Cost of Living in Spain (2023)

Last updated on May 20, 2023

Year-round sunshine and a table full of affordable tapas? Yes, please. There are just a few of the things that called to me when I secured a non-lucrative visa and moved to Spain in 2018. More than five years later, and I’m still living here and eating my weight in Spanish omelets, pimientos de padron, and mushroom croquetas. The fact is, I can afford to live a rich, full life here with few money concerns—a far cry different than what life is like in the U.S. for those living on my income.

A huge factor into my personal decision to stay has been healthcare. Spain has a robust healthcare system that is available to everyone, including expats. According to a report by the World Health Organization, Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. And while it’s only available to tax-paying expats not living in the country on a non-lucrative visa (which discounted me these past five years), the cost of zero-deductible private insurance is ridiculously affordable. Life just feels more doable when I know I won’t be sidelined by a major illness (true story: I broke my arm at age 23 and spent nearly six years paying that off of my credit card).

Back to the cost of living in Spain. One of the main reasons why the cost of living in Spain is so low is due to the country’s economy. Spain spent ages recovering from the 2008 economic crisis. That recovery was been slow, and then it was compounded by the global pandemic and the halt to tourism. While the unstable economic factors have had been hard for Spaniards (low wage growth and fewer jobs), it all largely had a positive effect on the cost of living. Inflation this past year has hit Spain hard, but it’s still more affordable than most elsewhere in Western Europe—only Portugal compares.

Barcelona has been my homebase for these past years, but I’ve done extensive research on other areas of Spain, including chatting with other expats, all with the hopes of finding a new homebase. One that hopefully offers a better mix of affordability, nearby nature, and good local schools with Spanish as the primary language (I have a son now!).

Let’s dive into how much it costs to live in Barcelona, as well as other popular (and less popular) regions of Spain.

Why Move to Spain?

Dreaming of living in Spain by the beach? You have a buffet of choices—this is Palafrugell in Catalunya.
Inland vibes steeped in history on the walls of Girona overlooking the charming town.
Stormy days in the deserts north of Almería in southern Spain, where I housesat for two months.

If you’re looking for a vibrant and culturally rich destination, Spain should be at the top of your list. Having lived here for more than five years, I can confidently say that Spain offers an exceptional quality of life, beautiful landscapes, a rich history, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all types of people—including single moms like me.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you step foot in Spain is the incredible diversity that exists within the country. From the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean to the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, Spain boasts a varied and breathtaking natural landscape that caters to all tastes. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice with opportunities for hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll in one of the many picturesque parks.

But Spain isn’t just about its natural beauty; it’s also a treasure trove of history and culture. From the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra in Granada to the iconic Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this country is like a living museum. And it’s not the same north to south, either! Each region has its own unique traditions, gastronomy, and festivities. Whether it’s the vibrant flamenco rhythms of Andalusia or the lively street festivals of Valencia, there’s always something fascinating happening somewhere in Spain.

Foodies also have Spain on their radar for it’s gastronomic traditions. From the world-renowned paella to an array tapas that can fill your table, there’s a lot to sample and enjoy. Each region has its own specialties, and exploring the local cuisine is an adventure in itself. That means savoring fresh seafood on the coast, hearty stews in the mountains, and varied tapas across the country.

Beyond the attractions and culinary delights, one of the most compelling reasons to move to Spain is the warmth and hospitality of its people. Spaniards are known for their zest for life, their passion, and their love of socializing. Although I found it hard to integrate into Catalan communities here in Barcelona, I did find friends.

In terms of practical considerations, Spain offers a high standard of living combined with a relatively affordable cost of living—Numbeo pegs the cost of living in Spain at 31.68% lower than in the United States. The healthcare system is excellent, with both public and private options available. The public transportation network is well-developed, making it easy to explore different regions and cities without the need for a car. And let’s not forget about the pleasant climate—which cannot be overstated—with mild winters and long, sunny summers, Spain offers an enviable Mediterranean lifestyle.

