Barcelona's popularity draws numerous tourists, digital nomads, and expats
Barcelona's popularity draws numerous tourists, digital nomads, and expats

Cost of living in Spain vs USA: your 2024 guide

Spain is home to a large number of expats, some of whom come for a temporary stay, while others decide to make this country their permanent residence. Many choose to live in Barcelona, which is quite expensive, but the city could offer a good opportunity to invest in property. Continue reading to understand what you can expect in terms of living costs in the most popular Spanish cities.

Delia Mihuț
Written by: Delia Mihuț
Published at 2024-04-22
Last updated on 2024-05-15
Readtime 12 minutes

Has moving to Spain crossed your mind? Imagine living in a country with delicious food, warm weather year-round, and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Tempting, isn’t it? But what does it mean in terms of budgeting?

We've put together this guide to give you a clear picture of the cost of living in Spain compared to the USA.

In addition to general expenses, we'll discuss property prices and provide a method for comparing mortgage offers from top Spanish banks. Because yes, as a US citizen, you are eligible for a Spanish mortgage.

The currency in Spain

The official currency in Spain is the euro, also known as EUR or €.

To understand the exact value of your money in euros, 1000 USD is equivalent to 938 EUR, meaning that 1 USD equals 0.9386 EUR when writing this article.

Cost of living in Spain compared to the US

Generally, prices are more affordable in Spain compared to most US cities. Consumer prices, including rent, are 39.3% lower in Spain than in the US.

When it comes to housing prices, the cost per m² for an apartment can be up to 26% lower in Spain. However, it's important to note that the average monthly net salary in the US is up to 69% higher.

You might find the chart below helpful, as it compares some basic costs in USD across different cities in Spain.

How much does it cost in US dollars?
Meal for two 
Monthly pass transportation
Apartment price per m² in City Center
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
How much does it cost in US dollars?
New York, US
Meal for two 
$130
Monthly pass transportation
$132 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$18,286 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$12,838 
How much does it cost in US dollars?
Chicago, US
Meal for two 
$95 
Monthly pass transportation
$80 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$3,426 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$2,798 
How much does it cost in US dollars?
Austin, US
Meal for two 
$100 
Monthly pass transportation
$45 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$7,456 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$3,162  
How much does it cost in US dollars?
Valencia, Spain
Meal for two 
$48
Monthly pass transportation
$32 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$2,741 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$1,751
How much does it cost in US dollars?
Barcelona, Spain
Meal for two 
$65 
Monthly pass transportation
$32 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$6,069 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$4,015 
How much does it cost in US dollars?
Malaga, Spain
Meal for two 
$54 
Monthly pass transportation
$27 
Apartment price per m² in City Center
$3,284 
Apartment price per m² outside of the center
$2,277 

What are the general living expenses in Spain?

Barcelona ranks among the most expensive cities to live in Spain. Its popularity draws numerous tourists, digital nomads, and expats, and rents here are higher than in Madrid, Spain’s capital.

As you might expect, life in a smaller city generally comes with a lower cost of living, along with its perks and drawbacks. While you may miss out on the vibrant lifestyle of larger cities, opting for a coastal village can offer stunning beach views and direct access to the sea.

Here’s a brief overview of monthly costs to help you understand whether living in Spain is expensive:

Total living expenses in Barcelona, excluding rent
Average cost
Total living expenses in Barcelona, excluding rent
1 person per month
Average cost
$843
Total living expenses in Barcelona, excluding rent
A family of four per month
Average cost
$2,966
Total living expenses in Barcelona, excluding rent
Utilities for an 85m² apartment
Average cost
$173
Total living expenses in Madrid, excluding rent
Average cost
Total living expenses in Madrid, excluding rent
1 person per month
Average cost
$808
Total living expenses in Madrid, excluding rent
A family of four per month 
Average cost
$2,873
Total living expenses in Madrid, excluding rent
Utilities for an 85m² apartment
Average cost
$143
Total living expenses in Malaga, excluding rent
Average cost
Total living expenses in Malaga, excluding rent
1 person per month
Average cost
$724
Total living expenses in Malaga, excluding rent
A family of 4 per month
Average cost
$2,546
Total living expenses in Malaga, excluding rent
Utilities for an 85m² apartment
Average cost
$139
Total living expenses in Alicante, excluding rent
Average cost
Total living expenses in Alicante, excluding rent
1 person per month
Average cost
$728
Total living expenses in Alicante, excluding rent
A family of 4 per month
Average cost
$2,547
Total living expenses in Alicante, excluding rent
Utilities for an 85m² apartment
Average cost
$147

What about healthcare costs in Spain?

Spain has a healthcare system that is ranked among the best in the world. This enhances the country's living standards and attracts even more people interested in retiring in Spain.

Funded by social security payments, the public healthcare system is largely free, with eligibility extended to all tax-paying workers. 

However, private health insurance offers quicker access to services and multilingual options. Costs vary but typically range from 112 to 224 USD per month, depending on age, gender, and pre-existing conditions.

It’s important to note that you’ll need private health insurance coverage for all long-stay residence visas and residence permits, including the Digital Nomad Visa. 

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Spain?

Rental prices are higher in densely populated cities such as Barcelona or Madrid.

