How Much Was The Cost Of Living In Spain For A Year?

Let me start by saying, we love that you follow along with our adventures and are curious about the cost to live in Spain.  You really keep us motivated to keep up with our writing.  Living in Spain for a year was amazing and we will keep on going!

Cost of living in Spain for a year! How much does it cost living in Spain for a year? That all depends on you, but this family of 4 captured all of their costs for a year and share it with you. Including a 6 week European road trip! We are Americans sharing our cost of living in Spain. Read more on

I have to admit I do love that people actually read my boring budget stuff.  It’s great fun to play with spreadsheets, look for the best travel deals, and plan away.  I can’t believe there are other people out there that like this stuff too.  They don’t even include any exciting photos, but these budget posts are popular!  Let’s get into the cost of living in Spain!

Update: February 2020 (exchange rate for US dollar is great about $1.14 to the euro.  That means the dollar will go farther.  This is a good time for living in Spain as an American!)  We live in Almunecar Spain, a smaller town in the Costa Tropical.

Keep in mind these expenses were for the full year of 2013. Part of the trade-off of living in Spain as an American is dealing with an ever-changing exchange rate.   

In 2013 the exchange rate average was 1 Euro to $1.38 USD.  

As of February 2020 the exchange rate average was 1 Euro to $1.11 USD.  What does that mean?  Our spend in euros remains about the same after nearly 5 years, but the exchange rate fluctuates.

  • In 2013 1000 Euros = $1380 USD
  • In February 2020 1000 Euros = $1100, so just from the change in exchange rate alone  it is a $280 USD savings per 1000 Euros spent!
  • In February 2020 1000 Euros – $1110, so while you are spending in Euros in Spain you are actually spending fewer dollars! (at least for now, it can always change)

Bottom line = It is currently cheaper for you to Live in Spain or your $ will go a lot further than it used to.

Wagoners Abroad cost to live in Spain 1 year Budget and Actual Spend. How much does it cost to live in Spain for a year? That all depends on you, but this family of 4 captured all of their costs for a year and share it with you. Including a 6 week European road trip! Read more on WagonersAbroad.comCost of living in Spain a year

We have had plenty of private conversations via email with our readers about budgeting.  It seems those that are in the dreaming or planning stages are a little gun-shy to ask questions publicly.  I get it, I really do. 

Sometimes saving or budgeting seems impossible, but once you decide to make the move, you need fewer things.  It is easier to get your life down to the minimal things required and then you will be amazing at how much money you can save!

In the beginning I was very hesitant to share any of our info on the blog.  It made us feel very vulnerable and open for question and judgement, but thus far that hasn’t happened.  At least not that we are aware of.  

We have been sharing information from the get go and it’s been a good experience for us. We have received plenty of positive feedback, so we will keep it going.

Almuñécar Spain - San Miguel Barrio Streets

There are varying opinions in the blogging world about sharing the details of finances.  As you well know, we are all different.  What some consider “budget” another may consider high-end.  It is all relative and there is no way I am going to stake a claim as to what type of traveler we are.

We are a family of 4 that needs our creature comforts.  We aren’t willing to stay all in one bed together in a cardboard shack to save a few bucks.  Nor are we the family that regularly needs room service, high-end linens, and a concierge, but it is a nice treat now and again.  

I guess I would consider us to be just an average family, trying to get the most out of our $.

We try to make it last as long as possible without too much sacrifice. I myself love to read about what others are spending on their travels.  I use their information as a guide to help me plan our travels for a given city or region.  

Of course, if it is a single backpacker on a shoestring, that likes to party, they obviously have a different lifestyle than ours.  I would make my guesses on what to adjust to meet our lifestyle.  The same would apply if it were family on their 3 week vacation.  Again, I would make adjustments to allow for any changes we would make.

Either way, it all helps as a data point for me to come up with an estimate.  Once I read their blogs, I get a feel for the type of traveler they are.  At that point I can see where we are in comparison and make adjustments.  

It isn’t always exact, but every data point helps. Keep in mind that all of the information we share is our real data.  We can’t make the alterations for you based on your needs, we can just give you a data point to put into your mix.  Okay, I know this isn’t what you came to read.  You want the meat, the nugget the numbers!

How much did it cost to Live in Spain for 1 year? (2013)

February 2020 – even though these are numbers from 2013, we are pretty much still spending the same in Euros in 2020.

Yes, we have been in Spain for 16 months, so everything in this post is for the calendar year of 2013.  If you want to know how much we spent our first 4 months in Spain, we have shared that info as well.  In fact we share our information every quarter, so you can review each individual post if you like for more detail.

Mijas Pueblo Spain

Mijas Pueblo Spain

Before we get to the actual number, let me just share with you where the money went.  If you want to know now, just scroll down and you will see, but then come back up and read the rest!

What’s included in the total Spain cost of living spend?   Everything!

  • 12 months of daily living in Spain (Housing, Food, Supplies, Utilities, ect)
  • Medical Insurance (about $2000 / year in total for the 4 of us)
  • Auto Insurance (about $1000 / year)
  • New Shoes (Yes, that can break the bank here!  Lars wears out shoes about every 2 months!  He is already a size 9 (men), so his shoes aren’t cheap.)
  • Every snack, coffee, buñuelo (Spanish doughnut), school supplies, auto fuel, toilet paper, the works!
  • All travel (hotels, apartments, air fare)
  • Our Awesome 6 week European Road Trip
  • If we spent it, then it is included in our calculation

Some other summaries for 2013  (A full year living in Spain)

Okay time to get to the numbers already!

