Cost of Living in Spain

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? There comes a time when you want to relocate from your current home. And by that fact, you need to familiarize yourself with the living conditions of the places you have in mind. There are many pros and cons to consider when it comes to living in a new environment. 

Is the area an excellent place to live? Can you find the necessary amenities close by? Can you easily access education or health care? How about Public transportation? As thrilling as this change sounds, do not forget that the process of packing up all your things and moving across the world or states, the planning of the move and its logistics can be very complicated and entirely overwhelming. However, with enough research and early preparation, you will find the entire process manageable. To aid you in your move to Spain, we’ve gathered a few key steps you can take before you leave, and how to navigate the cost of living in Spain. Sure, you might have enjoyed a holiday in Spain in which you stayed in a lovely tourist resort that offered beachy views. You might have also enjoyed taking a dip or two in the sea or swam in the lovely pool at the hotel. Still, the experience of a life in Spain each day as you make a living is very different from being on holiday!

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Whenever you compare living between several countries, you need to consider the cost of day to day life, climate, language barrier, housing, work, and visa acquisition. When it comes to affordable living, Spain is easily one of the most accommodating countries you can live in. Before delving deep into how much it would cost you to live in Spain, we would like to explore the process of getting a visa to work and live in Spain? Read on to find out.

Getting A visa to relocate to Spain.

You will find that Spain has four types of visa, namely;

Individuals looking to move to Spain for more than three months will need a long-term visa. You will be able to choose from a residence visa, a combined residence and work visa and a student visa. A long-term visa will accord you the right to live in Spain for an indefinite period as you adhere to the same rules and regulations as a Spanish citizen.It is important to note that after you have uninterruptedly lived in Spain for five years, you will be able to apply for a permanent or long-term visa. If you want to be a Spanish national, you will need to have been a resident of Spain for ten years.

To receive a Golden visa Spain, only one has to invest One million Euros in bank deposits in Spanish financial institutions or acquire a piece of real estate property in Spain which has a value equal to or greater than 500.000 Euros. If you happen to be in Spain legally at the time of the application, you will be able to shorten the process of acquiring the Investor’s visa that is granted for one year by the Spanish Consulate of your country. You will also be able to apply directly for the authorization of residence for two years. The golden visa, in this case, will be a quick and easy request.

What happens when you get to Spain?

As a foreigner in Spain, you will be required to apply for a foreigner’s identity number referred to as NIE(Número de Identificación de Extranjero). This number is vital when you want to make any financial transactions in Spain, such as opening a bank account, receiving salary from your employment, social services registration, acquiring a driving license and paying taxes.

However, the case is different for non-EU/EEA nationals and Swiss citizens who plan on living in Spain for more than three months. These individuals must apply for a residence permit known as the TIE (Tarjeta de Residencia). The permit can be applied for at the Oficina de Extranjeros, the foreigner’s office or a police station located in the province you plan to relocate to. If you are wondering how long the permit lasts, you will find that the permit grants you a stay in Spain for a period of 90 days to five years. You can renew it.

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Requirements to apply for this permit include:

  • valid passport
  • colour passport photos 
  • completed application form
  • proof of your address
  • bank statements
  • medical insurance
  • an employment contract, 
  • proof of university enrolment or academic qualifications.


Spain is easily one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe compared to the united states. Despite the high standards of living, the cost of day to day life in Spain is relatively low. One of the top reasons for moving to Spain is the incredible idea that the country offers an excellent health care system and an incredibly vibrant culture. The warm weather and beautiful sights are just the cherry on top of the affordable cost of living in Spain. 

Let us make a quick comparison between Spain and other European capitals to analyze the cost of living. Spain is not an expensive country to relocate to. There are a number of differences within its regions. However, what attracts foreigners to Spain is that they can visit the country repeatedly because access to food and leisure comes at a low price. This makes the cost of living in Spain quite easy to manage.

Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at the statistics.

The annual income on average of A Spanish household is around €20,468 ($24,155), compared to the global average, which stands at around €27,047 ($31,916). When there is a lower average salary remuneration and a higher unemployment rate surpassing all the other countries in Europe, the cost becomes pretty low. According to data from the OECD, it is recorded that the income per capita in Spain is 10.000 USD which is significantly lower than the average OECD level, which stands at around € 20.000.

