Can I Live on 1,000 Euros a Month in Madrid as a Language and Culture Assistant?

Authored by:
Dana H.

Dana H.

    The English auxiliares in Madrid who go through CIEE get paid 1,000 euros a month. If you’re like me and every other recent college grad who is indebted to the American government for the rest of eternity-- you know how to live on a measly sum. However, things in Madrid may have different prices than wherever you’re from, so allow me to shed some light on how to budget this money.

Rent- To be honest, if you want to have a decent location in a cool neighborhood or somewhere close to the center, you should budget 500 euros for rent. It may be a little more, or a little less. If you want to spend less than 400, that’s possible, but you won’t live in a prime location. Apartments here are teensy and expensive (but it’s worth it!).

Food- My advice for grocery shopping is go to the fruterías. You can live quite cheaply here if you eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s cheaper to get produce from the fruterías rather than the grocery stores and it’s nice to help the little guys rather than the corporations. I can buy loads of delicious fruit and vegetables that will last me a week and only spend about five or six euros. I’ll normally do that and then keep some quinoa, pasta, rice, and bread in to make different dishes. I still have to go to the supermarkets for eggs, olive oil, wine, milk, toiletries, frozen tuna empanadillas (1.50 at Carrefour), and of course chocolate. In total, I probably spend about 15 euros a week on groceries, around 60 a month.

Transport- If you’re under 26, a monthly metro card is 20 euros a month, hooray for you! It’s quite a steal, and it gets you to Toledo and other outlying areas around Madrid that are great for hiking or exploring.

Phone- My phone plan is 15 euros every 28 days and gives me unlimited chat and social (Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify) as well as 6 GB of data. I would say 15-20 euros is the average amount auxiliares spend a month for their phone.

Gym- If you do want to work out when you’re here, there are definitely some cheap gym options. I belong to Viva Gym for 30 euros a month and it has a fitness facility as well as a variety of classes.

Delicious Menu Del Dia at La Hummuseria

Dining out- If you go out to Spanish places, it’s definitely possible to eat cheaply. There are a few places where you order a drink or two and can be fed a full meal for free (hello El Tigre!). It depends on the place, but the tapas that come with a caña or wine can definitely be filling. Also try restaurants that have menu del días, which are typically only served for lunch. You can get a drink, a first course, a second course, and a dessert or coffee for a very reasonable price! There’s an Indian place near me that has an all-day menu del día where you can get a starter, a main, a side of naan or rice, a drink, and a dessert for 8 euros. Day or night. It depends on how often you go out, but depending on the week, I personally spend about 30-40 euros a week on drinks, coffee, and dining out, 120-160 euros a month.

Entertainment- Luckily most of the museums in Madrid have loads of options for when you can get in for free. For example, you can get free entry to Museo del Prado from Tuesday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m… but if you have a student I.D, it’s free all the time! There’s also the cinema (5 euros on Wednesdays), concerts, shows, parks, markets, and other things to do. I would budget about 50 a month for extra entertainment that doesn’t involve food.


Shopping- My advice is don’t go. Don’t even look. Spanish fashion has been the death of me. The moment I walk into Bershka or Lefties or Stradivarius I am like a kid in the candy shop. If a kid had a credit card and no supervision. I will have you know though that January and July are “rebajas” months in Spain, meaning that’s when everything goes on sale. It’s like month-long Black Fridays. I probably spend an average of 60 euros a month on Spanish moda (fashion).

Travel- What you budget for travel is totally dependent on you. You can get round-trip flights in Europe for as cheap as 30 euros if you book far enough in advance. I’ve been here for nearly six months and have gone on two weekend trips (one to Mallorca and one to Portugal) and home to the U.S for the holidays, but some people prefer to travel more often. It’s probably smart to budget an extra 100 or so a month in case you want to go on a decent day or weekend trip.

That’s personally how my budget looks here in Madrid. Of course, taking on extra private lessons can add some extra pocket money to go towards saving or travel or Spanish classes.

It depends how much extra effort you want to put in, but I tutor four nights a week. In all honesty, I use my salary from school just for rent and bills (phone and gym) and save the rest for travel. All my spending money for fun stuff I use with the cash I make from private lessons.

There are different ways to find private lessons. You can get them through your school if you inform teachers that you’re looking for lessons. You can get them from online sites like LingoBongo and Tus Clases Particulares, or Facebook. The Auxiliares de Conversación en Madrid Facebook group has a lot of posts about private lessons but they get snatched up pretty quickly, so you have to act fast! You can also put up fliers and hang them around your school or around the area where you live. That way you’re more likely to get lessons in an area that is convenient for you!

As many of the other auxiliares on the Facebook page will tell you, you should charge at least 20 euros per hour for one student. If auxiliares start charging less, it hurts the rest of us as the price continues to get more competitive. If you’re teaching multiple children, don’t be afraid to charge 25 or 30. I will sometimes do a discount if the family needs multiple hours in consecutive order (ex: 35 euros for two hours), but in general, don’t let the families swindle you! There are plenty of people out there looking for English lessons, so there's really no need to drop your prices.

And remember--it’s always smart to have at least enough money for a flight home and two month’s rent saved in case of emergencies!


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