What’s it like living in Tetuán?
Good question. The answer: Not bad at all, actually.
For those who don’t know, Tetuán is a district in the north of Madrid – north of Cuatro Caminos and South of Plaza Castilla, it occupies a large area on both sides of Calle Bravo Murillo.
Rent prices are going up around the city, and so from time to time friends (and friendly readers) who are looking for cheaper rents ask me: is it safe to live in Tetuán?
And my answer is yes.
Touristic it is not. But I’ve been here for about 6 years now.
I’m living pretty close to the main drag, on a street that’s not exactly postcard material.
Still, nothing dangerous seems to be happening.
As far as I can tell, rumors of gang violence and drug dealing are quite exaggerated. There’s some prostitution going on close to La Castellana, mostly in the businessy areas and after dark – but that’s not causing anyone any problems either, as far as I can tell.
And anyway, Madrid is a very safe city in general.
Here we’ll see a few of the pros and cons of living in Tetuán, my romántico barrio.
Starting with the most obvious…
Tetuán Pro: cheaper rent up in the North
I’m not really keeping track of rent prices around Madrid these days.
But prices do seem to be going up across the board. Some people blame AirBnB for Madrid’s gentrification and the rising rent prices. And I guess gentrification is a topic for another article.
All I can tell you is that it’s always been hard to find a room or a flat to rent. And there have always been total dumps that seem to cost an arm and a leg.
Anyway, in Tetuán those dumps will only cost you a leg.
I’m actually in a pretty nice place, on a quiet street, and it’s not nearly as expensive as it would be if I lived closer to the center.
In any case, if you’re coming from a bigger city like New York or London, you’ll find Madrid pretty cheap in general. Everything is relative.
Here’s more about the cost of living in Madrid, if you want.
Tetuán Con: it’s not Malasaña
Yeah, Tetuan’s not Malasaña.
It’s not even Lavapies.
I enjoy living in areas like this, that haven’t yet been flooded with hipsters. Who really wants to pay double the price to live in one of the hipper places?
(Apparently, plenty of people do. Hence the higher prices. But that’s not my style.)
The main street through the neighborhood is Bravo Murillo, and on it you’ll find plenty of old-school bars, kebap restaurants, fruterías, off-brand clothing stores, pawn shops – the usual things you’ve got in any working-class neighborhood.
What you won’t find is a lot of cute boutique fashion places or craft beer bars. Sorry.
Picking a neighborhood in Madrid is something of a trade-off, and if you want to live in Tetuán, you’ll have to do without the hipsterism.
If you want to live in the center, you’ll be closer to the fair-trade coffee and vegan waffles or whatever, but you’ll be paying considerably more.
Here’s another one for the plus side…
Pro: Asian markets and international cuisine
I’m not a huge foodie – really I just like eating – but the food scene in Tetuán seems to be pretty good.
For the most part, like I said, the hipsters and their gastrobars have yet to arrive.
But we do have some sweet Chinese markets on Calle General Margallo, as well as Cosmo Cash and Carry on Bravo Murillo, which has food from South America, the Philippines, India and more.
And in my area there are restaurants like La Casa del Ceviche (for Peruvian food), Mr Vu which is apparently pretty good Vietnamese food, and more – fancy steakhouses, fish restaurants, Chinese food, Thai food and sushi.
Some of the other places in the neighborhood are hit or miss – I wouldn’t come here for Indian food, for example. (The only Indian place I’ve been to in Tetuán is so bad I don’t even want to name it.)
On the other hand there are probably some good restaurants here in the barrio I’ve yet to try. Hit me up if you have any recommendations.
Also, I should mention our two big markets: Mercado de Tetuán (near Metro Tetuán) and Mercado de Maravillas (close to Cuatro Caminos). Maravillas is huge and very active, with more “ethnic” food on offer. Mercado de Tetuán is more traditionally Spanish, and a lot smaller. But they’re both great.
(There’s some cool street art in the barrio too.)
Con: Tetuán is dirtier than other neighborhoods
When I wrote about pros and cons of living in Madrid a few weeks ago, a lot of people commented on the dirtiness.
And I guess they’re right.
I just hadn’t thought much of it. Or I’d gotten used to it through the years.
But once it had been pointed out to me, I started seeing it everywhere… and especially in the less-hip, less-central neigborhoods like mine.
The streetsweepers definitely come by a couple of times a week. But even so, I’m dodging 5 dog turds on nearly every block.
I guess we could say it’s part of the charm of living outside the touristy center: less gentrification, and more dog turds.
No neighborhood is perfect.
Living in Tetuán… Good idea or bad?
I like living in Tetuán a lot.
But in the end, most of the young international people here in Madrid really want to live closer to the center. They want something “vibrant” – whatever that means – and full of youngsters like themselves.
If you’re willing to spend a bit longer on transport, and live in a neighborhood with more “immigrants” than “expats”, Tetuán could be the place for you.
But if you can’t stomach a neighborhood without gourmet olive bars and gluten-free bakeries, well, you’re probably better off somewhere else.
Thinking about moving to Tetuán? Let me know in the comments.
I’ll try to answer your questions.
P.S. What’s your favorite neighborhood in Madrid? I used to like Lavapies, but now every time I go, I find it totally overrated and uninteresting. Now I guess I’m more of a Malasaña guy. And hey, I wouldn’t mind living in Retiro either – once I get rich.
P.P.S. I made a video where I show some of the places I go to in Tetuán. It’s for English learners, so I’m talking kind of slowly. But hey. I’ve also got more articles about specific neighborhoods, if you want: try La Latina and Usera. Have fun!
P.P.P.S. I almost started a second Civil War when I published this article on Facebook. A lot of people insist that actually, Tetuán is REALLY dangerous. So I went to check out the worst parts of the neighborhood. And here’s my report on Tetuán Hell and the “barrio latino”. Enjoy…