Sounds like you got the right attitude to make it work so I hope you find the location that ticks all your boxes

Keep us posted won´t you!

Cies Thu 13-Jun-13 11:03:59

Just adding my tuppence worth, although it seems you know all the pitfalls of Spanish life. I don't live in Madrid , but it looks like it's very similar to Vigo in terms of Sahm and activities .

If you areat all lentil weavey can I recommend some fora : el Patton es nuestro and crianza natural . you may find meet ups through them.

And don't rule out the expat community , they can be your lifeline smile

Cies Thu 13-Jun-13 11:04:51

Sorry, that was el parto es nuestro

Cies Thu 13-Jun-13 11:20:51

Would you send your three year old to pre school? I think I read that 97% of Spanish children go to pre school at three so it's one way to ensure you meet other parents . Although after one year we're still only at the chatting at the school gate level , no more .

Salbertina Thu 13-Jun-13 17:07:33

My university year abroad was there. Sigh. Far and away THE best year of my entire life! But, having lived in other places, i realise i fell on my feet and at 19-20 was the perfect age to party, something Madrid does so well! I got to see the insularity of the Spanish firsthand and can imagine it must be v tough as an expat family. No suggestions, sorry.

RubyOnRails Thu 13-Jun-13 21:36:22

Hi, it's me, the OP, CBa with constant name changing smile

We'd send him to british council school, bit upset about losing him every day, but he needs to be the same as his peers, not the one who hangs about with mummy all the time. To be fair, he's four next April, so I. Hardly sending him up a chimney.

I'm not anti expat, but as teenager I spent some years in an expat bubble myself...wary about returning to the fold haha. It's quite insular in its own little way.

RubyOnRails Thu 13-Jun-13 21:37:40

Cies, how's Vigo? What you doing there? Do you speak Gallego?!

Cies Fri 14-Jun-13 09:18:24

Vigo is great for me grin But with all the provisos of life in Spain being different to UK.

I've been here for nearly eight years, TEFL teacher and Spanish eh. I don't speak gallego , but I do understand it.

Cies Fri 14-Jun-13 09:19:00

That should be Spanish Dh

peterpie Fri 14-Jun-13 10:47:24

Hola Cies - I remember you from previous threads about Spain, I used to post as bebespain, often with homesickness issues blush!

I love Galicia, you are very lucky to be living there wink I would love to live anywhere in Galicia!!!!

I can relate to what you say about school and chatting at the gates level. It is only since DS1 started Primero de Primaria that I have built friendships with other Mums outside of the school setting. Most of my UK friends with little ones have good friendships with Mums from school and see each other socially, quite the norm. Just isn´t the same here, I find there is a clear distinction and the two are kept quite separate.

RubyOnRails Fri 14-Jun-13 12:26:47

Oh, you're bebespain?! Remember your posts....!

I think the school gate thang is common in Spain...I did used to loiter wistfully at the guarderia...well, not really, but I was open to chit chat and everybody used to sweep in and out. I guess it's an AMA de casa thing...I have time...they'd all been at work all day sad

If pozuelo has soft play...ill be ok....

peterpie Fri 14-Jun-13 17:26:32

Ha, ha yes I am bebespain...oh dear I used to go on a bit....

I think Pozuelo has soft play...The apple tree club is out that way, maybe any case google it, they have Mums n Tots and that kind of thing smile it will keep you sane!!

peterpie Fri 14-Jun-13 17:28:14

Oh I forgot to mention it is 28 degrees in my lounge today, about 36 outside and I am melting...and yes we do have air-con but it´s not good for the baby

RubyOnRails Fri 14-Jun-13 17:33:16

Yes, that sounds bloody awful tbh! Went to soft play this morning after four hours sleep....sat slumped into scrambled eggs and a pile if trashy mags....totally saved me!

Cies Fri 14-Jun-13 18:07:41

I remember you bebespain grin

Glad to hear that you've built up a bit of a relationship with the school mums .

PalomaBlanca Mon 28-Jul-14 23:29:05

I am reactivating this thread as it just rings so many bells with me in terms of all the reasons I was unhappy and quite often very lonely living in Madrid and am about to move back there!

I thought it was just me but found it incredibly difficult to make friends in Madrid (was there for 2.5 years). I blamed this on a job with very long hours.

I hoped to make friends at my ante-natal classes when pregnant last year but people used to just waft in and out... sort of felt like I would be stalking them in a kind of "will you be my friend" way if I suggested meeting up or anything. Yet I gather this is fairly common in the UK and that mums get to know others mums from their NCT classes, for example. I speak fluent Spanish and DP is Spanish but his family are not in Madrid and am just dreading being back there with that sinking feeling of having no friends! Lots of friendliness but no friendship just about sums up my experience here.

Even in the office I would say I made passing friendships with people but so many people would go home to see their families at lunchtime that it is largely impossible to get into the habit of going for lunch with people and getting to know them a bit outside work. Anyway, I guess I will mind this less now that I will be trying to do the same at lunch to get back and see my little boy but still makes it tough to get to know people.

So, anyway, the point of the thread was just to ask whether things had gotten better for any of you Madrid dwellers or if you continued being unhappy etc.

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