With a great lifestyle, affordable cities, sunny coastlines and an abundance of English teaching jobs, Spain is one of the most popular countries for people looking to move abroad. Madrid and Barcelona are both very attractive destinations but while they aren’t as expensive as other major European or North American cities, by Spanish standards they are a little pricey. Here are five of the cheapest cities to live in Spain that also boast a high quality of life with an array of things to see and do in your free-time.
At the bottom of the page, we also have a 2023 cost of living comparison of 20 Spanish cities. This takes into account recent increases in the cost of living in Spain and across Europe.
5 of the Best Cities to Live in Spain that are more affordable
Valencia is a really good option for anyone looking for a big city experience but not willing to fork out the extra couple of hundred Euros each month to live in Madrid or Barcelona. With a population of around 800,000, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and it is similar to Barcelona in some respects with popular beaches in and just outside of town and a lively cultural calendar which peaks with the city’s famous Fallas celebrations.
It is also a great destination for culinary lovers as the birthplace of the paella, and overall Valencian cuisine is arguably superior to that of the big two Spanish cities. As well as the popular beach and modern port area, Valencia has changed for the better in recent years with the spectacular redevelopment of the old river bed which is now a huge, green park perfect for exercising, relaxing or visiting attractions such as the outstanding Science Museum and Aquarium, one of the best in the world.
While the public transport isn’t anywhere near as extensive as in the big two Spanish cities, Valencia is very flat and has lots of cycle lanes and cycle friendly areas which makes this a good option for getting around.
Cost of Living Index – 1200 Euros/month
Seville/Sevilla is another of the big Spanish cities and it is the capital of Andalucia, which is one of the cheapest regions of Spain to live in. This is a passionate city with a slightly different pace and style of living compared to others in Iberia, largely conditioned by the extreme heat during the summer months.
At this time of year, Sevillanos often take shelter during the daylight hours and the many beautiful streets and plazas come to life after 10:00 p.m. when people head out to shop, dine and drink. The city’s nightlife peaks from late spring through to early autumn with many open-air bars and nightclubs buzzing with life, dancing and music.
Seville’s Easter celebrations and parades (Semana Santa) and the famous Feria de Abril are also two of the biggest dates on Spain’s cultural calendar and are best experienced if you are living in the city rather than just visiting. With affordable rents, a manageable size and another extensive cycle scheme, which makes getting around cheap and easy, Seville is a great option for anyone looking for an authentic Spanish experience.
Cost of Living Index – 1150 Euros/month
Granada, is another of the best places to visit in Andalucia, lying 250 km east of Seville and may be a better option for those who prefer smaller or indeed cooler cities (in winters at least – the summer heat is still extreme!).
This popular university town is home to the world famous Alhambra – the large palace and fortress which looms large over the old centre. It is certainly one of the most spectacularly set cities in Europe and it also boasts quite a unique vibe with an Arabic past that is still quite evident with plenty of North African and Middle-Eastern restaurants and shisha bars.
Once you’ve done the typical tourist trail, Granada may not have as much to offer in terms of entertainment as Valencia or Seville, but there are loads of great options for getting out of the city during your free time. The Sierra Nevada mountain range which starts just outside the city, serves up an array of hiking options while you can even ski on its slopes during the winter. Despite its mountainous setting, Granada is also still only an hour or so from the coast and the province of Granada is home to some gorgeous, quiet beaches.
Cost of Living Index – 1150 Euros/month
If you’re determined to live on the coast and want easy access to great beaches whilst not breaking the bank, you’ll struggle to beat Alicante. While it is a relatively small city, as the gateway to the Costa Blanca, Alicante boasts the fifth busiest airport in Spain (with more air links than larger cities such as Valencia and Seville for example). This makes it both accessible and a great base for anyone looking to combine living by the beach in Spain with short breaks and trips to other parts of Europe.
The Costa Blanca is very touristy with large expat communities but Alicante itself still has a very Spanish flavour and the region boasts some of the best cheap beach destinations in Europe. Its tram network makes it reasonably easy to get around too and connects the pleasant centre/port area and the excellent San Juan beach, whilst lines extend all the way around the coast to the busy resort of Benidorm.
Cost of Living Index – 1200 Euros/month
If you want to live somewhere off the beaten track to some extent and away from the most popular Spanish destinations with international visitors, consider heading to northwestern Spain and mysterious Galicia.
This region admittedly doesn’t boast the best weather in Iberia by any stretch of the imagination with its Celtic heritage extending to the climate which is wet and blustery for much of the year. However it does boast some absolutely stunning scenery with rugged coastlines and gorgeous bays and in the summer at least, the temperatures still rise to a level that far exceeds what you’ll find in northern parts of Europe.
