How Much Does It Cost to Live in Spain?

With a high quality of life and relatively low cost of living, Spain has proved a popular destination for expats. It’s estimated that the cost of living in Spain is, on average, 20.54% lower than in the UK, and rent is around 30.61% lower. This low cost of living even extends to the bigger cities, although the more rural areas will be even cheaper.

But how much exactly does it cost to live in Spain? Below we look into each expenditure to compare just how cheap it is.


Housing will usually be the biggest cost in any country, and Spain is no different. The large cities and coveted property on the coast will be more expensive than in more remote areas.

The average price for a property in the centre of the capital city Madrid is €5,000 per square metre. In Barcelona, the average price for a property in the city centre is €4,678 per square metre.

For renters, a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid city centre will cost around €1,004 per month and a three-bedroom will cost around €1,655. In Barcelona, the average cost to rent a one-bedroom is €997 and a three-bedroom is €1676.

The cheapest areas for housing in Spain are Aragon, Navarre, and Extremadura. The islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca have the highest property prices in the country. To compare, the average price per square metre to buy property in Zaragoza in the Aragon region will cost €2,260 – in Ibiza, it will cost over triple that, at €6,800.


Due to the warm climate, many basic grocery items are cheap and accessible. The average household in Spain will spend around €400 a month on groceries. Many fruits and vegetables are grown locally in Spain, such as apples, apricots, bananas, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. During the long growing season, this type of produce will usually cost around €1-€1.70 per kilo. Meat is also generally inexpensive, with 150g of chicken costing around €0.93 and 150g of red meat costing around €1.57. On the coast, seafood will be cheap, costing around €0.92 per 100g. A 1.5 litre bottle of water will cost around €0.64, and a mid-range bottle of wine will cost around €5.

Eating out at a restaurant will vary depending on where you are and the time of day you go out. Many restaurants across Spain have a lunch special menu which works out cheaper and will cost around €12 per person. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost around €25 per person, and a fast-food meal will cost around $8.


Some specific healthcare services in Spain are provided free of charge, as long as you are registered as a Spanish resident, and you have a Spanish social security number. Dental care is not covered by the national health insurance system, and for certain medical treatments the individual will need to pay a contribution towards the cost.

Many expats choose international health insurance to ensure they’re fully covered and do not have to pay out of pocket. Private health insurance has the added benefits of shorter wait times and access to wider treatment.


Spain has an extensive and good quality public transport network in the cities, as well as a high-speed train network across the country. A bus ticket in Barcelona will cost around €2.40 and in Madrid will cost around €1.50. Sometimes it’s possible to purchase a monthly pass that covers multiple trips at a reduced rate.

The average starting price for a taxi in Spain is €3.50 and they will then charge around €1.10 for every km travelled.

Petrol costs, on average, €1.97 per litre, which is the same as the global average price.


The average monthly utility bill for a Spanish household is €121.60, plus €36.67 for internet. The cost of electricity in Spain is one of the highest in Europe at €0.218 per kWh. Whilst the heating bill may be low all year round due to the warm climate, there may be additional costs for running fans and air conditioning to cool the home. This is also dependent on the location, as some areas in Spain can fall below freezing in the winter.

Childcare and Education

The monthly childcare cost for a preschool child will cost between €250 and €550. The alternative is an au pair, who will require food and lodging plus a minimum salary of €280 per month. State nurseries are available, and they will usually charge on a means-tested basis. For children aged between 3 and 5, there are state-funded preschools that are free of charge for registered residents with a social security number.

State schools are free in Spain for expat children, as long as the parent or guardian is registered as a Spanish resident. Lessons in state schools will be conducted in Spanish.

Some expats prefer to send their children to an international school. Fees will vary between institutions, but cost on average €7,000 per year.

University fees in Spain are some of the lowest in Europe and range between €750 and €2,500 per year for a BA and €1,000 to €3,500 per year for a Master’s. Private universities can be higher, at around €20,000.

Wages and Taxes

Wages in Spain are relatively low. The average monthly salary in Spain, after tax, is €1,685, which is lower than other European countries.

Expats will need to pay taxes in Spain after they have lived in the country for more than 183 days. Those that earn more than €22,000 per year in total income, are self-employed, earn more than €1,000 a year in rental income, or have over $1,000 in capital gains tax will all have to submit a tax return on their personal income.

Currently, the Spanish income tax rates are as follows:

  • Incomes up to €12,450 – 19%
  • Incomes between €12,451 and €20,200 – 24%
  • Incomes between €20,201 to €35,200 – 30%
  • Incomes between €35,201 to €60,000 – 37%
  • Incomes between €60,000 to €300,000 – 45%
  • Incomes over €300,000 – 47%

Expats in Spain will also be liable to pay social security and pension payments. For employed expats, these will be deducted from your salary by your employer. Self-employed expats will have to make the payments as part of their tax return.

If you’re moving to Spain, ensure you’re covered for medical costs with international health insurance. Expatriate Group provides comprehensive medical cover, giving you the peace of mind that you’re covered for every eventuality for your life in Spain.

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