Spain’s excellent reputation comes from its fiestas, culture, delicious cuisine, and affordable cost of living. Expats seeking an improved quality of life without drying up their wallets choose Spain as a prime destination.

Spain has a relatively affordable cost of living. So, whether you’re an expat family of four, or an international student planning to study abroad in Europe, you can have a comfortable life in the country. Major cities and smaller towns across Spain will all have reasonable average prices.

In this article, you’ll find out what the average costs are to live in Spain for families, students, and individuals on an average salary in Spain.

Understanding the Cost of Living in Spain 

cost of living in spain private health insurance affordable cost save money olive oil remote workers bank account save money monthly budget By the standard of most Western European countries with comparable economies, the cost of living in Spain is among the most affordable for foreign citizens looking to relocate to Western Europe. Average rental fees and monthly expenses will vary depending on which city you choose to settle in.

Major cities like Barcelona will be one of the more expensive cities. In contrast, a smaller city like Valencia, which is less tourist driven and has a small population, will be among the cheapest Spanish cities to live in.

The province or greater region may also impact the cost of utilities and products necessary to live comfortably. Central and densely populated big cities like Madrid may require an air conditioner during the summer months, whereas major towns in the northwest, like Gijón and A Coruña, can get quite cold during the winter.

Cost of Living in Spain by Person

Here is a breakdown of the average cost of living in Spain, without rent, and the average costs in big cities like Madrid, compared to smaller coastal towns like Malaga. The figures are based on data from Numbeo.


Family of four

Single Person










In terms of the cost of living compared to other developed countries around the world, here are some examples, excluding rent: 


Family of four

Single Person




United States



United Kingdom









Real Estate and Housing Costs in Spain

Rent prices in Spain

You’ll find that rental prices in Spain will vary depending on the city as well as the location. Central areas of all the major cities will command higher prices.

Even small towns like Marbella, which are popular among tourists and many expats, can be expensive due to supply and demand. In any case, you’ll find an affordable place to rent in some of the best cities to live in Spain if you look around and choose wisely.


The largest city in Spain has some of the highest rental prices in the country, but compared to other capital cities like London, Paris, and Munich, rental prices are much lower. You can expect to pay the following prices for rent:

  • One-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,026.60
  • One-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €770.26
  • Three-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,720.98
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €1,264.82


One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, averaging eight million annual visitors, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and the most expensive city for rent in the country; you can expect to pay the following prices for rent:

  • One-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,182.05
  • One-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €899.89
  • Three-bedroom apartment in the city center: €2,006.36
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €1,413.33


Malaga is the southern hub of Spain that brings the big city vibe to the Costa del Sol. Although it offers a similar level of infrastructure and services that you’ll find in both Madrid and Barcelona, it’s one of the cheapest cities in Spain. You can expect to pay the following prices for rent:

  • One-bedroom apartment in the city center: €872.73
  • One-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €678.75
  • Three-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,510.36
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside of the center: €1,127.27

Buying property in Spain

Buying property in Spain can be a lucrative investment. Not only can you gain Spanish residency if you buy a property in Spain for at least €500,000 via the Spain Golden Visa, but you can also receive high returns on investment by renting out your property.

Spain has a booming and consistent tourism industry, particularly in coastal regions, with no shortage of demand for short-term rentals.

Below is an estimation of Spanish property prices per meter squared for some of the most popular tourist destinations and cities that many expats choose to live in:


Price per square meter

(city center)

Price per square meter (outside the city center)

Palma de Mallorca
























Depending on your country, the Spanish real estate market can offer a lot for your money. Here is a comparison of the prices for real estate in Spain compared to other developed countries: 


Price per square meter

(city center)

Price per square meter (outside the city center)




United States



United Kingdom









Spain Food Prices

Because of its optimal climate and stretches of land dedicated to its strong agricultural industry, Spain is a major producer of fruits and vegetables in Europe.

You can, therefore, find a wide range of locally produced fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus, salads, and condiments like olive oil, at low prices.

Below is the average Spain food prices



Milk (one liter)


Bread (500 g)


Rice (one kg)


Eggs (12)


Cheese (one kg)


Apples (one kg)


Tomatoes (one kg)


Meat (one kg)


Chicken (one kg)


Water (1.5 liters)


Bottled wine (750 ml)


Domestic beer (0.33 ml)


Utilities in Spain

The utility prices in Spain are reasonably low due to its temperate climate, eliminating the need for central heating or air conditioning throughout the summer and winter–although this largely depends on where in the country you live.

Inflation has caused a sharp rise in the cost of utilities. Based on current estimates from Numbeo, the average monthly costs for essential utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection) are between €85 and €225 per month.

Take a look at our Spain Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by Local Experts

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Eating Out in Spain

If there is one thing you’ll never run out of in Spain, it is its vast selection of restaurants and bars providing delicious food and drinks. Whether you enjoy tapas, fresh seafood, paellas, or international cuisines like Thai and Indian food, it is widely available in Spain – and affordable.