A Coruña is a compact coastal city with a centrally located beach and views deep into the Atlantic. The relationship with the sea is an integral part of Galician history and culture and the more time you spend there, the more you will get to understand this area’s proud regional identity. If you’re after an affordable city and also something a bit different then A Coruña is well worth considering.
Cost of Living Index – 1200 Euros/month
Spain Cost of Living Calculation Explained
We have used numbeo’s cost calculator as a rough guide to calculate the cost of living index (including rented accommodation) for 20 cities in Spain. While this is based on real 2023 data from people living in Spain, this should only really be used as a means of comparison though as exact living costs will vary considerably from person to person.
Students and those happy to share a flat with several people and maybe live a bit away from the centre or best districts should be able to get by on slightly less. Those looking for a bit of comfort or convenience in terms of their living situation may want to budget more, particularly if you’ll be renting your own property and not sharing with anyone.
Note that travel or health insurance costs are not included in these figures and will vary a lot depending on your age and other factors. Get a quote in less than a minute from SafetyWing for an idea of how much this may cost in your circumstances. EU citizens should be able to get medical treatment with an EHIC card.
Cost of Living (2023) – What are the cheapest cities to live in Spain?
|City||Cost of Living Index (Monthly in Euros)|
|Palma de Mallorca||1400|
|Las Palmas de Gran Canaria||1200|
The above list features the estimated cost of living in the 15 largest cities in Spain plus 5 more smaller cities that are quite popular with travellers and foreigners looking to move to Spain (A Coruña, Granada, Pamplona, San Sebastian & Santander).
As you can see, there is quite a wide range with most cities away from the core economic hubs of Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country being quite considerably cheaper to live in. Even the likes of Barcelona and San Sebastian aren’t wildly expensive by regional standards though with costs more in line with some of the cheapest cities to live in France.
In addition to the five cities featured above, the likes of Malaga and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are also good options for anyone looking for a sunny new home with a coastal location and affordable cost of living.
We initially posted this article at the start of the pandemic but according to the latest 2023 updates, it was interesting to note that Madrid has got cheaper relative to most other cities in Spain. This is perhaps due to people being increasingly able to work remotely and not needing to live in the capital which has the most jobs. Some Spaniards and foreigners living in Spain have also opted to relocate to the coast which may explain rises in coastal cities in warmer locations such as Malaga.
Another development over the past year has been Spain’s plan to become the latest country offering digital nomad visas in Europe which should make it easier for non-EU citizens to stay longer.
This article on the cheapest cities to live in Spain was last updated in May 2023. Comments and questions are welcome but please note we are not experts on Spanish/EU immigration laws nor local job markets.
29 thoughts on “What are the best and cheapest cities to live in Spain?”
Im looking forward to move and live in spain , i have two kids with me ( 11 and 13) i can work remotely
what the best place where i can live with my kids ? what best place suitable for kids to study and enjoy life ? many schools options ?
please can you advise me ?
Thanks in advance
Hello, if you’re looking for places to work remotely that are affordable and nice to live in, the article pretty much covers that. I feel like Valencia & Alicante might be the best of the 5 for kids but I guess that really depends on you and your family’s preferences. Maybe the Alicante or Malaga regions would be better options for kids as there will be more international families there and more opportunities for making friends etc. Some of the more “Spanish” cities like Seville might be more of a culture shock and would require them to learn Spanish quickly. Not sure what kinds of schools you’re after, but again you will find more international schools in the areas with big expat communities such as the Costa del Sol.
Hello MFT: You have had several people mentioning citizenship and at least one US citizen asking directly if we can have dual citizenship and the answer is YES! You are not allowed to make an oath of allegiance to a foreign nation, but, that is not usually required. People of Irish ancestry who had a parent or grandparent can get Irish EU passports, I did, my father was Irish. Many Jewish people also take Israeli passports. There are some tax laws you should consider, for example the US taxes you on income earned anywhere in the world. You need to find out what your status is, though this page is geared towards inexpensive living and most people in that category are not as affected by taxes.
Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. The only thing I would add to what you’ve said, is that not all EU countries take the same approach to dual citizenship. While it may be quite easy (if you have the required ancestral links) to get passports for some countries without causing any problems back home, Spain is a bit more complicated. It currently only allows dual citizenship for people from Latin America, Andorra, Portugal, the Philippines, and Equatorial Guinea. People from elsewhere would technically have to renounce their original citizenship to become a Spanish citizen.
