Life Cost in Barcelona

An informative article explaining how life is for expats in Barcelona and international students in regards to the personal finances and average cost of living. I will also include some personal experience from being an international student and an expat in Barcelona. Barcelona is an amazing and beautiful city in Spain, and due to the quality of life and comparatively cheap cost of living, many expats and international students choose this city to study and live. About a year ago, I had just arrived in Barcelona as an international student ready to experience what this famous city had to offer. I had the same questions about the cost of life and how it was going to be to manage my personal finances, now that I was living alone. I empathise with the worries and understand the importance of considering the cost of living before moving to a new city. Therefore In this article, we will explore the cost of living in Barcelona, Spain and provide you with all the information you need to embark on this new adventure in a foreign land.

Is Barcelona Expensive to Live for International Students?

Often students ask the question: How expensive is life in Barcelona? However the cost of living in Barcelona is extremely dependent on your lifestyle and the area you choose to live in. Barcelona is considered one of the most expensive cities in Spain, but it is still cheaper than other major European cities such as London or Paris. Actually personally I have lived in London and the average cost of living there and rent of a flat is much more expensive than Barcelona. The cost of living in Barcelona is higher than the Spanish national average, but it is still possible to live comfortably on a budget.

Barcelona City

Why is Barcelona So Expensive?

Barcelona is an attractive city for tourists and expats, which drives up the prices of goods and services. The demand for housing is high, which makes rent prices expensive. Additionally, the city has a high VAT rate of 21%, which also contributes to the high cost of living. Additionally, a lot of places around the world and Europe are experiencing high inflation and Barcelona is not any different. Also after COVID a lot of business owners are looking to make up for the lost money and opportunities and therefore are trying to increase their prices. An important detail to note is also that from April during summer it is high season and tourism also drives up prices and general cost of living. Be sure to avoid Tourist traps like dining in La Rambla or Gothic Quarter, that are usually of lesser authentic value and you will likely have to pay a lot more.

Is it Cheaper to Live in Barcelona? Is Barcelona Cheap to Live? Is Barcelona an Expensive City?

If you compare Barcelona's cost to live with Valencia or Seville it will definitely be more expensive. Barcelona is the second most expensive city in the whole of Spain, and Madrid is the number one. However, compared to other major European cities, such as London (that I have lived in before), Barcelona can be very affordable and still possible to live comfortably on a budget.

Barcelona is not a cheap city to live in, but it is possible to live on a budget. The cost of living will depend on your lifestyle and the area you choose to live in. If you are willing to live outside the city centre and cook your meals at home, you can save a lot of money. In the Conclusion section of this article I will give my personal advice based on my own experience living in Spain and how you too can save money while still enjoying what Barcelona has to offer.

Flag of Spain

How Much Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Barcelona?

The amount of money you need to live comfortably in Barcelona will depend on your lifestyle and the area you choose to live in. On average, you will need around €1,200 to €1,500 per month to cover your basic expenses such as rent, food, and transportation. However, if you want to enjoy the city's nightlife and entertainment, you will need to budget more.

Barcelona City at Night

Cost of Living in Barcelona for an International Student (Rent)

Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses for students in Barcelona. The cost of accommodation will depend on the area you choose to live in and the type of accommodation you prefer. In terms of rent you can share a flat with other international students, people or expats your age for an average of 400€ to 900€ per month for a room in a shared apartment. If you would prefer a personal flat or living alone, it will usually be from €700 and €1,200 per month for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. The best places to live are Gracia, Eixample, and there are more, but if you can check out the area before moving in, that can be important for various reasons. Firstly to understand if the area you are going to live in is logistically viable, such as the proximity and accessibility of establishments like supermarkets and public transport, and in general if you enjoy the environment. You should mostly avoid living in El Raval because even though it has a lot of tourism and can be safe, living there can be dangerous and comes with its risks since it is still a notoriously infamous area for crime. Also some other places like Poblenou are currently suffering a lot of economic growth and real estate development therefore the rent prices can be slightly speculated and inflated. Taking all these things into consideration when looking for a place to live in Barcelona can be overwhelming however an option is to; for the first few months of living in barcelona you can live in a hostel, airbnb or student accommodation, and then after making friends you can find a shared flat with these new friends. The advantage of this is regardless of if your sharing a flat is that you can go and visit the apartments and areas before moving in and signing a apartment rent contract. Probably avoid hotels as they can be the most expensive kind of accommodation in Barcelona unless it is for a very short stay.

