What’s the cost of living in Madrid like?
I’m going to attempt to answer that question here.
It’s kind of a long story, so please remember…
Your personal cost of living depends a lot on what kind of lifestyle you have, which neighborhood you live in, your material expectations and a lot of other factors.
In any case, I can give you a list of approximate prices for basic necessities here in Madrid.
All prices are in euros, and I’m assuming you’re going to a reasonably-priced place to shop or eat.
Like in any major city, there are high-end places for everything, as well as really cheap places that will cost less than the prices I’ve listed here.
By the way, before we go on, people are always asking about the best way to send money internationally – for me it’s Transferwise. You can get a commission-free money transfer from them if you use my affiliate link right here.
Enjoy supporting the site!
And now that that’s over with…
Cost of living in Madrid – the basic necessities in 2019
Here’s a list of basic items you’ll probably need at some point if you’re living in Madrid, and their prices as of now, in 2019.
Update, 2023: With the years-long coronavirus panic and governments printing money like lunatics, this list of prices is way out of date. Olive oil especially – as I mentioned in a recent article, with the olive oil crisis, prices have risen to almost 10€ a liter. Rent prices are also through the roof these days.
Of course, as I’ve already mentioned, there’s a wide range for everything. When I say a liter of milk costs 70 cents, well, I’m sure you could go to the cheapest supermarket and get it for 50. And you could also go to one of the more expensive places and pay a full euro or even a bit more.
(Premium artisanal milk from endangered Tibetan yaks – it’s totally a thing, and coming soon to the Mercadona near you.)
Anyway, I start the list with beer, because everybody needs beer:
- Small draught beer 1.50€
- Pint of draft beer 4 to 8€ (depending on brand and the bar – craft beer is more.)
- Monthly phone / internet bill 50 to 80€
- Men’s haircut 10 to 20€
- Women’s haircut 20 to 50€
- Monthly pass for the metro 54€ (For adults. Young people and seniors pay less – and there’s also a zone system so if you live or work far away you might pay more.)
- Single metro ticket 1.50 to 2€ depending on distance
- Taxi ride within the city 8 to 20€, usually closer to 10. (Rates go up at night.)
- Bus ticket within the city: 1.50€
- Dozen large eggs 2€
- Kilo of ground beef at the municipal market 10€
- Kilo of chicken breasts at the municipal market 6€
- Baguette or similar bread 0.60€
- Sandwich in a bar or café 4 to 6€
- Cup of coffee in a café 1.50 €
- Pack of ground coffee beans 2€
- Pair of jeans 40 to 75€ (more for designer brands)
- Liter of milk 0.70€
- Liter of olive oil 4.00€
- Bottle of reasonably good wine 3 to 10€ (I’m not a snob, so I tend to drink a lot more wine in the 3 to 5€ range, but it depends on your tastes)
- Lunch for one in a restaurant 10 to 15€
- Dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant 45 to 60€
- Movie ticket 8€
- Rented room 300 to 500€
- Rented flat (depending on size) 500 to 1000€ or more, depending on the neighborhood. Outside the center, logically, you’ll pay less. Everything is more expensive in the city center.
Most things aren’t terribly expensive, as you can see, because most people in Madrid simply don’t earn a lot of money.
And prices are a lot lower in Madrid than in other European capitals like London or Paris. On the other hand, if you’re living in small-town Spain, you might be shocked at how cheap things are in comparison.
I don’t talk too much about buying clothes on the list because there is such a wide variety of
prices. The cheapest places that are still pretty decent / fashionable are H&M and Springfield. Zara is a bit cheaper here than in other countries, I believe, because it’s a local company.
Anyway, there are clothes for every budget. Head up Calle Serrano to look at 8000€ handbags one day if you’d like to put your meagre salary into perspective.
A note about transport: If you’re under 26 (I think) you can get an “abono joven” – a monthly metro pass which will take you all over Madrid and to a lot of the smaller towns too for about 20€ a month.
Things that are more expensive in Madrid than elsewhere
A lot of things are more expensive here than in the US – the UK I’m not really sure. For example: any American brand will probably cost more here.
For one thing, a lot of them are able to market themselves as “premium” over here. Levi’s is a good example – I’m gonna die alone and pantsless before I drop 100€ on a pair of 501s.
On the other hand, some typical Mediterranean products are cheaper: olive oil, for example,
is a staple food, used for everything, and quite inexpensive compared to US prices.
I’m not sure about the prices of internet other places, but I’ve heard Spain is expensive by comparison. I personally pay about 75€ a month for land line (which I never use) plus mobile plus high-speed internet, and it doesn’t seem too bad.
But by all means, shop around.
More about prices in Madrid…
About food in restaurants: you can eat lunch in a lot of places for anywhere from 8 to 20 euros. Restaurants usually have a set menú del día at lunch with a couple first courses, a couple of mains, and a drink – the quality varies widely from place to place. You can get a decent menú for around 10 or 12 euros in any number of places around Madrid.
Dinner usually costs more, because there’s no menú – so be prepared to spend 20 to 30 per person if you go out.
Books in English cost a lot more than in the US, if you go to a bookshop, but you can go to amazon.es and get whatever you want these days. (I buy a lot of random stuff like small electronics and vitamins on Amazon these days, because it ends up being much cheaper and easier.)
Anything I’ve left out? Anything you feel is wildly inaccurate?
Gimme a shout, right here in the comments.
P.S. I hope you’ve learned something about the cost of living in Madrid. If you want to know more about this great city, I’ve got a list of the pros and cons of living in Madrid. And also, 5 reasons why living in Madrid is awesome.
P.P.S. If you’ll be teaching English while you’re here – and a lot of people are – you might want to take a look at this new article: Can you make a living teaching English in Madrid?