Cost of Living in Spain: Living Cost in Barcelona for Students

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Did you know the data shows that the number of international students in Spanish universities has been steadily increasing over the years, with a notable 27.7% increase in 2023-2024 compared to the previous year? Spain, with its rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant cities, is a popular destination for international students, including those from India!

Understanding the cost of living in Spain is crucial for anyone planning to move to Spain for study or work. For instance, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid is around INR 90,000, while in smaller cities like Granada, it drops to about INR 54,000

Dining out can cost between INR 900 to INR 1,350 for a mid-range meal, and a monthly transportation pass in major cities averages INR 4,500

This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at these and other living expenses in Spain, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your move.

Key Highlights

TopicThings to Remember
Average Cost of Living in SpainINR 70,000 – INR 1L per month, including rent, utilities, food, and transportation.
Cost of Living in BarcelonaEstimated monthly cost: INR 87,500
Cost of Living in MadridEstimated monthly cost: INR 96,250
Cost of Studying in Spain for Indian StudentsPublic university tuition fees: INR 1.4L – INR 3L per year
Utility ExpensesINR 11,375 – INR 21,875 per month, including electricity, heating, internet, and mobile services.
Food and Dining CostsInexpensive meals: INR 875 – INR 1,312
Mid-range restaurant meals for two: INR 3,500 – INR 5,250
Transportation CostsMonthly public transport pass: INR 3,500 – INR 5,250
Part-time Job OpportunitiesAverage hourly wage: INR 612 – INR 1,312
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Currency Payment Methods and Budgeting

The Euro (€) is the official currency of Spain. As of May 2024, 1 INR is equivalent to approximately 0.011 €. Spain is a highly digitised society with cashless payments being the norm. International students can easily access various digital payment methods, including mobile wallets, contactless cards, and online banking apps, making budgeting and managing the cost of living in Spain easy.

Cost of Living in Spain – Accommodation

Housing expenses often account for a significant portion of a student’s budget in Spain. In 2024, rental prices in Spain have seen an increase, making it essential to plan accordingly. For instance, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid ranges from INR 90,000 to INR 1,35,000 per month, while in Barcelona, it varies from INR 1,00,000 to INR 1,53,000 per month​​.

Despite these costs, Spain offers a range of affordable and student-friendly accommodation options, from shared apartments to student residences, ensuring there’s something to fit every budget. 

Here are some average rental costs across major cities in Spain:

CityAverage Monthly Rent for 1BR Apartment (in INR)
Barcelona (City Center)INR 1L
Barcelona (Outside City Center)INR 70,000
Madrid (City Center)INR 96,250
Madrid (Outside City Center)INR 74,375

Sharing an apartment is a much more affordable option for students. Something else you can consider is university-provided accommodations as the rents are far cheaper and they have a few added bonuses as well! Read ahead to find out more.

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Cost of Living in Spain: Living Cost in Barcelona for Students

University-Provided Accommodation

University-provided accommodation can significantly reduce the cost of living in Spain for Indian students. On average, a room in a university-managed hall of residence in Spain costs approximately INR 18,000 to INR 45,000.

This is often more affordable compared to private rentals, which can range from INR 36,000 to INR 1 L depending on the city and type of accommodation. Choosing university accommodation not only helps in managing the budget but also offers convenience and proximity to campus facilities.

Here’s a list of universities that provide accommodation for students.

UniversityType of AccommodationPrice Range (per month in INR)
University of BarcelonaStudent ResidencesINR 26,250 – INR 43,750
Complutense University of MadridUniversity DormitoriesINR 30,625 – INR 52,500
Autonomous University of BarcelonaShared ApartmentsINR 35,000 – INR 57,000
Polytechnic University of MadridOn-Campus HousingINR 30,625 – INR 48,125

Education Costs for International Students

Spain boasts several universities that are well-regarded internationally. In 2023, there was a significant increase of over 30% in the number of Indian students choosing Spain for their education, reflecting its growing appeal​.

The number of Indian students in Spain has increased from about 4,500 to approximately 5,850 in recent years!

