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Which startups succeed in Spain (and which ones fail)?

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More than a million people in Ireland (out of a population of 5 million) are struggling to make ends meet.

That’s according to the Irish government’s latest Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) survey, which also saw four in five Irish people acknowledge that they have less money than a year ago. 

Ireland’s cost-of-living and housing crises are affecting young people in particular, so much so that another survey carried out for the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) found that 70 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in the country are considering moving overseas.

Finding a home to rent in Dublin for under €2,000 has become almost impossible, even small one-bedroom flats are going for €1,500.

So, could Spain’s capital offer what young Irish workers and graduates are after? Madrid is certainly an exciting and varied city with lots to offer, and although it’s not on the coast, it certainly boasts better weather than the Irish capital.

READ ALSO: Where do Spain’s Irish residents live?

Is it possible for Irish people to find work and accommodation in Madrid relatively easily and have enough money to cover costs and save up?

English teacher Cormac Breen, who swapped Dublin for Madrid, explains what his countrymen should factor in.  

Average wages

As of 2022, the minimum monthly salary in Spain stands at €1,166 gross for a 40-hour work week. Despite this, the average monthly salary in Madrid is about €2,000 gross, about €300 higher than the national average.

Comparing this to Dublin, where the average weekly wage in 2022 is €850 a week, or about €3,683 gross per month, it is clear to see that salaries are much higher in Ireland. 

Earning considerably less may worry you, but as you read through this article, you’ll see how you will also be spending less in Madrid than in Dublin.

Job prospects

You’re probably familiar with the fact that Spain isn’t renowned for its great career prospects, but native English speakers often find they can access jobs that aren’t as easily available to Spaniards.

Many of them work in the education sector as teachers, particularly in private language academies.

Salaries range from about €1,200 to €1,400 a month net for about a 30-hour working week but with fluency in English being such a sought-after skill in Spain, there are endless opportunities to supplement your income with private classes which can earn you about €15 to €25 per hour. After Brexit, there are fewer UK nationals who can move to Spain to work as language teachers, so young Irish people will find it easier to get work and take advantage of their EU status. 

READ ALSO: The most in-demand jobs in Spain in 2022

There’s also remote working for a company, Irish or otherwise, from Madrid. The rules on remote working from Spain are a bit of a grey area sometimes, but you will generally be expected to pay taxes in Spain if you settle here

The Spanish government is also set to introduce a new startups law and digital nomad visa which will go a long way to remove the current bureaucratic hurdles that exist for non-Spanish residents wishing to work remotely from the country. Although this visa is aimed at non-EU remote workers, there are parts of the legislation which are geared towards making Spain a better place to set up a business, including for Irish and other EU nationals.

READ ALSO: New self-employed workers in Madrid to pay no social security tax

Accommodation

Irish salaries are among the highest in Europe but so are rental prices, with Dublin in particular proving to be very expensive to live in (recent figures place the average monthly rent in Dublin at just under €2,000).

According to comparison website Expatistan.com, on average housing in Dublin is about 79 percent more expensive than in Madrid.

If you’re looking to rent a place for yourself, or to share, prices in Madrid city centre will of course be higher, especially in more touristy areas and trendy neighbourhoods such as Chueca and Malasaña.

Finding a place slightly outside the centre can often offer cheaper rents, and more modern buildings. Renting a studio flat will cost you about €800 to €1,000 a month while a one or two-bedroom apartment can cost upwards of €1,200 per month.

Sharing a room is the most economical choice in Madrid, with a room in a shared flat costing on average about €400 to €600 a month. 

It’s worth remembering as well that finding a place to rent in Spain’s big cities is also becoming harder than it was, even though prices and the lack of rental units isn’t as severe as in Ireland. 

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Maximilian Vitzthum

Madrid’s main street – Gran Vía. Photo: Gregor Schram/Unsplash

Utilities

Like most European countries, Spain has seen a sharp increase in the cost of utilities, with heating and electricity in particular becoming much more expensive. Even so, it may still work out to be cheaper than bills in Ireland, where the average household’s annual electricity bill in 2022 is expected to be €2,120.

All in all, you can expect to pay about €50 to €80 a month if you are sharing a flat in Madrid, with bills rising to about €100 to €130 per month if you rent a studio or one-bedroom flat.