Cost of Living in Spain: $1,200 to $3,200

How much does it cost to live in Spain? A digital nomad on a tight budget could come in at the low end of the range while living in a city or more poplar area—$1,200 USD per person is a bare minimum baseline. And that figure though is a touch low if you’re moving to Spain long-term and plan to become a tax-paying resident. Given that the new digital nomad visa includes a flat tax rate of 24%, even that tax-advantageous visa is going to eat up a chunk of your budget. If you’re doing the Schegen shuffle instead (“living” in Spain for three months and then leaving), you could share a room with others and come in quite low. The middle of that range is where everyone else falls—a retired couple could a modest life in Barcelona for $2,500. Those who want to be in the thick of things, living in a private apartment in a trendy area and going out on the town multiple nights a week could easy hit $4,000. You can also spend far more than this for a gorgeous apartment in bougie neighborhoods (Sitges, for example), but you could also spend under $1,000 US to live in a small town in rural Spain. It all comes down to lifestyle. We profile expats from every walk of life living all over Spain below.

ExpenseCost $USD
Rent (1-bedroom)$850
Utilities (including fast wifi + mobile plan)$160
Transportation (monthly metro card)$40
Food (mix of cooking at home + restaurants)$325
Healthcare (mid-range private healthcare plan)$80
Extras (coffees, going out, daily small expenses)$100
A sunny day on the river in Girona, Spain.

Fast Facts About Living in Spain


Euro, 1 USD = 566 EUR (check EUR rate here)

What are the expat communities like in Spain?

Whether you’re moving to a big city or a small town, you’ll likely find a community of expats who can offer support, advice, and friendship. Many expats in Spain come from other European countries, but you’ll also find people from all over the world. In my experience, joining local clubs and Facebook groups was a great way to meet other expats and get involved in the community. Naturally, learning Spanish will go a long way toward integrating into the local culture and making friends with Spanish locals.

How is the wifi in Spain?

According to a report by, Spain ranks 24th in the world for internet speed, which is faster than many other European countries. So many cafes, restaurants, and public places also offer free WiFi. Overall, Spain has a good level of internet infrastructure and access, although in some areas you may be limited by the provider serving your location.

Buying Property in Spain

Spain is a desirable place to buy property given the low cost of living in many areas—but there are some potential challenges to be aware of. One of the main issues is the legal requirements surrounding property purchases, which can be different from what expats are used to in their home countries. This can include complex paperwork and requirements around residency and taxes. It’s also important to budget for various taxes and fees when purchasing property in Spain—they really add up! These include VAT, property transfer tax, notary fees, and registration fees. Work with a trusted lawyer through the process, even Spanish locals get qualified help when buying real estate.

Health Insurance

Public healthcare in Spain is universal and accessible to all legal residents, including expats. Public healthcare is funded by taxes and is free at the point of use, although some services and prescriptions may require a co-pay fee. Private healthcare offers more personalized care and faster access to appointments, and it’s very affordable. Expats may buy private health insurance to meet a visa requirement, or often for better access to English-speaking doctors. It’s important to note that private insurance does not exempt expats from paying into the public healthcare system through their taxes.

Visas for Expats

Spain actually has a number of visas that expats can apply for to gain residency. The Non-Lucrative Visa (what I used) is for those with sufficient financial means to support themselves—you have to show proof of funds and you will not be able to work in Spain. The Golden Visa is for those who invest in Spanish property or make a significant investment in a Spanish business. Students who want to study in Spain for more than 90 days can apply for a Student Visa pretty easily. And the Retirement Visa is for those who are retired and have a stable income. The new digital nomad visa launched in 2023 and is for remote workers with stable income who can stay for one year on a reduced tax visa.

Child Friendliness

I can confidently affirm that Spain is a child-friendly country—I live here with my toddler. Children are valued and welcomed everywhere from restaurants to public spaces, and so many cultural activities and attractions cater to families with children. The Spanish culture places a high emphasis on family and children, and it’s not uncommon to see families with children out and about even late into the night. The public education system is also highly regarded and mandatory education runs from age 6 to 16.

