With rent and food prices creeping up in many major Spanish cities, some foreigners might wonder whether they’re still getting the value for money España was once known for.
Tourism and overall demand has driven up rents and property prices in all the hotspots. According to a recent study by Kelisto, one of the country’s most used comparison sites, Barcelona is the most expensive city in Spain in 2018.
The Catalan capital is followed on the list by San Sebastián, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Vitoria, Girona, Albacete, Oviedo and Tarragona.
So how about the cheapest cities on the ranking and is it worth contemplating a move there?
Well, the ten least pricy cities to live in in Spain have a lot in common.
A lot of them are in Spain’s relatively empty Castilla y León region, most aren’t on the coast and all have populations under 200,000.
They also share breathtaking scenery, a rich history and a friendly, laidback spirit far removed from Spanish stereotypes and the hustle and bustle of the big cities. A quieter (and for some better) quality of life.
Here’s the list of the top ten cheapest cities in Spain taken from Kelisto’s study, in which they looked at the cost of buying and renting a home, taxes, transport costs, food shopping and the price of activities. Our breakdown offers a bit more info on the pros and cons of each ciudad (city).
Palencia, Castilla y León (north-central Spain)
Pros: steeped in history and splendid architecture, by far the cheapest city to live in the whole of Spain.
Cons: bitter cold winters that start early, far from the coast and ageing population.
Nutshell verdict: The cost of living is more than 30 percent cheaper than the national average, but it’s a fairly insular city with more past than present.
Photo: Deposit Photos
Melilla, autonomous Spanish city in Morocco
Pros: Warmest climate on the list, on the coast and like living in two countries at once.
Cons: geopolitical issues relating to migration, disconnected from mainland Spain, food shopping more expensive.
Nutshell verdict: Melilla is perhaps a strange choice for anyone wanting to live in what one might call ‘typical’ Spain, but if it’s multiculturalism, exoticism and proximity to North Africa you’re after, why not give it a go?
Also, filling up your petrol tank costs €50 in Melilla, 23 percent lower than the national average.
Miguel Gonzalez Novo/Wikimedia
Lugo, Galicia (northwest Spain)
Pros: Northern city on the list that’s closest to coast, busy and brilliant tapas.
Cons: Plenty of rain.
Nutshell verdict: A Galician hidden gem. Yes, it’s wetter than central and southern Spain, but the lush forests and dramatic coastline an hour’s drive away make up for it. Lugo is also more lively and has a better bar scene than some of the Castilla y León cities on the list.
Renting a 80sqm apartment in Lugo costs an average €354 a month (the second lowest rent in Spain) compared to €1,150 in Madrid.
Photo: David Daguerro/Wikimedia
Playa das Illas, Lugo province. Photo: Guillem Perez.
Logroño, La Rioja (northern Spain)
Pros: In the heartland of Spain’s wine country, beautiful rural surroundings and an impressive food and drink scene.
Cons: Not as much impressive history and architecture as some other cities on the list.
Nutshell verdict: Logroño is a tidy little city which is quick becoming one of Spain’s culinary capitals. Couple that with Rioja wines on your doorstep and it’s definitely worth a visit and possibly a move for the fun-seeking foodies.
Photo: Dani Oliver/Flickr
Teruel, Aragón (eastern Spain)
Pros: Very cheap rent, close to Valencia (1h30 drive), lively and beautiful architecture
Cons: As with most cities on this list, not a lot of international jobs
Nutshell verdict: Spain’s smallest provincial capital packs a lot of punch, isn’t isolated as in the case of other cheap cities and offers very reasonable living costs.
An 80sqm apartment in Teruel costs an average €358/month, compared to €1,278 in Barcelona.
Teruel Photos: Fernando García Redondo/Flickr
Cáceres, Extremadura (western Spain)
Pros: living in a Unesco World Heritage Site, wonderfully preserved.
Cons: sweltering in the summer, far from the sea and can feel like a desert.
Nutshell verdict: This city and region are the best embodiment of Roman Spain, so history buffs who can take the heat will get a lot of bang for their buck here.
Photo: Carmen Alonso Suarez/Flickr
Zamora, Castilla y León (northwest Spain)
Pros: wonderful historic centre, safe (as with most Castilian cities on this list it has an almost zero crime rate).
Cons: non-descript suburbs, very harsh and dry winters.
Nutshell verdict: A quintessential Castilian city that offers good quality of life in a peaceful and picturesque setting.
Photo: Segundo Sanchez/Flickr
Ávila, Castilla y León (central Spain)
Pros: Living in Spain’s second most famous fortified city (Toledo takes top spot), fascinating history, looks like a fairytale when lit up at night.
Cons: A wicked winter wind, too far from Madrid to commute daily to by train or car (1h30).
Nutshell verdict: A deeply religious city that opens a door to old Spain without being too far from the capital.
Soria, Castilla y León (north-central Spain)
Pros: picture-perfect Roman town, surrounded by nature and history.
Cons: sleepy, too far to commute to Madrid (2h drive).
Nutshell verdict: Soria – a tiny city set on the Duero river and surrounded by Castilian countryside – is a great place to live in if you’re looking for a quiet life away from busy or touristy Spain.
Beer drinkers will be delighted to know that the cheapest average caña price in Spain is in Soria – €1.25 – almost a third less than average across Spain.
Photo: Miguel Angel Garcia/Flickr
León, Castilla y León (northwest Spain)
Pros: A historic city capable of rivalling Salamanca and Segovia, for its magical streets as much as for its bar culture and buzz.
Cons: Famed for its freezing winters and far from any beach.
Nutshell verdict: León is a hidden gem for anyone who wants to live an authentic Spanish town lifestyle.
It's also the city in Spain where it’s cheapest to go food shopping, 4 percent lower than the national average.
Photo: Jose Manuel/Wikimedia