Loved reading your post. I’m wondering if Valencia or Seville have got any bohemian/yogi type of neighbourhoods? I’m looking to work remotely somewhere in Spain for a couple of months
Muchos gracias, Sarah
Thanks for your comment. In Valencia, Russafa is probably your best option. It’s in the heart of the city and has certainly got an alternative vibe with lots of small cafes, terraces and a few coworking places where you can work remotely.
In Seville, there’s nothing that jumps out to the same extent but perhaps you could look at Macarena or maybe Triana (the parts close to the river).
Overall I’d say Valencia has a bit more going for it in terms of working remotely and is more popular with digital nomads but Seville is a great city too and is maybe better if you’re looking for a really “Spanish” experience.
Thank you for the excellent info. I will be staying in Valencia for 3 weeks this October (2021) to scout out the neighborhoods for
probable rentals. Hopefully will find something in either City Centre or the Arts & Sciences district. I want to retire in Spain and start my new life. So exciting!!
Thanks for your comment Sylvia, Hope your search went well! Good luck with your move 🙂
I know New Zealanders can come into Spain but need to have a return ticket. If I used my EU passport which I have thanks to my Irish grandmother would I be allowed in?
Covid has changed everything so am wondering about that.
The situation has been changing a lot but currently it seems as though all EU citizens are allowed into Spain and there is no longer a need to be a resident here. So you should have no problem but cases have been rising slightly again so it’s not impossible the situation may change in the upcoming weeks. There are also still restrictions on travelling between regions within the country for both Spanish and non-Spanish people.
Thanks for that info. The restricted travel between areas is a surprise. I can understand why but that will definitely influence where I go as I do a volunteer job in Madrid……and they are only taking people who are in Spain at the moment……that could mean just Madrid to be safe! I’m happy about the EU passport. A travel agent is checking that out for me!! On an NZ passport I need a return ticket!!
I am an American who would like to spend some time in Spain. My family roots are all over Spain…including Alicante and the Canary Islands.
I planned on doing this right when the pandemic hit. I had been traveling in Portugal and Spain was next.
The travel restrictions are a bit confusing to me and I wonder if you would know if Americans are allowed back in. I am also planning to take a look at residency.
Of the cities mentioned, which was your favorite?
The travel restrictions both in Spain and for arrivals have relaxed quite a lot recently. Arriving from the US, you can come come in providing you have a negative test within 48 hours before travel OR are fully vaccinated OR have recovered from Covid in the past six months. In each case you need a certificate to prove it. It is liable to change at short notice though so keep checking that!
All the cities are great to visit but for living, I’d perhaps go with Valencia or Alicante. Seville is just so hot in the summer that it’s not much fun from June through to September unless you’re really used to the heat. Granada also has quite an extreme climate with surprisingly cold winters and hot summers so personally I’d rather be somewhere on the coast compared to those two.
Not too sure how A Coruña is for living. Galicia is a beautiful region but it’s a bit out of the way without brilliant transport links to the rest of Spain so I’d probably prefer one of the other cities for the ease of doing trips around Spain.
Do an article on squatters. Folks need to know about this before buying. We are recent victims going thru this now. It’s just crazy…seems sketchy. Owners need more rights.
Thank you for your three comments about squatters. If you’ve had a bad experience then I’m sorry, but this article isn’t about buying accommodation in Spain, it is about renting.
I was wondering how do I tan that annoying line underneath my man boobs from sitting down on a lounger?
I’ve got a white under boob and a white waist band From my belly overhanging.
Maybe spend less time thinking of amusing comments to post on blogs and more on doing exercise? 🙂
Hola Funky Travel!
This is a Lovely Article! With all the general info needed, very simple and easy to read and also very informative.
My partner and I live in Ireland, he is Irish and I’m from South America and we are both looking for places to buy in one of those cities in Spain, a small apartment or a house, nothing fancy but well located.
The main cities we have as a preference are San Sebastian and Alicante, however, we can notice the big difference in prices between both. So we have also checked and are interested in all the cities you mentioned. Ideally, we would like to move in the next 2-3 years, but we will try to buy a place at some stage between this or next year and start working on it and visiting during the year. We would like to move with our current jobs, however, we still don’t know if that will possible, I just have few questions regarding our plans:
1. We found lovely places at great prices near Alicante especially in Santa Pola and Exche, are these good places to live? I mean is it safe and are alive towns? how well connected are they regarding transport and to other near cities? I can see these are not far from Alicante and the airport either, is there easy access to those places? what would you advise in general terms?
