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My Expat Cost of Living in Granada Spain (Nick Hilden)

Posted in: Expats Everywhere, Where to Live

Interested in the cost of living in Granada Spain? Nick Hilden is a freelance writer who lived there for a year. He blogs at Life Done Write. I’ll let him explain…

What’s The Cost of Living in Granada Spain?

nick hilden spainSimply put, Spain is a pretty cheap place in general, at least as long as you stay away from the hottest tourist spots like Barcelona, Madrid, or San Sebastian. While Granada is a bit off the beaten path, it’s still pretty popular with the tourists. The Alhambra Palace, for example, is the most visited destination in the country. Yet somehow it manages to be one of the most inexpensive places I’ve ever lived.

The cost of living fluctuates a great deal based upon the neighborhood you’re in. When I was living in the posh Gran Via region, it wasn’t uncommon to have a base cost of living of around $2,000. When I relocated to a quieter part of town, however, that dropped to around $1,400. It’s a place where you can spend as much as you want, but you don’t have to spend much at all.

Here’s a rundown of the monthly costs for me and my girlfriend. We’re both freelance writers, which isn’t the most lucrative profession out there, but we live very comfortably.

living in granada spain

View of Granada from Alhambra

Housing in Granada Spain: Roughly $800

$600 in rent. It’s possible to find places as low as $300, and the sky is the limit, but we had no problem finding a place right away for $600. It was right on Gran Via, which felt like a steal considering we were right in the middle of everything exciting. Later we moved to a place that was on a smaller back street which cost about $50 more but included water, heat, and wifi. That sounds like a great deal, and I guess it was, but I’ll have a word on the heat and wifi in a moment.

$100 to $200 in electricity. Electricity in Spain is expensive. It’s the only aspect of life that is more expensive than it is in the US. Our first apartment had electric heat, and it gets cold in Granada in the winter, so it cost us a bundle. When we got the chance to move into an apartment that included heat, we were thrilled. Then we found out that apartments using free city heat don’t get it turned on until deep into winter, and that it only turns on from six pm til nine pm. You have no control over it. Space heaters end up being a must, which runs up the electric bill even more.

$40 in water. Water is pretty inexpensive, and often included in rent.

Internet. Spain is still catching up when it comes to connectivity. Some homes aren’t equipped for a connection, and you have to pay a fee to have it installed. There are a bunch of different providers, and basically none of them are any good. Orange, Jazztel, and Movistar are among the most popular, but complaints abound about connection speeds, dropped connections, and customer service. They cost as low as $15 per month, and can go much higher from there. We actually never had the internet installed (you have to have a local bank account, we didn’t), electing instead to live someplace with wifi included. It turned out that meant we got a little USB thumb-drive like device that was so slow that we could barely check our emails, and we couldn’t be online at the same time. A bit of a hassle. More reading: Learn how to improve internet abroad.

Furniture. One great thing about Granada is the plethora of furnished homes. And I mean furnished—not just a bed and a couch but TV, kitchen utensils, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, and more.

Transport in Granada Spain: $40

$20 on taxis. Taxis are pretty cheap, and Granada is a fairly condensed place anyways, so getting around on foot is pretty easy. I estimate that you can walk across the entire city proper in about an hour, which isn’t bad.

$20 on buses. Each trip costs €1.20, but we didn’t use them unless we were heading someplace really out of the way. You can also take a bus to the coast for around $15 per person round trip.

Flying. Flights are pretty cheap throughout Spain thanks to low-budget airlines like Vueling or Ryan Air. I have paid as little as $20 for a flight between Granada and Barcelona.

cost of living in spain

My girlfriend Ashlee in front of one of the many fountains in Alhambra’s Generalife gardens

Food & Grocery Costs in Granada Spain: Varies

There are a few main sources for groceries. The Cortes Ingles is a giant superstore that offers pretty much everything, but at a much higher price. Mercado is much more affordable, but you’re never exactly sure what they have in stock. Then there are little places like Coviron and Dia.

They’re scattered all over the place, are pretty affordable, and you can depend on them to have the basics.

Some basic food prices (at anyplace but Cortes Ingles):

  • 1 liter of milk – $1.20
  • Loaf of bread – $1.20
  • 1kg of chicken – $6.00
  • 1kg of pork chops – $4.00
  • Beef – generally expensive and not very high quality
  • Produce is cheap. Really, really cheap, especially compared to American prices, and especially if you get it from an open-air market.
  • Toiletries are, for the most part, fairly inexpensive. I would say subtract about 20% from what you’d pay in the US.
  • Beer is cheap, and wine is even cheaper. You can expect to pay about $.50 per can or bottle of cheap beer, and you can get a bottle of tasty wine for under $4.00. Liquor is fairly inexpensive as well, which a bottle of medium-shelf gin, vodka, rum, or tequila going for around $12.00. Good whiskey is hard to find, and forget about any bourbon other than Jim Beam. If you’re a whiskey drinker, you’ll be drinking a lot of Jameson ($16.00) and scotch.

All told, I would say that we spent around $400 a month on food and other groceries. The booze tab fluctuated with the weather.

Entertainment in Granada Spain: Cheap. Really cheap.

So, we’ve all heard of tapas? Little plates of food that are supposed to come free with a drink?

Well, Granada is the home of tapas, and it’s the last place in Spain where they’re free.

It’s amazing. You can go out and order three or four $1.75 euro beers and have a full meal. If you know where to go, this can really keep the expenses down.