Spanish homes normally have to pay for heating, electricity, water and internet access. How much you pay a month will largely depend on your usage, and whether you are sharing a flat or renting your own place.

Water tends to be the cheapest utility, costing about €10 to €20 per month. Shopping around can help you find the best deal on internet packages which often come with landlines or mobile services included. Prices start at €20 per month depending on whether you want to pay just for wi-fi access, and what speed of internet connection you want.

Transport

Dublin is the second most expensive city in Europe for public transport costs. Spain and Madrid on the other hand have recently introduced big discounts on public transport (or made it completely free) to help people deal with rising inflation.

Madrid has an extensive public transport network, incorporating metro, bus and light rail along with a range of individual options such as bike and scooter hire schemes. Having a car in the centre is not really necessary given the costs involved with parking and fuel, and most people prefer to take advantage of public transport as their primary means of commuting to work and moving around the city.

Transportes Madrid offers a range of options for those wishing to take advantage of the vast transport network, with the monthly pass by far being the most popular. For a 30-day pass, giving unlimited access to the entire transport network, prices start at about €25 for under 26’s, rising to about €55 for anyone above this age. In an effort to tackle costs, the transport authority introduced an almost 50 percent reduction on the cost of a 30-day pass meaning that someone under the age of 26 can expect to pay as little as €10 euro for their monthly pass, while someone availing of the standard rate now pays about €32.

READ ALSO: 12 Madrid life hacks that will make you feel like a local

The Crystal Palace in Madrid’s huge El Retiro Park, in the centre of the city. Photo: Maximilian Vitzthum/Unsplash

Enjoying life in Madrid

Dublin residents will know full well that eating out or having drinks can be pretty expensive. Not so in the Spanish capital.

From restaurants, museums, theatres and trendy bars to nightclubs, food markets and sports, Madrid has something for everyone.

And even if you’re on a tight budget, you won’t miss out on what this city has to offer.

A night out in Madrid usually involves food and alcohol. A glass of beer or wine in a modest city centre bar or terrace, can cost as little as €2 or €3 while a copa such as a gin and tonic, can cost about €7 or €8. Trendy wine and vermouth bars, cheap and cheerful cervecerías, late night dance bars, and some of the best nightclubs in Europe, Madrid’s nightlife has something for everyone.

A meal in a standard restaurant can cost from €20 to €25 for two courses and a drink between two people. For €12 to €15, you get a two-course meal, along with a dessert and drink as part of the popular menú del día

The city contains impressive and sometimes free public amenities, such as parks, gyms, swimming pools, sports pitches, museums, exhibitions, and theatres. A monthly gym membership costs between €20 to €40. Tickets to live music or cultural performances can cost as little as €10, but range upwards towards €100 for international acts. Madrid unfortunately lacks a beach, but it is very close to the mountains where you can enjoy hiking all year round, and for those with a bit of extra cash, skiing in the winter.

Madrid costs breakdown

With the above considerations in mind, here is how much you should expect to spend living in Madrid as a single person, renting a room in a city centre flat on a monthly income of about €1,600.

Rent: €600

Utilities: €50 – €80

Transport: €10 – €30

Food: €200-€300

Activities/Entertainment: €100+



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Jennifer Lopez thought she was ‘going to die’ after her breakup with Ben Affleck | Culture

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The story of Jennifer Lopez, 53, and Ben Affleck, 50, is still providing new twists and turns after more than 20 years. When it seemed that one of the most famous couples in Hollywood had made as many headlines as possible with their reconciliation and subsequent marriage, the singer has made the news again by sharing more details about how they got together in 2002 and why they broke up two years later.

Reflecting on their relationship, Lopez said that it wasn’t a case of love at first sight. “I think what happened is, as we worked together, we became such good friends,” she said in an interview with Apple Music. The two met while filming the movie Gigli (2002), but at the time, Lopez was married to choreographer Chris Judd. The chemistry between the two, however, was undeniable. “We realized that we were crazy about each other […] It’s like you just knew it. It’s just like, ‘This is the person I want to be with.’ And that happened over a period of months.”

And then, from one day to the next, it was over. “It was so painful after we broke up. Once we called off that wedding 20 years ago, it was the biggest heartbreak of my life. I honestly felt like I was going to die,” she said. In the interview, Lopez said she even stopped performing songs inspired by their relationship because it was too painful. “It was a part of me then that I had to put away to move on and survive. It was a survival tactic, for sure.”

