Is Madrid Expensive? A Madrid Living Cost Guide


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Spain’s dynamic capital of Madrid is one of the most lively and vibrant cities to visit in all of Europe. Though many visitors only spend a couple of days in the Spanish capital, visiting the main sites like the Prado Museum and the Mercado de San Miguel, others are immediately taken by the energy of the EU’s third-largest city and never want to leave. If you’ve found yourself in the latter group and are considering moving to Madrid, you’re probably wondering about the average Madrid living cost.

Spain is known to be an affordable destination for travellers, especially for Western Europe. However, Madrid is a large, international city and most things do come with a higher price tag than other cities in the country. While the Madrid living cost certainly isn’t as high as in cities like London, Copenhagen, or Stockholm, it is helpful to know just how much you can expect to spend per month while living in Spain’s capital city.

Besides rent, which is obviously going to be the biggest factor in any Madrid living cost breakdown, you’re going to want to know the average price of food (including both groceries and eating out), activities, entertainments, and transportation. So, if you are wondering “Is Madrid expensive?” and want to see if you can afford to live in Madrid, look no further!

Madrid Living Cost: Rent & Utilities

The most pressing and significant expense in your total cost of living in Madrid is going to be the price of rent. You’re going to need a place to live that equipped with heating, electricity, and internet and, most unfortunately, these things don’t come for free anywhere in the world.

The average rent prices in Madrid vary pretty drastically depending on where you choose to live in the city. For instance, a one-bedroom piso (flat) in the upscale Salamanca neighbourhood is going to be significantly more expensive than a more basic apartment in Lavapies or Embajadores. Like in cities throughout the world, central, hip, or in-demand areas in Madrid are going to be more expensive than living a little further from the city centre.

If you’re looking to move to Madrid as a digital nomad or expat and are drawn in by the idea of cheaper living costs than in many Northern European cities, then you should also realise that you aren’t going to save any money by renting an apartment overlooking the Plaza Mayor or the Royal Palace.

If you want to save money on rent, your best bet is to look for lodging further from the city and tourist centres and outside of the uber-trendy areas like Malasaña or Chueca. Areas south of the central Madrid area tend to be more affordable than anywhere to the west or north.

Madrid living cost
The peaceful pond in Madrid’s Parque de Retiro

If you want to rent a one-bedroom apartment, the average price in central Madrid will be about €700-800 per month. If you venture further from the city centre, you can pay closer to €600-700 per month for a one-bedroom. A studio flat will obviously cost a bit less.

If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t mind renting a room rather than an entire apartment, then your Madrid living cost in a shared flat is going to be significantly less than if you choose to live on your own. Not only are you only going to be paying just for your own room (likely around €300-400 per month), you also get to pool utilities.

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If you have your own place, expect utilities like gas, electric, and broadband to average about another €100 in total. Obviously, you can expect to pay more for utilities in the cooler winter months while heating your flat or if you have an air conditioner in the summer, however, expect to pay about €100 per month and you shouldn’t receive too many surprises.

All in, for one person in Madrid, if you’re trying to live on a smaller budget, I would say that you should expect to pay between €400-600 per month depending on your location and style of lodging.

Madrid living cost
Finding a flat near Madrid’s Plaza Mayor is going to be expensive

Madrid Living Cost: Food

While the most significant portion of your total Madrid living cost is going to come out in rent and utilities, the second biggest aspect you need to consider is the cost of food. And while Spain — including its capital city — is known for its affordable food, it’s still a good idea to know how much Madrid prices for food will factor into your total cost of living.

Madrid, and Spain in general, is a foodie heaven. Madrid boasts an incredible local cuisine and, due to the fact that it is very much an international city, you can get just about every kind of food you would like here as well. Madrid is also famous for its tapas culture and you truly wouldn’t experience the city to its full potential if you didn’t take advantage of the scene often.

However, eating out frequently can definitely add up. If you like eating out but want to make sure you get your best value for money, then I would recommend setting your sites on lunch rather than dinner.

