How Much Does It Cost to Live in Spain?

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Update: November 2017: Moving to Spain is clearly a popular topic, who knew my post about our cost of living in Spain would be so popular! I’ve added some more details and helpful resources to this article about living cost in Spain. We recently visited our old stomping ground and I made sure to zip through Mercadona to update my list of Spain supermarket prices so it would contain recent numbers. I’m pleased to report that costs seem to be almost the same. 

Perhaps you’ve considered moving to Spain or even retiring in Spain? Since writing this post (originally published in 2015) I’ve had emails and comments from various people, including those interested in becoming expat in Spain to people just wanting to live in Spain for six months (which is what we did) or some just wondering how much to live in Spain for a month.

Living in Spain appeals to many people, and it’s definitely the top of my list as a destination to move to (our goal is to make the move back there permanently within three years).

The living costs I’ve shared below are from our six-month stay in the Costa del Sol. Please bear in mind we are a frugal family with a toddler so we don’t go out clubbing or eat at fancy restaurants. We try to cook our own meals whenever possible.

Moving to Spain with kids?
If you are moving to Spain with kids in tow, Lisa Sadlier’s book ‘Moving to Spain with Children: Essential reading for anyone thinking about moving to Spain‘ is a must-read. This book was my bible when it came to planning our long stay in Spain with children.

Rent

€592 per month for a fully furnished 2 bedroom apartment including high-speed internet, 100 metres from the beach. This is on the high side for the area. If we were staying long-term we could get a furnished apartment for between €400 and €500 per month, however, we would need to organise our own internet and electricity connection.
how much does it cost to live in spain

Our apartment is a holiday rental. We prefer to rent vacation apartments as they are usually fully equipped so we can just bring our clothes and move in. As we are staying during the low season we are able to take advantage of lower rates. We initially committed to 4 months and extended that by an extra month.

We use Airbnb.  You can read more about my top tips to save money on Airbnb (including how to negotiate a cheaper monthly rate and what to look for in a long-term listing) plus get a FREE $40 Coupon for your first stay. 

Below are some other blogs about finding accommodation in Spain.
Wagoners Abroad: Where are we going to live in Spain?

Groceries

Our grocery budget in Spain was €500 per month including all groceries, fresh fruit and veggies, nappies, cleaning products and my coffee addiction. I’m a big clearance shopper and I struggle to find special offers here. Eroski is the only supermarket I’ve found that discounts its products when they approach use-by dates.

A Sample of Grocery Costs in Spain

Disposable nappies: €7 for 26 pull-up types nappies
Fresh Milk: €1.80 for 1.5 litres of fresh milk (most locals buy UHT milk which is much cheaper)
Free range eggs: €1.00 for 6 from the local fruit and veg shop. These are exceptionally cheap as I reuse my plastic egg trays so the shopkeeper gives me a €0.10 discount. Still, €1.10 is a steal for free-range eggs (Huevos camperos)
Beer: €3 for 6 cans of Victoria brand. Cheaper brands can be bought for as little as €0.23 cents per can. Alcohol is very cheap here. I have noticed a large population of expat alcoholics. I suspect their move here was a strategic one.
Lemons: €0.40 per kg.
Oranges: €0.64 per kg.

I’ve found the smaller local grocery shops are as good as the larger shops, plus the local Baly has a full-service butcher (carniceria) so I can get the cuts of meat I prefer. Fruit and vegetable shops are almost always cheaper than the market (simply a tourist attraction here) and the supermarket. I only buy dry and frozen goods from the supermarket now.

For a break-down of grocery prices from Mercadona please click here to visit East of Malaga

How much does it cost to live in Spain?

Eating Out/Coffee

Living in the Costa del Sol means we are never far from a greasy English breakfast. There’s also Sushi, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and Indian restaurants in our little town. As uncool as it is to admit that I don’t always fully immerse in local cuisine, I’m not sure I could survive any amount of time without pad thai or sushi so I am grateful.

Tapas: Usually range between free with a drink to €1-€2 per plate.
Pad Thai: From €7 in a noodle bar to €11 in a Thai Restaurant
Sushi: From €3 for Maki Rolls from Carrefour (surprisingly good) to €12 in a Sushi Bar.
English Breakfast: The good ones are around €4 including a cup of tea. I recommend El Bistro in Los Boliches.