Pet Friendliness

Many of my expat friends moved here with their furry companions, and they have all found Spain pet-friendly—assuming they have a pet passport. It’s not uncommon to see dogs in public places—think restaurants and cafes—and many businesses have water bowls outside their doors for dogs, as well as metal loops at the entrance so you can pop inside and leave your dog outside. There numerous dog-friendly parks and beaches across the country, and it’s easy to find veterinarians and pet stores anywhere. You do have to get the pet licensed, and some breeds are restricted in the major cities.

Possible Issues Living in Spain

One common issue is the bureaucracy—navigating the Spanish administrative system is time-consuming and frustrating. I can’t imagine having done it without speaking Spanish—in that case plan to hire help. The Spanish siesta hour is not an issue, but is a change for most expats. Many businesses and shops close for a few hours in the afternoon. This can take some getting used to if you’re used to a different schedule. And if you’re not moving to a major city, know that few people speak English, so navigating while you learn Spanish will be challenging.

What is the Quality of Life in Spain?

One of the things that drew me to Spain was the high quality of life. Spain is known for its relaxed and laid-back lifestyle, delicious food and wine, and warm and friendly people. While the cost of living in Spain can vary, it’s important to consider the quality of life that you’ll experience in each region. And to that end—boy are there some very different places you can live. Spain features renowned cities and stunning beaches, but it also boasts a number of small towns and cities dotted from north to south that have something to offer those moving to Spain. I walked the Camino de Santiago back in 2017 and was delighted by the charm and culture oozing from places like Burgos and Leon. And I housesat in the desert north of Almería for two months and got a taste for a much quieter and rural life in Spain.

The fact is, there are dozens and dozens of towns where expats live and flourish. Here are a few to consider and assess how the quality of life stacks up against your goals—if you’re interested in the quality of life in an area not mentioned here, this “Ask an Expat” series has fantastic information about places all over Spain.


Barcelona’s vibey Plaza Real is a hit with travelers resting between sightseeing.
Barcelona’s most iconic building, the Sagrada Familia.

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region, a major cruise ship hub in Europe, and one of the most vibrant cities in Spain—I’m biased but it’s true! Barcelona offers high quality of life for expats living here—you have all the amenities of a big city, but it’s nothing like living in New York or London. You can visit art galleries, museums, and cultural events to your hearts content, but you can also walk all over the city when you live centrally, and get most anywhere in 30 minutes on the well-connected metro and train. For digital nomads and those still wanting to party, Barcelona certainly has bars and clubs, but it also just has great restaurants.

When I first visited in 2012, Barcelona was terrible for vegetarians—I speak Spanish and still struggled. Now, although Spanish food isn’t the most vegetarian friendly, Barcelona has a lot of diverse options for vegans and vegetarians. Considering you can find miles of coastline in minutes, or head into the mountains for a hike, it’s just a nice balance. I’ve lived here since early 2018 and I’m happy to have called it home.

That said, I personally have considered moving south within the next year or so. Not because the quality of life is anything other than lovely (although the constant air pollution in Barcelona doesn’t thrill me), but for a combination of schooling options for my son and a desire for even warmer weather.


Located in the center of the country, Madrid offers a unique blend of history and modernity. The city is known for its lively cultural scene, with many museums, art galleries, and theaters, and you’ll find in Madrid many of the best restaurants in Spain. Like Barcelona, Madrid has lively nightlife—many bars and clubs open until the early hours of the morning. But what’s it like to live there? A British expat friend raves about how balanced his life is in Madrid, which he likens to a really large village. He has a large community of friends and participates in many meetups. The rich social life is largely thanks to how Spaniards love leisurely meals and will sit, snack, and sip for hours when there’s good conversation and good vibes happening. This sentiment of a friendly, community feel is echoed by other expats.


Ah, Andalusia, a region of southern Spain known for its warm climate and stunning beaches. One of the larger towns on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has a large expat community living in the city—mainly in la Malagueta for those who can afford it. There are Spanish areas of the city too, though. And tons of expats live all along the coast, and in the mountains around Malaga—if it’s a city within an hour of Malaga airport, there are expats living there.

