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 can be very affordable for an expat family of four looking to reduce living costs, or an international student planning to study abroad in Europe. 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
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.
Large 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.
Spain's Quality of Life
A 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.
The 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
In terms of the cost of living compared to other developed countries around the world, here are some examples, excluding rent:
Family of four
Spanish Real Estate
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
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
Price per square meter (outside the city center)
The Cost of Food in Spain
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 price of everyday groceries in Spain:
Milk (one liter)
Bread (500 g)
Rice (one kg)
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)
The Cost of 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.
The Cost of 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.
The Cost of 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.
The Cost of Healthcare in Spain
Spain’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
The Costs of 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.
To learn more about how to get Spanish residency via investment, take a look at our Spain Golden Visa ultimate guide by local experts.
Talk to Our Advisors
If you are undecided about whether the Spanish Golden Visa or the Portuguese Golden Visa is the better option for you, get in touch with one of our migration specialists.
We offer a service tailored to your specific needs and requirements. Our team of experts will work diligently from start to finish, ensuring a successful visa application. Professionalism and integrity are at the core of all we do.
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. Spain’s rental prices, fresh produce in supermarkets, dining out, and public transport costs are all very reasonable.
Spain also has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, 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 to live in Spain is considerably cheaper than in the USA. For example, 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.
One of the most significant differences is the price of real estate, 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.
Are the rent prices in Spain expensive?
Depending on the Spanish city you choose to live in, rent prices will vary. However, on average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs 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.
Are food prices in Spanish supermarkets expensive?
Food prices in Spanish supermarkets are relatively low, mainly due to the fact that Spain is 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, further reducing grocery bills.
Can you live in Spain with $2000 a month?
Based on the current cost to live in Spain for a single person, according to up-to-date information from Numbeo, you would need around $1,400 per month to live comfortably. Here is a breakdown of the estimated monthly costs of living in Spain:
- €665.80 for a single person
- €603.18 for a one-bedroom apartment outside the center
If you’re interested in living comfortably in Spain for cheap, you can further reduce costs by living in a low-cost city like Valencia.