That explains why a foreigner can live and enjoy quality of life in Spain as the cost of day to day life continues to be pretty affordable. You get to enjoy a pretty decent life at a low cost. The living cost in Spanish cities is much less than in other major cities like New York, London or Los Angeles.

Costs of living in different cities in Spain

On that note of the low cost of life in Spain, we can be able to discuss the affordability of the real estate market. Once you relocate to Spain, you might have plans of buying a house in Spain. You will then need to understand a detailed account of the real estate prices in Spain.

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Let’s face it, the costs of renting or buying property in Spain depend pretty heavily on the location you would like to relocate to. Big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona will have a higher cost of living than other cities such, Valencia, Alicante or Seville, just to name a few. Prices also vary between areas located in the city and those outside the city.

Cities of Barcelona and Madrid

cost of living in spain Barcelona

I picked the two biggest and best cities in Spain to represent the higher cost of day to day life in Spain as they relatively have the same standards when it comes to that. Living in Madrid and Barcelona gives you the chance to experience naturally large and vibrant cities with an active nightlife, a good number of universities, and attractive cultural backgrounds. Renting houses in these two cities can be pretty expensive. The average rent price of a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid city is €956 ($1,127), while a one-bedroom apartment in Barcelona’s city center can go for about €930 ($1,100). Outside of the City of Madrid, you will find a one-bedroom apartment that can cost €716($850) compared to a one-bedroom apartment in the City of Barcelona, which goes for around €726 ($855). 

Renting a house also requires you to pay for heat, internet, and electricity. Unfortunately, these things don’t come for free anywhere in the world. Madrid in comparison to other major European cities is more expensive than most other Spanish cities . You will find that rent will be the most significant factor while living in madrid. The rent price in Madrid varies pretty much depending on the location that you choose to live in the City. For example, suppose you decide to live in a one-bedroom flat that is located in the posh Salamanca neighbourhood. In that case, you will find that rent will be significantly more expensive than a standard apartment located in Embajadores. Just like all the other cities in the world, areas that are central, or in demand in Madrid have a more expensive cost as compared to areas located a little further from the city centre.

If you are looking to save a couple of bucks on rent while living in cities like Madrid, then your best option would be to look for accommodation further from the big cities as well as the tourist centres. You can have a look at properties located away from the uber-trendy areas like Chueca or Malasaña. You can also look for properties that are south of the central Madrid area. These ones tend to be more affordable than anywhere to the west or north.

If you really want to live in Madrid but you have a really tight budget, you can explore the option of renting a room instead of an entire apartment. The living cost of Madrid in a shared flat will be significantly less than living on your own. The advantage of living with a roommate or two is that you will not only be paying just for your own room, which goes for around €300-400 per month, but you will also have access to more utilities, such as the swimming pool. When you compare the expenses of living alone where you have to pay for utilities such as gas, electricity, and broadband, living with someone looks like a better idea.

Barcelona is arguably the most expensive City in Spain. Instead of living in the City, you could decide to live outside the City. However, if you expect the housing prices to be much lower in these areas, you will be surprised to find that they are averagely the same price. Living in Barcelona comes with its perks as it boasts of beautiful villages near the City as well as on the beach. Still, the housing prices in these locations can be precisely the same and occasionally higher than in areas located in downtown Barcelona.

If you are looking for cheaper places to live outside of Barcelona, you could either look for accommodation at the airport or in not-so-good-looking neighbourhoods such as Badalona. The other option is to find housing farther away from the City. You will find that the prices in these neighbourhoods are a bit lower, but you might face a problem regarding the time it takes to travel to the City.

Other cities away from the city itself

cost of living in spain diferrent cities

There are a lot of beautiful cities away from the cities where you can find excellent and affordable cost of living in Spain.

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The first option I would recommend would be the third-largest City in Valencia. The population of Valencia is 800,000 and is characterized by the port area and a famous beach that is loved by its residents. The City continues to transform as more renovation is done in areas such as the old riverbank. This area is famous for the green park that is ideal for relaxing or exercising. The City also boasts of attractions such as the Aquarium and Science Museum. The estimated cost of living and renting a house in this City is 890 euros per month. If you want cheaper accommodation, you can look for rentals outside the city. Here you can easily rent a one-bedroom house for €510 ($600). If you are looking for a comfortable cost of living in Spain, this cost might vary greatly depending on your choice of accommodation.

