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.
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:
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..."
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.
From https://www.facebook.com/Wesellhomesinparadise/ 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…
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!
Everything you need to know to get the right mobile phone provider for your new life in Spain. Offers detailed information covering technologies/frequencies, prices, plans, MVNOs and the major providers (Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, Yoigo and Lobster. Learn which Spanish mobile providers are the fastest and which are the most popular among expats. Read one expat's plan for the best way to get a Spanish SIM before and after arriving in Spain.
Information on renting apartments in Spain. Includes comparative information on furnished, unfurnished apartments, finding a room to rent with flatmates, and factors that affect the price of apartments in Spain.
Information on exchanging currency from sterling and dollars to euros for expatriates living in Spain.
Banks and banking for expatriates living in Spain. Includes information about: accounts for foreigners, Transferwise, Revolut, VISA cards, debit cards, transaction fees, online banking, cajas and foreign-owned banks.
Information about filing taxes for Americans in Spain, including filing Spanish taxes, filing US taxes, tax rates, special tax rates, income credits, residency determination and typical scenarios.
A great article from Mark Wilkens of the Rights Group regarding the actual costs of buying property in Spain 2007.
Information on income taxes and income tax rates in Spain, paying tax in Spain, special taxes, VAT/IVA, double taxation, taxes on property and real estate, and US forms and publications for expatriates living in Spain.