Madrid Expat Series

Cost of Living as a Student Abroad in Spain

One of the top questions that I get asked the most is how much will it cost to live in Spain during a semester abroad or while studying a Master’s Degree. On this post, I will cover an overview of what to expect so you can plan your budget accordingly. All prices will be listed in euros since exchange rates change on the daily.

The minimum wage for a 40 hour week in Spain is 735 euros. Unless you are a recent graduate. If so, you need to be extremely lucky to get paid some decent money. One of the documents you need to provide in order to get your student visa in place is bank statements that prove you have enough money to support yourself in Spain. For example, saving accounts or your parents’ financial statements. They ask you to demonstrate that you can have at least one thousand euros per month of stay.

This requirement is unfair for many reasons. First, they ask you to prove that you have more money to spend than the average Spanish have in their hands. Second, some cities are crazy expensive versus others. Lastly, how come a student needs more money than a person who works full time and gets paid minimum wage?

Ok, now that my rant is over. Let’s get into how much money you really need to have in your bank account and how much would you spend.

1. Rent

This varies hugely from city to city. Rent is crazy expensive in Barcelona and Madrid. For example, in Madrid city center trendy neighborhoods, you can rent a single room apartment for around one thousand euros, a studio apartment for approximately 900 euros or a bedroom in a shared flat for 475 euros. Rent in Barcelona is only a bit more expensive than in Madrid. Whereas in other popular Spanish cities for students like Salamanca, Valencia, Seville, and Granada rent prices are lower.

During my semester abroad in Salamanca, I paid less than 300 euros for a bedroom right in the city center, next to the Plaza Mayor. While a friend in Madrid was paying 450 and crashing on a sofa bed of a single room apartment. While my boyfriend paid 300 for a room in Seville’s city center.

2. Transportation

Spanish public transportation is beyond this world. You can get almost anywhere by train or bus. You can travel across the country only using bus, trains or blablacar. Public transportation in Spain is very accessible. In Madrid, if you are younger than 25, you only pay 20 euros per month and can travel all the zones by bus, train, and cercanías. Barcelona’s public transportation card is a bit pricier, 105 euros for 3 months of unlimited travel within zone 1.

Photo: EMT Madrid

In smaller cities like Salamanca or Granada you barely use public transportation. You can get almost anywhere in less than a 30-minute walk. You can take a bus and pay for the ride, which it won’t cost you more than 2.50 or you can walk, which is very good for you. But you now that already.

3. Groceries

Eating in and cooking your own food is the way to go if you want to spend less money. Probably it’s the same in your home country too. If you shop smart, not overeat or throw away food you can get away with spending only 120 euros per month while having very nourishing food.

4. Utility Bills (Gas, Electricity, Water, Wifi, etc.)

Most apartments in Madrid have gas heating. Electricity and gas are usually billed every other month. Electricity prices in Spain are a bit higher compared to other European countries. The price will depend on the service provider and the contract agreement. This expenses will only depend on your lifestyle and location. For example, in the Andalusian region (South of Spain) most houses don’t have heaters. Mostly because they don’t need it.

During my semester abroad we got charged 540 euros of electricity for January and February. Mostly because we had electric heating, which usually it’s more expensive than gas. Also, we didn’t know that the electricity company our apartment had charged us very high prices for nighttime consumption. You know, 3 girls getting ready to go out, using their hairdryers and straighteners EVERY NIGHT.

While in Madrid, I live with my boyfriend in a single bedroom apartment and we paid around 70 euros for gas and electricity every other month. But, we barely spend time at home. Two to three hours before going to bed and that’s it. And also we get billed 90 euros for water every quarter.

5. Entertainment

Big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville organize many free activities like concerts, expositions and much more for free. If very important to be on the know of what’s going on in your city. For example, you can use the meetup app or join local student facebook groups for this kind of information.

Movie Theather

Tickets for the movies cost roughly 8 euros. You can get them for less using promotions discounts, visiting a specific day of the week or showing your student id.

Nightlife

If you are a girl, as usual, you can get into most clubs for free. Prices for the entrance fee and drinks vary by location. In small cities like Salamanca, for example, you don’t need to pay to get into most nightclubs. In general, when you pay the entrance fee they give you a ticket you can exchange for a drink in the bar. The usual price for an alcoholic drink in Madrid is around 8 euros.

6. Meals

Related: Traditional Spanish dishes you can’t miss

Lunch specials in Spain include 3-course meals, drink, and coffee or dessert for 10 to 15 euros. The cost depends on location and the quality of food being served. At some restaurants, you can get more fancy lunch specials for around 25 euros. Dinner with friends, including bottles of wines, usually was about 12 to 18 euros each.

7. Medical

You are required to have private health insurance. They are many options to choose from Sanitas, Adeslas, Mapfre, etc. The prices vary significantly, I used to pay 60 euros for Sanitas. The plan included hospitalization, dental and they even gave me a tablet as a Christmas gift. In the end, I learned that I was being scammed and that I can get the same coverage, with them, which makes this even crazier, for 35 euros per month. But hey, compared with health insurance costs in the US, I thought I had a great deal.

The best you can do if ask for quotes from different companies and negotiate the cost. Prices, of course, depending on your plan coverage and conditions. But you can score health insurance as low as 30 euros per month.

Well, I really hope this post answers all of your questions regarding how much will it cost you to move and live for a while in Spain. If you need more information regarding a specific area, you can always leave your questions in the comments below. Or sent me an e-mail using the contact form 🙂

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