Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and one of the premiere tourist locations in Europe, not to mention its population which is twice that of Barcelona. It’s a hot and sunny city, with countless incredible things to do and places to see - for all that, it has one of the lowest costs of living in all of Europe!
As discussed on our housing in Madrid page, you can usually secure a room in a nice shared partment for €300-600 per month. If you want to branch out and secure a one-bedroom place to yourself, expect to pay a substantial amount more, in the region of €800-1200 per month. In terms of utility bills, I’d be very surprised to see it cost more than €100 per month for the entire flat - again, if you live on your own then this comes to a much higher bill.
If you don’t learn any other Spanish before stepping off the plane, make sure you can pronounce "el menu del dia" - you can thank me later. This is a special, fixed-price lunch menu that can cost anywhere from €7-8 to about €15 for 3 courses and, usually, a drink. It’s a substantial meal, and if you time it right it will last you most of the day following a light breakfast.
In general, if you’re spending over €10 on a simple meal, you’re doing it wrong. Madrid really does offer staggering value for money when it comes to dining, especially as compared to other major european cities. Many bars even offer a free tapa to accompany your drink! But you are a student, and thankfully eating out isn’t your only option.
There are loads of top-quality, fresh food markets in Madrid. It’s cheaper than the supermarkets, as well as more fresh and tastier. Unless you’re buying tins and preserved foods, you should always try to hit up the market for the best deals.
There’s no €3 Starbucks coffees here either: instead, traditional coffee shops go for around €1.50 per cup. If you’re hitting up a trendy young cafe, maybe add another euro to that. House beer and wine will be about the same, so really you can’t go far wrong in Madrid, even on a student budget.
So there are a couple different ways to tackle transport - single tickets or monthly passes. If you’re moving here, unless you are an ardent cyclist and live very centrally, it’s probably best to invest in a monthly pass.
You’ll need your transportation card and at least an estimate of which zones you want to use, but all of that is discussed in detail on our public transport page. What you need to know in terms of cost, is that a monthly pass for anyone under 26 is only €20 per month - for all zones! For a normal adult, it can be anywhere from €55-130 per month, though annual passes can be purchased which are a bit cheaper overall.
You can also use single metro tickets for around €1.50 each, and the same for buses. Metro tickets must be bought in the station, but bus tickets you can get from the driver. The metrobus card can be used on both, and costs €12.20 for a pack of ten! You can get them all over the city at metro stations and tobacconists.
The train is a bit more expensive at €1.70 or ten trips for €10.00, which is a bargain! It’s all zone-based, but if you are under 26 years old, then undoubtedly choose the monthly transport card and you’ll save a lot of money. Check out more Madrid saving tips in the blog!