About 6 million expats currently live in Spain. There are multiple reasons why Spain is such a popular destination with expats. Warm year-round weather, good cuisine, and a well-developed healthcare system are just a few. Despite its high standards of living, the cost of living in Spain is fairly low. As a matter of fact, it tends to be one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe.
In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about the cost of living in Spain. We will break down some of the main expenses you would face there as an expat, such as:
- Eating out,
- Real estate,
- Food and groceries, and much more.
If you do any research on salaries in Spain, you will see that they are less than the global average. The annual income of an average household in the country is around €20,468, where the global average is €27,047. This is not an issue, however, as the average cost of living in Spain also tends to be less than the other countries.
Expats living in Spain report that the cost to live comfortably in a big city like Madrid is between €1,700-1850 per month for a couple. This expense is lower somewhere rural or outside of the big cities, standing at about €1,450-1,600 a month.
Cost of living in Spain vs. World Cities
In general, the cost of living in Spanish cities is much less than in other big cities such as London, New York, or Los Angeles. Below you will find a table comparing the cost of living in some Spanish cities with other cities around the world.
|Cost of living Compared to|
|Spanish City||New York||London||Los Angeles||Munich||Brussels|
|Madrid||43% cheaper||39% cheaper||34% cheaper||14% cheaper||5% cheaper|
|Barcelona||44% cheaper||41% cheaper||35% cheaper||17% cheaper||8% cheaper|
|Valencia||50% cheaper||46% cheaper||41% cheaper||24% cheaper||16% cheaper|
|Seville||55% cheaper||52% cheaper||48% cheaper||32% cheaper||25% cheaper|
Real Estate Cost in Spain
Keeping in with the low cost of living in Spain, the real estate market there is very affordable. If you move to Spain, you might want to rent or buy property in the country. We will give you a detailed account of the real estate prices in this section.
The prices of renting or buying depend heavily on the location you choose. Madrid and Barcelona will, of course, be much more expensive than Alicante, Valencia or seville, for example.
Rental prices in Spain
In this section, we will go through various cities in Spain and present to you the average rental prices depending on the location and size of the rental. The prices presented in this section are estimates and may vary depending on the age of the property, the services, and so on.
Madrid is one of the most common places to live in Spain amongst expats. There is a little bit of a dispute among real estate experts whether Madrid or Barcelona is the most expensive city in Spain. They are both large, vibrant cities filled with universities, cultural activities, active night-life, and expats.
The average rental prices of a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid’s center is €956. Outside of the city center, a one-bedroom apartment costs €716 on average.
The rent for a three-bedroom apartment,which is good for a small family, in Madrid’s city center costs about €1,683. If you move a bit outside of the center, then the rent for a three-bedroom apartment would cost about €1,174.
Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain and a strong competitor for the most preferable place to live. It is a cultural hub and is the proud owner of the works of the well-known architect Antoni Gaudí. This city has a very active nightlife and is home to many of the world’s top universities.
As for rents, a one-bedroom apartment in Barcelona’s city center should cost about €930. Outside of the city center, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for around €726.
For larger three-bedroom accommodation, expect to pay €1,508 per month in the city center. Where outside of the city center, the rent for a three-bedroom apartment would be €1,100.
Valencia is has a classic “college town” vibe. It is a small city good for taking walks within massive parks. and it is very family-friendly.
Rents in Valencia are very affordable with a one-bedroom apartment in the city-center costing a meager €751. Outside of the city center, you will easily be able to rent a one-bedroom apartment for €510.
If you would like larger three-bedroom accommodation, you can rent one for about €1,100 in the city center. That number goes down to €745($880) for a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center.
Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region. It is famous for being home to the Gothic Seville Cathedral, which houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It is also one of the least expensive cities in Spain.
You will find that rentals in Seville are really cheap. The cost of renting a one-bedroom in the city center is just €625. Outside of the city center, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for just €445.
As for the rental of three-bedroom accommodation, expect to pay €1,000 in the city center. Outside of the city center, you can find a three-bedroom apartment for as low as €680.