On average, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant amounts to €12, while the average three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant costs €50. A local beer, accompanied by free tapas or pincho, costs around €2.50.

Transport in Spain

Owning a car in Spain is very convenient, but the public transportation system is excellent and works well. Trains, buses, and metros serve most of Spain’s cities, and in many towns, it is possible to buy a monthly transport pass or a ten-ride ticket for buses and the metro.

Based on figures from Numbeo, an average one-way ticket on public transportation in major Spanish cities costs around €1.50, while a monthly pass costs about €39.

For vehicle ownership, the average price for one liter of fuel is €1.66, and car insurance costs between €300 to €400 for an annual comprehensive plan.

Healthcare in Spain

digita nomad insurance best optionsSpain’s highly-rated public healthcare system ranks as one of the best in the world. All Spanish citizens and permanent residents have access to a free and efficient public healthcare system.

However, private health insurance is also available and budget-friendly in Spain, giving you access to various healthcare options.

Based on quotes from several prominent private insurance companies in Spain, like Sanitas, Adeslas, and Axa, a reasonable estimate for a middle-aged expat’s average annual healthcare policy would be between €100 to €200.

If you’re a foreign retiree in Spain, you can save money by qualifying for a public healthcare program called ‘Convenio Especial.’ This is a nationalized healthcare program that you pay a monthly fee for, which is as follows:

  • €60 for persons under 65 years of age
  • €157 for persons over 65 years of age

Studying in Spain

Spain has both public and private universities. It’s one of the cheapest countries for international students to live and study in, with highly affordable tuition fees and living expenses compared to countries like the UK and the US.

An international student can expect to pay between €750 and €2,500 in annual tuition fees for bachelor’s degrees at public universities. A bachelor’s degree in a private university can cost between €5,000 and €20,000 per school year.

Education for children

Public Schools: Education in public schools is free for all children living in Spain, including compulsory education (primary and secondary education, from 6 to 16 years old). However, parents may need to pay for books, materials, and sometimes small contributions for extracurricular activities or school trips. Some autonomous communities offer schemes to subsidize or provide free textbooks.

Semi-private Schools (Concertados): These are privately owned schools that receive public funding to offer free education. Parents might pay for additional services such as dining, extracurricular activities, or school transport. Monthly fees can range from a nominal amount to several hundred euros, depending on the services.

Private Schools: Fees for private schools in Spain can vary widely but are typically between €4,000 and €12,000 per year, depending on the school’s reputation, location, and facilities. Some elite private schools may charge significantly more.

International Schools: These schools offer international curriculums, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), British GCSEs and A-levels, or the American High School Diploma. Tuition fees can range from €6,000 to over €30,000 per year. These schools often have additional fees for enrollment, transportation, meals, and extracurricular activities.

Education for Adults

University Education: Tuition fees at public universities in Spain are relatively low compared to those in the US or UK, especially for EU citizens. Fees for bachelor’s and master’s programs can range from €680 to €3,500 per academic year, depending on the region and the field of study. Non-EU students may face higher fees.

Vocational Training and Adult Education: Costs for vocational training (Formación Profesional) and adult education programs vary depending on the course and institution. Public institutions offer more affordable options, while private centers might charge higher fees.

Spanish Language Courses: Spain is a popular destination for learning Spanish. Costs can range from a few hundred euros for short courses to several thousand euros for intensive programs at private language schools.

Professional Development and Executive Education: Fees for professional development courses, executive education programs, and MBAs can vary widely based on the prestige of the institution and the duration of the program. For top business schools, an MBA program can cost between €30,000 and €70,000 or more.

Spain's Quality of Life

two retired people walking in a beach in spainA country’s cost of living isn’t always tied to their quality of life. For example, a country might have cheap food and relatively inexpensive housing, but there could be mass unemployment and rampant crime.

However, some countries do manage to strike a seemingly perfect balance between quality of life and cost of living. According to Numeo, Spain has two cities in the top ten Quality of Life Index, providing excellent opportunities for work, raising a family, and enjoying your golden years.

Valencia comes in at fourth position and outranks other cities such as Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Munich in Germany and Porto in Portugal. It boasts an incredibly low crime rate, excellent healthcare, wonderful weather and a low property price to income ratio. This all contributes to Valencia having one of the best costs of living in the world.

Spain’s second entry into the top ten Quality of Life Index is Madrid. Centrally located, Madrid comes in eighth place, and similarly to Valencia, greatly benefits from high safety and security, very low commuting times, excellent healthcare and high purchasing power. Out of 195 cities measures, Madrid has a cost-of-living score of 49.7, putting it at 88th place – five spots behind Valencia.

Visa and Immigration Options for Spain

If you’re considering living in Spain, it’s essential to be informed about the various visa and residency routes available. The Golden Visa Spain program is an attractive option for many, offering residency to investors and their families. For those eyeing retirement in this beautiful country, the Non-Lucrativa Visa is tailored for you. Additionally, if you have Spanish ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by Descent.