 What Wagoners Abroad’s actual cost of living in Spain for a year? (2013)
This is where I am supposed to say Priceless, right? Estimate the cost of living for travel

Total Spend = $44,173 (roughly 32,000€ in 2013)
Using February 2020 exchange rate 32,000€ = $33,000

Okay, there you have it!  Once you catch your breath, remember that this is our full year of living and travel.  Could we have lived off of less?  You bet!   Could we have spent more  Of course!  Keep in mind this isn’t a vacation budget, it is our every day living inclusive of travel.  Yes it even includes a 6 week road trip through 5 countries in Europe!

If you are using this as your guide for a vacation or living in Spain for a month, you won’t be able to just divide our year by 12 for a monthly cost.  We have a 12 month lease with our apartment, so of course that helps lower the cost.  If we were to rent for a short period the price would be higher.

How is the cost of living in Spain compared to the US?

Believe me, it was way more than that for us to live in North Carolina compared to the cost to live in Spain.  Here is our post comparing our cost of living in Spain vs. the US. It’s interesting! Now that the number is available to you, can we get into the fun stuff?

It is time for the analysis, charts, and spreadsheets!  Wooo Hooo!

**Just a reminder, I have very broad categories here.  the “Food” category is a bit deceiving and it is only because I am lazy.  When we make a trip to Motril to Al Campo (the big Target / Wal-Mart type store), I count our entire purchase as Food.  We do however purchase school supplies, dishes, towels, shampoo, power cords etc in addition to food. So there is a bit of a mix there, but in general it is Food and Restaurants.

When I export the details from our credit card, I don’t bother to spot check the itemized receipt and see exactly what portion is Food vs Misc. Wagoners_Abroad_Actual_Spend_Living_in_Spain_1_Year_-_2013_Amounts Wagoners Abroad Actual Spend Living in Spain 1 Year - 2013 Percent



Is it expensive to live in Spain?  Here’s the Data!

I think asking “is it expensive to live in Spain?” it a bit of a trick question.  It is also one of those questions best answered with “it depends”.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or can easily be expensive.  It all comes down to your spending habits and how you budget.

So as you can see our budget of $100 a day for a family of 4 is achievable for day to day living, plus the cost of our summer 6-week European road trip.

If you read our post for Q3 of 2013 (Way Over the Monthly Budget! – Actual Spend Months 11,12 &13), you will see that we decided to deviate from our budget to allow for our 6 week European Road Trip.

Summer European Road Trip

We share all of the costs from that adventure as well.  Again, it was our choice to deviate from the budget to allow for a once in a lifetime road trip that set us back a bit more than we had planned.  I wouldn’t change that decision for anything.  So we dipped into our funds a bit more and likely shorted our journey by a month, but we would do it again!

Don’t forget the road trip!

For those of you that are saying “hey, they didn’t live off of $100 a day, they are telling a lie!”, I will share the daily cost of $121 per day (inclusive of about $8,500 ish road trip). total spend.

Wow, it is cool to look at it that way!  for just $21 a day more, you too can have a 6 week European Road Trip!

Do keep in mind that our Misc bucket is a catch-all, so that does include our Medical Insurance which is approximately $2000 a year.  The first portion of the year we had Travel Insurance and the last few months we also had Spanish medical insurance via Mapfre.

(As of October 2017 – we have updated our Medical Insurance in Spain and tell you all about it.  We have change our insurance coverage and tell you about several other options. Full coverage, including dental is about $1600 / yr for the entire family of 4!)

We were covered with both for a while, as we couldn’t cancel our travel mid-policy.  As of the end of February 2014 our Travel insurance will lapse, so we did have a little extra expense there.  With our Spanish insurance, we can have regular doctor and dental visits, so we felt that better suited our needs.

When we hit the road again, we will go back to travel insurance.

Wagoners Abroad Actual Spend Living in Spain 1 Year - 2013 Monthly What happened in October?

October was also a bit of a hit, because our annual Auto Insurance was due and we also purchased new Medical Insurance.  Remember to go through our past posts to get the details of each month/quarter.

Wagoners Abroad Actual Spend Living in Spain 1 Year - 2013 Details

There you have it friends! That’s our cost of living in Spain for a year as a family of 4!  Of course, it will be different for you, but we hope that helps you budget your year in Spain or retirement in Spain.

Again, I just want to state, this is only intended as a data point for you.  Your lifestyle choices, location in Spain, food choices, accommodation style and comfort levels may differ from ours.  Your cost to live in Spain per month or per year would obviously differ.

Cost of Living in Spain Update as of February 2020:

We are often asked about our budget for living in Spain, now that we have been here over five years.  We do keep track for personal reasons, but we no longer share the detail publicly.  It was loads of work and really not much has changed. 

Our budget is still the same as when we moved to Spain 7 years ago.  We still target $3000 a month and for the most part, we hit that or go below for the month.

There are always unexpected expenses which arise and we are now feeding 2 teens, so we do have times when we go over!  Often that is when we are traveling and eating out and Lars may need 2 meals to fill up rather than one. 

That said, we have also relaxed a bit when we travel and splurge a little more often with activities too.   I would say we are on target with our daily cost of living in Spain and during our travel we have a few more splurges. 

The annual cost of living is just about $34 – $38k a year.

As of October 2020, we now have a Cost of Living in Spain eBook!

 How to budget & estimate the cost of living in Spain!  Without a doubt, this is one of the most popular topics for us and we have so much information to offer you.  We’ve created an eBook covering all of the details you need to budget and estimate the cost to live in Spain.  Read more about estimating the cost of living in Spain.