In Spanish culture, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and most local restaurants offer incredible deals on a Menu del día or daily menu. If you stray away from a touristy restaurant — and seeing as you’re living in Madrid I assume you will — you can expect to pay between €10-12 for a massive meal that includes a glass of wine or beer, a large first course (usually a salad or soup), hot second course, and either a dessert or coffee.

Most restaurants will typically only offer a set menu on Monday-Friday, however, there are definitely restaurants that offer the same thing on weekends as well.

If you’re keen to head out for tapas in the evening, again, these can vary in price. A small tapa that might include a slice of tortilla con patatas or patatas bravas will likely only cost about €3-4. However, if you plan to eat a bit more and order some raciones, or larger portions, expect to pay between €8-12 depending on what is in the dish. The more local and less trendy the place, the less expensive it is bound to be.

However, if you’re living in Madrid rather than only just visiting, you’re going to be shopping at the local groceries and supermarkets. Luckily, the cost of groceries in Madrid isn’t high and you can get enough food for a week of meals for one person at a Madrid market for roughly €30-40 per week.

There are ample supermarkets scattered throughout the city, however, if you truly want to immerse yourself in the Madrileño culture, then shopping at the local mercados is a far better thing to do. Not only will you support the local economy, but you will also be able to really see what Spanish life is all about.

Also, the quality of products at the local market are normally a lot better than at the supermarket and you can also pause to have a glass of wine or a cheeky vermouth while in the middle of your shopping!

All in, if you plan to eat out, try to limit it to lunch to save money and plan to cook most of your meals at home. If you do things like this, expect not to pay more than €250-300 per month on your food costs.

Madrid living cost
Choosing the set Menu del Día for lunch can be excellent value for money

Madrid Living Cost: Transportation

Now that we’ve covered the two most significant aspects of your total cost of living in Madrid, rent and food, we need to discuss how much you should expect to spend on transportation.

Madrid is a massive, spread out metropolis and it is unrealistic to assume you can walk everywhere you need to go. However, it is also blessed with an excellent public transport system including extensive buses and a vast metro network — the second-largest in Europe, in fact!

Madrid’s public transit is affordable and reliable and if you’re living in or close to the city centre, there is no reason that you will ever need a vehicle of your own.

But how much does this amazing public transportation system cost? Well, there are a few different answers to that question. The most simple answer is, unless you are taking the metro to the airport (where you will have to pay a supplementary cost), then a single journey on the metro or bus will cost €1.50, no matter when you go or at what time.

Now, this is where things get a bit more complicated. For instance, if you’re a visitor in Madrid for longer than a couple of days and plan to use the metro a fair amount, it makes little financial sense to purchase a single-journey fare every time you ride. Instead of this, you can purchase a 10-journey ticket that will cost you €12, which works out to be €1.20 per journey.

These are the transit cards that are available to those who are living in Madrid for fewer than about three months. However, if you plan to become legally resident in the Spanish capital, then you can apply for a personalised monthly transport card.

If you are under age 25, then the 30-day transport ticket, which includes unlimited journeys throughout the city, will cost €20. If you’re over 25, then expect to pay €54 per 30 days.

Madrid is an easy city to get around by public transportation and by foot, and if you’re trying to cut down on your total cost of living in Madrid then that is all the transportation you might need. However, it is worth knowing that taxis and Uber are available in the city as well. Using both of these services frequently can work out to be fairly expensive, however, so if you’re trying to save money in Madrid, I would recommend relying on the bus, the metro, or your humble feet for transport instead.

Taking the metro is a great way to reduce your Madrid living cost
The Madrid metro is an affordable form of public transportation

Madrid Living Cost: Activities

If you’re relocating to Madrid, it is a given that you’re going to want to go out and experience the city. And often times, unfortunately, that can cost money. But how much of an impact will recreational activities have on your overall Madrid living cost? Well, it doesn’t have to be much.

Madrid is a city where it isn’t entirely necessary to spend a lot of money out to enjoy yourself. However, if you are interested in perhaps taking advantage of some of the many museums in the city, that can set you back a few euros. However, it doesn’t have to.

