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 2023 Cost of Living Survey, which compares the cost of goods across 227 countries; the Catalan city ranked 75th, while Madrid placed 83rd.

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 not only 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 food in Barcelona   

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.  

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 accommodation in Barcelona  

As is the case in most cities throughout the world, rental prices will vary according to proximity to the city centre. The rental market in Barcelona is the most expensive 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, it is more affordable to live outside the city centre in areas such as the Nou Barris district and Horta-Guinardó. 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 entertainment 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 indeed. Attractions such as the theatre and cinema are also fairly expensive in Barcelona.   

As previously mentioned, 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.  

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 living in Spain chart

Prices may vary across the city, depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Barcelona in March 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1050

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 820

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,750

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 1,300


Dozen eggs

EUR 2.55

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 0.99

Rice (1 kg)

EUR 1.33

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.39

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 7.41

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)


Eating out

Big Mac Meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2.10


EUR 2.13

Bottle of beer (local)


Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

EUR 58


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.22

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

EUR 38

Basic monthly utilities (includes electricity, water, refuse)

EUR 164


Taxi rate/km


Bus fare in the city centre 

EUR 2.40


EUR 1.91

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