Cost of living in Spain is low, even in the cities. Leaving aside rent or mortgage payments—and depending on your lifestyle—a couple could easily live on $18,000 to $22,000 per year and still eat out regularly. Once you know where to go, a meal for two with wine or beer can cost as little as $22.
For the best value, choose the lunchtime menú del día (the menu of the day). In most places, the menú del día usually costs between $10 and $18 and normally includes a beverage (which can be beer or wine).
A local beer and a free tapa (a little snack that can be anything from a small dish of olives to a couple of rings of fried squid) costs around $1.50. In bars that charge for their generously sized tapas (very common in Andalucia), a filling meal of a drink plus a couple of tapas can run you $5.50-$7. Even dining in classier restaurants isn’t overly costly… For a couple, the bill is usually somewhere between $45 and $80, wine included.
Though individual grocery bills can be hard to estimate, $50 per person per week is plenty.
Because of the warm climate, many basic food items are inexpensive here—Spain produces a variety of fruits and vegetables both for domestic consumption and for export. In season—and Spain has a long growing season—many produce items cost €1 a kilo (around 50 cents a pound).
Typically, meat and fish are good value—local lamb can run about $7 a pound, and in coastal regions fish and shellfish are $2-$7 a pound, depending on the variety. And Mediterranean specialties like olive oil and wine are abundant and inexpensive—starting at $3 a liter for olive oil and $3.50 a bottle for local wine. Because of this, it’s easy to eat healthily if you choose.
Having a car is truly optional in Spain, saving you purchase and maintenance cost. Spanish cities and villages are designed for walking, with most shopping easily accessible on foot. For longer distances (or bigger shopping trips), public transportation is readily available. Excellent bus and train service gets you quickly around town or around the country. And from age 60 on, you begin qualifying for retiree fares, which cut long-distance travel costs substantially.
*Prices as of 2016.