Congrats!  You've started to estimate the cost of living in Spain!  Without a doubt, this is one of the most popular topics for us and we have so much information to offer you.  We cover how to budget and estimating the cost of living in Spain too.  Read more on

Looking for lightweight luggage, so you can have more inside?

There are so many luggage choices these days, so it can come down to preference.  We tend to like the suitcase with 4 wheels and can roll any direction. 

We prefer to use carry on luggage for travel within Europe, but for the bigger trips or the move we wanted something more. Here are some choices for you as well as complete sets.lightweight luggage sets

Some other articles that may be of help to you.

WAGONERS ABROAD Publications for your move to Spain!

Live In Spain – Spain Visa Requirements | Driving In Spain | Getting Settled in Spain | Residency/Visa Renewal | Education In Spain | Almuñécar Walking Guides

If you want to move to Spain, we have loads of free info to help you!

We help you plan and adjust for your move to Spain. Read more on

We help you plan your trip to Spain. Read more on

Cost to Travel -

Info on Family Travel and Living Your Expat Dream

I hope this will help you do your planning and move to Spain too.  If you are thinking of moving to Spain, we can help you! Check out our Live In Spain ebook, which has all of the details you need to know to attain the non-lucrative resident visa, as well as our Consulting services.

More info on getting your Spain Non Lucrative Visa Here

Your step by step guide to obtaining a Non Lucrative Visa to Live In Spain
(Retirement visa for Spain too!)
Tips and Tricks for the non lucrative visa for Spanish Residency


Alan has written a very thorough e-book, Live in Spain, which walks you, step by step, through the entire process of the non lucrative visa requirements and the Spain retirement visa requirements.

It is full of tips and tools to help you and a matrix with spells out the special things for each Spanish consulate in the USA.  It also provides you with a checklist to make sure all of the organization and timing of documents in on target. 

We have helped hundreds of families, couples and singles successfully move to Spain!  Updated: As of September 2019

Live In Spain

We also have a book to help you prepare for your move and getting settled once you arrive!  Getting Settled In SpainIf you are moving to Spain from the US or just about any other country, this will help you with your residency paperwork, setting up banks, utilities & services. Save you money on ATM's, transfers and cars. Read more on


Do you plan to drive while in Spain?

If you plan to drive, you should read our Driving in Spain ebook.  It will save you so much time searching on the internet and it will also save you money!  You will learn how to find out where the speed cameras are, what the most common road signs mean, how and where to park and more. Read more about it now!

Driving in Spain- Everything you need to know & more. If you are planning a trip to Spain and intend on driving, this is an essential book for you. We offer you a complete guide to driving in Spain.

Pin me for later!
How much does it cost to live in Spain for a year? That all depends on you, but this family of 4 captured all of their costs for a year and share it with you. Including a 6 week European road trip! Read more on

Are you trying to figure out the best places to live in Spain?

Perhaps this will help you out, Moving Abroad? How To Select The Country, Town & Make The Move.  Historically there have been many Americans moving to Spain, but in recent years, things are changing!  We have helped hundreds of Americans move to Spain and we know many living in Spain.

Why not Costa Tropical Spain?

Why not check out Almunecar Spain and see all that it has to offer.  This is the area where we live and we offer bespoke relocation assistance for the Costa Tropical.

Move to Spain Consulting

If you want a quick answer or someone to speak with, we also offer consulting.  Check out our Spain consulting page now, for our latest offers!

Move to Spain Relocation Packages

From relocation planning and visa application, to residency and getting settled, we offer our expertise and knowledgeable advice.  We can help you with your move to Spain with children or without.  We also offer custom packages for your move to Costa Tropical.  Click here to read more about our relocation to Spain packages.


What is Spain known for?

I think if you ask anyone in Europe what Spain is known for, they will quickly respond with sun and beaches, but there is more to it than that! Read more on


What to buy in Spain

What To Buy In Spain, Souvenirs, Gifts & Things To Enjoy Right Away! If you aren't sure what to buy in Spain, here's a great list for you.  From things to buy in Spain as souvenirs, as well as things to buy as gifts from Spain too. What's Spain famous for?  We're about to tell you. Read more on


Please do let us know if you have any questions or comments about the cost to live in Spain.

92 thoughts on “How Much Was The Cost Of Living In Spain For A Year?

  1. Hello, My family and I are thinking about moving to Spain. We are a retired military family and we also have young kids. We have a 14 yr old teenager and a 9yr old and one of our concerns are schools. Are your kids going to local schools and if so, are the free public or private or are they homeschool? I am wondering because like I said, it is our main concern before moving. You have a great story and a great budget planner. Good luck!

    • Hi Alexander. Our kids were 7 and 10 when we moved here in 2012 and now Lars is at University in Amsterdam and Anya has one more year of high school. They always attended the public schools, excluding our nomadic months in southeast asia. They were somewhat homeschool/worldschooled for that period which was in 2014. We have loads on our blog about our schooling experience. Of course it will be different for anyone else due to the children in the class at the time, the teacher, the school and your own kids personality. So no one experience would be the same. We have helped hundreds of people do the same thing and also help with schooling options in our town.

      Here is the schooling posts on our master move to Spain post:

      I hope that helps and we wish you the best. If you need any questions answered that aren’t on the blog, we do offer consulting, ebooks and relocation bundles too.

