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Cost of Living in Spain and Living Expenses for International Students​

Make the most of your money

One of the first things you will have to consider when you move to Spain is changing your existing funds into Euros. While many banks can handle this service for you, it usually comes with a fee and often an exchange rate markup, which is a sneaky way to shave more of your money off the top.

To protect yourself from getting a bad rate, a good place to start is an online currency conversion calculator. Knowing the correct rate can help you avoid doing business with a bank or service that is trying to overcharge you. You can also transfer money using TransferWise, which always guarantees the mid-market rate and is helpful for cutting back on fees in general.


What is the process of it?

What documents are required to open a bank account for a foreigner?

  • A valid passport or national identity card
  • Your reason for opening an account (documentation is not always required but it is recommended to bring, for example, the letter of acceptance of your university in Spain or a copy of your Spanish work contract)
  • Indication of your address in Spain. If you do not have a Spanish address just yet, you will be able to hand in this information later. Some banks will also ask for your TIN, so it might make sense to have it at hand too.
  • To open a bank account as a resident, you will need your NIE/TIE number at hand.
Please keep in mind that opening a bank account in Spain with traditional banks will require you, in most cases, to physically visit the bank to sign a contract. Your bank account will not be officially opened, nor your cards sent to you until you sign the contract. This process can be quite slow in comparison to other countries. While your bank account will become active right away, your cards may need between 1 to 2 weeks to be delivered.

Getting your phone and internet organized

Establishing phone service is becoming less important as more and more people rely on mobile phones. However, setting up a landline is usually simple and may be included with the internet/TV package. There is a wide selection of telephone options. Phone calls within Spain are usually charged by the minute. The rates are dependent on the time of day with a flat rate available for a large number of calls. Many places have a line already installed which just requires a transfer of account if the phone line is functioning and “live”. If a new line needs to be established, Telefónica is the only company authorized to install lines in Spain. It may take several months to get an installation appointment. To set up telephone service, you will need:
  • Telefonica bill (if available) or a recent utility (electricity) bill)
  • NIE and passport number
  • Bank Account Information
The Main Provider is Telefónica is the national supplier of landline telephone service, cellular/mobile telephone service (Movistar), Internet and ADSL. Long-distance and Internet service may be obtained through other providers, but the basic landline will still be provided through Telefónica. English customer service can be obtained by calling 1004 from phones in Spain and following the prompts. Bills can be received by paper bills, electronically, or accessed on the Telefónica website. Landline bills are distributed on alternate months. Failure to pay may result in cut-off of services.

Making international calls

To call internationally from Spain: Dial exit code (00) followed by Spain’s country code, area code and number. In some countries, the leading zero of the area codes must not be dialed. For example:
00 + country code + area code + tel number

To call internationally to Spain: Dial the number required for an international call, such as 00, then 34 (country code for Spain), then the phone number without the leading zero of the former area codes. For example: 0041 34 995 1570

City Codes: Barcelona 93, Madrid 91, Seville 95 and Valencia 96.

Accessing the internet

The most common and practical way to get the Spanish Internet is to include it as part of the package with your phone provider. You can also look to include TV and/or mobile phone, so you will have fewer bills to worry about each month. ADSL and fibre cable broadband are the main options offered by providers these days as they are faster and offer unlimited internet time. You can get packages offering speeds of between 50 – 500Mb. Monthly prices are usually between €20-40 a month.

Fibre-optic broadband is the more reliable option of the two as the speed is more reliable (ASDL is often advertised as ‘speeds of up to…’) but is only available in the bigger cities. You can check fibre coverage in your area with each company. Whatever Spanish internet deal you sign up for, you will receive equipment that you will have to set up. Sometimes, for more complex equipment, a technician will come and install everything for you.

If you need the Internet throughout your home, or if several computers need Internet access, a WIFI router will be your best option, allowing other computers and mobile devices to connect to your network. High-speed access usually involves signing a contract of one year, and if you terminate the contract, you may incur high fees.

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