With a great lifestyle, affordable cities and an abundance of English teaching jobs, Spain is one of the most popular countries for anyone looking to live abroad. Madrid and Barcelona are both very popular 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.
5 of the Best & Cheapest Cities to Live in Spain
Valencia is a really good option for anyone looking for a big city experience but not willing to fork out the extra few hundred Euros each month to live in Madrid or Barcelona. With a population of around 800,000, Valencia is the third largest in Spain and it is similar to Barcelona in some respects with great beaches in and just outside of the city and a lively cultural calendar which peaks with the city’s famous Falles celebrations.
It is also a great destination for culinary lovers as the birthplace of the paella and overall, Valencian cuisine is widely seen as superior to that of the big two Spanish cities. As well as the popular beach and 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.
Estimated Living Costs* – 950 Euros/month
* The cost of living for the five cities featured in this post clearly will vary 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 than the figures quoted. Those looking for a bit of comfort or convenience in terms of their living situation may want to budget for slightly more. If you’re coming alone and looking to rent your own property, it may be tough to stick to these budgets. Use the table at the bottom of this page to compare living costs in these cities to others in Spain.
Seville/Sevilla is another of the big Spanish cities and it is the capital of Andalucia, which overall is the cheapest region 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 an extensive cycle scheme which makes getting around cheap and easy, Seville is a great option for anyone looking for an authentic Spanish experience.
Estimated Living Costs – 900 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. 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 still only an hour or so from the coast and the province of Granada is home to some gorgeous quiet beaches.
Estimated Living Costs – 950 Euros/month
Find Work Placements in Spain
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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 it boasts some of the best city beaches in all of Spain. Its tram network makes it reasonably easy to get around and connect between the pleasant centre/port area and the excellent San Juan beach which is lined with bars and restaurants.
Estimated Living Costs – 875 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 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.
Estimated Living Costs – 925 Euros/month
MFT Recommends – If you don’t have a Euro bank account, consider getting a Revolut Card before moving to Spain. This will enable you to hold a Euro balance and pay for things in the local currency thus avoiding some hidden banking fees. Even if you do ultimately intend to open a Spanish bank account (this can take some time), you’ll certainly save money by using Revolut until that point.
Cost of Living in Spain – Cities Compared
For the table below, we’ve taken 1200 Euros as a base monthly figure for living in Madrid. This should be a very comfortable amount for anyone living in a flatshare, aiming to have a lively social life and do things in your spare time (you may be able to get by on less). It should also just about cover costs for anyone looking to rent their own place but perhaps be a bit more prudent in what they spend elsewhere.
We have then used numbeo’s cost calculator as a guide to calculate our estimated cost of living in 19 other cities in Spain. As you can see, there is quite a wide range with cities away from the core economic hubs of Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country being quite considerably cheaper to live in. 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.
|City||Estimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)|
|Palma de Mallorca||1100|
|Las Palmas de Gran Canaria||900|
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).
Also, please note that the cost of health insurance is not factored into these figures. EU citizens may already have an EHIC card which entitles you to free treatment. However If you are a remote worker, digital nomad or even a retiree (under 69) and you do need cover for your move to Spain, then we can recommend SafetyWing – a popular company which offers affordable global health insurance for anyone living, travelling or working abroad, even during a pandemic!
This article on the cheapest cities to live in Spain was published in May 2020.