You could call Malaga Airport your home airport but live instead in a smaller, charming city like Marbella. Family-friendly Marbella has it’s more ritzy side, with pricey bars and coastal resorts, but it has another side too according to a expat who’s lived there for nearly a decade. Expat Marina shares that “safety, beaches, excellent international schools, great social life and fantastic atmosphere all add to it being [her] little paradise.”

Rural Areas

Views of the Spanish Pyrenees along Spain’s Camino de Santiago.
Spain has a hugely varied climate and topography.

Spain is not just about the cities, however. Rural areas in Spain offer a different way of life and an entirely different cultural opportunity—they focus on tradition, nature, and community. Many expats choose to live in small towns and villages in rural areas of Spain, where they can experience a slower pace of life and connect with the local community. Rural areas in Spain offer a unique opportunity to connect with nature, with tons of opportunities for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.

What would life be like in these smaller, rural areas of Spain? Well, many expats buy property in the villages they decide to call home—the cost of living is low enough in Spain that in these areas that are far from touristy, the price of real estate versus renting is far preferable. You could buy a farmhouse hike around the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, but you’ll soon learn that places are not well insulated and you might face weather extremes.

Thinking of moving elsewhere in Spain? Here’s a peek at what the quality of life is like in the Canary Islabunds or Seville.

If you’re still researching various expat spots, check out our other Cost of Living Guides for a look at what it takes to move to the world’s most popular expat spots.

Scenes of Mallorca on the short flight from Barcelona to Palma.
The monastery at Montserrat, an easy day trip from Barcelona.
Small(er) town vibes while wandering through León.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Spain?

As with every price in the world, the cost of living varies widely depending on the region of Spain you choose to call home. There are common features to the places with the highest cost of living in Spain: They are either major cities (Madrid and Barcelona), islands (Mallorca and the Canary Islands), or places cities sitting right on the beach. All of these places are popular expat destinations—and they are far more affordable than comparable cities or islands elsewhere in Europe—but there are also off-the-beaten path places in Spain where you can legitimately offer a high quality of life at an outright affordable cost.

And remember to consider your lifestyle when determining assessing these cost of living assessments. If you dine out a lot and frequent bars and clubs, your expenses will be higher than someone who prefers a quieter lifestyle.

And let’s talk about taxes—these assessments do not account for your tax bill, and that can be hefty in Spain, particularly for freelancers. Only one expat candidly shared her autonomo fees as part of her cost of living details, and they are steep—half of her rent!

If you’re a student or digital nomad willing to share a room, you can also dramatically reduce your expenses—even in the big cities you’re looking at more than halving your rental expenses if you share (and you’re not out the huge deposit either). It’s possible to live in Spain for €1,000 if you’re sharing an apartment with one or more people (about €400+of that goes toward a small bedroom if you’re in a big city). The prices are generally profiling those renting private accommodation, but the price ranges on the low end are only for those either living far from a city center, or sharing a flat.

Barcelona Cost of Living: €1,800-€3,000

I live in Barcelona, so this information is the most thorough of the places profiled: I actively assess and update it frequently. Those profiled below are my closest friends—all of whom are expats living in a range of different lifestyles. Note that all rents in the city are now pegged to inflation and rise annually based on the year-over-year inflation rate. That means they creep up about €20-€100 a year, depending on your rental price. And while there are discounted internet providers in Barcelona, they don’t serve all areas so you may get stuck with Vodaphone or Movistar—both fine but a tad bit pricier. And healthcare for Europeans is included for “free” since they are tax-paying legal residents.