Another area that has cheap living costs is the City of Seville. If you are looking to explore and enjoy the sweet life of Spain or for the best place to retire in Spain, this City should be the first place you look. The City is known for its affordable rent. It also has a manageable and extensive cycle scheme which has made getting and moving around the area effortless and cheap. The cost of a one-bedroom rental in the city center goes for about €625 ($740). However, the price of a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center goes for €445 ($525).

If you want to live in Granada City you can expect to pay about 800 euros per month. The City was concluded to be the cheapest place with affordable cost of living in Spain. The City is located 250km east of Seville. If you are looking to settle in a more relaxed or smaller environment, then this is your gem.

If you are looking forward to living in a city that is at the coast and has cheap rentals, then the City of Alicante is ideal for you. The rental cost in this City is estimated to be 875 euros per month.

Education and Healthcare in Spain

cost of living in spain
  1. Healthcare in Spain

Health care cost in Spain have been ranked among the best in the whole world. If you want to access healthcare as a foreigner living in the country, you will find out that you will most probably have access to free healthcare if you are working and leading a life in Spain. The costs are usually catered for by social security payments that are typically deducted from your wages. 

Most public healthcare facilities offer free care making the cost of living in Spain affordable. As a resident, you will only be required to pay a percentage of the prescription charges. This is in the case where you are committed to making regular public health insurance payments to ensure quality of living in Spain. However, when it comes to specific specialist medical procedures, you may need to foot the bill. You may also need to acquire additional private insurance coverage.

The beauty of the Spanish State healthcare system is that the social security contributions fund funds it. In Spain, each area takes up the individual responsibility to create a health budget that the central government eventually allocates. This means that there is a higher possibility that you won’t require private insurance to access quality health services.

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There is the availability of public health insurance that covers employees, spouses and children, students, freelancers, business owners, self-employed people, Non-EU nationals and EU/EEA nationals. The Spanish health insurance covers home, doctor and hospital care. This means you do not have to pay anything to access treatment from a doctor or from hospitals in Spain. However, when it comes to accessing medicine, you will have to expect to pay the costs of prescriptions. The cherry on top? Prescription medicines are relatively cheap in Spain.

If you would like to acquire additional healthcare services, you can apply for private health insurance. The Spanish private health insurance companies have a range of packages for you to choose from. You can choose the package that caters specifically to your needs.

  1. Education in Spain

As you might have heard or read before, the quality of education in Spain is relatively high, recording the highest results in literacy, sciences, and mathematics. The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, alongside the local autonomous communities, is responsible for the schools in Spain. They are in charge of the curriculum, allocate funds and ensure that education standards are up to par. 

When it comes to tuition cost in Spain, the prices are among the lowest in Europe. One thing to be aware of is that tuition fees in Spain are typically calculated from a pay-per-credit point of view. This means that if you withdraw and enroll for the second or third time in a particular program, you might end up paying more money as compared to paying all at once. Tuition for a student looking to study a Bachelor’s programme can range from €2,000-3,500. As for Master’s programmes, the tuition fee is around 1,000 to 3,500 EUR per year. This makes the City of Spain a very cheap destination for international students looking to study in the country. 

Food costs in Spain

cost of living in spain food

When you get to live in Spain, you will find that the cost of meals depends on where you take them varies greatly. If you enjoy eating out, you will be glad to realize that lunch or dinner is very cheap in Spain. Menus have meal options ranging from 10 Euros. Dinner, however, goes for a slightly higher price of 15-20 Euros. Fast food meals range from 6-8 euros.

When it comes to shopping for meals, when you want to adopt indoor cooking, you will also be pleased to find that Spanish supermarkets and groceries are relatively cheap. Additionally, you can source your food items from the towns and cities that have markets. Here, you can purchase fresh goods from the local producers at an affordable price, such as meat, vegetables, and fruits. If you have special dietary needs, you can also be assured that there are organic supermarkets that sell the best organic produce for your consumption. This makes the cost of living in Spain affordable to a larger population. 

Public transport in Spain

cost of living spain public transport

Spain is a country that has plenty of big cities. This means that the public transport system is well developed. Depending on the municipality or urban area you can find public transport available to your needs. Bus fare varies around €1.40 to €1.60, however other cities such as Barcelona charge over €2 for a bus ticket. Taxis charge around €2–3 per kilometer and €1-2 per kilometre.

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