​Here’s a brief overview of the annual fees of the different education levels.

Education LevelEstimated Annual Fees (in INR)
Public University (Undergraduate)INR 1.3L – INR 3L
Public University (Postgraduate)INR 2L – INR 3.5L

Average Tuition Fees at Top Universities in Spain

Spain is home to several top-ranked universities that attract students from around the world. According to the QS World University Rankings 2024, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) is the top university in Spain, ranked 149th globally. It is followed by the University of Barcelona at 164th and the Autonomous University of Madrid at 199th​.

Here’s a list of the top universities in Spain for students.

University and QS World Ranking, 2024Tuition Fees (per year in INR)
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Rank 149)INR 5.4L
University of Barcelona (Rank: 164)INR 2L – INR 3L
Autonomous University of Madrid (Rank: 199)INR 1.5L – INR 2.4L
Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Rank: 354)INR 2L – INR 3L
University of Valencia (Rank: 485)INR 1.3L – INR 2L

Cost of Living in Spain – Utility Expenses

Cost of Living in Spain: Living Cost in Barcelona for Students

Utility costs in Spain can significantly affect the overall living expenses for students. With the rising cost of living, it’s essential to budget for these expenses accurately. As of 2023, the average monthly cost for basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage) for an 85m² apartment is approximately INR 11,500

Internet costs, typically for a 60 Mbps connection, average approximately INR 2,950 per month, while a mobile phone plan with calls and 10GB of data costs approximately INR 1,775 monthly.

When considering mobile phone plans, popular companies such as Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, Yoigo, and MásMóvil offer various packages tailored to different needs and budgets. These providers are known for their reliable coverage and competitive pricing, making it easier for students to stay connected without breaking the bank​​.

Here’s a table explaining the average monthly cost of utilities in Spain.

UtilityAverage Monthly Cost (in INR)
ElectricityINR 4,375 – INR 8,750
HeatingINR 2,625 – INR 5,250
InternetINR 2,625 – INR 4,375
MobileINR 1,750 – INR 3,500
TotalINR 11,375 – INR 21,875

Cost of Living in Spain – Transportation Costs

Spain boasts an efficient and well-connected public transportation system, making it easy and affordable for students to navigate its vibrant cities. In 2024, the Spanish government continued to offer subsidies and discounts on public transport, significantly easing the financial burden for residents and students. The average monthly cost for a public transportation pass in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona is approximately INR 4,900 to INR 5,400​.

Here’s how much different modes of transportation will cost you in Spain.

TransportationMonthly Cost in INR
One-way TicketINR 132 – INR 220
Monthly PassINR 3,500 – INR 5,250
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)INR 307 – INR 439
Gasoline (1 litre)INR 132 – INR 150

Cost of Living in Spain – Food and Dining Expenses

Dining out in Spain can be affordable if you know where to go. With a plethora of options ranging from tapas bars to budget-friendly restaurants and fixed-price lunch menus known as “Menu del Día,” you can enjoy delicious Spanish cuisine without breaking the bank. 

For instance, tapas typically cost between INR 180 to INR 450 per plate, while a three-course Menu del Día can be found for around INR 900 to INR 1,350. Additionally, enjoying a meal at a budget-friendly restaurant usually costs about INR 900 to INR 1,350, and fast food combo meals are priced at approximately INR 810

Here’s a detailed breakdown of these options.

Dining OptionEstimated Cost (in INR)
Cost per Meal in an Inexpensive RestaurantINR 875 – INR 1,312
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range RestaurantINR 3,500 – INR 5,250
McMeal at McDonald’s (or Equivalent)INR 612 – INR 787

Cost of Living in Spain – Grocery Costs

Groceries can vary in cost depending on where you shop in Spain. Local markets and discount grocery stores like Mercadona, Dia, and Lidl offer competitive prices, making it easier to manage your budget effectively. Whether you’re shopping for fresh produce, dairy, or pantry staples, understanding the typical prices can help you plan your expenses.

