Madrid may be one of Europe’s biggest capital cities (it’s actually the 6th largest city in all of Europe by population!) but the cost of living is much less than you’d think. If you are looking for the buzz and excitement of a capital city at the cost of a small town in much of the world, Madrid is the place to be. Here’s some detailed information about what it can cost to live for a month in Madrid.
Let’s start with housing, here we have plenty of options at all price points. If you’d like to live somewhere within the M-30 (a circular highway that surrounds the center of the city), expect to pay between $750 and $1,300 for a comfortable one bedroom apartment. If you go outside of the M-30, you can often get a lot more space for your dollar, which is something to consider, especially if you have a car (parking is very difficult within the M-30 and a paid parking spot (around $100 a month) is suggested). If you’d prefer to rent a room in a shared flat, expect to pay between $350 and $500 a month.
Apart from the cost of rent, you’ll also have to pay for phone, internet and gas and electricity. These bills range depending on use and providers, but don’t often go above $100 for everything (per flat).
Housing aside, your money will get you quite far for rest and relaxation options. Madrid is full of bars and restaurants, and eating out is a Spanish pastime. If you do your research you can eat and drink like kings for less than $10 a person. One of the best deals in the city is called the “menú del día”, a daily fixed price lunch menu that’s offered Monday-Friday at almost all Madrid restaurants. For between $8 and $15 you get a first course, second course, wine/beer and dessert! It’s enough to fill you for most of the day. Then (if you’re in the know) you can head to a bar where a free tapa will come with your drink.
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Of course, if you prefer to eat at a more elaborate restaurant, the options are endless. You can spend anywhere from $15 a person on the lower side, to over $100 per person for some of Madrid’s incredible fine dining. The beauty is that there are fantastic options at all price points!
If you enjoy cooking, you’re in luck, as Madrid markets are some of the best in Europe and full of amazing fruits, vegetables, meats and fish to make a lovely meal. Skip the supermarkets and head straight to your local neighborhood market for a better deal and superior quality. You can easily cook a full meal for two for under $6. Try to buy what’s obviously in season (you can usually tell by the prices).
Going out for a coffee or a drink in Madrid is often nearly as cheap as enjoying something at home. Coffee costs around $1.50 per cup, and up to $2.50 at trendy cafés. The typical tap beer in Madrid is called Mahou, and a small “caña” (20 cl) costs $1.50, while the price of a glass of house wine is around $2.50. Feel free to head to a local café or terrace and order something to enjoy— no one will rush you along!
As for other essentials, tap water is of extremely high quality in Madrid, so no need to buy bottled water. Toiletries are comparably priced to the US, however the variety on offer is more limited. Clothing can be quite expensive, however, so if possible come prepared (unless you love to shop!). There are plenty of Spanish boutiques and designers where you can do some damage to your credit cards, but if that’s not your thing Zara and Mango are not too expensive and actually cheaper than their US counterparts (they are Spanish companies).
Entertainment really varies but there is plenty to do in Madrid without spending anything at all. Free markets, shows, concerts, museums, festivals and more happen every day of the week! Almost all of the city’s museums offer free admission on certain days of the week, so be sure to check their websites. Bars and cafés usually have a copy of the city’s entertainment agenda, so check out the free (and cheap) events happening all around town.
Madrid is also home to some beautiful parks like El Parque del Buen Retiro and La Casa de Campo, where taking a long walk is both heathy and free! Since the city enjoys 300+ days of sunshine, it’s almost always a good day for the park.
As for transportation, if living in the center walking is your best bet. Nothing is more than a 30 minute walk, and it’s a great way to take in the sights and sunshine. But if going a bit further out, you can get around easily by bus, metro (or even bike sharing). A transport pass of 10 trips is available for about $15. Taxis are also quite reasonable, a 15 minute taxi ride rarely goes above $10.
Madrid is honestly one of the best European cities to live in for its unique blend of culture and cost— you can really live an affordable and extremely rewarding lifestyle in the Spanish capital!
Lauren Aloise is an award-winning food and travel writer based in Madrid and the founder of Devour Spain. She blogs about food, wine and travel as Spanish Sabores, and you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.