Cara is a single expat from London living in the trendy and central Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona. She’s a voiceover artist running an audio-describing business, and she lives in a strange little apartment that was billed as a two-bedroom, but is really a furnished one-bedroom plus a minuscule room that fits her small sound booth. She locked in a discounted rent during the pandemic that’s up to €800 euro now per month, with €50 for phone and high-speed internet and another €120 on average for water and electricity. Cara lives on a budget but not an extreme one—she doesn’t run the heat all winter but does make good use of a €350 per month coworking membership that includes gym access. Where things get pricey is paying to be self-employed. She’s autonomo and if you’re an expat earning about €2,500 a month here, your monthly autonomo contribution is roughly €350 per month—that’s steep but gets you access to the public health system though, and Cara notes that her asthma inhaler is €4. Added on top of the monthly contribution is accountancy fees of around €150 plus IVA per quarter. All-in, Cara would struggle to spend less than €2,500 for her baseline lifestyle, which also includes drinks on the town at least once a week and a full night out dancing and drinking once a month. When comparing to the others profiled here though, €400+ of that goes to taxes and fees, so her baseline budget is €2,100.

Hayley and Antonio lived in Barcelona full-time for five years, but during the pandemic adopted a more flexible lifestyle—they spend six months a year in Barcelona, then they head to Sicily every summer (they have Italian citizenship) and spend falls traveling the world. They have a small dog and live on a high mid-range budget. Their average rent in Barcelona factors in that they rent short-term furnished apartments in the central neighborhood of Eixample—there’s a premium for that. They have consistently found two-bedroom furnished apartments on a short-term lease for about €1,400-€1,800—this is about ~€200 more than you could if you were signing a long-term lease. That rent often includes internet, but not bills (electricity is expensive here and no place wants to risk paying for someone running the AC all day). They eat out or order in multiple times a week, and Hayley uses the Soho House for coworking (€230 per month). All in for a couple living in Barcelona in central areas of Barcelona and enjoying the city’s many restaurants, they average €3,500. This does not include taxes, which they pay in Spain and the UK because their businesses are run out of the UK.

As the founder of this site, I’ve shared my low cost of living for places as diverse as Thailand and Mexico. I, Shannon, have lived in Spain for five years now, and last year I added a son to the mix. As such, this is the cost of living for an adult and child living on a moderate budget. I live in a two-bedroom furnished apartment in the trendy and central Gracia neighborhood for €1,175. Internet and phone sets me back €45, and I run my heat all winter and a fan all summer, so my electric bill comes in at €110 a month on average and water/gas €50. (Note that electricity prices have risen massively year-over-year for two years running). I’m vegetarian and I don’t eat out much—brunch once a week with friends but rarely nights on the town, so that’s about €80. Groceries (diapers man, am I right?) run about €450 and add another €20 for coffees and a treat a few times a week. The nanny comes for 10 hours a week and also deep cleans once a month, so that sets me back about €400. My expat visa required me to hold zero-deductible health insurance, which is €130 per person, per month. I use a local Buy Nothing group for all of my baby clothes and toys, so that’s never a regular expense. That said, I’ll throw another €150 per month in there for odd expenses like medicine, a 10-ride metro card once a month at €12, baby swim lessons at the municipal pool, etc. All told, baseline expenses run €2,300. This does not include paying Spanish taxes—that’s a whole other story since I have a complex situation where I worked for a U.S. company that paid my U.S. social security but I’m a resident here. It gets super complicated and I pay lawyers to help keep it sorted. That’s not cheap.

Barcelona’s stunning and central Cuitadella Park.
The imposing Iglesia de San Martin de Frómista—a reminder that Spain is a Catholic country.
A quiet day on the Río Ega in Estella, Spain.

Madrid Cost of Living: €1,800-€2,800

Madrid is known for its bustling streets, lively nightlife, and vibrant cultural scene. The cost of living in Madrid is generally on par with Barcelona—some say a tough higher, but I didn’t see that born out in the research. All told though, it’s still costs more than other cities in Spain. Rent prices are decent, but they’ve been rising a good bit post-pandemic like everywhere in Spain. Like Barcelona, the neighborhood you pick makes all the difference on rental prices. But if you’re an expat, you likely want to be pretty central, at least for your first few years, so these breakdowns assume that you’re maybe considering the pricier Salamanca, Malasaña or Chueca neighborhoods, as well as the more budget Lavapiés or Embajadores ones.