Property Prices in Spain
Many expats choose to buy property, especially if they plan on living in Spain long-term. The Spanish government has very little restrictions on foreigners who want to buy property there. In the big cities, you may need to pay about €3000-5000 ($3,500-5,900) per m². These are very competitive considering that they are in Western Europe. If you look in smaller cities you can find much more affordable properties. Below is a table with the average property prices in various cities in Spain:
|City||Location||Average price per m²|
|Alicante||In the city center||€2,560|
|Outside of the city center||€1,876|
|Bilbao||In the city center||€4,678|
|Outside of the city center||€3,028|
|Barcelona||In the city center||€4,519|
|Outside of the city center||€2,980|
|Madrid||In the city center||€4,929|
|Outside of the city center||€2,993|
|Malaga||In the city center||€3,271|
|Outside of the city center||€2,066|
|San Sebastian||In the city center||€5,800|
|Outside of the city center||€3,675|
|Valencia||In the city center||€2,784|
|Outside of the city center||€1,483|
Food and Groceries Costs in Spain
Another factor that helps the low cost of living in Spain is the fact the food and groceries are very inexpensive. The country has a strong agricultural industry and produces many local products, such as cheeses and wines. For example, you can get a decent bottle of wine for just €5, and you may find local beers for as low as €0.8. Everyday consumables such as milk and bread are usually under one Euro.
Depending on your consumption, a normal budget for a list of groceries in Spain should be about €200-300 ($236-354) monthly. We have prepared a comprehensive list of grocery items and their approximate cost below:
|Apple (one kg)||€1.74|
|Banana (one kg)||€1.62|
|Chicken (one kg)||€6.03|
|A dozen eggs||€1.82|
|A loaf of bread (500 g)||€1.01|
|Local Cheese (one kg)||€9.64|
|Milk (one liter)||€0.79|
|Onions (one kg)||€1.61|
|Potatoes (one kg)||€1.11|
|Rice (one kg)||€0.99|
|Water bottle (1.5 liters)||€0.62|
If you are a fan of going out for dinner every once in a while, then rest assured that you can do that in Spain very affordably. There is a massive and varied cuisine that offers something for any food lover. Below you will find the average price of eating out in the country:
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant||€10|
|Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||€40|
|Meal at a fast-food chain||€7.50|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)||€2.50|
|Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)||€3|
|Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle)||€1.75|
|Water (0.33 liter bottle)||€1.19|
Transportation Cost in Spain
Spain has an excellent public transportation system. Many Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia all have metro systems. Additionally, there are a large number of buses, intercity busses, and high-speed trains. This makes travel in the country easy and budget-friendly.
Buses and Metros
A one-way bus fare should cost you about €1.50. You may also get a monthly pass if you are planning to commute to work, for example. This card will help you use public transport at a discount and should cost €35-45 depending on the city.
The fares for taxis in Spain changes depending on the city. They generally start at €3.50 and increase at €1.10 per km.
The high-speed train that connects Barcelona to Madrid with just a two and a half hour journey has various costs depending on when you book your trip. If you get a ticket on the day, for example, you can pay up to €128.50. However, if you buy your ticket a few weeks in advance, you can find tickets as cheap as €65.
Owning a Car
If you think that you might like to own a car in Spain. Keep in mind that it is often difficult to find parking in bigger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.
Cars in Spain are fairly affordable when compared to the global average. For example, you can get a Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) for about €20,780.
As for gas expense, then it costs about €1.30 per liter. This is about €4.60 per gallon.
Utilities and Communication Costs in Spain
The cost of utilities always depends on your consumption, the size of your house, and the season.
In Spain, the basic utilities are electricity, heating, cooling, water, and other services such as garbage and building maintenance. Heating and electricity vary depending on the season. For example, in the hot summers, you will probably be using the air conditioner much more often, which will increase the electricity bill. The same applies to heating in the winter.
For an 85m² apartment, the average utilities cost about €100-150 a month.
As for communication, then it really depends on your plan. Many people prefer to go for an all-inclusive plan, which includes phone, internet, and television. Those sorts of packages cost about €20-50 a month. If you go for a high-speed 60Mbps of unlimited data Cable/ADSL, then expect to pay around €40.
Education Cost in Spain
Spain has a strong education system keeping up with the standards of Western Europe. Public education in Spain is compulsory and mandatory for children until the age of 16. This means that if you are a registered resident in Spain, you may send your children to school for free. Excluding the cost of uniforms, books, and so on. However, many expats who live in Spain want to send their children to private or semi-private schools. This is because lessons in public schools are taught in Spanish.
Spain has a number of partially-subsidized schools. These are usually bilingual. The cost of these schools varies dramatically depending on the city, curriculum, and reputation of the school. On average, a semi-private school should cost around €700-€800 a year.
There is a large collection of international schools in Spain. You can find schools that follow the British, American, French, or even Italian curriculum in some cities. These tend to be a bit on the expensive side, costing about €4,000-8,000 a year.
Many international students choose to study in Spain thanks to the high level of education and the low cost of living. The average yearly tuition fees for a bachelor’s degree in a public university in Spain range from €680-1,280.
