Can the cost of living in Spain be a deal maker or breaker? This article will be your cheat sheet on financial preparation!

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Laila Oliveira

Are you a soon-to-be expat enticed by Spain’s vibrant culture, delectable cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes? If you’ve been considering making the leap to this sun-kissed Mediterranean haven, one crucial factor begs your attention: the cost of living in Spain.


This dazzling country on the Iberian Peninsula is becoming a melting pot for many expats from different countries. Aside from its rich history, Spain offers various opportunities for foreigners should they decide to stay there for good.

This article unlocks the realities of managing your budget in a land where the warmth of the people is as inviting as the climate. Keep reading as we navigate the expenses that will define your Spanish adventure! 

How expensive is Spain?

Spain is an attractive destination for expats seeking a high quality of life at a reasonable cost. The cost of living in Spain varies depending on the region and lifestyle, but it is generally lower than in other Western European countries. 

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, Spain ranks 33rd out of 139 countries, with a cost of living index of 50.88.

The average monthly expenses for a single person in Spain range from €1,000 to €1,500. A family of four can expect to spend between €2,000 and €3,000 per month. These figures include rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and entertainment. 

However, the cost of living in Spain can be significantly lower in smaller cities and rural areas.

The following table compares the cost of living in Spain to other popular expat destinations:

CountryCost of Living Index
United Kingdom69.54

What is the cost of living in Spain for expats?

For expats considering a move to Spain, understanding the possible expenditures is necessary for effective budgeting and meticulous planning. 

This financial landscape becomes particularly dynamic when considering living in Spain. Multifaceted factors, including geographical location, individual lifestyle choices, and personal preferences, influence it.

Spain generally offers a lower cost of living than other Western European nations. However, expenses can vary significantly depending on the region and individual lifestyle choices.

By carefully evaluating the costs associated with housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and education, expats can create a realistic budget and ensure a smooth transition to their new life in Spain.

In this section, we will explore the major expenses that expats can expect when living in Spain. Including rent, real estate prices, utilities, food, transportation, and leisure activities.

Cost of rent in Spain

Rent is one of the most significant expenses for expats living in Spain. The cost of rent varies greatly depending on the location and type of property. 

In major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, rent prices are higher compared to smaller cities and rural areas.

Below is an average comparison of rents among Spain’s major cities by Numbeo.

City1-Bedroom Apartment3-Bedroom Apartment 

The average price of purchasing real estate properties

The average price of purchasing real estate in Spain varies by region and property type. 

According to data from the Spanish Ministry of Development, the average price per square meter for residential properties in Spain was €1,649 as of the first quarter of 2021. 

However, prices can be significantly higher in popular expat destinations like Madrid, Barcelona, and coastal areas, where a small apartment can cost upwards of €300,000.

The table below shows the average cost of buying an apartment in Spain’s major cities:

CityPrice per m2 to Buy Apartment in City CentrePrice per m2 to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre
Data is from Numbeo (as of May 2024).

House bills

Utility costs in Spain are relatively affordable.

Expats can expect to pay around €100-€160 per month for electricity, water, and gas, depending on usage and the size of their home. 

For near estimates, you may refer to the table below:

CityEstimated Utility Cost(inclusive of Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage)85m2 Apartment

Average spending on food

Food expenses in Spain are generally lower compared to other Western European countries. 

The average monthly grocery spending for a single person ranges from €200 to €300, while a family of four can expect to spend between €600 and €800 per month. 

Eating out is also relatively affordable, with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costing around €10-€15 per person.

  • Average monthly grocery expenses for a single person: €200-€300
  • Average monthly grocery expenses for a family of four: €600-€800
  • Cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant: €10-€15 per person

Expected transport cost in Spain

Public transportation in Spain is efficient and affordable. A monthly pass for public transport in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona costs around €50-€60. 

Taxi fares are also reasonable, with a typical 5-kilometer ride costing approximately €10.

TransportationAverage Cost
Monthly public transport pass€50-€60
5-kilometer taxi ride€10

If you want to afford a car rental service, you may want to refer to the table below:

Pickup LocationAverage 5-Day Cost (Sedan)

Should you want to buy a car in Spain instead, the table below shows some estimates:

Car BrandAverage Cost
Mercedes Benz GLC300 Coupe 2024€54,870
Mazda CX-30 Turbo Premium Plus 2024€31,806
Volkswagen California Camper Van€57,335

Leisure Expenses

Leisure activities in Spain are relatively affordable, making it easy for expats to enjoy their free time without breaking the bank. 