Cafe Life

My favourite thing about life in Spain is the general population’s appreciation for good coffee. Every tiny hole in the wall bar or cafe has a huge commercial-grade espresso machine. People go to bars to drink coffee. It’s totally normal to see bars full of people drinking their cafe con leche en vaso (coffee with milk in a glass) early in the morning. Expect to pay between €1 and €1.50 for your morning dose. I usually have a croissant with my coffee for €1.60.

How much does it cost to live in Spain?
Just € 1.60 for a croissant and cafe con leche at my local cafe.

Childcare

The main reason we came here was to enrol our son in preschool in a Spanish language immersion environment. It took some time but he now loves his ‘school’.  His Spanish is really coming along and whenever I get a little bored of being in one place for so long I just have to look at how his language has developed and my anxiety is assuaged. We pay €250 per month for half day tuition (8.30-13.00) five days per week. There was also a one-off administration fee of €160. This price does not include food or nappies which we must supply.

Transport

We purposely chose to live in a highly walkable location. We do not have a car. Everything we need on a day-to-day basis is within walking distance. If we need to venture further local buses cost €1.15 per bus ride, and train tickets on the Cercanias network which runs between Fuengirola and Malaga is between €2-4 euros depending on destination. The train to the airport is €2.50.

Healthcare

Doctors visit cost between €60 and €80 for a private English-speaking doctor. Our second son was conceived in Spain (there’s something about that Mediterranean air:)) and we had the 12-week scan at an international hospital in Fuengirola. It cost €200 to pay for the scan a la carte, however, had I chosen to remain in Spain for my entire pregnancy we would have paid around €5000 out of pocket for everything. I don’t have a source for that cost as it was just a figure mentioned in our consultation. We don’t carry health insurance so we pay out-of-pocket for doctors visits. We carry a long-term travel insurance policy with World Nomads for emergencies. 

Entertainment/Recreation

Gym Membership: €100 for 4 months at a low-cost no-frills gym. Walking or jogging along the paseo and using the excellent workout equipment on the beach costs nothing!

We try to make the most of free entertainment as much as possible. We live 100 metres from the beach and have a toddler so he is usually happy to go digging or play at the playgrounds on the beach. Did I mention playgrounds are on every corner/plaza? In every possible open space?

We bought a pass to the local zoo for my husband and son. It was €38 for a 12-month pass. (Dylan is free as he is under 3). My husband and son go to the zoo together at least once per week. Single entry was around €20 so he just bought the annual pass and made it back in 2 visits.

How much does it cost to live in Spain?
The post boxes at the Central Post Office in Fuengirola

Communications

How much does it cost to live in Spain (3) We purchased Jazztel sim cards when we arrived and load €5 on to them each month. This is enough for calls and texts only. We try to stick to Skype/Viber/iMessage for communicating with friends and family.

Total Living Cost in Spain for Family of Three

Rent: €592
Groceries and coffee: €500
Childcare: €250
Recreation: €50
Transport: €20
Mobiles: €10
Eating out: €50

Total: €1472

Our monthly spend ranges between €1472 ($2186NZD/$1648USD/£1089GBP) on a good month to €1800 ($2673NZD/$2015USD/£1331GBP) if we are eating out a lot or taking weekend trips. We’re comfortable with both numbers as we still consider this travelling time and it is really nice to have a place to call home.

Cost-wise life here is on par with what we spend to live in New Zealand with a few exceptions. I’m not sure I’ll be able to stomach paying $5NZD for free-range eggs again – might be time to get some chooks for the backyard.

Want more? Check out my highly subjective opinion on the pros and cons of living in Spain here.

I’ve also had lots of questions about how we afforded to stay in Spain and how I earn an income online (which is preferable to finding a job in Spain which can be difficult). I discuss all the details of how I earn an income online in this post.

Do you have any questions? Would you consider moving to Spain?

If you’re interested in stretching your dollar further and living abroad for less,  I recommend you check out Tim Leffel’s book – A Better Life for Half the Price.

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How much does it cost to live in Spain

31 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Live in Spain?”

  1. Hello Emma. I find very interesting your blog. Tengo una pregunta para ti. Has tenido algun problema con el pago de tu renta? Me refiero al deposito . Se que algunos propietarios cobran todo los meses por adelantado y otros solo necesitan un deposito, al arrivar se paga el resto. Me gusta este lugar y estoy pensando ir para alla a fines de Diciembre..por un par de semanas.. Tengo que cordinar con la familia de acuerdo a sus estudios y trabajo, pero me encanta la idea de alquilar un pequeno departamento y vivir como los locales.Esperando saber de ti. Thank You .