In addition to accommodation, students will also need to budget for food, transportation, and entertainment. The cost of food in Barcelona is relatively affordable, and there are many options for students on a budget. The public transportation system in Barcelona is efficient and affordable, with a monthly pass costing around €40. Finally, there are many free or low-cost activities for students to enjoy in Barcelona, such as visiting museums or exploring the city's parks.

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Top 5 best websites to find an apartment or accomodation in Barcelona:

I was recently looking for an apartment in Barcelona (since my previous contract was close to terminating) and was successful and therefore I can provide you with a comprehensive list of the best websites and marketplaces to find your ideal home in Barcelona.

1. Idealista: Idealista is the most popular real estate website in Spain and therefore has a lot of offers but conversely demand. This website also works in Portugal and Italy, and since I am portuguese I was already familiar with it.

2. ShBarcelona: This is a real estate platform and marketplace that is dedicated specifically to Barcelona. The less popular platforms consequently have less demand and grant buyers a bit more time and no necessity to rush to close a contract.

3. Loca Barcelona: Loca Barcelona is also a real estate platform and marketplace that is specific to Barcelona, Spain, and has the same kind of quality.

4. Housing Anywhere: Housing Anywhere focuses on short to long term rentals. In Barcelona, sometimes most renters prefer mid to short term rent since they benefit from it more than a long stay. Mid to short term renting can usually be for like around 6 months.

5. Spotahome: Spotahome offers a great booking process on its platform and 24/7 customer support.

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Prices in Barcelona

Here are some examples of prices in Barcelona:

  • One night in a budget hotel: €50-€80
  • A meal in an inexpensive restaurant: €10-€15
  • A cappuccino: €1.50-€3
  • A one-way ticket on public transportation: €2.40
  • A pint of beer: €3-€5
  • Basic monthly utilities average: €120-€200
  • Mobile Phone and Internet Plan: €50-€80

Prices of Cards that include access to Bus, Metro, Tram and Train

  • TMB T-usual Card: with this travel card you can go on unlimited journeys for one month on all operators. The price is €20.
  • TMB T-casual Card: This card enables you to go on 10 journeys on all operators for one month. The price is €11.35.
  • TMB T-Jove Card: This card is ideal for international students since it is for people under 30 years old and you can go on unlimited journeys during over 90 days on all operators. However to buy this you will need a T-mobilitat which is a plastic permanent hard card that can be topped up online. The price is €32

Conclusion

I have been living in Barcelona for a little over a year now and I believe that obviously the cost of living here is dependent on your lifestyle, however, if you can live comfortably by making the right choices. As a student, by sharing a flat you nearly half your monthly costs for rent. Furthermore, if you focus on cooking your own home meals this will also save you a lot of money. Finally, the cost of nightlife can also weigh on an international student's wallet. And a suggestion I give is to avoid overpriced drinks inside the clubs, but there are also a lot of free entertainment and leisurely activities all year round in Barcelona. Examples of this are public holidays such as La Merce that feature open to public concerts scattered all over Barcelona's centre, or going to the beach or a park and playing sports. One thing I recommend is that during summertime for about €12 you can rent a stand up paddle board and have endless fun at Barceloneta's beach. I did so once when my cousin was visiting me and we both had so much fun surfing stand up paddle for the first time. Additionally, Barcelona is a Skateboarding Capital of the world this is due to the smooth streets, prime for wheels. In the beginning of last year I purchased a Skateboard and even though it is an initial investment of about €200, I would say it was a hundred percent worth, since I used it around an average of 3 times each week. Regardless of my personal hobbies, my point is that by being creative you can have fun while saving money, since Barcelona is full of opportunities and exciting things to do.

In Conclusion, you can have a blast in Barcelona without breaking the bank. If you share the rent of an apartment with your student colleagues, save on food by cooking at home, in terms of transportation buy a T-Jove card (as mentioned prior), and try to save on entertainment. Barcelona is magical and I would highly recommend it as it has a great balance of nature and a big city, perfect for international students looking for that kind of experience in Europe. If you are struggling to plan your studies abroad in Spain, be sure to contact us and we, at StudiesIn, will be more than happy to assist with anything you need in that regard. As StudiesIn is an end-to-end study portal dedicated to international students wanting to Study in Spain we love to help you in this exciting Adventure. Best of luck to you!

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Written by

Lourenço Almeida

Postgraduate, 2023

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