Barcelona's stunning beaches, great cuisine, incredible architecture and sunny climate, not to mention its world-famous football club and stadium, attract visitors from all over the world. Visitors often return as expats thanks to the city's laid-back atmosphere and excellent quality of life, but Barcelona is far from cheap.

The cost of living in Barcelona ranked higher than Madrid's in Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living City Ranking, which compares the cost of goods across 226 cities; the Catalan city ranked 66th, while Madrid placed 76th.

That said, the average salary in Barcelona is high enough to accommodate the city's cost of living, but it is generally lower than in other major Western European cities. Housing will always be a significant expense that comes with city living, and expats can expect the same in Catalonia's capital. 

Fortunately, public transportation across Barcelona is efficient but also cost-effective, as the city runs on single and integrated ticket systems, allowing passengers affordable access to all modes of public transportation.

Cost of accommodation in Barcelona  

As is the case in most cities worldwide, rental prices will vary according to proximity to the city centre. The rental market in Barcelona is the priciest in Spain and remains highly saturated. It is common to find flatshares across the city that are considerably cheaper than renting a single-bedroom apartment.   

Of course, living outside the city centre in areas such as the Nou Barris district and Horta-Guinardó is more affordable. Utilities in Barcelona are generally reasonably priced.

Cost of transport in Barcelona   

Public transport in Barcelona is highly efficient, affordable and integrated. The T-mobilitat integrated ticket allows passengers to access different modes of transport like buses, trains and taxis across the city. Buying a car requires a Spanish residency or citizenship, and the process involves dealing with the country's infamous bureaucracy and paying an annual road tax, all of which generally deters expats from owning cars.

Cost of groceries in Barcelona

Those who like to cook should note that certain groceries, such as meat and cheese, can be quite expensive, but given the fact that Spain is one of the leading fruit and vegetable exporters in Europe, expats can expect to pay less for fresh produce in Barcelona than in other European cities. Expats can also save by shopping at affordable outlets such as Lidl, Super Sol, and Mercadona.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Barcelona   

Barcelona is famous for its buzzing nightlife, but it doesn't come cheap, as buying drinks at a pub or club in the more affluent areas can be very pricey. Attractions such as the theatre and cinema are also fairly expensive in Barcelona.   

The city's food scene caters to diners from all income brackets, and expats can find a restaurant or eatery to enjoy well within their budget. Barcelona is a foodie's dream, and its 26 Michelin-starred restaurants are a testament to the city's strong food culture. The streets are chock-full of eateries and restaurants for every price point, making eating out not only a delicious but also an affordable experience.  

While health and fitness clubs in the city's business district tend to be costly, it may be worthwhile for expats to consider taking advantage of Barcelona's idyllic Mediterranean beaches and leafy parks to keep fit.

Cost of education in Barcelona

Education in Barcelona offers diverse options to cater to the city's multicultural population. Public schools provide free education, albeit with potential costs for books and materials. These institutions primarily teach in Catalan, posing a linguistic challenge for expat children. Nonetheless, they are a viable option for families seeking an immersive Catalan experience.

Private schools in Barcelona are renowned for their superior facilities and innovative teaching methodologies. Semi-private schools strike a balance between public and private education, offering a high-quality learning environment at a more accessible cost.

International schools represent the pinnacle of expat education in Barcelona, offering curricula from around the world, including the International Baccalaureate. These schools are ideal for families seeking a global educational perspective in an English-speaking environment. These schools' facilities and extracurricular opportunities are exceptional, catering to a diverse and international student body.

Cost of healthcare in Barcelona

Barcelona's healthcare system exemplifies the high standards of care available in Spain, featuring both public and private sectors. The public healthcare system offers extensive coverage, funded through social security contributions, ensuring that residents can access most healthcare services at little to no direct cost. Prescription charges and certain services may incur minimal fees.

Despite the efficiency of the public healthcare system, some opt for private health insurance to bypass waiting times and access a broader range of services, including dental care for adults, which is not typically covered by the public system.

The availability of private health insurance complements the public system, providing options for those seeking faster access to treatment or additional health services. The cost of private insurance varies, influenced by factors such as age and pre-existing conditions. Still, it remains a popular choice for expats and those desiring more immediate or specialised care.

Cost of living in Barcelona chart

Prices may vary across the city, depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Barcelona in February 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreEUR 2,080
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreEUR 1,550
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreEUR 1,240
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreEUR 940
Food and drink
Dozen eggsEUR 3.47
Milk (1 litre)EUR 1.09
Rice (1kg)EUR 1.47
Loaf of white breadEUR 1.39
Chicken breasts (1kg)EUR 4.02
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)EUR 5.37
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantEUR 55
Big Mac MealEUR 10
Coca-Cola (330ml)EUR 2.06
CappuccinoEUR 2.22
Bottle of beer (local)EUR 1.11
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)EUR 0.22
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)EUR 23
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)EUR 157
Taxi rate/kmEUR 2.20
City-centre public transport fareEUR 2.40
Gasoline (per litre)EUR 1.73

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