Here’s a general idea of prices:

ItemPrice in INR
Milk (1 litre)INR 87
Loaf of Fresh White BreadINR 105
Rice (1 kg)INR 131
Eggs (12)INR 175
Cheese (1 kg)INR 700
Chicken Fillets (1 kg)INR 525
Apples (1 kg)INR 175
Bananas (1 kg)INR 131

Scholarships to Reduce the Cost of Studying for International Students

Spain is a top choice for international students seeking higher education, thanks to its affordable living costs and a wide range of scholarships. In 2023, Spain saw a notable increase in the number of Indian students, emphasising its growing appeal as a study destination. To support this influx, the country offers numerous scholarships to help reduce the cost of living in Spain for international students.

Scholarships in Spain include options like the Erasmus Mundus Scholarships, which provide full funding for master’s and PhD programs across various European countries.

Here’s a detailed walkthrough of the scholarships.

Scholarship NameScholarship AmountEligible Degrees
Erasmus Mundus Masters Scholarship (IT4BI)INR 1.2L per monthMaster’s programs
European University of the Atlantic – Collaboration Scholarship100% Tuition fee exemptionUndergraduate programs
Spanish Studies Abroad – Study Abroad Scholarship ProgramINR 41,000 – INR 1.2LUndergraduate Programs and Graduate Studies

Eligibility Criteria for Scholarships in Spain

To be eligible for scholarships in Spain, international students generally need to meet the following criteria:

Academic Excellence

  • Minimum GPA: Scholarships often require a minimum GPA, typically around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Academic Achievements: Some scholarships may require proof of academic awards or honours.

Language Proficiency

  • Spanish Proficiency: For programs taught in Spanish, students must demonstrate proficiency through tests such as DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language).
  • English Proficiency: For programs taught in English, students must provide TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum required scores are generally 6.5 for IELTS and 90 for TOEFL.

Admission to a Spanish University

  • Acceptance Letter: Applicants must be accepted into a degree program at a recognized Spanish university (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD).
  • Pre-enrollment: Some scholarships require pre-enrollment as part of the application process.

Financial Need

  • Proof of Financial Need: Some scholarships require applicants to provide evidence of financial need, such as income statements or a detailed budget.

Specific Program Requirements

  • Field of Study: Scholarships may be available for specific fields such as Engineering, Humanities, Social Sciences, etc.
  • Professional Experience: For some advanced programs, relevant work experience may be required.

By meeting these eligibility requirements, international students can enhance their chances of securing financial support for their studies in Spain, making their educational journey both feasible and rewarding.

Cost of Living in Spain Compared to Other European Countries

Spain’s cost of living is generally lower than many other Western European countries but higher than Eastern Europe. For example, the cost of living in Spain is approximately 26% cheaper than in Paris and about 21% less expensive than in Munich​​. This makes Spain an attractive destination for students looking for a more affordable European experience while still enjoying a high quality of life and robust public services.

CityCost of Living IndexCost of living in Spain for a Single Person (in INR)
Barcelona66.8INR 1L
Madrid69.0INR 1.1L
Paris, France76.4INR 1.3L
Berlin, Germany65.7INR 87,500

Part-time Jobs for International Students

At this point, it’s obvious that you might be wondering if there’s an option to work part-time while studying in Italy to manage the living expenses better. And the good news is, yes, the Spanish government now allows students to work up to 30 hours a week. This flexibility has made it easier for students to balance their academic commitments with work, helping them cover living costs and gain valuable experience​.

Here’s a table listing the best part-time jobs in Spain.

JobAverage Hourly Wage (in INR)
Retail Sales AssistantINR 700 – INR 875
Tutor/Teaching AssistantINR 1,050 – INR 1,312
Hospitality/Restaurant WorkerINR 612 – INR 787
Office AssistantINR 875 – INR 1,050
Delivery ServicesINR 700 – INR 875

Top Recruiters in Spain

Finding the right job can be made easier by connecting with top recruitment agencies in Spain. Here are some of the leading recruiters that can help you secure your dream job:

  1. Adecco Spain: Known globally, Adecco provides opportunities across various industries, including finance, healthcare, IT, and office administration​.
  2. Michael Page: Specialises in higher-level positions, making it a great choice for those seeking management or senior roles in various sectors like tech, e-commerce, and healthcare​​.
  3. Randstad: Offers a wide range of job opportunities in fields such as accounting, finance, IT, and sales & marketing. They are known for their personalised support combining technology and human touch​.
  4. Hays: A global recruitment giant, Hays specialises in the construction, engineering, finance, healthcare, IT, legal, and retail sectors​.
  5. InfoJobs: One of Spain’s most popular job boards, catering to a variety of industries and professions, making it a versatile option for job seekers​.
  6. TecnoEmpleo: Focuses on IT and telecommunications, making it ideal for tech professionals looking for specialised roles in Spain​.
  7. Approach People Recruitment: With offices in Barcelona and Madrid, this agency provides opportunities in marketing, sales, life sciences, accounting, engineering, and IT​​.
  8. Boyden Executive Search: Targets highly skilled industry leaders in sectors like healthcare, financial services, and venture capital​.
  9. Korn Ferry: Known for finding international talent in technology, financial services, industrial work, sports, travel, and media.
  10. Networkers: Specialises in IT recruitment, focusing on areas such as robotics, communications, cybersecurity, and project management​​.

Tips for Reducing the Cost of Living in Spain

  • Monitor exchange rates and use cost-effective international money transfer services to maximise your budget.
  • Explore student discounts and promotions offered by various establishments, including restaurants, museums, and transportation services.
  • Apply for scholarships and financial aid.
  • Consider shared accommodation options like student housing or co-living spaces to split rental costs.
  • Cook meals at home and pack lunches to save on dining expenses.
  • Utilise the extensive public transportation system and consider investing in a bicycle for shorter distances.
  • Explore part-time job opportunities on campus or in the local community to supplement your income.
  • Participate in student organisations and events that offer discounted or free activities and experiences.

To Conclude: 

Living in Spain offers a high standard of living and quality of life, excellent education systems with world-renowned universities, vibrant cities, and rich cultural experiences. 

Despite the higher living expenses compared to some countries, the benefits of living in Spain, including ample part-time job opportunities and efficient public transportation, make it a worthwhile investment.

Key Features of Living in Spain:

  1. High Standard of Living: Spain consistently ranks high for its quality of life, thanks to its excellent healthcare, high life expectancy, and strong social welfare system​​.
  2. Top-Tier Education System: Spain is home to some of Europe’s leading universities, such as the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Madrid, which attract students from around the world​.
  3. Progressive Social Policies: The country offers progressive social benefits, including comprehensive healthcare, maternity and paternity leave, and extensive support for the unemployed​.

Living in Spain offers a rich cultural experience and a high quality of life for students. While the cost of living can be significant, especially in cities like Barcelona and Madrid, there are numerous ways to manage expenses effectively. 

From utilising student discounts and shared accommodations to exploring scholarship opportunities and part-time work, students can find various strategies to make their stay in Spain more affordable. 

By planning and budgeting wisely, students can enjoy all that Spain has to offer without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What are the typical living expenses in Spain for a student?

    A: Living expenses in Spain for a student can vary depending on the city and lifestyle. On average, students should budget between INR 70,000 and INR 1L per month. This includes accommodation, food, transportation, utilities, and other personal expenses. Opting for shared housing or university-provided accommodation can help reduce costs. Additionally, students can save money by cooking at home and using public transportation.

  • Q: How much is the living cost in Barcelona for students?

    A: The cost of living in Barcelona for students typically ranges from INR 70,000 to INR 90,000 per month. This includes rent, utilities, food, and transportation. Living closer to the city centre is more expensive, while suburban areas are more affordable. Students can save by taking advantage of student discounts on public transportation and activities.

  • Q: What is the cost of living in Madrid compared to Barcelona?

    A: The cost of living in Madrid is slightly higher than in Barcelona, with monthly expenses of around INR 1L. Both cities are among the more expensive in Spain, but Madrid’s central accommodation tends to be pricier. However, the difference in cost is not significant, and both cities offer various options to manage living expenses. Suburban areas in both cities can provide more affordable living options.