  2. Great blog!!!! Im a solo woman age 55. I love trying to work.out a 2-3 mionth stay near madrid, (nov- dec) take Spanish emersion course, a road trip around coast of spain and also do a European hop to 2-3 countries.
    My hurdles of course is finding cheap apt, deciding if i need international health insurance for that amount time, and findind a lang school thats not $500 week.
    So budgetibg this is tough. I figured 2k monrm, plus cost of my apt and car in US.
    I heard fuenalabra is chesc and about 20 min metro from madrid. How do you pay first months rent? By bank transfer? I’m a nurse so details are making me nuts. If i love spain still after 2-3 month then im considering 1 year sabbatical. But after that i’d need a job. Sorry spelling on cell.
    Any thoughts ?
    Thanks chiffon

    • Hi Chiffon, thanks for the contact. I am just going to remove your email address for safety reasons, so you don’t get a bunch of spam from the internet world. Now on to your question…. we do offer consulting and I think what you want to do is possible, but it will take research and time to piece it all together. Schools in Madrid may be more expensive compared to some immersion in smaller towns. We have a few posts on immersion, which could include your accommodation if you choose. We have a post on Ronda, Almunecar and a more expensive week version out of Madrid. Avoid the high season and you will have better prices. many of the schools offer living arrangements in shared situation or private, so that saves money too. If you would like for us to research and assist with your planning, please view our consulting. I hope that helps.

  3. Hello Heidi:

    This is very interesting article. I live in Georgia and I am from Madrid, Spain. Please, do not take my comment as a negative criticism, it is just a clarification for the people interested on exploring moving to Spain. I value your love for my country and your detailed calculations. And I also admire the fact the you are taking your family and live all over the world. It has to be a wonderful experience!! Now, I have to disagree with a few points. First of all, by default the euro is higher than the dollar. Meaning when you purchase a meal for 20 euros you are paying about $35 (depending on the exchange rate at the time). The area where you live is rural and economical depressed. It is cheap for every one in Spain. Now if you like calm, beach and you don’t have to work, it might be for you. I am from the big city and only on vacation when I live in my mom’s house, I blow up $3000 in just 3 weeks and I am very frugal. This does not include utilities, rent, and my meals are mostly covered, since mom feeds me hahaha. Rural Spain is like rural America. It is important to compare apples to apples. I personally could not live in the south. The temperatures are scorching hot and tourism is overwhelming. Saying that living in Spain is cheap is a little broad. It depends what you like. Could you live in Elk Mound, WI? 2000 people? or do you prefer New York. I live in Metro Atlanta and it is very cheap compare to Madrid. I could not live with the boredom of rural areas. So for those that think you can get an apartment for $300/month, beware where the apartment is. Both my parents are landlords. My mom rents out a tiny little apartment, (one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen, no for 4 people) for 700 euros, about $1000 in Madrid center. Her electrical bill is about 200 euros ($320) for an apartment (no AC). I pay $200 in Metro Atlanta for a 2000 sq ft in the months of most usage. I am just saying, the part of Spain that is cheap might not be very desirable to live in. Check prizes and read reviews on areas. Again, I could not live in rural America or Spain. But when my family visits me in the US, they find everything very affordable compare to Spain. Gas prices are $5/gallon, unless you don’t want to go anywhere, or you will be limited to public transportation. Furthermore, for those of you that have children, the education in the South is not that great. The south of Spain is definitely cheap, but it is only good for vacationing. This is my personal opinion. I just see a lot of young people that might be interpreting this information as a great move. The values reported do not really equate to good living environment. If you want to have a car, it won’t be cheap, if you won’t to eat good (not great) it won’t be cheap, if you don’t mind living without AC. A train ticket from Seville (south to Madrid) is about 60 euros ($73) (just a guess), a family of 4 $100. We are talking about 200 mile trip. In the US, you can travel in your car for about 900 for $100.

    • Yes, I agree with you completely. We of course preface that we live in a small town on the coast. Of course that is always going to be different from a big city. I wouldn’t quite call the south depressed, but it all depends on perspectives. Malaga and Granada are bigger cities and still have very reasonable prices. It all depends on your choices, lifestyle and what amenities you want or need. We can only give our perspective on what we’ve experienced and our opinion. We find it much more affordable, even with the exchange rate, to live in Spain. We have a richer and higher quality lifestyle, which does not mean we have the quantity of material things we had in the USA. Our life is much more simple and tranquil and we love it. There is no way in the world we would even try to say it is right for everyone, in fact it likely isn’t. We rarely eat meals out and we are clear about the spending choices we make. I appreciate your opinion and don’t take it as criticism.

      When we take road trips in the USA, we spend nearly $100 a night just for a budget hotel, so there goes the $3k a month budget right from the get go. For a few summers, we have spent a few weeks in the USA (Nevada, California, Utah) and each time it was nearly a $6k trip for just less than a month. (of course that is rent a car, budget hotel and eating out far more often. Yes gas is cheaper, but not much else is.)

  4. Hi Hiedi,

    Hello from India…

    We are about to move to Madrid for 1 year in April 2018.

    With your experience, we would like your suggestions on how to start a basic life in Madrid.

    As we have never travelled abroad, starting a basic life means

    1. Searching a basic house (1bhk).
    2. Do we need to buy all the basic necessities like gas, tv, freeze etc. As we also will have to leave them there once our tenure is done.
    3. Do we need to buy a bike/car for normal travel to office, or we can rent them. Which would be best.
    4. Anything u would like to suggest us.

    We are simply a couple (husband + wife).

    Many thanks in advance.


    • Hi Amarjeet,

      Sounds like you have great plans. Oh these are difficult questions to answer in general, as it all depends on you. You can easily start a life and don’t need to buy everything, as many places are already furnished. As far as transport, it all depends on where you choose to live within the city. Madrid offers great public transit and is well connected to the rest of Spain as well.