Gabi is a Lithuanian living in Madrid since 2017. Given that she’s been there for years and updates her cost of living information annually, Gabi offers great insights for those moving to Spain and considering Madrid. Expect to spend €800-€1000 for a furnished one-bedroom flat in Madrid, then factor in €80 for utilities (gas, electricity, and water), €50 for internet and one cell line, €120 for food for a month (I find that a touch low if you’re not eating out all the time, and she implies that she doesn’t), €10 for occasional transport (€50 for a monthly transit card if you’re commuting more), and €30 for the gym.

Michael and Maggie are an Australian and American couple who lived in Madrid in 2019. While they don’t share their specific expenses—such a shame and a real hinderance to understanding your own mileage—you can extrapolate that they were in fact living in Madrid on a moderate budget—not stingy but quite frugal considering I find some of their food cost estimates low (but I buy a lot of fresh and occasionally organic produce). They put a single person’s cost of living in Madrid at €720-€1,454—with a tick up to account for ridiculously high inflation the past three years, you’re looking at €900 for a frugal life living with others . . . but I can’t see how that figure includes tax contributions.

Alicante Cost of Living: €1,200-€2,500

Brian and Carrie live in Alicante and share a great video about their one-month stay in Alicante, and it’s illuminating that even using Airbnb for the month they only spent €927 for a month in central Alicante—I can assure you it’s well over double for the equivalent in Barcelona or Madrid. They spent €54 on transportation, which was just for exploring as they note that living centrally means walking everywhere. They cooked at home and spent €300 for one month of buying local groceries, and spent nearly €200 on beer and some tapas a few times. They spent €20 on pay-as-you-go SIMs, which are super common in Spain. If your accommodation includes Internet, then this is accurate as to how much you’ll spend—it’s really cheap! They added in some other one-off expenses and still spent only €1,700 for a couple. It’s clear to see that with cheaper rent by living there long-term, a single person could totally come in at €1,200. Keep in mind though that they are not tax-paying residents. This is more of the budget for someone moving to Spain for under six months since it appears they are paying taxes in the U.S. and not establishing residency anywhere.

Nellie lived with her partner in Alicante and they came in at a very doable €1,050 per month for both of them to live in Spain—but that was a long time ago. Updated, that price is now closer to €1,300 as a baseline. But still that low cost of living is a testament to why it’s way more affordable to live anywhere outside of the major cities (Barcelona, Madrid, and I’ll through in Malaga too since it’s pretty pricey). In Alicante, you’re looking at spending €650+ for a well located one-bedroom apartment, and then another €600 as baseline expenses. If you’re living as a couple then your overall cost of living in Spain really does come in under €1,000 per person since the rent is split between the two.

Malaga Cost of Living: €1,400 and up

The capital of the Costa del Sol, this sunny location in the south of Spain is hugely popular with expats, but a good deal more affordable than Barcelona and Madrid—expect to pay about 15% less overall to live in Malaga. That said, inflation has hit Malaga hard—harder than other cities—and rent is skyrocketing in 2023. You’ll need to check Idealista for the latest rental landscape.

Cristina grew up in Malaga and lives there now—she shares a broad overview of the expenses. Even as of last summer though, her estimate of prices for a one-bedroom in the city-center are low. Given 2023 spikes, you can’t really find a one-bedroom for less than €800—but there are a lot at between that price point and €1000—and there are even many three-bedrooms in that price range.

This Reddit thread about moving to Malaga while earning $60K a year is from 2022 and has some great feedback and perspectives on how much you can get for that, and how $60K compares to local salaries (hint: It’s nearly double what locals make, so obviously you can live in Malaga on that much money).

Frank and Lissette lived in Nerja, which is a coastal city 45 minutes to the east of Malaga, until April 2023 (then they moved a couple hours away, north of Malaga). They share their cost of living in Nerja with precise numbers. As such, it’s a pretty good look at how much you would spend to leave in the Malaga region in a beach town and not in the city center. Rent comes in at €850 for a larger place with a garden. Utilities—including wifi, electricity, gas, and garbage—come in at €114. They spend €600 on groceries and basics, and another €170 on drinks and tapas. They pay €110 for Adeslas for both of them, and for a couple living in a beach town outside of Malaga their total expenses average just under €2,000 per month. Interestingly, their monthly budget went down roughly €300 this year compared to last—they attribute that to different eating habits both at home and when eating out.