You may also want to attend a private university. In this case, you can expect to pay between €5,500-18,000. This number depends on the city, university, and field of study.
Healthcare Cost in Spain
The public healthcare system in Spain is free for citizens and permanent residents there. If you are employed in Spain, your employer will pay your social security contribution from your salary. You will need to pay for some treatments, depending on the treatment and the region you reside in.
Most expats choose private health insurance to have a more comprehensive plan with more extensive coverage. Private insurance usually costs between €30-50 a month for people between 20 and 30 years of age. This cost goes up with age and your general state of health.
Childcare Cost in Spain
For expats living in the country with their family, Childcare is an essential aspect. Primary Schools in Spain start at the age of 6. This means that expat parents who live in Spain with younger children usually need to find a way to arrange childcare. There are state nurseries that take children ages three to five. These cost around €250 a month. Keep in mind that in order to register your child in one of these nurseries, you need to be registered as a resident and have social security.
There are plenty of private nurseries and daycare centers in all the major cities. These tend to be a bit on the expensive side, though. An average cost for a private nursery in Madrid is €450-500 per month.
It is also quite common for expats to hire professional people like a nanny or an au pair. Hiring an au pair requires that you offer lodging, food, and a minimum salary of €120 a week. A nanny will usually cost between €9-15 an hour.
Personal Care Costs in Spain
Something that is often overlooked when researching the cost of living somewhere is the cost of personal care. It is always good to know what you should expect when it comes to everyday items that everyone uses. Below you will find a table of what the average prices of daily items are like in Spain:
|Cold medicine for six days (tylenol, frenadol, coldrex, or equivalent brands)||€7|
|One box of antibiotics (12 doses)||€7|
|Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)||€58|
|one box of 32 tampons (tampax, ob)||€3.79|
|Deodorant, roll-on (50ml ~ 1.5 oz.)||€2.56|
|Hair shampoo 2-in-1 (400 ml ~ 12 oz.)||€2.88|
|Four rolls of toilet paper||€1.37|
|Tube of toothpaste||€1.78|
|Standard men’s haircut in expat area of the city||€15|
Entertainment, Sports and Leisure Costs in Spain
Another aspect that unfortunately gets overlooked when researching the cost of living somewhere is entertainment and leisure. Mental and physical health is very important to take care of in a new environment.
If you would like to join a fitness club in Spain you will find that it costs around €40 monthly for one adult. You can rent a tennis court for an hour for about €11.
For a more leisurely person, you can get two tickets to the movies for about €16 and two tickets to the theatre for about €52.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Spain?
Well, expats who move to Spain will see that you need between €2,000-2,200 a month to live comfortably in a big city. However, in a smaller city, you will need a more modest €1,700-1,900 a month.
What is the Cheapest City in Spain?
Seville tends to be the most affordable city in Spain. As a matter of fact, the Andalusia region, in general, is the overall cheapest region in Spain when it comes to living costs.
Is Healthcare Free in Spain?
Healthcare in Spain is free for citizens and permanent residents. Even if you do not have access to free public healthcare, private health insurance is cheap in Spain. You can get private insurance in Spain for about €30- €50 a month.
Is Education Free in Spain?
Public education in Spain is free and compulsory for children until the age of 16.
How Much Do Universities Cost in Spain?
Public universities in Spain are fairly affordable. They cost around €680-1,280 annually. Private universities, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive and can cost €5,500-18,000 per year.
Is Moving to Spain Easy from the United States?
Well, as a citizen of the United States, you are allowed to enter Spain and live there for 90 days visa-free. However, if you’re planning on living in Spain long-term then you need a visa. The cost of living in Spain is also much cheaper than in most US cities, so it could be a good idea to consider a move there.
Is the cost of living in Spain less than in the UK?
In 2020 the living costs in Spain are much cheaper than in the UK. Rents are about 30% cheaper, groceries are around 15% cheaper, and the Consumer Price Index is over 21% lower than the UK.
What is the most expensive Spanish city?
San Sebastian tends to be fairly expensive when it comes to living costs and real estate.
Is Living in Madrid More Expensive than Living in Barcelona?
Both Madrid and Barcelona are more expensive to live in than in other Spanish cities. Your budget while living in Madrid may be a bit higher when it comes to food and other services though.
Can I legally live in Spain if I Buy Property There?
If you purchase real estate that is worth €500,00 or more, you become eligible for a Golden Visa. The Golden Visa allows you to move to Spain and live there legally. After you move to the country and live there for ten years you can be eligible for Spanish citizenship. Read our Spain Golden Visa guide for everything there is to know about the golden visa.