Can I Really Live in Barcelona For a Year on $1,500 a Month? Absolutely!

bags on las ramblas barcelona

It doesn’t have to take a life-changing event to remind you that despite global pressures, your family, job and all of the responsibilities you juggle every day that you get to enjoy life. Think about it. Life is short. Bucket lists are long. And if you think creatively, you can make your dream a reality. Follow our strategy and see how you can live in Barcelona for $1,500 a month.

Can you take a year off and live like a king or queen in a vibrant city like Barcelona? You can. Especially if you have an adventurous soul, you are comfortable taking risks and you understand that doing this is not just possible but eminently doable.

We’ll take you through everything you need to spend in a year in Barcelona, and you don’t even have to thank us for changing your life!

3 Awesome Reasons to Choose Barcelona Over Other Cities

1. Food is World Class

Enjoy a glass of Catalonia’s famous Cava in the Boqueria market in Barcelona.

Transplant Sonia Jane Fredj reports that she eats big in a city filled with everything from gourmet eateries to small bars. Sonia spends between 7 and 20 Euros for dinner—and since lunch is even cheaper, your food bill will remain low even if you eat out frequently. Are you aware of the fact that you can use Groupons in Barcelona and that you can apply for a Barcelona Card which gets you even more discounts?

2. The weather is perfect

bacelona beach

With an average of 310 of sun annually, Barcelona’s weather is down right beautiful. Barceloneta beach is located just south of the city’s harbour, at a 15 minute walk from Placa Colon.

Leave your boots, coats and other cold winter gear at home and escape to Barcelona with clothing that suits a climate that promises a year-long temperature span that runs from 55-degrees F during winter months to 86-degrees F in August. Tolerable temperatures aren’t the only reason to stick around for a year. If you suffer from mood swings triggered by rain, snow and grey skies, you can kiss that climate goodbye since the sun shines 310 days annually.

3. Barcelona is extremely affordable

balcony with orange juice on table coissant

With an average monthly salary at $1,650 per month, Barcelona is one of the most affordable cities in Europe. Two bedroom apartments near the centre are on average $750 per month.

With the average monthly income at $1,650 a month, you don’t have to be rich to live in this city. Monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, food and Internet service—the basics anyone needs to enjoy a good life in this city will run you about $1,400 per month, and that’s without a roommate. A furnished 2 bedroom apartment will set up back about $750 per month total, or $370 with a roommate and pay-as-you-go phone plans are convenient and affordable. Convinced? You should be. Time to take action.

Preparation is Key to Your 1-Year Overseas Adventure

young man with beard at table with calculator

If you won the lottery and have all of the cash in the world at your disposal, why are you reading this article? On the other hand, if you are serious about taking that year off to write your book, fall in love or indulge your curious mind in the magic of Barcelona, you’re going to need a game plan.

But before you put the following strategies into practice, a little advice to consider as you undertake all of the planning necessary to get you to Barcelona for a year seamlessly: Make friends with Trim, “the AI assistant that automatically takes care of your financial life.” If you don’t take the advice this innovative website dishes, you’ll be sorry. Check it out before you continue reading here.

Strategy #1: Save Like a Hoarder

cash in wallet male

By setting up an automatic-asvings-plan (ASP) you can directly deposit cash into your saving account with out feeling the pinch.

You can’t be a casual about saving if you intend to take a year off. It’s important to create a saving schedule and stick to it. These 6 tips will help you stockpile your funds while not living like a monk:

-Set up an automatic saving plan (ASP) and have $50 transferred every week to your savings account.
-Cut back on your lavish lifestyle. Challenge yourself to find fun substitutes.
-Figure out ways to make money while you’re gone, like renting out your U.S. digs or writing for Textbroker
-Take a second job and bank every cent. You can find side gigs on Fiverr
-Sell stuff. Like the pricey antique your aunt left you. Time to find out what it’s worth. Letgo is a great place to list your stuff.
-Swap apartments with a Barcelona resident eager to spend a year in the U.S. Services like home exchange can help you find a partner, so the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Strategy #2: Make Friends

2 friends in bar

Joining an expat group on Facebook before you land will help you feel more comfortable when you arrive. Members have often been in the same situation as you and are eager to help. You’ll likely make plenty of friends through these communities.

Remember when you were a kid and your teacher insisted you engage in a Pen Pal relationship where you wrote to a peer in a different country? This strategy gives you a way to cultivate a friend (or six, if you like) living in Barcelona, so you don’t have to wander around like a perpetually lost tourist after you arrive.

How to find an adult pen pal? Facebook of course! There’s plenty of expat groups that are highly engaged and can be your life line in a city. Check out the Bacelona Expats Group, they post apartments for rent, knowledge of local neighborhoods, weekly meet ups and how to navigate the city as a newcomer.

