The Cost of Living in Madrid as an Elementary School Teacher

This blonde bombshell has been living in Madrid for over five years. With experience working at English language academies and private schools, Stacey knows how to budget for life in the Spanish capital.

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Name: Stacey Taylor

City and Comunidad: Madrid, Madrid, Spain

School: I have never been an auxiliary. I came to Madrid and worked in several Language Academies under the table for 4 and a half years till I was able to get my residency. I worked this last academic year as a full-time 2nd grade teacher at a private school.

Your living situation? I shared with my now ex–Spanish boyfriend my first year in Spain, but after the break-up I shared different flats all over the city from 2009 to 2012.  I would typically try and only share with one other person, so a 2 bedroom with 1 or 2 baths in Arguelles and Embajadores. The final flat I shared was with 4 other professionals in a 5 bedroom, 3 bath apartment in Conde Duque. I have now lived alone for 2 years in a 2 bedroom/ 1 bath outside of the centre (occasionally renting out the second room for short temporary stays for friends).

How did you find your flat? When I shared, I found most of my flats on idealista.com or by word of mouth. I found my current place due to a friend just calling me up and asking if I wanted to rent her house (she was going to move in with her boyfriend). I remember when she bought the house and how she had updated it, so I said yes.

Your rent? When I rented rooms in the centre they were usually between 350 to 500 euros per month. The more space, the higher the cost of the bedroom. This was a major factor to moving in on my own since I only pay 600 euros now for 75m2 with a wrap around terrace, storage space, an American style kitchen and air-conditioning. I may be a bit out of the city centre but I find it’s worth it for me at this point in my life.

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What do you spend on utilities? As I live alone now, bills can range and it’s on me to pay it all. Gas is about 40 euros per month and in the winter about 60. Electricity is between 30 and 40 euros per month. Water is about 20 to 30 euros per month. Plus a landline with Wi-Fi Internet from Vodafone is 30 euros each month.

What cell phone company do you use and what plan do you have? I use Tuenti prepaid. I love it. During months where I work a lot on my phone with no Wi-Fi or have a lot of phone calls the max I have spent is 20 euros in a single month, but I usually pay only 12 euros per month.

What do you pay for Internet? Landline with Wi-Fi Internet from Vodafone is 30 euros per month.

What do you spend on groceries? I can spend anywhere from 80 to 150 euros per month on groceries. It just depends really. I try to buy week-to-week and every month or two do one big purchase of canned goods and house cleaning products.

Do you have any other sources of income? Usually I’ve always had a steady monthly pay check during the 9 month school year of about 1200 to 1500 euros per month, but I’ve always taken on extra private classes to save for the summer months (although, now due to being on Social Security, I’m reaping the benefits of an official work contract and the Spanish unemployment ‘paro’ for the low months in summer). I usually have made an extra 250 to 400 euros per month.

Are you able to save any money? Some months I can’t save anything, but some I am able to save from 50 to 300 euros or more. It just depends. As I live alone and everything depends on me, I do have to pick and choose more carefully where and how to spend my money.

What your favorite tapas bar? I have so many it’s hard to choose! This is the great thing about living in Spain and especially the capital city of Madrid. There is a great place in my barrio next to my house called Cerveceria Mayser and I get a tapa or two for free with my beer, wine or vermouth. Their patatas alioli are the best in Madrid! It typically costs between 1.50 euros to 3 euros depending on what drink you get. In the centre of Madrid I love any abuelo bar or bar with taxi drivers in front! Always trust the taxi drivers! They know where the legit ‘Spanish’ places are. They aren’t glamorous, but they are reasonable and serve lots of free tapas with your drink.

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Your favorite breakfast bar? I love to eat ‘pan tumaca’ or ‘pan con tomate’ for breakfast with a café con leche. You can never go wrong with something so simple yet so delicious! That typical breakfast can run you anywhere from 2 euros to 2.50 euros and with a fresh squeezed orange juice it might be an extra euro. That’s the typical breakfast combo deal you will find around the city.

Nightlife: I’ve moved on from my disco days but I am a huge fan of live-music joints where you might be able to catch an incredible jam session by local artists singing any genre of music. I like places like ‘El Junco’, ‘El Intruso’, ‘Bogui Jazz’, ‘La Coquette’, ‘ Bar Co.’, ‘Sala Sol’ and ‘Marula Café’. It could cost you between 8 and 10 euros to get in and that also includes a drink. Sometimes you can get in for free. And in these places you can find live music, jam sessions and good DJs who aren’t playing the typical Top 40 Hits.

How do you get around? I use public transport and pay for the monthly Zone A abono, which is about 54 euros. During the summer when I’m not really in Madrid I don’t renew my pass and just get a 10-trip ticket, which is about 12 euros. It’s usually not worth it for me to spend 54 euros when I won’t be using public transport that much.

Your favorite thing about living in Madrid? I love how it has changed and evolved over the past 6 years that I’ve been living here. I remember when no one knew what ‘brunch’ was and finding anything American required my mom sending me a box of things, or I had to pay an extreme amount at the ONLY ‘Taste of America’ shop in Madrid (now they are everywhere!). I’ve seen Lavapies go from scary and sketchy to now becoming trendy and hip. I’ve seen my friends start up small businesses in the middle of the ‘crisis’ and still somehow succeed. Madrid still has a lot of growing to do, but I love that there are still areas and parts that have not been modernized yet and you can still go back in time a bit to a different era in Madrid’s history.

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Any Madrid dislikes?
After living for 4 years in the centre of it all, I got fed up with the noise and the smell (like piss from the drunks who peed on their early morning walk back home – thus why I moved a bit out of the centre). I got fed up with so many people on the streets and none of them know how to walk down them – they are seriously like cows out to pasture and they don’t have the custom of apologizing when they bump into you or thanking you when you hold a door open for them. So when common courtesy does actually happen here – soak it up cause you won’t experience it often. There are some times when I can’t take the way the Spaniards complain about everything in the bar over a drink yet they won’t actively do anything to fix it. Plus, their conversations at one point for me became always negative and that energy effected me, so I found ways to get away from that vibe.

Traveling around Spain and Europe from Madrid: Since I live in the Spanish capital, it’s so easy to catch a flight, train, and bus to anywhere and for that I am extremely grateful.

Your guilty pleasure purchases: Mostly food and drink. I love trying out different places with my friends. I am a closet foodie. I wish I was cool enough to be considered a foodie but since my friends are and I move in that circle a bit that is where I spend my hard-earned dinero.

Top Madrid attractions: For me, some of the top attractions are walking around the Gran Via/ Callao area, the gardens in and around the Royal Palace and exploring the new modern Mercados they’ve redone around the city – Mercado San Miguel, Mercado San Anton and even checking out the not-so-modern yet a really great find, Mercado Anton Martin.

Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain? I wish someone had told me that the process to get your work permit isn’t as easy as it seems and that you will need a lot of patience with both the US and Spanish systems. I wish someone would have told me that typical Spanish landlords are a pain and will try and cheat you any way they can. I learned that the hard way and gladly haven’t had to repeat that experience again.


Get more guiri from Stacey’s blog, La Guiri Habla, like her on Facebook, connect via Twitter @laguirihabla or see more of her Madrid and travel shots on Instagram.


Have more insight on living in Spain? Share your budget with us by emailing hola@comoconsultingspain.com for the details.