    • Hola Ruth,
      Gracias por leer. Pagamos el primer y último mes por adelantado mediante transferencia telegráfica y depositamos nuestra renta mensual en la cuenta bancaria española propietarios de cada mes en efectivo. Esto es sólo porque nos estamos quedando por tanto tiempo. Creo que si te vas a quedar por un par de semanas que tendría que pagar por adelantado. Pero se puede enviar por correo electrónico el dueño y preguntar.
      Buena suerte,
      Emma

      Hi Ruth,
      Thanks for reading. We paid the first and last month in advance by telegraphic transfer and we deposit our monthly rent in the owners Spanish bank account every month in cash. This is only because we are staying for so long. I think if you are staying for a few weeks you would have to pay in advance. But you can email the owner and ask.
      Good luck,
      Emma

    • Para dos semanas seguro te van a pedir pago adelantado, más en esas fechas de temporada alta. Por eso mejor pasar con una web reconocida, como homeaway o airbnb, donde el dueño de la casa tiene ya algunas referencias, y si no cumple tienes el respaldo de la web. No mandes dinero directo, ni por giro ni por western union.

      • Si, tienes razon Pauline. He escuchado casos de personas que enviaron todo el dinero de la renta del departamento y fueron enganados porque ese rental no existia. Me gustaria enviar solo un deposito de una noche para asegurar el lugar y pagar el resto alla. Gracias por tus comentarios a ti a Emma.

  2. Hey There, Thanks for including us in your post. This is great information and good to see someone else sharing the numbers in Spain! We will be back in the area in June, so maybe we could meet up sometime. Take care.

  3. Very thorough description of the costs to live in Spain! Definitely a plat that would be enjoyable to live in for a while. My brother is currently living in Cambodia on about $200-$250/month. Not a bad deal!

    Great blog. I’m looking forward to reading about your future adventures.

    • Thanks Rob. I visited Cambodia in 2004 and it was cheap then but I thought it would be more expensive now. Your brother has a great deal there!

  4. That is a really good price for a fully furnished apartment. Plus, it looks really nice. I would love to find a place like that when I take my vacation to Spain. Are most of the apartments that nice?

    • Hi Phillius, I’d say ours was on the basic side (reflected in the price). Most are more modern and more expensive. But that’s because they cater to a short stay market, so they can command a premium for people who only have a week or two for their holiday. If you check out Airbnb, Homeaway and Vrbo you should be able to find similarly priced apartments.

  5. just a wee note to say how much my husband and in(sounds really format!) have enjoyed reading your blog – we are in our 60’s and in a dilemana! We spend regular ho,I days with family in Murcia and love it – the weather A- the sea – ash . We also have for years spent holidays in Italia – the weather is not good all year round and the cost of living recrental flats etc see so much more expensive than empanadas! We do not retire for another 2 years and have loads of grandchildren ranging from1 to 24 , reading your blog is helping us making decisions! Enjoy your lives it sounds fab!!!

    • Thank you for your comment Carol, I really appreciate it. We too love Italy but we’ve invested so much time into learning Spanish that we couldn’t even entertain the idea of living in a non-Spanish speaking country. In terms of costs I have only ever travelled in Italy as a tourist but I did find it more expensive than Spain. I believe a good life in Spain can be lived very cheaply, so long as your source(s) of income are solid. I wouldn’t want to be relying on work in Spain to fund a life there.

  6. Hi we are Considering selling up and moving out to Spain but we will be pensioners and buying our own property that be easy To do

    • Hi Susan, I can’t comment on purchasing in Spain as we only rented. You might want to search expat sites for information on purchasing in Spain. All the best with your move, I’m jealous. I miss Spain with every fibre of my being!

  7. Hi Emma,

    I’m currently analysing a job opportunity in Madrid with a EUR37.000/year gross salary. Considering that I have a wife and my baby boy is on his way, is it a OK revenue to live in Spain?

    • Hi Junior, I’m not really sure. Madrid is much more expensive than the Costa del Sol where we were located. You might want to check out expat websites and forums as I’m sure they’d have a better idea. Buen suerte.

  8. Love this! With the dollar only stronger against the Euro since this was posted, it would be very affordable to make this move. We could live like kings and queens with a 2,000 to 3,000 Euro a month budget for a family of four.