2. If we move without a job, what is the best city or advice regarding finding a job? We are open to work in the tourism area, as an English teacher, sales, business, etc. How easy is it to find a job in Spain and to what’s the minimum salary? or what is a good business plan or investment to do in Spain?
3. Regarding hospitality, Spanish communities, nice open people, good education for our future kids, which is the best place to live that we could feel safer and welcome? and that also has nature and with amenities and activities to do in our free time.
Please let us know when you can I appreciate your help
Karla & Des.
Hi Karla & Des,
Glad you found the article helpful! Will try to address your questions where possible:
1. Santa Pola, like many of the towns on the coast in this region is pretty quiet most of the year but gets busy during this summer months due to the influx of tourists. It is more geared towards foreigners so you’ll find more of an Expat vibe whereas Elche is a much larger place and a more typical Spanish city. It’s perfectly nice but you won’t be on the coast and won’t find as many people from other countries. Both are well connected to Alicante (15 minutes by bus from Santa Pola, Elche is 30 mins approx by train/bus).
2. English teaching jobs are usually relatively easy to find, although it helps if you arrive at the start of the school year (September). Generally speaking, the bigger the city, the more jobs there will be. Madrid you’ll have the best chances most likely but there are plenty of English language schools in smaller cities such as Alicante and Elche too for example. The minimum salary in Spain I believe is 1,050 Euros per month and you won’t make much more than that teaching English but can always supplement income with private lessons. Tourism jobs will be easier to find in regions such as the Costa Brava, Costa Blanca & Costa Sol but you may struggle to find something other than seasonal work.
3. Difficult question to answer. Overall Spain is a pretty safe and hospitable country. The north and to some extent Catalunya might be viewed as slightly less open or welcoming to outsiders but the latter and also the Basque Country are among the wealthiest regions in Spain with some of the best infrastructure. In terms of nature, the northern regions of Galicia, Asturias & the Basque Country are generally regarded the most beautiful but also have the worst climate and many of the cities are slightly more expensive.
There are many really nice regions of Spain and almost all of the major cities have some appeal to them, so perhaps try and do a few trips to research and see what you like best? There’s not really one place that stands out as having the best of everything so it depends what your priorities are. Once have a clearer plan in terms of what you will do for work, it should become a bit easier to narrow down your options.
Hope this helps a bit 🙂
While it is true that one can find an English teaching job in Spain, be prepared for a lot of economic insecurity and always having to hustle.
I worked as a teacher for years, 8 in Galicia and 2.5 in Barcelona. I taught both both private classes and at a school.
For private classes with children, you can only expect hours from Sept-May/June. When classes are out many people go on holiday. During the year, parents would sometimes cancel because their children had events such as birthday parties.
I also taught in the extracurricular classes in a semi-private school (“concertado” in Spainish). The hourly pay was good, but classes ran from October – May and I didn’t know how many hours I would have until September. As I said, a lot of economic insecurity.
During the summer you can get a week or two of work at a summer camp. Some require sleeping there. But you have to hustle — there are always more teachers than spots and you usually have to know someone.
To teach in a school as a fulltime teacher is complicated. Obviously you need a licence. To get a teaching licence in Spain one needs a high level of the language in the autonomous communities (Galician, Catalan, etc) and have to present for a civil servant exam. Also, you need a master’s degree, either one from Spain or one that has been co-validated. I’ve heard the process takes years. Once you pass you are assigned to a school. As a newbie you are more likely to be assigned to someplace you’ve never heard. With seniority comes more options.
After a decade I left teaching. Loved it, loved the kids, but I got tired of the economic insecurity. Not knowing how much money you are going to earn in a given month makes it impossible to do normal things like rent an apartment.
What ever you do, do it with open eyes. Spain is great, but getting more expensive as it the big cites are also a destination for many high earning remote workers. BCN aims to be the silicon valley of Europe and is doing it’s best to attract tech companies.
Also, I’m not sure how those cost of living data above was estimated. Aside from rent, you have gas, electricity and water bills. In January 2022, for example I paid 850 month rent in BCN — and not in the fashionable part of town– and about 300 in electricity, gas, water. We barely used the heat. (A friend who heated his apartment paid 600 euros in gas alone.) Just saying, expect the costs to be less than much of Europe, but the average wages are also lower than most of Europe.
Thanks for your comment. The cost of living data is per person not per household and is loosely based on numbeo’s figures which come from residents of each city and also my own experience of living in Spain (including in Barcelona) over many years. Clearly it will depend a lot on your personal circumstances and lifestyle so shouldn’t be taken too literally.