      We have plenty of general information on our blog, so this is a good place to start. Alternatively we do offer skype calls and can work with you on your specific questions, feel free to view our consulting offers as well as relocation packages.

  5. Nice informative site Heidi. I am still digesting all of the info. We also want to live in Spain for a year. What issue have you come across regarding taxes?


    • That is a tangled web, which we intentionally don’t cover. The reason is that it’s different for everyone. I think it is best asking in the expat facebook groups etc or contact a tax person to review your specific situation. I do know if you are retired from a government job in the US, it is pretty straight forward and easy but you still need to file. Of course if you are a US citizen, you need to file in the states no matter where you live. Many people in Spain go to a local gestor or tax man to have their Spain taxes attended to. I know that is a round about answer, but we just don’t like to talk taxes, but we do share everything else. This site covers various tax info

  6. So glad I found your site. I’m buzzing around it for details. Something I wanted to ask was, how do you make your living there now and since you weren’t able to actually work before, how did you afford to be without an income? Our situation is, we’ve both always wanted to live abroad. My husband has traveled the world for his job, but there was never much time for enjoyment. He’s in the aerospace operations field, but looking at a job loss next year. In the mean time, we’ve launched a publishing and media marketing based business that’s gradually beginning to pay off. We are in our mid 50’s and are willing to sell our home – and live a less cluttered, less stressful existence. Most of all, experiencing a new culture and landscape appeals to us, but we would need to do it with some budget restraints in place. Eventually, we’ll need to work enough to cover all expenses and as we are planning for retirement age down the road, we’ll need to do things conservatively, so living abroad also has to make sense. We’re open to Spain as well as other places. Your feedback is totally welcomed! Thank you.

    • Well it sounds like you are on the right path. Half the battle is getting your mind into the right space. You will be amazed at how much you can save, when you stop buying things or only buy what you really need. We have written about the various ways we make money and still after 5 years, it doesn’t completely fund our expenses. That said, we have made the savings we thought would only last for 2 years, last this long. We only use it for the supplement of what we don’t earn online. That post I have a link to above is a good starting point. In order to obtain the Spanish resident visa, you will need a lump sum of money in savings as well, so be sure you have that. If you have any more questions, just schedule some consulting time or check out our current specials on our contact us page. I hope that helps!

  7. My wife and I visited Spain 3 years ago and we both fell in love with the culture and beauty of the country. We are both looking at retirement in the not too distant future and are considering moving to Spain.
    Your post and life experiences are very insightful. How did you decide where to live in Spain and what were the biggest hurdles to overcome? Anything you would have done differently?

    • Hi James, oh that is exciting for you. Of course we wrote all about where we decided to live in Spain and it wasn’t without a scoping trip, but it all came down to the feel of the town. (after a few other criteria were met).
      Here is the 3 part post on the where and then another on the why…
      1. where are we going to live (part 1)
      2. where are we going to live (part 2)
      3. where are we going to live (part 3)
      4. why Spain

      I am not sure we would change a thing. Every once in a while I think it would be good to live in a city with more amenities, but then knowing the kids have the run of the town and freedom to roam with their friends gets me back on track. It is all still a good fit for us. We all have friends here now and this is just regular life, the climate is great and it all seems to work.

      The biggest hurdle for me was having a more “manual life”, as I call it. Making food homemade rather than ready made meals (all healtier of course), as well as no dishwasher, no dryer etc… I don’t mind it now, but it was an adjustment. Some of those things are available, but not on our budget and not too common. I hope that helps. If you want a quick skype call for 15 min, we are running a special until the end of May for $20 rather than $25. You can fire the questions at us and we will chat back.

  8. Thanks….I. will try that route. It’s not even clear on the Houston consulate site how long the lease has to last. Workers at the consulate are not so great at returning calls or emails. We shall see…thanks again!

  9. Can anyone share information on how to meet the proof of housing requirement for the the retirement visa application for Spain for U.S. citizens. Since the application process takes about 2 months, do you have to pay for housing for at least a couple months while the application is being processed. This step/requirement seems difficult. Anyone out there with experience dealing with this? I simply don’t know how to get a leasing agreement on a place I haven’t seen, nor will be able to inhabit for a few months. Thanks!

    • Hey Dan,
      This requirement is a bit of a head-scratcher. Obviously some bureaucrat came up with this. My recommendation is to try to find a real estate agent in the city/town in which you’re interested. Look for agents/companies that specialize in expat relocation/housing. It’s a common type of thing, and if you explain your situation, perhaps they can assist in some way.

      Good luck, and let us know what you found.

  10. My son is planning to go to Toulouse university for education and I want to know how much money, as average, he can spend there.

    • Hi Nihal,

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t really know how much it would cost, as Toulouse is in France. In general, France is slightly more expensive than Spain. The comparison from us as a family of 4 and a single university student would be very different. We tend to eat in most often and I would think a single person would be out socializing more. I am sorry we can’t provide you with an estimate for France.

  11. Were you able to live there because you had savings? Did you work there? Would you permanently live there if you could? How about Denmark and Germany? Have you lived or visited there?

    • We are in Spain on the non-lucrative We did start off with savings and now manage to make money with ebooks, our blog, freelance work, investments and more. We have not lived in Denmark or Germany, but have visisted several countries in Europe and Southeast Asia. At this time we are living in Spain with an open-ended plan, so not sure if it will be permanent or not.

