Cost of Living in Bilbao Spain (It’s Good!)

Living in Bilbao, Spain. Photo Credit: Khrystyna Kaminska
Living in Bilbao, Spain. Photo Credit: Khrystyna Kaminska

Bilbao, Spain has a great collection of opportunities for art, music, sports, and recreation. So, how much does it cost to live there?

Let’s take a look at some everyday living details in Bilbao:

Employment Rates: As many are aware, Spain has just about the highest rate of unemployment in European Union, usually fighting with Greece for first place. Unemployment in Spain in the last two years (2013, 2014) has been more than 24% (source: Eurostat, the European Union statistics office).

However, the Basque region and Bilbao in particular have done better than the national average. This success has been supported by improvements such as a newer airport, better train access, and the Guggenheim Museum’s gravitational pull. The combination of these makes Bilbao a more desirable spot for people and business. As a result, Bilbao’s unemployment rate has improved to 10% (2014 data), which is comparable to some major cities in Germany such as Berlin. Unemployment in the United States, for comparison, is around 6%.

Companies in Bilbao: Examples of companies based in and around Bilbao include Accenture (management consulting, Bilbao), Lloyd’s Register (international engineering and technical services, Bilbao), General Electric (in Zamudio, less than 10 miles away), and Siemens (technology, Zamudio). Adecco, the internationally known job placement company, also has offices in Bilbao to help you get started.

Bilbao is also a fast growing market for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) jobs. These jobs are mostly in private schools, teaching English to adults.

money and Bilbao
money and Bilbao

Housing Costs: Rent for a one bedroom apartment in downtown Bilbao will average about 700€ ($875 U.S), with a three bedroom averaging 1,100€ ($1,375 U.S.). Rent will decrease as you move away from downtown. Bilbao rent is competitive, considering the average U.S. housing spend of $1,400 per month.   Other cultural and business centers in Europe – Paris, London, etc – will be considerably higher.

Transportation. It costs about $750 U.S. per month to own one car in the United States. That figure includes the car payment, insurance, and gas. With most families owning two cars, that’s a transportation expense of $1,500 U.S. per month. Bilbao will slash those prices. You can get a monthly Metro transportation pass covering all zones in Bilbao for 48€ ($60 U.S).  For two people, you’ll spend $120 per month. Huge savings and benefit.

Health Care: Bilbao is a popular draw for U.S. retirees, due to its’ modern hospitals and medical clinics, and 24-hour pharmacies. As far as costs are concerned: for a baseline, U.S. persons spend $3,600 U.S. per year on health care. In Bilbao, the costs will be less than half that figure. Depending on the type of care, Bilbao may be even further discounted. For example, routine doctor’s office visits in Spain can be less than $20. In the U.S., those visits are $100.

For more on Bilbao living, see 10 Ways You’ll Be Happier In Bilbao

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