“It sent me on a spiral for the next 18 years where I just couldn’t get it right,” she continued. “But now, 20 years later, it does have a happy ending.”

During their separation, Lopez starred in dozens of movies, performed at hundreds of concerts (including the Super Bowl halftime show) and found love with singer Marc Anthony (with whom she has two children) and former baseball player Alex Rodriguez, with whom she was briefly engaged.

In April 2021, Lopez and Affleck confirmed they were back together after the singer broke up with Alex Rodríguez, and Affleck ended his relationship with actress Ana de Armas. A year later, the two were engaged and just a month later they were married in Las Vegas. Another month after that, they held a three-day wedding with friends and family.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck on their wedding day, in September 2022.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck on their wedding day, in September 2022.OnTheJLo

Last Friday, Lopez announced she will be releasing a new album, This is Me… Now, on the 20th anniversary of her 2002 record This is Me… Then. The focus of the new album is love, she said. “We captured me at this moment in time when I was reunited with the love of my life and we decided we were going to be together forever. The whole message of the album then is this love exists. This is a real love,” she said. “If you have, like me at times, lost hope, almost given up, don’t. Because true love does exist and some things do last forever and that’s real.”

“I want to put that message out into the world and that does take a lot of vulnerability,” she continued. “But I couldn’t stop myself and some parts of it scare me. And I think parts of it scare Ben too. He’s like, ‘Oh, do you really want to say all this stuff?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know how else to do it, baby.’”

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Unko Museum: Tokyo opens first poop museum to explore a taboo topic among Japanese youth | Culture

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Among the many synonyms for excrement that exist in the Japanese language, the founders of the Tokyo Unko Museum chose the most candid one, unko, to name an irreverent space designed for female Instagram users. “My goal was for poop to stop being a taboo subject for young girls,” explains its creator, Masaru Kobayashi.

With Japanese influencers in mind, Kobayashi filled the museum’s rooms with toilets and poop-shaped pieces in shades of turquoise, fuchsia and lemon yellow. The colors follow the palette of the Japanese kawaii aesthetic, which combines the cutesy and the grotesque. Kobayashi explains that, far from being a cultural fad, kawaii is a natural extension of traditional Japanese culture. “At the pinnacle of world-famous kawaii culture is poop, a fragile material that disappears down the drain shortly after being brought into this world,” reads a sign at the museum entrance.

To revive the scatological enthusiasm of childhood, visitors are welcomed into a room equipped with nine colorful toilets, whose arrangement evokes the communal toilets of ancient Rome. A museum guide invites them to sit down, clench their fists and, after counting one-two-three, imagine that they are releasing a symbolic dump. When they get up, they find in their respective receptacles pieces of plastic poop, which resemble the poop emoji in striking pastel colors.

There are neon signs with the word poop written in 16 languages. A tearoom serves huge cakes topped with golden feces. Another room features colorful droppings that move when stroked like furry animals. Video games include flying poops. On small toilet-shaped blackboards hung on the wall, visitors are invited to make their own poop drawings.

Although there is a Japanese term for museum, Kobayashi chose the English “museum” to describe a thematic venue whose sole function is to create entertaining environments. Instagram is full of photographs of absurd and witty scenes from the exhibits: couples play-acting, sitting on separate toilets, young parents with blue poop on their heads, or the typical tourist photo featuring a huge illuminated poop. Kobayashi confesses that at first he feared that the unusual concept would be rejected. He felt better when older people started to visit, many of whom saw a generational change in the fact that young girls were openly talking about poop.

In the past three years, Kobayashi has created six such museums across Japan. He has received invitations to open another in Singapore and is in talks with several Asian countries where the subject of human poop lacks the taboo it has historically had in the West.

Classics authors in Japanese literature, such as Natsume Soseki, coined memorable phrases about poop’s “physiological pleasures,” and Junichiro Tanizaki devoted a long passage from his well-known essay Praise of the Shadow to the traditional toilet set in the middle of a garden, which is where “poets of all times have found abundant material for their haikus.”