    Experiences like this are why I’m particularly excited about retiring early. I had the Frugal Vagabond look into ideal spots for us to have a Spanish immersion experience, and he came up with a number of places in Spain. http://www.physicianonfire.com/earthawaits/

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Absolutely 2-3k Euro/month would be a very lavish lifestyle in southern Spain. Anywhere within an hour to Malaga allows you to travel around Europe easily, as most low-cost carriers fly from Malaga. It’s a wonderful lifestyle there, I miss it desperately. Off to check out that post now.

  9. I was in Spain (Barcelona) last year for the first time and fell in love with it. We just don’t have that historical charm here in North America.
    I don’t think I would ever move permanently to anywhere that far from home but I would love to take a hiatus from work and spend a few months in Spain. Your breakdown makes it sound totally doable!

    • It’s the same in New Zealand, we’re just too young a country to have that historical charm. You totally should take a few months in Spain, it’s a great place to stop for a while.

  10. Hi Emma, Nice to see you guys are still living in Spain.

    I am from South Africa and I have received an offer to come work at Nestle in Barcelona.
    My wife and kid along with me will be coming there by next year March / April and my offer I received was Net of 5000 Euros. I did some research like yours now and saw that this is actually a pretty decent salary in Spain and that I should take it.

    I am excited to come to Barcelona but my wife is a bit scared as she will be moving away from her close family she interacts with every day. Do you have any regrets of moving to Barcelona?

    Kind Regards
    Riaan van Rooyen

    • Congrats Riaan! What a great opportunity. We are no longer in Spain but visited earlier this year and plan to return in the next few years. 5000euros per month / take home is great money but Barcelona is more expensive than where we were. I’m sure you’d still be able to live a great life for that, but definitely check out living costs for Barcelona specifically as the prices I’ve listed are the Andalusia, in the Costa del Sol. This thread is interesting:

  11. Hi Emma,

    Great article, many thanks for the valuable info!

    Not sure what if you have any experience in Madrid, but a 90-100K EUR / year salary would be good enough to live comfortable for a couple + child? I’ve been researching and it appear Madrid can be quite pricey.

    Thanks,
    Rafael

    • Hi Rafael, I have only visited Madrid as a tourist. It’s an amazing city and I would love to live there! As for the cost of living in Madrid, yes it is more expensive for things like rent but I found the abundance of cheap supermarkets (Lidl etc) and food places to be very cheap. Public transport is also cheap. If it was me (and I’m quite frugal, don’t need a fancy apartment, just safe and quiet) I know I could live like a king in Madrid on that level of income, but it comes down to your lifestyle. Which is the case anywhere, right?.

      • Hi Emma,

        Many thanks for the prompt feedback 🙂

        You’re absolutely right, it does come down to lifestyle… I was only concerned as I’ve seen some websites saying that Madrid can be almost as expensive as London, but perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement. Rents can be a bit on the high side, but we might look into living just on the outskirts of the city, perhaps like you, we also like the “quiet” living approach.
        Cheers,
        Rafael

        • I just had a look on idealista.com (great site to check out to get an idea of prices) and it seems like 2-bed apartments in Madrid (including surrounding areas) start at 600euros a month and go right up to 3000e for the city centre. Have a look and see what you think. We stayed near to the Atocha station and loved the area, especially being able to walk to El Retiro park (great for spending a day with kids, loads of playgrounds) and it seemed like apartments around there are between 800-1000/mth. I’m sure Madrid can be expensive, but it can also be done on the cheap. Whereas London is always expensive!

          • Funny that you’ve mentioned Atocha, the company that I’m currently negotiating is right in the heart of it! what a coincidence… I’ve been looking at fotocasa.es, will check idealista now, didn’t come across this one before, thanks. Did you have a chance to use public transport while there? is it crowded or manageable?

          • It’s a great neighbourhood, and even just hanging out at the station is fun (they have a pond with loads of turtles, my 2yo loved it). We only used public transport in off-peak times and it was great, not so busy. Spanish people are especially lovely on public transport and always offered us a seat if we were carrying the little one.

  12. Love your article! You have instilled more confidence in me! We are planning to go to Spain later this year for 6 months (from Australia), given that our accommodation is covered and given your experience, i am hoping that a 2 adult 2 kid family could live on 1500 euros a month. We will be in a village in Northern Spain. Thanks for documenting this info!

    • Sounds wonderful, Shell! Yes, I think that amount will give you a great lifestyle, especially if housing is covered. Depending on the age of your kids, schooling will probably be cheaper if you go the public route, we couldn’t as our son was 2 at the time but we plan to go back next year when he will be 7 and his brother 4 so we’ll be looking into public schools then.

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