The Cost of Living in Madrid as a BEDA Language Assistant

In the Spanish capital, public and private teaching programs abound. Jessica Wray, a two-year teaching vet in Korea, taught with BEDA during the 2013-14 school year while living (budget consciously!) in the center of Madrid. She spills on the cost of living in Madrid:

Name: Jessica Wray

City and Comunidad: Madrid, Madrid

Jessica Wray

School:  I was placed at a private colegio with the BEDA program, but only taught elementary.

Your living situation? I lived in a two bed, one bath apartment with my boyfriend.

How did you find your flat? I found the flat by calling listings on It was the second place we looked at.

Rent: €375 each.  It was a two minute walk from Gran Via and about seven minutes to Sol.

What did you spend on utilities? The average was probably about €25-30. We paid electric every three months.

You cell phone company and plan? I had a contract with Orange and bought a phone with them.  I paid €30 monthly, €12 of that was insurance.  I received unlimited texts, ample minutes and about 500gb of data. The best thing about the data was that when it ran out, it only slowed down didn’t cut off.

What do you pay for internet? Internet was included in our rent.

Colorful buildings in Madrid

What did you spend on groceries? I probably spent about €80-100 on groceries per month. I found produce to be really inexpensive, especially compared to eating out. I cooked most meals.

Did you have any other sources of income? I taught five private classes per week to make extra money.  I also spent time blogging and freelance writing, but that money just went to savings.

Were you able to save any money? By making €800 per month with BEDA and teaching five private classes at a total of €110 per week (if none were cancelled) I about broke even each month.  €1120 was a good amount to live off of while going out 1-2 times per week.  I also took a trip every few weeks along with some extended travels over New Year’s and Easter.  I was pretty frugal during the week and in between trips.

Your favorite tapas bar? My favorite pintxos bar is called Txirimiri in La Latina. I’d usually order a caña for about €1.50 and a pinxto for about €3-4. For popular bars in the very center, I’d say these prices were about normal.

Most times I would go somewhere and split some ‘raciones’ with friends.  These would be bigger and each cost €8-10 split between a couple people.

Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: My favorite breakfast hangout was right near my school in Barrio de la Concepcion. For €2 I would get a café con leche and ‘pan con tomate’ during my 30 minute morning break. They often gave us a few free tapas as well.

cafe con leche

Nightlife in Madrid: My favorite disco is probably Independance Club.  The entrance fee is usually €15-20 depending on the night and time you arrived. It was sometimes free before midnight, but that is usually too early!

How did you get around? I paid for a monthly abono of €52 per month for unlimited travel in metro and bus for zone A. Other than that, I just walked around the center.

What you loved about living in Madrid? My favorite thing about living in Madrid was how exciting and liveable it was. The city center isn’t too large, and you can walk almost everywhere. In just 5-10 minutes I could be at a bar meeting up with friends over a ‘cubo’ (bucket of beers).

And your dislikes? I disliked how expensive eating out could be. I could only afford to have a sit down dinner with friends about once or maybe twice (if it was a cheaper place) per week.  While having tapas was fun, it isn’t always cheap in Madrid to do so either.

How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Madrid? It was very easy to travel from Madrid!  The airport is reachable in about 40 minutes from the center and many budget airlines take off from there.  There are also two train stations which reach the rest of the country.

Your guilty pleasure purchases: My apartment was within walking distance to so much shopping that it was sometimes hard to say no! I tried to keep shopping at a minimum though and usually only went when I needed something.

What are the top attractions in Madrid? There are a bunch of attractions in Madrid, but I’d say Retiro Park, the Mercado de San Miguel and the Plaza Mayor are the most iconic. You can’t leave Madrid without visiting each of these!

Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: I wish someone told me how the BEDA program wasn’t any more organized than the Ministry Program. If you have the choice, choose the Ministry. BEDA isn’t worth the lower pay.

Jessica blogs about her experiences teaching English in both South Korea and Spain. She’s also active on twitter and Facebook. If you’re interested in other teaching programs, check out our post on the Auxiliar program as well as alternatives to the grandaddy Language and Culture Assistants.

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