  • Q: What are the main factors affecting the living expenses in Spain?

    A: The main factors affecting living expenses in Spain include accommodation, food, transportation, and utilities. Rent is the most significant expense, especially in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona. 
    Other factors include lifestyle choices, such as dining out frequently versus cooking at home, and the use of public transportation versus renting a vehicle. Additionally, the type of accommodation—whether shared, university-provided, or private—also impacts overall expenses.

  • Q: How does the cost of living in Spain for Indian students compare to other countries?

    A: The cost of living in Spain for Indian students is generally lower than in many Western European countries but higher than in Eastern Europe. Spain offers a balanced cost of living with high-quality education and lifestyle. Scholarships and part-time job opportunities can help offset costs. Compared to studying in the US or UK, Spain can be more affordable while still providing a rich cultural experience and excellent education.

  • Q: What are the estimated monthly living expenses in Spain for international students?

    A: International students in Spain should budget around INR 70,000 to INR 1,05,000 per month. This includes accommodation, food, transportation, utilities, and other personal expenses. Living costs can vary depending on the city, with larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona being more expensive.
    Cost of Studying in the US: INR 16,40,000 to INR 49,20,000 per year for tuition fees. 
    Cost of Studying in the UK: INR 10,00,000 to INR 38,00,000 per year for tuition fees. 
    Cost of Studying in Spain: INR 67,500 to INR 2,25,000 per year for tuition fees.

  • Q: Is the cost of living in Barcelona higher than in other Spanish cities?

    A: Yes, the cost of living in Barcelona is higher than in many other Spanish cities. Monthly expenses for a student can range from INR 70,000 to INR 90,000. The city’s popularity, tourism, and economic activity contribute to higher living costs. However, students can find more affordable options by living in the suburbs and utilising student discounts.

  • Q: What is the cost of living in Madrid for a family?

    A: The cost of living in Madrid for a family can be around INR 2.4L to INR 3.3L per month. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other living expenses. Families may find more affordable housing options in the suburban areas. Madrid offers a high quality of life with excellent public services, but living costs are higher than in smaller Spanish cities.

  • Q: How can Indian students manage living expenses in Spain?

    A: Indian students can manage living expenses in Spain by opting for shared accommodations or university housing, which is often more affordable. Cooking meals at home instead of dining out can significantly reduce food costs. Utilising public transportation and student discounts can help save on travel expenses. Additionally, many students work part-time jobs to supplement their income and manage their budgets effectively.

  • Q: Are there any financial aid or scholarships to help with the cost of living in Spain for Indian students?

    A: Yes, there are various scholarships and financial aid available to help Indian students with the cost of living in Spain. Many universities offer scholarships based on academic merit and financial need. Additionally, the Spanish government and various organisations provide scholarships specifically for international students (like the Erasmus Mundus Masters Scholarship). These financial aids can significantly reduce the burden of tuition fees and living expenses. Ranges from INR 40,000 to INR 1.2L per month.

  • Q: What are some affordable recreational activities for students in Barcelona?

    A: Barcelona offers a variety of affordable recreational activities for students. Exploring the city’s numerous free attractions, such as the beaches, parks, and historic neighbourhoods, can be both enjoyable and cost-effective. Students can also visit museums and cultural sites on designated free entry days. Participating in local festivals and events, many of which are free or low-cost, provides a great way to experience Catalan culture. Additionally, joining university clubs and organisations can offer free or discounted social and recreational opportunities, from sports to arts and cultural outings.

  • Q: How does the cost of public transportation in Madrid compare to other cities in Spain?

    A: The cost of public transportation in Madrid is relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Spain. A monthly pass in Madrid costs around INR 3,500 to INR 5,250, offering unlimited access to the metro, buses, and local trains. This is comparable to or slightly higher than the transportation costs in other large cities like Barcelona. However, Madrid’s extensive and efficient public transport network often makes it a more convenient and cost-effective option for students and residents. Students can also take advantage of special discounted rates on transportation passes.

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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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