  12. My teachers pension fund is 31 649 annual of which 468 goes to car payments i am a bachelor please help is this enough to live in spain DESPERATE!!helmer rodriguez chicago ex resident

    • Helmer, that is a tough question as it all depends on you and the style of life you would like to choose, where you would like to live, the current exchange rate, etc. If I were single that would be more than enough for me to live in Spain and have plenty to travel around as well. If you would like me to work with you on an exact budget, just feel free to take a peek at our consulting. We could do a basic package and I would start with sending you a series of questions regarding your current lifestyle and where you would like to live in Spain, etc… If that is more than you are looking for, I would say your income should be sufficient. We are a family of 4 living off of about $3000 a month, in a smaller town on the coast. Does that help any?

  13. Interesting. Vlogger Alicante Spain from England says he lives on 1000 Euros a month comfortably. Do you think you could have made it on that? I sure could move at that price with my family, but not sure we could do it at $44000/yr.

    • No we couldn’t live off of 1000 euros as a family of 4. Possibly 2000 euros. The $44000 was including an 6 week summer road trip around Europe. Our average costs per mont are from $2500-$3000 incluing travel.

    • I’m sure you could live on 1000 Euros a month. I’m in New Jersey which is a lot more expensive than North Carolina and my family of 4 living costs is under $30,000 a year. It’s a matter of budgeting.

      • I bet you could as well. For a single person, it would be easier I think. There was a single female traveler a couple of years ago that lived nicely off of about 1000 euros a month in Malaga. I can’t remember her blog or name, but it is doable.

    • Awesome Jade! Congrats. It is quick and easy to register with the Ayuntamiento. Basically they can count you in the “population” once you register and that gives your town more money.

      If you have kids, you need to do this in order for them to attend school. The schools receive funding for books etc, based on this.

      It is really just filling out one form with your name, address etc… painless. Where are you located?

  14. Thank you so much for the advices! I am going to move to Spain next month because of my fiance. He is from Spain and he want us to live there. I am excited because I was on a few vacations in this country and I definitely fell in love with it. Thanks again for the interesting post!

  15. Thank you so much for writing your experiences down & sharing them. My husband is 61 & I’m 53. We would like to move to Spain to retire for a few years. Do you have any suggestions of where we could live most inexpensively? We would not want to maintain a vehicle & would need to purchase health insurance. Any suggestions on renting versus buying? Do you know what type of visa would we need? if you were our age & werent traveling with kids, would your spending been significantly less than $44,000? Also did you keep any of your vehicles in the U.S.? Or did you sell them both? I know I’m asking a ton of questions – hope you don’t mind!

    I appreciate any help you can give!!
    A million thanks! Annie

    • Hey Annie, How exciting for you!!! You would likely need to come over on the non-lucrative visa or the retirement visa for Spain. We have loads of info on the subject for free, plus we also offer consulting.

      I would suggesting looking around online at properties to get a feel for areas and prices. Renting vs buying is up to you. We rent a 3 bed 2 bath on the sea furnished for 610 euros a month so about $710. We have friends renting 2 bedrooms for about $300-$500 depending on location. That is our area of course. We have a great resource for you on moving to Spain and finding a place.

      As far as health insurance in Spain, it is required to apply for the visa. We have suggestions in our post, but most of them are once you arrive and have an NIE number. You can check all of providers and see if any allow you to purchase before you have residency.

      As far as spending and money, that $44k inlcuded a 6 week European road trip and about 4-7 days of “vacation” every six weeks. If you don’t plan to travel that often, then it would automatically cut that number down by a good $10-$15k. We are 4 people and have a bigger apartment too. We did own a car in Spain and sold it. We are giving it a go without a car this summer. We sold our cars, home and about everything else etc in the USA. We wanted to be free of any worry or maint. Most everything you would have to ask can be accessed on the link from our home page. There is an image with “Moving To Spain” on it. Just click on that and you will get tons of free info.

      I hope that helps to get you started Annie. Let us know what you decide.

      • Annie, I just updated the post with more of the links I have provided to you. I forgot to mention the bit about the exchange rate. Do keep in mind it was about $1.38 to the Euro during this year when we spent $44k. With the exact same spending habits it would be many $ less now, just from the exchange rate. The $ is currently strong and about $1.13 to the Euro. That is amazing! So just by default things would be cheaper.

      • Hi again, Heidi,

        Can you tell us more about life without a car in Spain? We have lived in several countries without ‘benefit’ of car. We very much enjoy the experience of walkable cities and towns and we were much healthier for all that. We are just two retired folks, so no issues with carting kids around. Is this lifestyle still possible in Spain?



        • Hi, yes we lived without a car for about 6 months and it was more of a challenge with kids and carting them back and forth around town. If you have just 2 people it is far more cost effective on public transit. We know several 50+ couples who have lived in Spain for years without a car. The transportation system can really get you around via train, bus and flights. flights can be very cheap. Even in our small town, we are connected to the bigger cities via an hour or 90 min on a nice bus. I have a post on our other website regarding transportation. Of course it all pertains to our local area, but you can just change the data to the location you desire in Spain. Here is a link….

          I hope that helps.

  16. Wow, so glad to have found your site!
    We are planning to move to Spain for a year (or so….) in September of 2016 with our two daughters (they will be 4 and 8 when we go) and I am very interested to learn of the possibility of registering them in the public school system.
    And of course seeing your budget makes me certain that this is within the realm of possibility!
    I look forward to exploring the rest of your site and finding out more answers to my lists and lists of questions! I may be back with questions! 🙂

    • Awesome! Welcome aboard Kathryn and so excited to meet you and hear about your plans. Please feel free to contact us if you need anything. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. We are moving to Spain in August for 1 year. I have checked with numerous sources that have told me that with a non lucrative visa our children will be unable to attend public school in addition to the fact that public schools have been assigned for next year already and there would be no spaces available. It seems like you found that not to be the case. Can you provide me with what you found?

