Linda Löfling

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expat spain

Expat Life My City Tips

IS IT EXPENSIVE LIVING IN SPAIN?

Many people dream about moving ot Spain and live a happy life in the sun, so did I! Now when I am here, I get many questions about how much it costs to live here, so I thought that we could go through the economical situation here a little:

The cost of living is relatively low here compared to other European countries, which for me means that I can enjoy a high quality of life without having to break a bank.

First of all, the cost of living dependa a lot on which city in Spain you live in. The following cities are the most expensive ones to live in Spain:

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

Spain is a very popular destination for expats, it’s relaxed culture, never ending shining sun, and cheap living costs have an appeal that is difficult to resist! The country had to suffer turmoil during the financial crash, but from 2015 the economy started to show signs of recovery. Today, the standard of living is balancing out in accordance with salaries, though the average salaries as well as the minimum wage, remain low compared to the rest of Europe.

Now since I live in the capital, this blog post will be focused on Madrid. To begin with, we can have a look at Madrid’s cost of living in comparison to other main cities, taking into account the costs of food, housing, clothes, transportation, entertainment and personal care. IT is not for free to live here, but it is way cheaper than for example London (and the weather is better too).

  • 42% less expensive than New York
  • 39% less expensive than London
  • 33% less expensive than Los Angeles
  • 14% less expensive than Munich
  • 4% less expensive than Brussels

Where to live and how much to pay for it?

Finding a place to live is not that tricky, but prices of housing vary a lot and for the central areas where I looked for apartments, prices are the same as what I paid for renting in Oslo, Norway! Between 1000-1800 eur a month for an apartment suitable for a family does not seem as chocking, at least not while I was looking for a rental apartment. Of course you can always find alternatives, renting a room and share costs with flatmates, live a bit outside of the city center, there are many options if you are a bit flexible. I think that the whole central part of Madrid is a safe and nice place to live, when coming as a tourist or if you want to profit of the city life. For me who has a little one, I prefer to stay a bit more outside the center, and closer to Retiro and the more calm part of the city. Retiro/Goya/Salamanca/Pacífico are all calm areas nearby Madrid’s central park: Retiro, I love living here and I can warmly recommend the are for everybody coming to Madrid with children. However, if you are Scandinavian, maybe you want to stay around la Moraleja, also known as the Scandinavian part of Madrid. I thought that was way too far away form the city center, and despite the pretty surroundings, that area did not appeal to me much.

Many Spaniards live smaller than Scandinavians are used to, and the standard of the apartments are not at all in comparaison with what we have in the North. Large apartments are always available if you want them…but with Spain’s warm climate and outdoor lifestyle, you may find yourself spending much of your time out, sitting at cafés with friends, enjoying the beach (not in Madrid though but in other cities!), or exploring the city, so maybe not that much need for that enormous flat neither, one has to make compromises, right?

Conclusion is that housing in Madrid, is much more expensive than I thought and I honestly do not know how people do to get around here, since an average salary is around 1600eur brut per month! Maybe all Spaniards are lucky to be born with rich grandparents? 🙂

Eating outside everyday? Yep, absolutely!

For the best value, there are good deals around lunchtime, called “menú del día” (the menu of the day, or lunch special). Lunch is the big meal of the day, a sit-down affair of at least an hour, and it’s filling and well-balanced. In most places, the menú del día usually costs between 12 to 20eur. For that price, you get a first course (generally a salad, soup, paella, or vegetable dish), a main course (usually meat or fish, though vegetarian options are increasingly common), a beverage (which can be beer or wine), bread, and often either dessert or coffee.

Though individual grocery bills can be hard to estimate, 100eur per couple per week is ample. In fact, if you like to eat out (and many people do), your in-home grocery budget will likely be below this amount. We eat out often and the grocery bill has so far not gone over 100eur per week.

How about getting around the city?

Madrid is designed for walking, with most shopping centers easily accessible on foot and most attractions easily accessible by public transport. For longer distances (or bigger shopping trips), public transportation is readily available too. Excellent bus and train service gets you quickly around town or around the country. 10 metro/bus rides cost around 12eur and I do not use the public transport often at all, I feel I can get myself to wherever I need, in 20-30 minutes by foot. Madrid is not that big 🙂

Healthcare and such?

Spanish healthcare consists of both private and public healthcare, with some hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offering both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública). You don’t need to have private health insurance to get medical treatment, but it usually allows you to get faster treatment for non-emergency procedures, diagnosis tests, and specialist consultancies.

The Spanish healthcare system is ranked among the best in the world and from what I’ve seen, luckily not that much, it is fast, professional, and affordable. I have had good help from the times I have been at the doctor here, both for myself and for my son, and the prices have been as expected.

 

If I should draw a little conclusion about how I feel life is here in Madrid, then I must say that I really appreciate the possibility and habit of eating and meeting people outside instead of inside. I feel that I have a higher quality of life when I have more activities to choose from, thanks to the weather, which is also something that makes that life itself feels easier. I do not spend that much money on clothes or interior things as I did when living in Scandinavia, as I do not really care that much about my home anymore, I live most of my life outdoors – and shorts are cheaper than jackets. Briefly, less money (salary) in my pocket if I want to stay and work here, but way much more life lived!

This is not a fully accomplished list of what you need to know about the cost of life in Spain versus other places in the world, but many people have asked me questions around this topic so I thought that a small introduction could be at it’s place. If you would have any further questions about life in Madrid, then please give me a shout and I will try to answer as good as I can!

 

Besitos! <3

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