However, moving to a new country isn’t just about visas. If you’re thinking of buying property, our guide on Why Now is The Best Time To Buy Property in Spain can offer invaluable insights. For Americans specifically looking to relocate, we have curated information on Americans Moving to Spain.

Why choose Global Citizen Solutions for your Immigration Visa?

Expats and foreign investors can encounter many difficulties when relocating to Spain, which is why it is worthwhile to have an expert on hand to provide personalized assistance throughout your visa application process.

Here’s what you’ll get from our expert team:

  • Guaranteed Approval: Gain confidence from our 100% approval rate, reflecting our success in securing visas for applicants.
  • Streamlined Process: Minimize your visits to the designated country with the guidance of our expert lawyers.
  • Simplified Application: Experience a hassle-free application process as we handle the bureaucracies on your behalf.
  • Dedicated Advocacy: Benefit from having a legal representative who works exclusively for your interests.
  • Transparent Pricing: Navigate with ease, as our clear and detailed pricing ensures you won’t encounter any hidden costs.

Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to live in Spain. Get in touch with us to book a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Cost of Living in Spain

Is the cost of living in Spain expensive?

The cost of living in Spain is one of the cheapest in Western Europe, significantly lower than in many other European countries. Spain’s average rental prices, fresh produce in supermarkets, dining out, and public transport costs are all very reasonable.

The World Health Organization ranks Spain’s healthcare system highly, and private healthcare is also reasonably priced compared to the United States.

Is the cost of living in Spain versus the USA cheap?

The cost of living in Spain in US dollars is considerably cheaper than in the USA. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the center of one of Spain’s most expensive cities, Madrid, costs around €1,034.15 per month, whereas in Los Angeles, a similar apartment is €2,616.31 on average.

There’s also a difference in other living expenses, such as entertainment costs, with the average cinema ticket costing €10.99 in the US compared to €8 in Spain.

Additionally, Spain’s real estate market offers lower property prices than in the US, with an average price per square meter in the city center of €3,182.27 in Spain compared to €4,146.49 in the US, making it a popular destination for expats living abroad.

Are the rent prices in Spain expensive?

Rent prices in Spain vary depending on the city, but they are generally affordable. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €734.83 per month, while a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs about €603.18 per month.

This is much cheaper than the average prices in countries like the US, Germany, the UK, and Australia. Also, this affordability is part of why Spain is one of the popular expat destinations.

Are food prices in Spanish supermarkets expensive?

Food prices in Spanish supermarkets are relatively low cost, thanks to Spain’s role as a major producer of fruits and vegetables.

You can therefore find many fresh products in Spanish supermarkets at low prices, and farmers’ markets are common and plentiful compared to other European countries, further reducing grocery bills.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

To live comfortably in Spain, a single person might need around €1,200 to €1,500 per month, covering all basic expenses including rent, groceries, and social security contributions.

The cost of living in Spain for a family would naturally be higher, depending on the size of the family and lifestyle choices.

Living in an expat area or choosing to buy property can also influence the total expenses.

How much does an American need in Spain?

For an American, the cost of living in Spain can vary based on lifestyle and location. Generally, it is more affordable than living in the US, with the cost of living in Spain vs Canada and the cost of living in Spain vs UK also being lower.

Americans will find equivalent brands for most items and can enjoy outdoor activities in Spain’s warm climate. Expenses for an American living in Spain long term might be slightly higher if they prefer imported goods or a luxurious lifestyle.

What there healthcare benefits for expats?

Most expats choose Spain for its high-quality private healthcare system and vibrant local community. Access to a private doctor is easier, especially in major cities or well-established expat areas. The welcoming local community and the improved minimum wage standards compared to last year enhance the living experience. Moreover, the overall lifestyle in Spain allows for a balance of modern comforts, such as owning an equivalent new car, with the ease of exploring diverse landscapes within a few hours.

Is Spain cheaper than Portugal?

When comparing Spain and Portugal, determining whether Spain is cheaper or more expensive generally depends on various factors. In most cases, the cost of living can be similar, but it varies significantly depending on the specific location within each country. For instance, a couple living in a major city in Spain might find the cost of living higher than in a smaller Portuguese town. However, considering the most expensive cities in both countries, Spain might have higher costs in cities like Madrid or Barcelona, often listed among the most expensive city categories in Southern Europe.

Which European cities are as affordable as Spain?

Identifying European cities as affordable as those in Spain requires a year compared analysis of living expenses. Residents who live in Spain benefit from an added bonus of cultural diversity and lifestyle. While some cities in Spain offer better access to amenities and services, making them slightly more expensive, other European cities like Lisbon in Portugal or Athens in Greece provide a similar cost of living. These cities offer affordable living options, like reasonably priced bedroom apartment rentals, without compromising on the quality of life.

Do expats pay taxes in Spain?

In Spain, the taxation system can vary based on various factors such as gross income, business income, and interest income.

Expats in Spain, including American retirees, are subject to taxes in Spain for expats and expat taxes in Spain.

This includes property taxes in Spain for both residents and property taxes in Spain for non-residents. Payroll taxes in Spain and social security contributions are also a part of the tax structure.

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