    Thank you! We are excited about our upcoming move with our 12 year old twins.

    • That was not the case for us in Andalucia. Which province or region were you looking to move to? We know several people on the non lucrative with kids attending public school. As long as you have your NIE / Residence cards and you have registered with the town hall, you should be able to. There may be some cities which are crowded and may not have room. On our home page, we have a link about “moving to Spain“, within that we have many posts regarding school and registration etc.

      I hope that helps. please feel free to email us by selecting “contact us” and I can send you some more expat in Spain resources for facebook and other sites.

  18. Awesome! Where in Spain did you live and what was the size and location of your apartment? Planning an adventure like this with my family of 5, kids are 8,3,2.

    • Hi Tejas,

      We lived along the sea, in Costa Tropical. It is about 1 hour south of Granada and 1 hour east of Malaga. We had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with sea views, and walking distance to town. We have so much info available for you! Just go to our home page and start with the Expert Advice

  19. Wow, incredible story. It’s so difficult to conceive of leaving all of your possessions and a stable paycheck behind but at the same time, it’s sad to think most of us live our lives at the office and see only a tiny fraction of everything there is to see in the world… I applaud you guys!!

  20. Loved reading your blog and found it very interesting to compare your approach to ours. We rented our home to a friend who is house sitting until we come back in 6 months.We also had RCI time share weeks on the Costa del Sol so that helped with the initial housing expenses. For a car, we decided to go with the Renault lease buy back program which provides transportation for about 165 days. We applied for the non lucrative residency visa and obtained the paperwork in Houston.Our daughter is 13 years old so we placed her in an international school. That is probably our biggest expense. We considered putting her in a Spanish school but that didn’t seem to be the best option based on our short stay. Finally we found a nice 2-1 in Cartama furnished for 300 euros. The apartment is small has a garage, doesn’t really have a view, but it is in the town center within a few hundred yards of everything (bank,grocery store etc)

    • Hey Wally. That sounds perfect too! We all have different priorities and ways of making it work for us. We also looked at the car buy back program, but knew we were going to be in Spain much longer than the number of days allowed. I would say at 13 the International school in a good choice. That is a very tough age to make new friends and learn a new language all at once. Not that it couldn’t be done, but the older the kids are the more challenging it can become, on many levels. Wow and RCI timeshare sounds nice too. Sounds like you had it all planned out well. Are you just staying for 6 months or do you plan a longer residency? That visa is quite costly and cumbersome to obtain for just 6 months. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to contact us anytime with questions or comments.

  21. Love how you get down to the nuts and bolts of a year abroad. This is an essential read for all those planning a sabbatical. Way to go, guys.

  22. Hi I was wondering if you or your husband had jobs whilst in Spain? Did the kids go to school?
    I am considering moving overseas with my husband and son, but we could only do it as a working holiday.

    • Hey Talitha, How exciting for you!

      Thanks for the comment. We had the non lucrative resident visa, which means no working (at least not in Spain). If you are working remotely for the USA, then I am not sure Spain would be aware of that. They don’t want you to take a job away from a local person. There is a site Legal4Spain that is a good resource for the legal questions. Send us and email and we can chat more.

      The kids attended public school and it was very easy to register them and get them going. We have many tips on Spain about getting there, getting settled and beyond.

      We also have a full interview series of the kids on Youtube. This is where the kids share their thoughts on living in Spain. I hope that helps a little. Please feel free to contact us when any questions you may have. We would love to help out.

  23. What would you suggest for a family of six (twin 16-year olds, 14 and 11) looking to summer in Spain (July and August)? Is there a region that is both friendly and “typical”? We barely scrape by on a city teacher’s salary so budget is top concern.

    • Hi Ed,
      Glad you stopped by for a visit and a question. That is a very difficult question, as much will need to factor into the suggestion. July and August are peek tourist months, especially along the many miles of coast.

      Are there certain things you would like to see? Would you like to be centrally located? Are you wanting to move around during that time or have a home base? Do you just want to live like a local and stay in a small town? I would say with 4 older kids you will need some space and entertainment.

      I would say, if you are looking for a rental to stay put for 2 full months and then explore from there, you are better off picking a small town away from the cities. We have shared our thoughts about picking a location to move to Spain and the same process would apply if you were coming to visit for a week or months. You really need to search and see what you want. In the article about moving to Spain, there are also many holiday booking as well as realtor sites. Search around for housing, both long and short term. Contact them and ask for a special price for 2 months. You may find something closer to the cities, but compromise on Space.

      Possibly some lower cost areas, but you would need to check. Each area of Spain is so very different.
      **Barcelona is great for Architecture and you also get the Pyrenees and can hop over to Andorra and France. There is also a ferry to Ibiza or all the way to Italy. Also along the North on the West side is San Sebastian too.

      **Andalucia- Sierra Nevada Mountain Orgiva, Lecrin Valley or another small village. These may be lower cost in the summer, but very hot. About 35 minutes from the coast in one direction and about the same distance from Granada. Possible check out Frigiliana, Otivar or Jete (near Almunecar, where we lived) The are slightly inland (15 min to Costa Tropical ), but should be cheaper). Close for you to see Gibraltar and hop over to Morocco.

