Coming from Australia, living in Spain was so cheap! Whilst we had saved a lot to make the most of our year in Spain, we were able to enjoy our life there due to the fact that living expenses were relatively low. For those of you about to take the plunge, I’ve collected average costs on living in a few different cities of Spain. Some of these figures were given to me by friends who are living in those cities, and others were taken from Numbeo.
Granted, the larger the city, the more likely the living expenses will be higher (I know that Madrid prices are quite high in comparison to other cities, but wages are slightly higher to compensate). Other factors such as number of rooms, proximity to the city centre and seasons, can also affect the costs of living, but here is a basic guide for how far your money will go in Spain. You will see that the bigger cities (or party towns) like Madrid and Barcelona are extremely high in comparison to the small pueblos (outside towns) such as Osuna or Pozoblanco. Generally speaking, people who live in the larger cities will live in share apartments. The cost to rent a room in a share house can range anywhere between €340 – €500 (including utilities in some cases).
Want to enjoy the most of your time in Europe? See our cost saving tips here.
Rent is normally paid for in cash, with written receipts provided upon payment. In most cases, the utilities are also paid to the landlord, who presents the invoices on a bimonthly basis. It all seems fairly casual here. To look for places to rent, check out Enalquiler, Idealista and also fliers or notices around town. Some helpful Spanish terms are: alguiler (rent), compatir (share), piso (apartment), habitaciones/dormitorios (rooms), baño (bathroom), cocina (kitchen), amueblado (furnished), calefacción (heating), and aire acondicionado/climatizado (air-conditioning).
To reduce costs, you can always look into sharehouses and split costs between all housemates. This is a popular option for people here, with many Spanish tenants advertising for flatmates. This is probably the only option for those of you living in the larger cities. Note that the cost to rent a room in the bigger cities is close to the cost of renting a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in the smaller cities. Groceries are cheap and fresh, so cooking throughout the week is a great way to save money. Also look at blablacar for carpooling, as it is often a lot cheaper than buses and trains.
Be warned that electricity is not cheap and during winter, the heating costs will really hurt the bank. Many apartments in Spain are not built for the cold, so heating costs can rise (and rise quickly). Many households use braseros (heaters that are kept under the dining table that warm the legs and toes) when at the table. One way we reduced costs was to wear extra layers of warm clothes and close all the doors and curtains to contain the heat to a room.
Dining out is relatively cheap. If you can, opt for a Menu del Día (Menu of the Day), as you will get a whole lot of food for a small price. Generally offered at lunch time, a Menu del Día includes a starter course, main, dessert, bread and a drink, for well under €20 (bars in our local town had Menu del Días for €8). Places such as Granada also offer free tapas with a drink. You literally could be full and merry for under €10!
With all that being said, it is still easy to spend money here too! I took up flamenco dancing and singing lessons (which still worked out to be infinitely cheaper than similar classes back in Australia). Gym or club memberships are also popular here, but cheaper than back home (eg. a monthly gym membership is approximately €20-€30 per month). Our biggest expenses were from travelling. We travelled practically every weekend and worked up quite the travel bill over nine months. It was totally worth it, and we saw so much and visited 13 countries during our time in Spain. The key is in planning and knowing where to save money.
Want to travel whilst in Spain, but still keep to a budget? See our planning guide to travel.
And to counteract any expensive lifestyle choices, teaching English can help! In larger cities, you can get away with charging €15-€20/hour for private English lessons, but realistically, you are more likely to get students by charging €10-€12. Academies are always looking for native speakers and will pay you by the hour for group classes. You can advertise your services on Tus Clases Particulares or, in my experience, pick up work just from word of mouth.
I hope this helps with your budgeting needs! As they say in Spain, “¡Buena suerte!”