Links & Resources For Moving to Spain

  • You will need comprehensive worldwide expat insurance and separate property insurance policy once you’re living overseas—I’ve used IMG Global and Clements for many years now with great success and highly recommend both. IMG can work as long-term expat health insurance, or for the first year while you assess private Spain insurers. If you’re keen to get a private Spanish insurance company straight away—and that’s a good idea too—I have used Sanitas for five years and the policies are affordable and the care is great. Sanitas has a wide network of private doctors, clinics, and hospitals across the country. The other popular private insurers most expats use include ASSA and Adeslas.
  • How to find an apartment: Idealista is the main site listing apartments and homes across Spain. It’s where I’ve found my three apartments. Others that you’ll likely be checking during your search include: Milanuncios, Fotocasa, and Spotahome (offers many shorter-term leases too). Note that inmobiliarias are real estate agents that help landlords rent. You pay them a huge fee when moving in—usually 10% of the first year’s rent. In the major cities, it’s hard to find a place without this fee. Given that foreigners (and locals to some extent) are charged two to four months rent up front as security deposit, it’s a hefty fee for move-in day.
  • Research various destinations and connect with others who are retired in Spain through Mapping Spain—it’s a super helpful site and the Facebook group is active too. The couple running it live in the south and are active bloggers always adding more relevant information for those moving to Spain.
  • Bureaucracy can be a real headache. These are resources I used when moving to Barcelona. I hired help for some tasks that I just wanted to go smoothly. When I first arrived, I used NIE Barcelona for help getting an appointment and paperwork gathered for my very first resident card appointment.
  • Need a lawyer? I hired Lexidy Law Boutique five years into my time in Spain for help applying for permanent residency. Lexidy is hella pricey, but if you need English-language help, its about on par with others, and my experience with them was great.
  • Best Barcelona expat groups: Girls Gone International, Barcelona Expat Flea Market (buying/selling)
  • Barcelona Baby & Family Facebook groups: Barcelona Bumps & Babies (meetups + advice), Buy Nothing Barcelona (swapping baby things), Barcelona Babies & Kids (meetups + advice)
  • A Better Life for Half the Price: A Mexican expat breaks down all the major expat spots in the world with costs, quality of living, and resources. I learned a lot and found a couple of countries I hadn’t previously considered. It’s worth buying if you’re still searching out which country is best for the life you want to live.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general expat guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser-focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing taxes abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file—good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.

Planning a Research Trip to Spain?

You should absolutely plan a research trip to Spain before you go through the process of moving your life there. Do some neighborhood research before you visit too, and then you can book a hotel in that neighborhood to see if it has good vibes.

  • Tourist visas are the standard 90-day European Schengen visa issued on arrival.
  • Pick out a good travel insurance policy like IMG (I’ve used the company since 2011) to cover you while you’re either in transit visiting your future homes—or the insurance policies work well as expat insurance too (that’s what I used my first year living in Spain).
  • If you’re visiting Barcelona, the Seventy is central to exploring both Eixample and Gracia neighborhoods and is a stunning, recently renovated and mid-ranged priced hotel. Hostal Poblenou is actually a fabulous option too—it’s great for those on budget, for those wanting to be near the beach, or for families interested in this family-friendly neighborhood.
  • Rent a car if you’re unsure of where you’d like to live. While you certainly don’t need a car to explore Madrid or Barcelona, rent a car if you’re hitting a number of cities—a particularly good idea if you’re moving to southern Spain. Find a good price through Expedia or—between those sites I always find a good deal.

Cost of Living Comparison

Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources on all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and—importantly—budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia
Cost of Living in Eastern Europe
cost of living Vietnam
Cost of Living Guide for Amsterdam & Berlin
mexico cost of living
cost of living costa rica
panama cost of living
thailand cost of living