A movie ticket costs around €8, while a monthly gym membership ranges from €30 to €50. If you want to go out and have fun with your family and friends in an amusement park like Siam Park, it costs around €38 per ticket.

Dining out and enjoying Spain’s vibrant nightlife is also reasonably priced, with a beer at a local bar costing about €2.

Are you a football fan and would like to watch your favorite football club play on their home pitch? An average La Liga football ticket in Spain ranges from €25 to €335 (special listing). There are so many leisure options to choose from! 

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What are the cheapest cities in Spain?

For expats looking to minimize their living expenses in Spain, several cities offer a lower cost of living without compromising the quality of life. 

These cities provide an excellent opportunity for expats to stretch their budgets while still enjoying the benefits of living in Spain.

These are ranked by Numbeo, from top as the cheapest to bottom as the less cheap:

CityCost Of Living Index
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria36.63
Santa Cruz de Tenerife36.30

Expats can significantly reduce their daily expenses by living in one of these affordable cities. All without sacrificing the quality of life that Spain is known for. 

With lower housing, food, and transportation costs, expats can allocate more of their budget toward leisure activities and exploring their new home country.

What are the most expensive areas in Spain?

While Spain generally offers a lower cost of living than other Western European countries, certain areas within the country are known for their higher expenses. 

These expensive regions typically include major cities and popular tourist destinations. This is where the demand for housing, goods, and services drives up prices.

The most expensive areas in Spain are:

City Cost Of Living Index
Palma de Mallorca43.56
Zaragoza – Saragossa39.68

Expats considering a move to these expensive areas should be prepared to allocate a larger portion of their budget towards housing, food, and other daily expenses. 

However, the higher cost of living in these regions is often balanced by the unique cultural experiences, job opportunities, and high quality of life they offer.

Miscellaneous expenses: Unexpected costs to consider

Expats planning to move to Spain should be aware of several miscellaneous expenses that can add up over time. 

These unexpected costs include private health insurance, which is essential for those not covered by the public healthcare system. Insurance can range from €50 to €200 per person, depending on age and coverage.

Another often-overlooked expense is the cost of education for expat families with children. 

While public schools in Spain are free, many expats opt for private or international schools, which can be costly. Annual tuition fees for private schools can range from €5,000 to €20,000 per child, depending on the institution and location.

Expats should also consider the cost of language classes. For many, learning Spanish can be crucial for integrating into the local community and securing employment opportunities. 

Language courses can cost anywhere from €10 to €50 per hour, depending on the type of instruction and the language school chosen.

Is Spain more expensive than Portugal?

When comparing the cost of living between Spain and Portugal, Portugal is generally the more affordable option. 

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, Portugal ranks 45th out of 139 countries, while Spain ranks 33rd, indicating that Portugal has a lower overall cost of living.

The differences in living expenses between the two countries are most noticeable in the following areas:

  • Housing: Rental and property prices are typically lower in Portugal than in Spain.
  • Food: Grocery and dining out costs are generally more affordable in Portugal.
  • Transportation: Public transportation and fuel costs are slightly lower in Portugal compared to Spain.

However, it is essential to note that the cost of living within each country can vary significantly. 

Expats should carefully consider their needs and preferences when deciding between Spain and Portugal as their new home.

How much do the Spanish earn?

The average monthly salary in Spain is €1,751, according to data from the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE) as of 2021. 

However, salaries vary greatly depending on the region, industry, and individual’s level of education and experience.

As of 2023, the minimum wage in Spain is €1,260 per month, which equates to approximately €15,120 per year. 

This minimum wage applies to all workers, regardless of age, gender, or employment contract.

Is it worth the cost of living in Spain?

Despite the costs associated with living in Spain, many expats find that the benefits far outweigh the expenses. Spain offers a high quality of life, a pleasant climate, a rich cultural heritage, and a relaxed lifestyle. 

The country’s well-developed infrastructure, excellent healthcare system, and affordable public transportation further contribute to its appeal.

Moreover, the cost of living in Spain is generally lower than in other popular expat destinations, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. 

This allows expats to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while still having the opportunity to save money.

Ultimately, the decision to move to Spain depends on individual priorities and financial circumstances. 

However, Spain is undoubtedly worth considering for those seeking a high quality of life in a beautiful, culturally rich country with a lower cost of living than other Western European nations.

Do you need help moving to Spain?

Moving to Spain can be an exciting but overwhelming experience, and many expats find that seeking assistance can make the process much smoother.

If you’re considering moving to Spain and need assistance with the process, Viv Europe is here to provide all the help you need.

Book a consultation with our team of specialists to get complete assistance with your journey towards moving to Spain. 



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