One of the sunniest cities in Europe, Madrid boasts an average of 350 days of sunshine annually. It’s no wonder people from all over Europe and the world relocate to Madrid to soak up the sun in the Spanish capital and take advantage of its wonderful way of life. With the high quality of life comes an equally high price tag: according to Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey, Madrid is ranked as the 83rd most expensive city for expats out of 227 cities surveyed.
Still, Madrid is relatively affordable for a Western European capital, especially when compared to the likes of Bern and London. The city is also Spain’s commercial and political hub, which means lucrative job opportunities are plentiful.
Cost of accommodation in Madrid
Accommodation in Madrid is the second priciest in Spain, following Barcelona as the country's most expensive city to rent in. Securing well-priced and quality accommodation in the city centre is notoriously challenging. The properties in the city centre are usually older with few modern amenities, but they offer quick access to Madrid's commercial hub.
Housing in the outlying areas of the city tends to be more popular among expats, as the apartments and houses are often larger and better equipped at a lower price than in the city centre. Madrid’s transport system is also well-developed and affordable, making commuting easy.
Cost of transport in Madrid
Expats will find that life in the capital without a car is easy and even preferable. With a population of 6.8 million, Madrid's roads are congested, while parking is scarce and expensive. The efficient public transport system includes buses, a metro and taxis, all of which offer day and night access to all the districts in the city.
Expats keen on buying a car should prepare to navigate the infamous Spanish bureaucracy. Expats eager to avoid this often pay a small additional fee to the dealership, which then handles all the paperwork.
Cost of groceries in Madrid
Spanish cuisine is one of the most famous in the world. Some staples include olive oil, seafood, fresh produce and wine. Expats looking to adopt a Mediterranean diet can expect to spend significantly less than on a diet that contains a lot of red meat and dairy products, as these can be costly in Madrid.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Madrid
Madrid is well known for its art museums, nightlife and theatre scene, while it’s no surprise that sport is a big part of the city’s entertainment seeing as it’s home to two world-famous football teams, namely Real- and Atlético Madrid. Food and drink in the city cost significantly less than in the likes of London, Paris and Rome.
The city also offers multiple manicured parks ideal for running, walking or picnicking. Most of these green spaces are free to access, making them an excellent option for expats on a tight budget.
Eating out in Madrid is generally more affordable than in other European cities, and the capital enjoys fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year thanks to the sunny climate.
Cost of education in Madrid
Education in Madrid presents a range of options catering to different needs and preferences, from public and private to international schools. Public education is accessible to all residents, offering a cost-effective solution for families. These institutions provide a high standard of education, with the curriculum focusing on a broad range of subjects.
Private schools in Madrid are known for their academic excellence, offering a more personalised educational experience. These institutions often boast smaller class sizes and a variety of extracurricular activities, fostering an environment that encourages student engagement and creativity.
International schools are a popular choice among expat families, providing an international curriculum that includes the International Baccalaureate (IB) among others. These schools offer a global perspective on education, with a diverse student body and languages of instruction that typically include English, along with Spanish and other languages. The facilities at international schools are state-of-the-art, contributing to a well-rounded educational experience.
Cost of healthcare in Madrid
Madrid's healthcare system is distinguished by its high quality and accessibility, comprising both public and private sectors. The public healthcare system is widely acclaimed for its comprehensive coverage and minimal costs, attributed to Spain's social security system. This network ensures that healthcare services are readily available to residents, with a focus on preventive care and universal access to essential medical treatments.
For those seeking more personalised care or shorter waiting times, the private healthcare sector in Madrid offers an alternative. Private healthcare facilities are equipped with advanced technology and provide a broad spectrum of medical services. These services are accessible through various insurance plans, which are tailored to meet different needs and budgets.
Cost of living in Spain chart
Prices may vary across Spain, depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Madrid in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
What do expats say about the cost of living in Madrid?
"Spain has a lot of great qualities: friendly locals, beautiful beaches, nice weather, low cost of living, etc. In comparison, it’s the cheapest country I’ve ever lived in, in terms of rent, food and nightlife, and with one of the most accepting cultures." Read about Mimi's expat experience in Spain in her interview.
►For more on the cost of living in Spain, have a look at this page
►For more on expat financial matters, check out Banking, Money and Taxes in Spain
Are you an expat living in Madrid?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Madrid. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance.
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.