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Expat Life My City Tips


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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Expat Life My City Tips


My first time in Madrid was in June 2017, for a weekend with my sister, I remember the city as burning hot, but the ambiance and the people very relaxed. Everything felt very smooth. A good first impression! In winter 2017 I came back again and from there I started some kind of commuting life between Oslo and Madrid and I flew between the countries almost every week for a almost 6 months. Now ‘ve been here permanently for some months and I think it is time for a little evaluation.

Things i really like in Madrid:

  • People are nice. I have met many wonderful and easygoing people here since my first arrival, and I keep on meeting darlings everywhere. Spaniards are friendly, although it is difficult to get into their inner circle and become close friends with them, most probably due to the language barrier. I do have the feeling that they are all pretty helpful and open minded, though. I will get back to this evaluation about how Spaniards really are as friends if I ever become good enough in Spanish to be able to talk with people here hehe.
  • The city is big, but also small. After living in Paris and then Oslo, Madrid feels like the perfect size. I like to walk when I have to go somewhere, and here I can go by foot to most places, it is also a short bus ride in to the city center, Campus, or wherever I need to go, yet it is a lively city with a capital feeling and that is something i really appreciate. Pulse, dynamics, something to do at every hour, Madrid has it.
  • Eating out can be REALLY cheap. Lunch outside for 12EUR? Yep, possible in Madrid. A coffee for 1,50EUR(OK, quality is so so but anyway)? Yep, also possible. I love good quality food, but I also love eating OUT as often as possible, then I can agree on a more simple lunch and a coffee that is pretty tasteless, from time to time, only to be able to chill on a nice terraza with a friend or do people watching for a while.
  • It is a pretty city. I knew absolutely nothing about Madrid before going here, and I got surprised over how beautiful it actually is, and how many pretty buildings, monuments, parks etc. there are to admire here. I could definitely recommend a weekend trip here for anyone interested in city life, good food and some touristing!



Things I like a little less about Madrid:

  • The price of rental apartments combined with the average salary. While some things are really cheap in Madrid, the price for your home may be a nightmare. Prices are actually as high as in Oslo, but the salary like three times lower. I honestly do not understand how Spaniards do to afford to live in the center? Did they all heritage some millions from their grandparents?
  • The quality of the food. Ok, I said that I can overcome the quality of the food sometimes, if I can have it outside and hence eat something new and maybe different, buuuuut…ok, first I want to point out that there are many, many really nice restaurants in Madrid with high quality food, but now I talk about like an average bar or café here, then I must say that I am often dissapointed. I often see friends here getting all freaked out about patatas bravas or a slice of jamon, but I have difficulties seeing the yummy in fried food or food with no taste, and here – almost everything comes fried and with the least possible effort made to make it taste something. I know Scandinavia is not famous for the food scene, but I think we have made a great progress and we care about quality a lot. Go to a café in Scandinavia and you often find really nicely prepared sandwiches or salads. I have to be out even more and discover the cafés in the center of Madrid, they are still a bit unknown to me. Will come back with a guide later, so that you can avoid eating fried food all day long if you come here for a visit.
  • The labour market. It isn’t a secret that Madrid has a high unemployment rate, and between foreigners like myself, the chances of getting a job is of course much lower than for a Spaniard. I have the impression that this situation affects us foreigners a little, or a lot depending on how our economical situation looks like of course. In many of my the groups of people that I met so far, people complain about how hard it is to even get to the interview and obviously it makes you feel sad if you left a comfortable situation back home only to come to get so many doors locked in your face. I hope that it is only a question of patience, and being persistant enough to not give up. I have faith in that foreigners are needed here and that hopefully many of the ones I know, will get a profession soon.<3

Other than that I have nothing negative to say about Madrid so far, it has been and it is smooth and easy to be here and to live here. I see people as less stressed than in Paris and more relaxed and smiling than in the Scandinavian countries – is it due to the almost non stop shining sun?



That was a little evaluation so far about my Madrid life, if you have any questions about Madrid, Spain, how to get here, what to do here etc. : Stay tuned! I will continue to update on these topics, and I am working as well on a little guide about the expat life. To be continued!

Buen Día all of you! Thanks for reading!

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