Opting to rent can often be the quicker, more straightforward path. However, buying a property in Spain is a financial commitment that promises long-term rewards, including equity growth and a sense of permanent stability.

Here are some average monthly rent prices in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Alicante:

Renting in Barcelona
Average monthly cost
Renting in Barcelona
Apartment with 1 bedroom in city center
Average monthly cost
$1,310
Renting in Barcelona
Apartment with 1 bedroom outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$1,006
Renting in Barcelona
Apartment with 3 bedrooms in city center
Average monthly cost
$2,219
Renting in Barcelona
Apartment with 3 bedrooms outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$1,664
Renting in Madrid
Average monthly cost
Renting in Madrid
Apartment with 1 bedroom in city center
Average monthly cost
$1,276
Renting in Madrid
Apartment with 1 bedroom outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$933
Renting in Madrid
Apartment with 3 bedrooms in city center
Average monthly cost
$2,234
Renting in Madrid
Apartment with 3 bedrooms outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$1,588
Renting in Malaga
Average monthly cost
Renting in Malaga
Apartment with 1 bedroom in city center
Average monthly cost
$989
Renting in Malaga
Apartment with 1 bedroom outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$807
Renting in Malaga
Apartment with 3 bedrooms in city center
Average monthly cost
$1,714
Renting in Malaga
Apartment with 3 bedrooms outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$1,283
Renting in Alicante
Average monthly cost
Renting in Alicante
Apartment with 1 bedroom in city center
Average monthly cost
$912
Renting in Alicante
Apartment with 1 bedroom outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$623
Renting in Alicante
Apartment with 3 bedrooms in city center
Average monthly cost
$1,406
Renting in Alicante
Apartment with 3 bedrooms outside of the city center
Average monthly cost
$859

Spain's average rent per m² is 13.01€, marking an increase of 15.75% compared to March 2023. For a 100 m² property, the monthly rent would be 1301€.

The average mortgage has a 3.27% interest rate over 25 years, with loans averaging 143,400€. The estimated monthly payment is approximately 700.33€.

As you can see, the estimated monthly mortgage payment is lower than the monthly rent for a 100 m² property, which might make purchasing a more appealing option when relocating.

Location
Rent per m²
Sale price per m²
Location
Barcelona
Rent per m²
23.72€ ($25.25)
Sale price per m²
3,941€ ($4,195)
Location
Madrid
Rent per m²
22.71€  ($24.18)
Sale price per m²
4,261€ ($4,536)
Location
Malaga
Rent per m²
14.08€ ($14.99)
Sale price per m²
2,841€ ($3,024)
Location
Alicante
Rent per m²
11.22€ ($11.95)
Sale price per m²
2,047€ ($2,179)

Continue reading more insights on renting versus buying a property in Spain, before deciding what aligns best with your plans. 

Is buying a property in Spain a good investment?

Yes, buying a property in Spain can be a good investment. 

The strong demand from foreigners and Spain's appealing lifestyle and stable rental market make it an attractive option for residential and rental purposes.

Spain is well-connected by international airports that accommodate transcontinental and low-cost flights, and its lifestyle is very appealing to US citizens. The healthcare system is excellent, the food is delicious, and you can enjoy abundant sunshine and warm weather. There are also professional opportunities available if you seek them.

Is buying with a mortgage a better investment?

Purchasing a property with a mortgage is often a better investment than paying rent to a landlord each month.

A mortgage can significantly increase the return on your initial investment. For example, if you purchase a property for 250,000 EUR with a mortgage of 175,000 EUR and a deposit of 75,000 EUR, a 10% increase in the property's value (25,000 EUR) would result in a 33.33% return on your initial investment.

To secure competitive mortgage offers in the Spanish market, consider using Homevest. This digital platform simplifies the application process by connecting applicants with multiple banks competing head-to-head, ensuring you receive the best mortgage deals.

Compare mortgage offers with Homevest directly from the US

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ secret to finding the perfect mortgage. Some prefer a fixed rate for stability over the years, while others, more risk-averse, opt for a variable rate.

The first step to understanding which mortgage is a good fit for you is to assess your financial situation—then, you can work together to make the most of your mortgage.

How do you do this? Homevest can save you time by sourcing offers from top Spanish banks that match your profile. Remember, it's not just about lower interest rates; fees and additional products should also be considered.

You can quickly estimate a budget to know how much you could borrow from a Spanish lender. If you’re eligible, and once you upload your mortgage documents, Homevest will prepare your file and send it to the banks best suited to your financial profile.

Every application is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so if you’re ready to explore your options, learn everything you need to know about getting a mortgage in Spain, including requirements and interest rates for non-resident buyers.

 

The cost of living in Spain is more affordable than in many US cities. 

Many cities are popular destinations for permanent moves or for spending a year or two exploring somewhere new. 

Make the most of your Spanish experience and enjoy the sunny weather!

 

Sources used and checked in April 2024: 

  1. Cost of living US vs. Spain
  2. Cost of living in Madrid
  3. Cost of living in Barcelona
  4. Cost of living in Malaga
  5. Cost of living in Alicante
  6. Spain Health system
  7. Housing prices in Spain

We recommend obtaining professional or specialist advice before taking or refraining from any action based on the content in this article. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Homevest Limited. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in this article is accurate, complete, or up to date.

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