City Living in the Digital Age

3 May 2018 0 Comments Category: James Logue, TNS Amigos


The commute to and from work for the best part of us, whether this involves a 10-minute bus ride or the guts of an hour on the metro, is greeted with the usual sights of last minute make-up application, a few old-school newspaper readers and a sea of heads buried in their smartphones. Now in the mid-digital age, I’d say we’re all guilty of the last one. Catching up on the news, skimming over last night’s 124 WhatsApp group messages, or having a flick through Facebook…it’s all second nature. Plus it doesn’t stop there. There are now mobile phone applications for just about anything. And this is good news.

In theory and in practice, although my technically challenged parents might disagree, these applications are designed to make things easier, especially if you live in a big city and need a helping hand. Four years in to my probably-for-life stint in the Spanish capital, here are some Madrid-specific applications that have bailed me out of a crisis or two and, in general, made manoeuvring around the city more manageable and fun.

Getting from A to B


Madrid has followed in the footsteps of many eco-friendly cities with the implementation of a sustainable clean transport system in the form of BiciMadrid – a network of public-use bikes dotted around the city that, for an annual fee of around 15 euros plus a pay-as-you-go meter system, you can rent on a temporary basis. And it can all be managed through the BiciMad application, which even lets you know where the nearest available bike is located. And don’t get put off by the steep streets around the city – the bikes are electric so only half the effort is needed.

Oficial Metro de Madrid

If you’re a novice at navigating the Madrid Metro, this should be a staple on your mobile. It is available in 5 major languages and has integrated maps, a nearby station function (if you literally have no clue how to get to the metro), and an option to check the balance on your transport card. This wee gem of an app has saved me many a time when wandering the city.


Similar to the BiciMad set-up, Car2Go offers a network of electric cars stationed all around the city for rent on a pay-as-you-go basis, calculated on the distance or time spent travelling. All you need to do is register your details on their website, download the application, and get exploring the city in an environmentally-friendly ride.

Personal jackpot find


Having been fascinated with the Chinese community and their work ethic since my Erasmus in Madrid years ago, and consequently deciding to write my dissertation on them albeit from a translation/interpreting services slant, I was genuinely excited when I discovered this app. Back in the UK and Ireland we were all familiar with corner shops, but the phenomenon here of Chinese-run convenience stores and huge bazaars selling every item under the sun is on another level. Mainly because there are so many and because we’ve all become so dependent on them. This app uses your location services to find the nearest ‘chino’ shop, meaning you’ll never have to roam the streets in search of one again.

To eat and drink ‘til your heart’s content


One of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is by having some tapas and beers in a food and drink market. What’s the downside? I’m chronically indecisive and the vast number of markets available can sometimes be overwhelming. For anyone like me, this app will work wonders. It not only gives you a list of the markets and their distance from your location, but also includes a brief history from when they first opened, plus all their stalls and upcoming events. This is a must for any market lovers.

El Tenedor

Again, this application was not developed specifically with Madrid in mind, although the huge number of restaurant offers available in the capital makes it a must for eating out. It is a restaurant booking app with loads of discounts, so if you fancy an expensive meal but it’s approaching the end of the month and you’re low on pennies, El Tenedor has got it covered.

A spot of culture

Guía Punto (Guía de Madrid)

This app is jampacked with restaurant, bar, shopping, museum, and theatre recommendations. It can be used as a go-to for all things cultural in the capital, offering lists of top venues, a description of what you can expect to find, and a handy map to pinpoint them. I’d say the bonus is that you can find genuine recommendations that haven’t been plugged through promotional fees.

Fever Events

I was recently recommended this app by a friend, and I’ve been using it ever since. It taps into your interests and social connections and generates a personalised feed of events, offering unbeatable prices and a user-friendly ticket booking system. All you have to do is select categories based on your preferences, whether it be fashion, food, or festivals, and the app will do all the work to ensure you have access to the best events in the capital.

Your health is your wealth

Cita Sanitaria Madrid

No matter where you are from, most of us have at one stage or another had difficulty in getting a medical appointment. This app cuts out all the nonsense. If you are ‘empadronad@’ in Madrid, you can book general and specialist medical appointments straight from your mobile. All you have to do is enter your details, choose the service, pick the date and Bob’s your uncle. It also allows you to consult, change or cancel appointments.

We are part of the mid-digital age where generations prior to millennials struggle with the steady flow of technology, or where post-millennials take to it like a duck to water. A sort of divide has occurred. However, despite our leanings, we should all embrace it and consider the benefits it can bring, especially living as expats in new countries. Regardless of your level of technological prowess, downloading a few city-specific (in this case, Madrid) applications can, in my opinion and from personal experience, undoubtedly smooth the way for city living.

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