How Should I Budget for Madrid?
How Much is an Apartment in Madrid?
Apartments in Madrid vary in price, and living in a central, well connected area of the city will run you about €800 (£600) for a studio, or about €1300 (£975) for a one bedroom. You can find a cheaper property further out of the city centre, but of course the trade off is a longer commute, and less to do near your apartment.
Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Madrid are Malasaña for young people, Barrio de Salamanca for families & couples, and Atocha on the more inexpensive but still well-connected side of things.
When moving to Madrid, it’s best to outline your needs in an apartment versus those things that you can live without. You may find yourself willing to compromise on some things that in your home country you’d consider a necessity. In London, for example, many people are used to a furnished flat as furniture is quite expensive & occasionally very difficult to even move into your flat. However you may find that in Madrid many apartments are unfurnished - however good furniture on a budget can be found at IKEA. The cost of an apartment in Madrid can quickly crawl up, so it’s best know what you need versus what you want.
Cost of Travel in Madrid
Public transportation in Madrid is efficient, well-maintained, and inexpensive. There are also many options, with bus lines, 13 metro lines, and suburban railways that service the city of Madrid and the neighborhoods nearby. Tickets apply to both buses & the metro, and a pack of 10 tickets costs just €12 or £9. Otherwise you can purchase an abono transporte which costs €54.60 or £41 for unlimited trips in Madrid city for a month. If you’re not sure what counts as Madrid city, this image will help. Using one ticket, you can switch metro lines throughout your single journey without any extra payment - however changing buses will require another purchase.
Unlike the London Underground, much of the metro in Madrid is modern, with carriages built within the last 10 years. That means air-conditioning & televisions in some of the stations, broadcasting the news & the weather. It runs from 6 A.M. until 1:30 A.M., making it quite easy to get home after a night out.
You’ll find that buses in Madrid are also air-conditioned: a welcome addition in the sometimes blistering heat of a Spanish summer. Buses run from 6 A.M. until midnight, and after midnight a smaller series of night buses run and use similar routes to the metro stations.
The suburban railways run from the early morning hours until 11 P.M., and are punctual. A new train arrives every 5 to 15 minutes, which makes commuting from a suburb of Madrid fairly stress-free.
Madrid has only recently embraced bicycles as a form of everyday transportation, and bicycle lanes have been opened in Madrid in the last few years. It’s becoming more popular & more acceptable, but still has some time to go before it is a viable option over the metro & bus system.
Petrol in Spain is cheaper than in London, but more expensive than in the United States. Vehicles are also cheaper, but there is a road tax in addition to car insurance. Hybrid cars receive a 75% discount on their road tax, making them a less expensive choice in the long run.
Average Food Costs in Madrid
Food prices in Madrid vary greatly: you can have an amazing, multi-course luxury meal or grab some free tapas with a beer. Traditionally lunch in Spain for office workers means a ‘menu of the day’, or menú del día at a restaurant. Generally priced between €8 - €12 (£6 - £9) you get a starter, main, water & wine to drink, a dessert, bread, and coffee to finish. It’s eaten inside the restaurant rather than taken back to the office.
When it comes to groceries, certain items are far cheaper in Spain. You’re in luck if you like Spanish cuisine, as all the basics of it are cheaper & more plentiful in Madrid. Wine, jamon, and Spanish cheese fans will be in heaven.
The average cost of groceries for a single person who is budgeting ranges from €80 - €100 (£60 - £75) a month. It’s a good idea to try & stick to produce, dairy products and meat that have been produced in Spain rather than imported. Not only will the quality be higher and you’ll experience a more authentic life in Madrid, they’ll also be cheaper without the import costs!
A meal out in Madrid, as said, can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. A good rule of thumb with a mid-range restaurant is about €20 or £15 per person.
Internet & Phone Costs in Madrid
Internet access in Madrid is good - you can get high-speed (100mb) fibre-optic connection from Movistar with a 12-month commitment at €54 or £40 a month. With that contract you also get a mobile line with 100 minutes & 500MB of 4G data - making it a very good deal as a ‘one stop shop’.
For a cheaper rate you can get ADSL at 12mb, which is still quite fast, from Jazztel starting at €37 or £27 each month, including 30 minutes of local calls.
It’s also very easy to get ahold of a SIM card & an unlocked phone, and to begin using prepaid top-ups for your mobile. MasMovil is a provider of SIM cards & top-ups, you can get 1GB of data & 150 minutes of national Spanish calls for €15 a month, or £11. An unlocked phone can be purchased in markets or online for around €10 to €25 (£7 to £18) for a basic model, and any phone you are bringing with you may be unlocked at a market, or potentially a Vodafone store for around the same price. Use your discretion when unlocking your personal phone.
Cost of Enterainment in Madrid
One of the nicer aspects of going out in Madrid is how easily you can segway a couple drinks in a bar into being dinner. At a place like El Tigre, you can expect to pay about €8 (£6) for a couple of beers or about €3 (£2.25) for a single glass of wine. With a round of drinks for you & your partner, or an entire table full of friends, you can expect quite large portions of paella, bread, and traditional tapas - for free. This makes finding entertainment in Madrid very easy! It’s very popular though, so don’t expect to find a seat as easily.
Cinema tickets in Madrid are about €8.50 or £6.50 per person, and while occasionally films are shown in English with subtitles (mostly at the Renoir & Princesa) most will be dubbed, so brush up on your Spanish language skills before you head to the theatre.
Madrid is also a great city for museums. One way to view the museums without having to spend much is to purchase an Abono Paseo de Art that allows you to visit all 3 of Madrid’s top art museums for the price of €25.60 or £19. These museums include the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen museums - some of the best in Europe.You can also partake in some free entertainment in Madrid by talking a walk and enjoying the mix of new & old architecture.