      **Near Valencia or Alicante – Check prices in Gandia or Calpe.

      I know Spain seems small compared to the US, but it is still very big to see it all. You will be amazed how things open up and you can think outside of the box with your options, when you really want to make it happen. Some budget friendly thinking, but need to be very flexible:

      Other thoughts that may be thinking outside the box… Check out or other home exchange sites. You may want to do a home exchange or even a house sit. Those would be the best for your budget for sure.

      Please don’t hesitate to contact us via email on the “contact us” page as well. I hope that helps a little.

  24. Great post to give a general idea of the cost of living in Spain. I would love to be able to do this at one point. The cost, doesn’t sound too outrageous for a family including travel. You can easily spend more than that in a year in North America. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

    • Yes, we spent far more than that in the USA Adelina. That said, we were very careful with our budget and it can’t be done anywhere in Spain. Thanks for taking the time to comment. We appreciate it.

  25. Pingback: What Does One Year of Travel Cost? -

  26. Great information. You just proved my theory that it would be cheaper to live in Spain than where I live in the U.S. I really want to live in Spain!

    • Go for it Jeff! When we lived in North Carolina it cost us far more than double that. In fact, close to triple! Yes, it is cheaper to travel leading a simple, yet rich life, full of culture. Thanks for stopping by Jeff and do let us know if you have any questions. You can live in Spain!

  27. That’s quite a bit cheaper than it would cost to live for 1 year in the US. It’s definitely more expensive to live here in Italy, so it’s interesting to sort of compare.

  28. Hey just found your site and love it! I’m super interested in travel budgeting and I am from north Carolina and living in Spain ! I’ll be keeping up from now on!

    • Awesome Dina. So glad you found us. What a small world. What part of NC are you from and where are you in Spain? How cool. Travel budgeting or any budgeting is fun for me. If you have any questions, just shoot them our way. Thanks for the comment and for finding us!

  29. Hey Renee! Thanks so much for the comment and question. I am so excited for you, maybe when we return to Spain we can meet up! (tentatively June 2015)

    There are several options in our town of 30,000 people, so depending on where you decide to live I am sure you will have options. In our town there are several options.
    1. Free group lessons once a week for expats. It is mainly retired people and more of a social thing.
    2. Twice a week group lessons for 1 1/2 hours each about 15 euros a month, organized via the community center. There is a basic and intermediate class.
    3. Formal group lessons usually 1-2 hours twice a week via a language school (several around town) and these usually run about 50 Euros a month or so.
    4. Private tutor sessions, this depends on the tutor and the price, but it is similar to the formal group lessons.
    5. Activities – just as she has learned from playing already, there are loads of afternoon activities, where you don’t need to be registered at a school to attend. In our town there is paddle, tennis, gymnastics, indoor rock climbing, futbol, ballet, flamenco, and more. Many of these activities will cost from 10 -30 Euros a month and usually meet twice a week for 1-2 hours.

    I hope that helps Renee!

    Wow, looks like I have enough info to write a post about this! LOL I think I will.

  30. Great & informative post as always, Heidi, thanks. We are thinking about basing in Spain for a year or two starting in 2015, so this is all really helpful. My dd13 isn’t big on brick-and-mortar school, but she’s conversationally fluent in Spanish now after 18 months in Mexico, and I’d love to hire a tutor to polish up her writing a bit. Do have any idea what the cost is for private tutors in Spain…just roughly? 🙂

  31. Pingback: Skills worth paying for | Bucking the Trend

  32. I do love a budget post, partly because I’m noisy, but also because I always like to see if it’s a realistic possibility of living there. This is great info!

    • That’s exactly what I think Rob, so yippee! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment too. We love the feedback. I see you’re in Mexico, a country that touched my heart long ago. I lived in Tijuana for a year and commuted into the US each day to go to work, back in the early 90’s. yep, I’m old! I also spent several months roaming around the country, but a few months in Cuernavaca as well. Loved it all. I miss Mexican food!

      Take it easy and I will check out more of your blog.

  33. It is for us Val, but it all depends on location, location, location! Obviously each country can be more or less, depending on where and how you choose to live. 🙂

  34. Really, really interesting information! Thanks for taking the time to do it. I am sure many people will find it of interest.

  35. Color me impressed. I’m one that feels $44K for the year is low given all that you’ve done as a family of four. I only hope we’ll be so low when we start our adventure this summer. The great part is you probably don’t feel you’ve deprived yourself at all.

    Well done, Wagoners.

    • We don’t feel deprived at all. That said, I am sure the kids would say they could use more ice cream. We are excited for your adventure to begin too. You’re in for the treat of a lifetime.

  36. Would you believe I have never, in more than six years in Spain, done a budget for what I spend? I think it’s because I’m terrified of knowing how much was spent on beer, shoes (they are easy to wear out here!!) and on fixing my limon of a car. Bravo to you guys for keeping it cheap while living well!

  37. I was delighted to stumble across your blog whilst researching our own Spain family experience. I love your posts… So interesting, informative and inspiring. The budget info is an invaluable resource – definitely not boring. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Thanks so much Kristy! That means a great deal to know it is helpful. Thanks for the comment and compliments. We love it, so keep ’em coming.

    • Thanks Nelson. I’ve had to explain this to several readers over time and many times. So, keeping things simple seems to work with the masses. Sorry you had to wait a few extra days to get the final total. 🙂

    • Thanks Erin. It is and AWESOME life! It just keeps getting better and better. We arrived in Marrakech tonight and are right in the Medina. Can’t wait to explore tomorrow!

Come on and tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.