The three most famous museums in Madrid — the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen museums — all charge roughly €10 for adult entry. However, it is less expensive to book your entry online in advance where you can save a couple of euros and you are unlikely to have to queue for a long time.

However, if you want to visit these museums and not pay a dime, have a look on their respective websites, as there are numerous hours when entry is free. Though it can vary from museum to museum, in general, you can expect entry Sunday afternoons to be free of charge along with the last two opening hours on weekdays. This is an excellent way to experience the amazing art these museums have to offer even if you’re living on a shoestring budget.

Madrid living cost
Visiting the Prado Museum can be expensive if you don’t take advantage of their free entry hours

Madrid Living Cost: Entertainment

If Madrid is known for anything, it is for it’s thriving tapas and nightlife scene that can span into the wee hours of the morning. If you don’t care much for sleep and fancy a nocturnal lifestyle, then Madrid is one of the perfect cities for you. And another fantastic thing is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot to drink in the Spanish capital.

Honestly, if you stray away from hard liquor, drinking in the Spanish capital can be positively cheap, which is good news for those wine lovers out there. On average, a basic glass of domestic wine at a restaurant or bar will set you back somewhere around €2.50.

Obviously, depending on where you’re drinking and what type of establishment you’re in, then this can vary within a couple of euros. All in, however, it is rare for a wine, beer, or vermouth to cost less than around €1.75 or more than about €3.50 per glass.

If you’re after something a bit more strong than wine or beer, then know that, like pretty much everywhere else in the world, cocktails and spirits tend to cost more. Again, depending on the neighbourhood and the type of bar, prices for cocktails can vary. However, if you want to get a basic cocktail from a neighbourhood bar outside of a trendy nightlife area, expect them to cost about €4-5 per drink. In a more hip or posh neighbourhood, cocktails will cost closer to €7-8 per drink.

If drinking isn’t necessarily your thing, you will be happy to know that there are ample places to get a coffee in Madrid and a daily coffee habit won’t honestly take much out of your total cost of living in Madrid. If you want to get an espresso drink, expect it to clock in around €1.50-2 depending on where you are.

All in all, if you don’t plan to get absolutely hammered every night of the week while living in Madrid, it is worth planning to spend about €50-100 per month on entertainment in the Spanish capital.

Madrid living cost
A drink like wine, beer, or vermouth, doesn’t have to be expensive in Madrid!

How Expensive is Madrid? Average Monthy Living Costs

With the above considerations in mind, here is how much you should expect to spend per month while living in Madrid. While you could certainly spend more, this is a fairly conservative estimate for someone looking to live in Madrid on a budget.

Rent & Utilities: €400-600/month

Food: €180-200/month

Transportation: €20-54/month

Activities: €50/month

Entertainment: €50-100/per month

In summation, expect your average Madrid living cost to land around €850 per month. This is an ideal budget if you want to cut costs in some ways but splurge on some other things.

You can save a lot of money if you shop at local markets, like the Mercado Anton Martin

Figuring out the average cost of living in Madrid can be confusing, however, if you break down each category of your monthly spending a sort out your priorities, you can figure out how much it will cost you to live in the Spanish capital. 

Are you wondering about the Madrid living cost? Are you planning on moving to Madrid? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

Comments

  1. The info on expenses in Madrid was very helpful. Im making plans to live in Madrid for a year. I do need info on real estate companies to help with finding rentals and best bank. Any info on places to look would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Glad you found this article helpful, Christine. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good advice for finding real estate companies or banks

      Reply
  2. Hello Maggie,
    Thank you for your wonderful and very informative article.
    I want to know if it is easy to commute on bicycle in Madrid? Is it a common thing in Madrid?

    Reply
    • Hi Thea, thanks for your comment! You can definitely commute on a bicycle in Madrid and many people do so, however, it isn’t as bike-friendly as other Spanish cities. It’s pretty hilly in parts and the infrastructure for cyclists isn’t super well-developed.

      Reply

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