Cost of Living in Spain

11 April 2021

The cost of living varies across Spain… but it's still one of the best values in Europe

Can you live on 1000€ per month? How much does a family need to live comfortably on the coast? What's the best city in Spain from a cost of living standpoint? Here we offer a cost of living breakdown focused on Madrid and Alicante, including the basic necessities and a detailed guide for estimating your costs.

An average restaurant per person bill is 12€. A glass of beer or wine at a bar is 1.75€. A tapa is 3€ (or free in parts of Andalucia)."

If you’re reading this, then the cost of living in Spain is a concern for you, (ie. you’re not rich) and you’re wondering if your income is enough to get by in Spain. The quick good news is that Spain is still relatively cheap from a cost of living standpoint, especially compared to other western european nations and foreigner’s salaries. For the Spanish themselves, things aren’t looking so good. Costs are up and wages have stayed the same.

Update: the cost of living in Spain has actually come down in several major centres across the country. Apartment rents have declined about 10-20% since the financial crisis began, and some touristic areas have seen a decline in the costs of goods in stores as competition heats up for every tourist dollar (especially in the south). During 2020, thanks to COVID-19, prices in some areas have plummeted and may be creating an unparalleled opportunity to lock in low prices on property or rent. Here we present to you the most accurate cost of living information - not just a “rough guide” - direct from Spain on costs, and recommend that you see the links on the right under Related Features and the Living in Spain section of the site for further details about many of the items listed here. Continue reading this article below for further notes from a cultural perspective on the cost of living in Spain.


Ceci offers a great overview of her costs of living in Madrid in this 2020 video.

  • Rental costs: In central Madrid or Barcelona it’s about 11€ per square meter per month (can greatly depend on location and who you rent it from, see much more detail here: renting an apartment). In central Sevilla or on the coast, it’s about 6-7€ per square meter per month. Elsewhere in the country it’s, say, 4 € per month. For costs when buying a house, see Buying a Property.
  • Electricity bills: for two people bills are about 40€/month, going up about 30% or more during the summer if you have air conditioning.
  • Gas bills: for two people with a gas water heater and a gas stove, bills are about 40€/month. Your furnace may also run on gas, costing approximately an additional 35€/month during the winter. (Water bills are generally included in the maintenance fees of an apartment.)
  • Telephone/mobile phone bills: 25€/month, plus the calls you make. If you have standard internet, add 0.02€/minute. For further discussion of costs, see mobile phones in Spain. A lot of expats choose to use pay as you go service, which makes their phone costs vary enormously.
  • For private health insurance costs, see Health Insurance in Spain page.
  • Food: for two people, our food bills are 350 €/month. An average restaurant per person bill is 12€. A glass of beer or wine at a bar is 2€. A tapa is 2€. A good lunch (menu del dia) is 5-9€
  • A nursery for a child is 100 €/month for 5 hours/day.
  • A parking space in a garage is 90 €/month.
  • A gym costs 30 - 50 €/month.
  • A movie theatre ticket is 6€.
  • A man’s haircut is 12€.

What's the most economical city in Spain?

The short answer: Alicante. However, it's very difficult to say which city is truly the most economical city in Spain because we would need to define how big a "city" must be to qualify as such, and one's interpretation of "economical" can be slightly different in English than it is in Spanish. Is it just low cost of living? Or is it relative to local earnings? Let's make our case for Alicante…

What we can say is this: Alicante appears to be the most cost advantageous city in Spain. This means that the local purchasing power – the ratio between salaries and costs of living – is arguably the best of the major Spanish cities based on Numbeo's cost of living comparison data. Let's look at Alicante's cost of living compared to Madrid's:

Consumer Prices in Alicante are 12.66% lower than in Madrid (without rent)
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Alicante are 20.75% lower than in Madrid
Rent Prices in Alicante are 38.11% lower than in Madrid
Restaurant Prices in Alicante are 16.76% lower than in Madrid
Groceries Prices in Alicante are 11.33% lower than in Madrid
Local Purchasing Power in Alicante is 14.28% higher than in Madrid

Some other cost of living comparisons based on local purchasing power comparing Alicante:

  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 39.56% higher than in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 16.82% higher than in Malaga
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 28.75% higher than in Barcelona
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 6.26% higher than in Valencia
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 17.17% higher than in Granada
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 14.15% higher than in Girona
  • Local Cost of Living Purchasing Power in Alicante is 16.74% higher than in Seville (Sevilla)
This provides them with a lot more disposable income and is the likely reason why most Spanish employers can get away with paying their employees so little..."

