If you look it up, you’ll probably notice that rental prices in Barcelona are on the rise. However, the overall cost of living in the city (considering food, entertainment and transport etc) is considered lower than many of the major cities in Europe. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend around €1000 every month, though of course if you’re lavish with your spending, this is will be considerably more.
A really useful site for comparing the cost of living in Barcelona with other cities across the world is Teleport.org.
Barcelona housing can cost anywhere from €350-850 per month depending on the size and location of your apartment, or whether you are sharing. As an exchange student, you can usually find a good deal by moving in with 2-3 of your peers! We’ve already done quite a detailed analysis of accommodation in Barcelona, so you should check that out for more accurate pricing details.
Remember that rent and bills are not the only accommodation expenses you’ll have to cover. There are also up-front charges which must be paid before you can move into an apartment. If you’re going through an agency, these will include fees worth 1-2 months rent, and you’ll have to pay a deposit no matter who you go with and this will probably be about 1 month’s rent as well. Worth bearing in mind.
You’ll have to cover electricity and gas and internet, as these are never included in the rent cost. One exception might be if you’re in student-specific housing, as these are often all-inclusive, to make things easier for you.
Your energy bills shouldn’t cost more than €80-100 per month, split between everyone in the apartment. Of course, the more people there are, the higher the energy use, but you’ll still spend a lot more living on your own.
Internet can be anywhere from €30-40 euros (for fibre optic alone) or over €100 if you get superfast internet and TV. Again, things are cheaper if there are multiple people in the house. Plus, you know, less lonely!
Be careful to read the small print! Providers in Barcelona are well-known for their exceptional deals (on the surface) which actually involve extra installation charges, or which triple in price after the first month. If you don’t know Spanish very well, have someone else check it over for you!
Fortunately there are plenty of grocery shopping options in the city, from budget supermarkets to fancier, more upmarket places. As as estimate, you’re likely to spend:
€150-200 per month for food in a budget supermarket, like Lidl
€200+ at BonPreu or Carrefour
Eating out can go either way, but is generally not expensive. Certainly it’s less than some other big European cities (and its national rival Madrid); you can get a romantic dinner for two for under €60, or spend €12 on a burger and drink at a casual joint. The "menu of the day" for lunch will be no more than €10 or so, making dining out a pretty good option on days where you deserve a treat.
For me, typical food in Barcelona is seafood, paella or tapas, but you can get virtually anything here, so just look and buy whatever your taste buds are demanding.
The public transport system in Barcelona is a treat. You buy a single ticket and it works on the metro, trains, buses and trams. A single lasts for 75 mins, and you can use it as frequently as you like within that time. Check out a few guide prices so you know what you expect:
Single – €2.15
10-journey pass (single zone)– €9.95
Monthly pass (single zone) – €53.75
City bikes, annual pass – €47.16
You can also use taxis, which are surprisingly inexpensive in Spain. Sadly there is no Uber in Spain (yet), so that nifty app will have to gather dust until you visit a neighboring country.
Entertainment is usually the big unknown in foreign cities - we’ve compiled a little list of common places to go and their costs in Barcelona. Hope you find it useful!
Cinema ticket, €6.50-11
Monthly gym pass, €30-80
Club entry (usually includes a drink), €15-20 (though it’s usually free before 2am)
Museum entry, €5 or so
City walking tour, €0 (though donations are generally requested)