Cost of living in Spain: Your guide

TransferWise content team
19.12.17
4 minute read

The idea of living in Spain is a dream of many; zipping along the southern coast, stopping for paella and a sip of wine, enjoying Gaudi’s surreal architecture and taking in the cobbled charm of the Spanish cities. As relocation becomes more and more common, for many the dream is quickly turning into reality.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Spain for good, one of the most important things to consider is how your money will translate in the European country. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the cost of living in Spain.

How expensive is Spain in comparison to other countries?

One of the first things you’ll have to consider when you move to Spain is changing your existing funds into Euros. While many banks can handle this service for you, it usually comes with a fee and often an exchange rate markup, which is a sneaky way to shave more of your money off the top.

To protect yourself from getting a bad rate, a good place to start is an online currency conversion calculator. Knowing the correct rate can help you avoid doing business with a bank or service that’s trying to overcharge you. You can also transfer money using Transferwise, which always guarantees the mid-market rate and is helpful for cutting back on fees in general.

Money in Spain, euros, are typically either written as EUR or designated with an € symbol. The following charts and table will give you a better idea of the euro’s value, and how the cost of living generally compares to other countries.

  • 1000 USD = 849 EUR
  • 1000 GBP = 1,109 EUR
  • 1000 AUD = 674 EUR
Comparing basic cost of living 1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) Three-course meal for 2 transportation (monthly pass)
Madrid, Spain €772 €45 €54.60
Barcelona, Spain €817 €40 €50
London, UK €1,875 €61 €147
New York City, USA €2,589 €64 €103
Berlin, Germany €750 €40 €81
Sydney, Australia €1,780 €54 €108

What are the most expensive and cheapest major cities?

While the cost of living fluctuates significantly across Spain, the following are the most expensive cities to live in Spain:

  1. San Sebastian
  2. Madrid
  3. Barcelona
  4. Tarragona
  5. Bilbao

What are general living expenses like in Spain?

Total Living Expenses in Madrid Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent) €650
1 person, per year (without rent) €7,800
4 person family, per month (without rent) €2,308
4 person family, per year (without rent) €27,696
Total Living Expenses in Barcelona Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent) €654
1 person, per year (without rent) €7848
4 person family, per month (without rent) €2,320
4 person family, per year (without rent) €27,840

What are the average salaries in Spain?

Moving to Spain won’t only affect the cash you spend. Unless you’re planning to retain your job from home and work remotely, moving to Spain will also have an impact on the money you make. While in general Spanish companies pay similarly to their counterparts across Europe, this table will give you a better idea of how much you can expect to earn in your current position.

Salary averages for Madrid Average salary
cashier €16,864
copywriter €36,737
financial analyst €37,274
graphic designer €17,340
mobile developer €30,962
product manager €31,646
receptionist €18,054
software engineer €27,187
teacher €24,253
web developer €22,057
Salary averages for Barcelona Average salary
cashier €15,691
copywriter €27,553
financial analyst €48,236
graphic designer €20,044
mobile developer €34,648
product manager €35,601
receptionist €13,385
software engineer €29,776
teacher €22,636
web developer €27,060

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Spain?

Renting in Madrid Average monthly cost
large apartment €1125
medium apartment €865
small apartment €675
student dorm room €660
internet €30
Renting in Barcelona Average monthly cost
large apartment €1038
medium apartment €856
small apartment €675
student dorm room €535
internet €32
Renting in Valencia Average monthly cost
large apartment €666
medium apartment €536
small apartment €407
student dorm room €400
internet €29

What about healthcare and dental costs in Spain?

Healthcare in Spain is socialized, so aside from what you pay for it in social security taxes, medical expenses are virtually non-existent. In this system you’re not required to carry insurance, and you won’t pay out of pocket if you’re sick or need to see a doctor.

How much are travel and transportation costs in Spain?

The way Spanish people travel varies greatly across the country. While cars are the most common transportation method, most cities have excellent public transportation systems, and many urban areas like Valencia and Seville are highly walkable and bikeable.

Transportation and vehicle prices for Spain Average cost
gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon) €1.10
monthly bus/transport pass €42
bus ticket, single use €1.45
taxi tariff, 30 minutes €10
train trip, single ticket cross country €102
Toyota Corolla, new €18,175
VW Golf, new €18,000

How much does education cost?

Spain has an excellent public education system, and most parents choose to send their children to school free of cost until the age of 18. That being said, pre-school, private international schools, and universities all come at a cost.

School Average yearly cost
preschool / kindergarten €326
private international school for lower grades €6,931
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona tuition €35.77 per credit
Universitat Pompeu Fabra tuition €1,657 (EU residents) / €6,800 (non-EU residents)

Considering the quality of life in Spain, the cost of living in the European country is fairly low. Many expats find life in the country to be pretty cheap; a good thing when there’s plenty of wine and Iberian ham for the taking! Good luck, and enjoy your new life in Spain.

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