Can you live on 1000 euros a month in Spain?

As an estimate: in the major centres you will need a bare minimum of €800-900 to live (shared accommodations), €1300 provides a bit of comfort including drinks, coffee and local weekend excusrions. Any more than that is gravy (applicable for a single, working person living in shared accommodations and after taxes). It's stayed at about this level over the last few years as the economic crisis has kept the cost of living across Spain from increasing too much. For consideration (this may be more relevant as a cultural note), know that many Spaniards choose to live at home with their parents until their 30s (I know some in their 50s...). This provides them with a lot more disposable income and is the likely reason why most Spanish employers can get away with paying their employees so little (wages are still quite low) in comparison to the cost of living. Inflation has become an issue for locals over the past few years, and the above listed living costs have had to be increased by about 10%/year. The official inflation is somewhere around 3.5%, but in the major cities it seems to be much higher. Two relevant causes here may be the influx of European expats and that the Spanish seem to be slowly moving out on their own at an earlier age. Barcelona has gone from ranking as the 56th most expensive city in the world in 2004, to 43rd (2005), to 56th (2006) back up to 49th, averaged over 200 basic products and services and taking into account currency valuations. In the same time, Madrid has gone from 61st to the 46th and now sits at 52nd most expensive city as of 2010. Note that the currency fluctuations between the US dollar and the Euro have affected these cost of living rankings significantly. (Source) On a personal note, between discussions with friends we disagree with these rankings, particularly between Madrid and Barcelona, where the cost of living at ground zero is clearly more expensive in Barcelona. 

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

A Real Expat Family Cost of Living Example

From How much do I need to live to a good standard of living in Spain? Well one man's good is another man's great. So I thought it might be interesting to share how we budget on a monthly basis. About us: We are a family of 6 - my wife and I, and 4 kids ages 12, 11, 6, and 6. So perhaps, if you are a family of 4 it could be 30-40% less. We like to eat out, we like to play sports, and we like to ensure our kids have a few activities. We are residents, so we use public healthcare, and our kids go to the local state school (which by the way we are pleased with). We are both self-employed. So here it goes, .our monthly running costs… 

Fixed Costs

  • Rent/Mortgage €800/month (3 bedrooms, Torreguadiaro, Walk to beach, pool, tennis courts - we downsized from 5 Bed Townhouse at €1250/month to save rent during Covid19)
  • Car Finance €400/month (6 seater)
  • Community Fees €113/month
  • IBI €178/yr i.e. €15/month
  • Autonomo x 2 €300/month (Wife and I are self employed)
  • Assessor x 2 €120/month (Accountants)
  • Semi-Fixed
  • Water €40/month
  • Electric €75/month
  • Internet €80/month (Movistar package with 2 mobiles, Netflix, and Fixed Line)
  • Wood €60/month (we have a wood burner we love to sit by in Winters)
  • Kids Activities €200/month (Art Club & Rugby - when opened up again)
  • Variable Costs (Average)
  • Petrol €250/month (I drive a lot on viewing tours)
  • Groceries €600/month (We use Mercadona/LIDL)
  • Eating Out €400/month (Lots of cheap coffees, pizza night fridays, and a couple of get togethers with friends a month)
  • Activities/Excursions €120/month (trips to zoo or waterpark)
  • Golf €150/month (I am a member of a golf society for €95/month + 1 other round)
  • Total per month = €3,723/month

Notable exceptions

Since we live in Southern Spain, we do not save for holidays like we used to living in Denmark, nor do we have a clothing budget. Reason is the weather - so far the holidays have been local and clothes are t-shirts/shorts and hand me downs. Xmas and Birthdays are when we might splash out. When we make "extra money" e.g. the wife has a good summer season at her takeaway or I make a few sales - that's when we splurge. Healthcare is also something not taken into consideration. A recent quote via an insurance partner for customers (a 50-60 year old couple) was around €200/month, however that also included home insurance. Spain has a Non Lucrative Visa which allows for residency if you can support yourself living here without employment in Spain. They ask for €2,130/month and a further €530/month for each additional person. Our €3,723/month would be 1 Adult and 3 additional people so for a family of 6 we are under that and living pretty well. Obviously we have to watch our money, work hard, and can´t do all the things our friends want to do when they come over to visit. But as my wife says... “I'd rather be "poor" in Spain, than rich in Denmark", the weather just has so much value, and we get 300 days of sunshine here. To be outdoors a lot taking walks and swimming in the sea is free and we can do that pretty much whenever we want, and ultimately...Health is Wealth!

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