Unless you want to live alone in your own flat, even in Madrid & Barcelona you can very easily rent rooms or find a property to share with others in a good area that will see you comfortably pay under 500 Euros per month in rent. Up to 100 Euros per month per person for all bills (wifi,electricity,gas,water) is typical in my experience, although like in many places, that is certainly going up! If you’re using the heating all the time in winter, that can certainly skyrocket but with respect I’d say your friend is doing something pretty wrong if he is getting 600 Euro gas bills!
Hi. I’m a Filipino who would love to study in Spain, where do you think is the cheapest place to study. Oh! And also I would love to live in Spain and i did some research about it. They say that I only need 2 continuous years of residency and I’m liable for the citizenship and I don’t need to let go of my Filipino citizenship since my country is a formerly colonized by the kingdom of Spain.
Can you suggest the cheapest and easiest way to get a spanish citizenship?
Tuitition fees will vary between universities so it would depend on your course. Granada tends to be one of the cheapest universities for that and it’s also one of the more affordable cities. Seville likewise is a popular place to study and is also quite cheap to live in.
If you need to work, English teaching is perhaps the most popular way for foreigners to find work in Spain. Teaching roles aren’t that difficult to find in any of the major cities, but it helps if you have a TEFL qualification and obviously a high level of English. This could be a potential path towards citizenship, if it’s possible for you to initially move to Spain as a resident or on a work visa.
I want to move to Spain sometime in 2021. I need to get away for a while, COVID-19 has devastated our family. My Parents both got the virus, my Mom past away from COVID-19 on Nov 27, my Dad is still in ICU. Needless to say, once this virus nightmare is over, I need to get away… I retired early and want to travel to Spain to see where my Family came from. I’ve been told by some people that if I can show proof that my Great-Grandparents came from Spain, that I can I can apply for Spanish Citizenship? Not sure how true that is? Either way, I’m not sure I would like to surrender my US Citizenship??? Does anyone know if we can have dual Citizenship? Do you know where in Spain expats have large communities? I’d like to move somewhere where there’s a large number of expats, so I can make friends from home. Thanks!
Hi Isabel, sorry to here about your parents.
Not an expert on Spanish citizenship laws and whether having great-grandparents from there would be enough. Usually you have to surrender your original citizenship to become a full Spanish citizen. However you can become a resident of Spain without becoming a citizen. Hopefully somebody can help to provide more clarity on your specific situation!
Regarding expat communities, Barcelona would probably go down as the biggest and it’s the most international feeling city in Spain. Madrid also has quite a large number of expats teaching English and there are meetups and such like where you can get together with other foreigners and locals in both cities.
The Costa del Sol area around Malaga also has a large number of foreign people living and owning properties. Most are from the UK, Germany or Scandinavia as opposed to the US but you may find it easier to get know people there than in a more ‘Spanish’ town or city.
The Costa Brava and Costa Blanca areas also tends to have higher number of expats.
After covid this 64 single lady would like to live in spain or Italy for 3 months. I love the sea, beautiful views, and friendly people. I speak english only. I’d like a smal, safe apartment with a view. I’d like to be able to do some traveling to Portugal, or maybe in live there. Please talk in USD. Any site or information you wold be able to share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. Go away Covid!!!!
There are lots of great options for living by the sea in Spain! For proximity to Portugal and really beautiful scenery, bays and beaches, Galicia is a great option. However the downsides are that it doesn’t have the best climate and it’s not really a typical destination for foreign tourists so it’ll be harder to get by in English.
For a warmer climate, anywhere on the Andalusian coast between Malaga and Cadiz might be worth considering. Aside from the peak of summer (August), you should be able to find a good deal on a coastal apartment and there are a lot more foreign people there so English is more widely spoken. The area near to Cadiz is more “Spanish”. Andalusia on the whole is the cheapest region of Spain and you can get to Southern Portugal and the beautiful Algarve region quite easily too.
Hope this helps, I’d suggest just looking on Airbnb for accommodation for a period of 3 months. You should be able to find a small private flat for 800USD/month or less away from the main tourist season. You can currently get some really good deals due to the COVID situation and I expect this will continue into 2021 even as things hopefully improve.
I ould like a live in Spain on a retired visa! How is that possible
Hi Helen, not an expert on this but quick research suggests you can get a retirement visa (AKA non lucrative visa) if you can show you have over 40.000€ in a bank account. You also need private health insurance via a Spanish company. It seems you can extend it for two more years after the first year, and ultimately you can get permanent Spanish residency going down this path but happy to be corrected if someone knows differently.