Let’s go straight to the point. At the moment of writing these lines, I have been living in Madrid for 5 months. I grew up in a small village and moved to the closest urban area (Seville) when I started college. I spent nine years there of both hard study and work. I had my entire life in Seville: an apartment, a car, all my stuff, my girlfriend, my family, (most of) my friends.
Of the nine total years spent in Seville, first three years were the process of falling in love with the city, middle three were a time of growth, stability and city mastering. Last three were apathy and stagnation.
I am not going to bore you about all details about why I decided to change Seville for Madrid. I decided to focus on the best for my professional career and (unavoidably) I am making some sacrifices along the way.
This post is heavily opinionated. All is written here are just my personal views. Remember, you do not have to agree with me, but in case you have a different opinion I invite you to leave your comment and discuss this post.
Data Science ecosystem
In spain, if you want to do real Data Science, you have to go Madrid (or Barcelona). There is nothing much to do outside these two cities in the Spanish Data Science scene. Over the last 10 years these two cities, but specially Madrid concentrates a high flux of young and high qualified professionals from other parts of the country running away from the financial crisis which was less severe in big cities with strong companies.
Most companies that demand data science & advanced analytics services in Spain have headquarters in Madrid, so data professionals are in high demand here. So if you want to be surrounded by people talking about Data Pipelines, Machine Learning Models and all data buzzwords this is your place. You will learn a lot, I swear. Best projects are in Madrid, and also faster career progression.
The reality is that Data Science ecosystem in Seville is almost nonexistent. Region economy relies mostly on tourism, agriculture, public sector and some industry struggling to survive and keeping competitiveness despite low salaries and terrible working conditions (Abengoa, Airbus, etc.). Of course there are some exceptions, brave companies trying to do cool things, and meetup initiatives like Databeers Sevilla.
My advice to any new graduate who want a career in Data Science is to move outside Seville as soon as he finishes his / her studies. You can expect probably pseudo-data-science projects (for example, classical business intelligence projects masked as data science, with tons of SQL and little to zero modeling) and a very slow career and salary progression which leads to dissatisfaction and boredom.
Salaries and working environment
Salaries are higher in Madrid for the same position (I am focusing in qualified jobs but probably It can be extended to other kind of jobs). Working environment is also better. This is the direct cause of the supply and demand law. As data professionals are high in demand wages are pushed up and employee have a higher negotiation power. Companies take care of their employees because it is not easy to replace them and there is a fierce competition between companies to attract and retain best talent. In the last years Spanish companies are also facing competition from foreign firms ‘stealing’ their employees offering better salaries and more flexibility.
Seville is afflicted by a great problem with salaries and many companies have a high degree of provincialism. Time as intern in a company before a proper work contract is offered range from x 2 - 4 times the time someone spend as intern in Madrid. A young graduate can expect to be 1 - 2 years as intern in Seville while in Madrid is rare someone spend more than 6 months as intern. Even after being offered a work contract this will probably be a temporary one, a situation that the company will try to extend as much as possible (even ignoring the law with respect to temporary contracts limits).
As unemployment in the city is so high, employees are afraid of losing their jobs and not being able to find a new one, so they accept slavery situations like constant overtime. Young professionals without personal charges usually quit their jobs after the very first months and move to Madrid, Barcelona or outside Spain, thus companies prefer hiring people with strong ties with the city, like a family and a mortgage.
Companies in Seville also tend to be miserly, trying to save every possible Euro in things like equipment (laptops, desks) and travelling expenses.
As I already wrote, this is a (little unfair) generalization and obviously (and thankfully) does not apply to all companies in the city, but the tendency is there.
Prices & Housing
Madrid has a big housing problem. Both buying and renting prices are skyrocketing, middle class is being pushed out of the city, and despite higher salaries, sometimes moving here does not always worth it if only money is considered. Reasons why it is happening are:
- Hedge funds are buying properties in Madrid, pushing prices up and hoping to repeat the kind of lucrative operations they do in London (a city that is becoming a synonym of expensive housing).
- Town Hall blocks new construction projects. The city needs more apartments and there is plenty of room for it.
- Newcomers: like me, many people is moving to Madrid to work or study. It pushes city housing market under a lot of pressure. Basic offer & supply law.
When it comes to prices of other things, like buying groceries or eating in a restaurant Madrid is also more expensive in Seville, 15% on average and not taking rent into account. More detailed information about prices comparison between Seville and Madrid can be find here. Of course, some kind of products like clothes or electronics cost very much the same in every part of the world.
Seville is generally a cheap city for living. Renting an apartment in (or close to) the city centre is relatively affordable. Eating until burst for 10 Euros or having a drink for 4 Euros is easy, which translates in doing more outdoor life and connecting with the community. Seville is located in the Guadalquivir valley, the second most fertile land in the world after Nile delta, so buying top quality fruit and vegetables is also easy.
Although housing prices are lower, houses in Seville are generally lower quality than in Madrid, with a bad isolation and no central heating, what makes them very cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer, despite winters in Seville are milder than in Madrid. All heating and cooling is electricity based, and electricity is becoming increasingly expensive.
Quality of Life
I find life in Madrid faster and more stressful than in Seville. There is a lot of people and everyone looks like in a hurry. That frenetic feeling ends up infiltrating. Madrid is also much bigger than Seville, but the transportation system is, in my opinion, one of the best I have ever seen, specially Madrid Metro network. Cultural offer is obviously more diverse and better in Madrid, and city is also more international, with people from all over the world and a strong foreign communities from China, Latin America and many European countries. People and city culture in Madrid is very welcoming and the city is also fairly safe.
Quality of life in Seville is very high. Lifestyle is superb and you can really feel very connected with the city life. Climate is good most of the year (with exception of summer months that can be very hot) and it foster people to hang out with friends very often. City centre is also very beautiful and charming. People is also very nice. I you love all spanish cliches, will find almost all of them in Seville.
Transportation system is terrible, with only one underground line and mostly based on urban buses. Buses routes and frequency follow some illogical patterns, with buses in router anybody takes with 5 minutes frequency while the most important routes are collapsed.
Last edition: 02-25-2018