A delicious café con leche (the local staple coffee) will run you around $1.00, and you can usually get a tostada (toast with tomato and optional cheese or meat) for about the same price.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s entirely possible to spend a lot of money in Granada. An entrée at a medium quality restaurant can easily cost $30.00. You can buy expensive wines and overpriced (and generally poorly mixed) cocktails. But even the most expensive restaurants offer a cheap beer plus tapas option.

Alhambra Palace: A general admission ticket costs $16, and it’s worth it. The gardens, palace, fortress, and view are all astounding.

Entertainment in Granada can cost nothing! There is so much happening all the time that you can just walk around and enjoy. Parades, fiestas, concerts, street performers, incredible architecture, and beautiful parks provide an endless wealth of entertainment. My advice—just walk around and enjoy. It’s an incredibly safe city where everyone is polite and helpful.

To sum it all up…

I know expats who have been living in Granada for 20 years, and they live rich, luxurious lives in fantastic apartments filled with great food for around $1,000 per month. They go out every night, go on week long vacations to the coast, and own nice things. This is, of course, because they’ve had time to learn all the tricks.

Once we learned to stop shopping at Cortes Ingles (it is really that much more expensive), we were living off an average of around $1,500 per month. There were months in which we were forced to live off much less, freelance writing being an inconsistent paycheck and all, but even when we were forced to live off around $1,000 we never felt as if we were doing without.

Annual Cost of Living in Granada Spain

Bottom line: it’s possible to live in Granada for as little as $12,000 per year, but I would say a more realistic figure is $20,000 on the low end and at least $32,000 if you think you’ll be traveling a lot or have more expensive tastes.

Additional Resources: Learn more about living in Spain with these resources:

nick hilden spain

Nick Hilden standing in front of a view of the countryside from Granada’s Sacromonte district

Bio: Nick Hilden is a freelance travel and marketing writer from the Pacific Northwest region of the US. He bounces from place to place regularly, but spent all of 2013 living in Granada with his girlfriend. Nick’s writing has appeared in Vice, LiveStrong, the Oregonian, Global Living Magazine, and many more. You can view his work at NickHilden.com, his blog at LifeDoneWrite.com, or follow him on Twitter @LifeDoneWrite.

Interested in other locations? Read more about expat cost of living around the world.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

9 comments… add one
  • tom May 5, 2017, 1:57 am

    Gringo is an offensive term. You don’t mind being labeled and are without a doubt one of those who defend this word. It is used by many in a derogatory manner. I have heard and read the stupid justifications and defenses of this word so no need to send me any more or lecture me on the subject. There is enough argument out there to show that there are many offended by this word which, should be enough to stop its usage. If it labeled any other group of people other than whites it would fall under the rest of racist terms. People are more willing to concede to not using gender terms be cause it offends a tiny minority of people, but this is ok because it only affects a huge majority of…gringos.

    • Bryan Haines May 5, 2017, 7:24 am

      I’m not sure that you are in the majority on this one. Here are some thoughts on the term: Is “Gringo” offensive? and What is a Gringo?.

      It’s important to note that the term has different meanings in different parts of the world. And as with many words, it’s meaning also depends on how it’s used. In Ecuador, the term is most commonly used with kindness.

  • Joe Dec 27, 2016, 4:04 am

    Hello, I’m a active 50+ retiree (USA) looking to spend 4-5 months (hub) in Granada but plan to travel throughout Europe. Can you recommend a website for rental apartments/Studios? Can you recommend a $350-$500 area near the city center? Nearest Airport? Thank you in advance!

  • Linda slasberg Sep 13, 2016, 10:22 am

    Hi, thanks for the opportunity to ask questions of which I have a lot but will save most of them for later.
    1. I am retired, nearly 70, female, a little on the poor side and have a dog that I could not leave here.
    I am a British Citizen although I have lived in the USA for 20 yrs but am seriously considering getting out and Spain seems to be a good choice. But I need to know more.
    2. The likely cost of renting a modest home near public transportation.
    I have a house here which I would sell so that would give me a reasonably good base. I would appreciate any advice/info you might have please.
    Linda

  • Keith Dsouza Nov 22, 2015, 6:50 am

    I’m seriously considering the Spanish Wealth Visa for me and my family. Which city in Spain would be ideal for an Indian family?

  • steve Jul 19, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I am looking at a place on Calle Lucena, near the cathedral, does not look to bad for 300 euros but no a/c will there be bells ringing all day/ all night lol

  • Leo Lee Feb 6, 2015, 11:57 am

    I am disappointed with a lot of these expat reports like this one on costs of living. We are always covering our costs of living with our after-tax money. Unless I am wrong, like all EU countires, you will be deemed a resident for income tax purposes if you stay longer than 183 days in a year. So we (we are Canadians) have to file tax returns in Spain (or any other EU country) as well as our home country and may end up paying double taxation. To compare costs of living between countries, one must include the proper income tax picture.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 9, 2015, 7:49 am

      That’s true – except that the income tax situation will be different for every expat. It depends on their country (and state/province) of origin and their new country. It depends on their income and their tax rate. There is no way to take these factors into account. These posts share the costs of living (food, rent, transport, etc) in the new country. Each expat will have to take their tax situation into account – as it applies to them.

  • Paul Acee Feb 5, 2015, 8:30 am

    Interesting run down, thanks Nick!

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