Strategy #3: Find the Neighborhood that Suits Your Budget

boqueria market barcelona

The boqueria market is located in the hear of the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. This is a great place to see and taste local cuisine.

Assuming you have cultivated friendships via the world wide web and you’ve gotten advice on where to move (and neighborhoods to avoid), you can start trolling the real estate market from afar to figure out which area in which you want to live. Blogger Lauren Alois dishes out advice to travelers seeking housing when they come to Barcelona and she has divided neighborhoods into these hot spots:

-The Gothic Quarter
-El Born Neighborhood
-L’Eixample (this huge community is divided into two sections: Esquerra and Dreta)
-Gracia Neighborhood
-This 3-neighborhood grouping: Sant Antoni; Paral.lel; Poble Sec
-El Raval Neighborhood
-Barceloneta Neighborhood

Explore each to get a flavor for these neighborhoods and when you’ve pinpointed an area that beckons you, use a website like to browse properties and see how prices mesh with your budget. Need a starting ballpark? If you use $725 as your rent figure if you live alone (double that if you plan to share your lodging), you should find something suitable.

Strategy #4: Budget Wisely For Your Year Abroad

biking barcelona barceloneta crab

Bicycling around Barcelona is a great way to save money on transport and not to mention see the sights. You can use their bike share program by registering for a Barcelona card.

Things won’t be much different than they are back home where rent or mortgage payments tend to be the biggest line item in a typical budget. It’s a great idea to start with an idea of the rent you’ll pay (based on your research and recommendations). And just like home, you’ll likely need a security deposit. Use these amounts to give you an idea of what you can expect to spend while living in Barcelona:

-Since utilities rarely come free with rentals, expect to spend at least $100, depending upon how much energy you use to heat or cool your flat.

-Plan to expend around $220 USD on food to keep your fridge stocked. If you patronize farmer’s markets and small stands, you could spend less on food.

-Since you didn’t bring your car, you’ll need transportation. Lucky you! You chose a city with an awesome subway system. Allocate $10 USD weekly; but if you get your hands on the Barcelona Card mentioned earlier, you get unlimited rides for the length of the card’s validity.

-Allocate at least $300 USD monthly for entertainment because there’s so much to see in Barcelona, it could take you that entire year to see it all.

-If you haven’t taken paid leave from your job and have no private medical insurance coverage, your best option is to purchase a plan through a provider like sanitasexpat. Depending upon how extensive you wish your coverage to be, you’ll pay between $30 and $70 USD monthly.

Even if you’re no math whiz, you can ballpark all of these costs and come up with a total of under $1500 USD per month, so if you figure out ways to live on the cheap (like getting a bicycle to eliminate that transportation cost), you’ll always have enough cash to cover your bills and you won’t have to live like a pauper either.

Strategy #5: If the Devil is in the Details, Don’t be Cursed!

woman holding id card europe

With in 30 days of arriving in Spain, it’s important to register for a NIE card. This will make getting an apartment much easier as many landlords will require it before signing the lease.

Having patted yourself on the back for figuring out a way to save up for your year in Barcelona—and then figuring out how to live gracefully on that nest egg—you’re going to need to lay out some cash before you go to tackle the bureaucratic measures necessary to get you to Barcelona, keep you there without a hassle and then return home (likely petulant because you don’t want to leave). Take care of these details while you’re still employed:

-Acquire (or update) your U.S. passport so you’re not stuck in diplomatic purgatory.
-Apply for a VISA through the U.S. State Department. You’ll require a long-term VISA (there are three types and this one allows you to stay in country longer than three months.)
-Keep contact information for Barcelona’s Consulate (the nation’s Embassy is in Madrid) on speed dial: (+34) 93 280 22 27 so it’s always handy, even if you never need it.
-Acquire a Foreigner’s Identity Card and number (TIE/NIE) within 30 days of your arrival through the Oficina de Extranjeros. You can also pick up a TIE/NIE a police station. In either case, you’ll need lots of ID to prove who you are.

By the way, we recommend purchasing a round-trip rather than a one-way plane ticket so you always know that you can get home fast if something happens. On the other hand, it’s also ready to get you out of Spain early should your budget not stretch far enough. As a bonus, if fares skyrocket while you’re abroad, you may not have pay that fare increase.

Finally, Don’t leave your faithful companion behind!

No, we’re not referring to your dog or cat; we’re talking wireless. Even though you may be eager to escape the electronic devices that drive you to insanity, you’ve gotta bring your smartphone for too many reasons to count here.

A fairly recent New York Times article suggests two options: pay extra to your current carrier for international roaming services or use a foreign network. This article deserves your attention, so read it before making your wireless decision.