Cost of Living in Spain

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While the cost of living in Spain has markedly increased over the years, the average Spanish salary has not – thus making life more difficult for residents and expats who choose to live in Spain. 

However, Spain’s largest urban centres are still far less expensive than popular European destinations such as Paris, Geneva and London.

Spain provides a seductively fine quality of life. The country is relatively large and varies enormously (culturally, climatically and economically) from region to region. Common to most of Spain is, however, a benign overall climate, a welcoming society, decent infrastructure and political stability.

Certainly, Spain still represents terrific value for many foreigners from developed countries who are either retired or earning Northern European or US salaries. For these expats, a very high quality of life is available for the current cost of living.

Cost of accommodation in Spain

Generally speaking, the closer a property is to the coast, the more it will cost and this is particularly true of the Mediterranean coastline. This trend is due to a passion for the beaches of Spain, a love which is shared by the Spanish and foreigners alike.

Needless to say, the sky is the limit for high-quality properties in prestigious locations. That said, there are also some exceptional bargains to be found.

Short-term summer rentals for any coastal property can be among some of the most expensive real estate in Spain, while long-term leases are usually cheaper.

Cost of transport in Spain

Public transport in Spain is generally cheap with buses providing an excellent, low-cost way of travelling around the country. Meanwhile, the rail network also provides good value for money. Spain is also second only to China in the distance covered by its high-speed AVE network. Although more expensive than normal trains, the AVE does mean that travel between different parts of the country can be undertaken very quickly.

Cost of schools in Spain

It is free for expats to send their children to state schools in Spain, as long as they have registered for their Empadronamiento at their local town hall.

Private schooling is available with fees varying greatly depending on the school concerned, its location and the language and curriculum it teaches.

An English-language private school in the centre of Madrid will, for example, generally be more expensive than a Spanish-language private school in the provinces. 

Cost of food and clothing in Spain

Oddly enough, the cost of supermarket food equates with prices found in a country such as the United Kingdom, and is therefore surprisingly expensive in comparison to the wage levels of the Spanish themselves. However, the inverse is true when eating out, a pursuit which can be of tremendous value. Similarly, alcoholic drinks are cheap, which is not too surprising given the vast quantities of wine produced by Spain.

Clothing is, however, relatively expensive. It is difficult to understand why this is the case. That said, there are certainly more than a few options in which expats can find reasonably priced, stylish clothes.

Cost of living in Spain chart

(Prices may vary across Spain, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Madrid in March 2018.)


One-bedroom apartment in city centre (monthly)

EUR 810

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre (monthly)

EUR 600

Furnished three-bedroom apartment

EUR 1500

Unfurnished three-bedroom apartment

EUR 1000


Dozen eggs

EUR 1.65

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 0.85

Rice (1 kg)

EUR 0.99

Loaf of white bread

EUR 0.88

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 6.15

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 5.10

Eating out

Big Mac meal


Coca Cola (500ml)

EUR 1.90


EUR 1.71

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 2.80

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 22.50


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.20

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

EUR 39.60

Basic monthly utilities (Includes electricity, water, refuse)

EUR 120.42


Taxi rate/km

EUR 1.05

Bus fare in the city centre 

EUR 1.50


EUR 1.23

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Our Spain Expert

NickSnelling's picture
London, the United Kingdom. Valencia, Spain
I am a journalist and author of five books – three of which are about Spain (details of which can be seen on my... more

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