Most Expensive Cities to Live in Spain

Living in Spain, either as an expat, international student, or a tourist, means being part of a rich history where culture, art, and architecture simply thrives. Spain is a beautiful country, full of enriching landscapes, picturesque streets, and unique architecture. For international students, Spain is an ideal destination due to its world-class universities and long academic expertise, which is complemented by the wonderful living conditions and affordability in Spain

International students, for example, will need approximately 1,000 EUR/month to live comfortably in Spain, a price which can be lower/higher depending on the Spanish city. Namely, two of the most expensive cities to live in Spain are Barcelona and Madrid, where the cost of living is relatively higher than in some of the most affordable cities in Spain, like Alicante or Granada.

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Here are some of the most expensive cities to live in Spain for international students: 

1. Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most expensive cities, not to say the most expensive, in Spain, especially for international students on a budget. It is a vibrant and diverse city, and what is especially interesting and unique about this city is its architecture. However, the overall cost of living can be considered expensive, especially when compared to other cost-friendly Spanish cities, like Córdoba, Salamanca, or Granada. For those who can master the art of budgeting, living in Barcelona would not be that big of an issue. The food is delicious, the sun-kissed beaches are tranquil, and the universities in Barcelona are world-class. 

You can find a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Barcelona for approximately 932 EUR/month, meanwhile, the same apartment outside of the city centre will set you back around 724 EUR/month. If you will be commuting by means of local transport, you will typically have to pay approximately 2,20 EUR for a one-way ticket. Overall, the daily expenses are quite affordable, meaning rent is the one challenge that is a bit more difficult to overcome. International students, however, typically decide to live with roommates or in student halls. 

Some of the average costs in Barcelona include: 

ExpensesAverage Cost
1-bedroom flat (centre)932.00 €
1-bedroom flat (outside of centre)724.00 €
Utilities 134.00 € 
Local transport ticket2.20 €
Meal (inexpensive restaurant)12.00 €
Cinema Ticket9.00 €

2. Madrid

Also known as one of the most expensive cities in Spain, ranking quite closely with Barcelona, Madrid is known for its richness in history, culture, and art. It has some of the finest collections of Spanish and Latin American art across its museums and galleries. Although it is one of the most expensive cities to live in Spain, living in Madrid means being part of a city with a rich history, a lovely nightlife, and amazing living conditions. The cost of rent is largely cheaper outside of the city centre, so, many people decide to live further from the centre in order to be able to afford rent. Daily expenses, however, are, more or less, the same as other Spanish cities. 

A one-bedroom apartment in Madrid, on an average, will set you back almost 1,000 EUR/month, the cost of which is cheaper and more affordable outside of the centre, specifically roughly 300 EUR cheaper. Most international students love Madrid due to its vibrance and lifestyle. Everything seems quite colourful in this all-weather city. For a cinema ticket, to watch an international release, you will be required to pay somewhat 9,00 EUR per person, which is not as expensive as one would expect. 

Some of the average costs in Madrid include:

ExpensesAverage Cost
1-bedroom flat (centre)965.00 €
1-bedroom flat (outside of centre)721.00 €
Utilities 135.00 €
Local transport ticket1.50 €
Meal (inexpensive restaurant)12.00 €
Cinema Ticket9.00 €

3. Zaragoza

Zaragoza is largely recognized for its high quality of life at a reasonable cost. In comparison to the aforementioned cities, Zaragoza is more affordable, especially for international students. Its beauty, however, is just as unmatched as Barcelona’s or Madrid’s. There is just so much to see and do in this city, and its location allows for easy access to the other parts of the country. Zaragoza is sometimes referred to as a dynamic city, offering numerous cultural activities. Despite the fact that it is generally a safe place to be, it is also a place of beautiful architecture.

Although Zaragoza is cheaper than Madrid or Barcelona, it is still more expensive than a few other Spanish cities, like Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, or Córdoba. You will be required to pay approximately 550 EUR/month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, and around 435 EUR/month for the same apartment outside of the city centre. The University of Zaragoza, however, is one of the oldest universities in Spain, founded hundreds of years ago, in 1542. This city has a long history of academic expertise, which is what makes it attractive to students, despite being among the most expensive cities to live in Spain. 

Some of the average costs in Zaragoza include:

ExpensesAverage Cost
1-bedroom flat (centre)553.00 €
1-bedroom flat (outside of centre)435.00 €
Utilities 134.00 €
Local transport ticket1.35 €
Meal (inexpensive restaurant)12.00 €
Cinema Ticket8.00 €

4. Malaga

Malaga is a large city located in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, with a population of around 571,026. Although not as largely recognized as the previously mentioned Spanish cities, this port city is known as the birthplace of the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The cost of living in Malaga is pretty affordable, but it is amongst some of the most expensive cities in Spain. Although all Spanish cities have a similar cost of living in terms of daily expenses, in some of them, the cost of real estate is higher.  

In Malaga, you will have to pay around 710 EUR/month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, and around 519 EUR/month for the same apartment in the periphery. A meal, in an inexpensive restaurant, will set you back approximately 10,00 EUR, while a meal for two at a fancier restaurant will cost around 40,00 EUR. You will be able to get a cup of coffee for around 1,50 EUR, which is a reasonable price, and a one-way ticket, if you are commuting by means of public transport, is typically 1,30 EUR.

Some of the average costs in Zaragoza include:

ExpensesAverage Cost
1-bedroom flat (centre)710.00 €
1-bedroom flat (outside of centre)519.00 €
Utilities 122.00 €
Local transport ticket1.30 €
Meal (inexpensive restaurant)10.00 €
Cinema Ticket8.00 €

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