Many Japanese children learn to write the complicated characters of their language with a series of popular books called Poop Exercises, which contain more than 3,000 humorous phrases related to the subject. For 17 years, Toto, which manufactures high-tech toilets, has held a poetry contest inspired by the subject in the senryu style, which consiss of a short humorous poem and is a relative of the haiku.

For Kobayashi, the evolution of the museum’s audience is apparent in their gradual migration from Instagram to TikTok. His intention, he says, is to continue creating playful spaces that provide moments of relaxation to contrast with typically Japanese solemnity. His next project is a railway museum where, unlike the rigorous Japanese rail schedules, no trains arrive on time.

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The medieval monks who forged a nobleman’s will to appropriate a valuable church | Culture

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The monks of the San Pedro de Cardeña monastery, in Spain’s Burgos province, had long had their eye on the Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco church in Segovia. But the substantial inheritance that the Count of Castile, Asur Fernández, and his wife Guntroda, bequeathed them made no mention of this Romanesque church surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

Such was the ambition of the monastery to own the church that two hundred years after the death of the Count, they forged the parchment on which his will was written. Their only mistake was an omission to remove all the copies of the authentic will. Now, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Burgos have been able to demonstrate that the fraudulent document, considered until now to be the oldest of those kept in the Historical Nobility Archive in Toledo, is in fact a forgery from the 12th century, and not from the year 943, as it claims.

The document faked by the monks – officially known as OSUNA, CP.37, D.9 – is a parchment on which round Visigothic script records a donation from the Count of Castile to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña. Until now, the document was thought to be somewhat unique as hardly any original documents from the 10th century survive in Castilian Spanish. However, research has shown that it was actually drawn up two centuries later.

The research, to be made public shortly in the Medieval Studies Annual Report, has revealed which procedures were employed to doctor the will, as well as the motives that led the monks to do so. The forgers based their work on an authentic document stipulating a donation from the Count, inserting elements that were not in the original, in order to use it as evidence in potential lawsuits, two of which were subsequently filed and won by the monks.

Drawing by Zix of the looting of El Cid’s tomb in San Pedro de Cardeña.
Drawing by Zix of the looting of El Cid’s tomb in San Pedro de Cardeña.

The analysis of the document, carried out by Sonia Serna from the University of Burgos, has exposed anomalies both in its preparation and its writing. Serna explains that the scribe was accustomed to working with the 12th century Carolinian script, and made an effort to imitate the round Visigothic script typical of 10th century Castile. But anachronistic features crept into his work, such as the use of the Carolinian system of abbreviations and the adoption of anomalous solutions to abbreviate some words, elements that would not have existed in the 10th century. All the same, the forgery proved effective enough to win two court cases.

The forged document included a clause that ceded the church to the Burgos monastery

The original document used by the monk as a model for his forgery was lost. However, a copy survived in the collection of charters, known as Becerro Gótico de Cardeña and kept in the Zabálburu Library in Madrid. By comparing both texts, Julio Escalona from the CSIC History Institute verified that the monk copied the wording and appearance of the authentic will, but inserted a clause assigning the church of Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco to the monastery of San Pedro.

In 1175, the church of Santa María de las Cuevas was the subject of litigation between the monastery of San Pedro and the councils of Peñafiel and Castrillo de Duero. The Burgos monastery finally won by presenting the false parchment document and getting two monks to testify its authenticity. According to the experts, that document was the will filed in the Toledo archive, whose anomalous paleographic features are consistent with an elaboration in the second half of the 12th century, taking the original as a model.

“Its value does not lie in the anecdotal fact of its being or not being the oldest document in the archive [as was believed until now], but in showing how technical skills and moral and religious authority combined in this case to build a credible truth, capable of triumphing in a judicial scenario,” states the CSIC and University of Burgos study. “Ultimately, it reminds us that to fully understand any historical period, it is essential to understand how each period rewrites and manipulates its past.”

The monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, where the forgery was made, was completely plundered by the Napoleonic troops during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1808. The monks fled in terror and had to abandon all the treasures they had been guarding for centuries. One of the desecrated tombs was that of El Cid – or Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, with Napoleon’s soldiers selling off his weapons and remains throughout Europe. They even made engravings reflecting the plundering of the tomb of the legendary warrior. Today, a plaque states that although the remains of the Castilian hero are no longer here, his horse is buried in the monastery’s garden, though this may be no more than a myth.

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