Cheap Spain for Language Students: Lowest Destination, School and Living Costs

Great news for students abroad

It’s official: Spain is still very cheap. On January 20, 2013, The Sunday Times released the British Post Office Holiday Money report, tipping travellers about Spain’s Costa del Sol and Sri Lanka being the world’s cheapest destinations for 2013. The study was based on accommodation, dining out, shopping and the price of a cup of coffee, amongst several other items.

The Spanish news site had also previously revealed 2012 studies by TripAdvisor, Trivago and Low Cost Holidays, citing Spain to have prices around 40% cheaper than the rest of Europe.

This is great news for those considering studying Spanish in Spain this year. Combined with incentivised public transport, student discount cards, free tapas and the lowest rental prices in five years, you can study and live on ridiculously little money on the Iberian peninsula, if you’re prudent.


Where should I go?

We’ve gathered facts and statistics about the cheapest student destinations in Spain by category, but additionally, we’ve done some digging around and looked at other prices too. Namely:

  • Language schools
  • Accommodation
  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Public transportation
  • FREE tapas!

Additionally, you’ll find some handy insider tips in each section, so you can live like a local and find the best deals around…


MALAGA – “Tipped to be the cheapest 2013 destination in the world”

Costa del Sol is overall the cheapest area of Spain for visitors, according to the UK Post Office study mentioned above. The good news for students is that the Costa del Sol is on the coast of Malaga, and Malaga University is the cheapest of all long-term Spanish language course providers in the whole country. So you can’t lose.

Full term intensive Spanish courses (approx. 4 months) containing 15 lessons per week start as low as 815€ (£698 / $1054). There are also shorter and specialist courses available, also at very affordable prices.

Low prices for eating out were also a factor that made the Costa del Sol the cheapest destination in the world. The Post Office researchers found out that eating out in the Malaga province now costs 50% less than five years ago. This is thanks to many restaurants, bars, cafés and fast food places applying ‘precios anti-crisis’ – extremely low prices that are meant to offer affordable dining for customers during the economic slump, and thus keep the local businesses busy.

Top tip: When eating out in Malaga, ask for el ‘menu del día’, or the menu of the day. Many cafeterias and restaurants offer a cheap lunch time menu that includes a starter, a main course and a desert or coffee, some for as low as 7.50€ (£6.20 / $9).


VALENCIA – “Cheapest for shopping”

Did this one surprise you? Despite being a modern seaside city, Valencia is the cheapest place in Spain for doing the shopping, according to recent numbers made official by Spain’s Ministry of Industry. To make things even better, a study conducted on retail prices over 2012 unveiled that Valencia’s grocery prices actually fell in 2012, by 7.3%.

For Spanish language courses lasting between 2 weeks and a month, Hispania Valencia School is one of the best-priced language schools in Spain, with a well-reputed teacher base and wide range of activities on offer outside the classroom. Start budgeting at 261€ (£221 or $339) for a two-week course or book a whole 4 weeks only for 465€ (£392 or $599).

Top tip: Spain’s cheapest supermarket chains, in this order, are Supermercados Dani, Mercadona, Carrefour and Día.


GRANADA – “Free tapas!”

When in Granada, eat tapas. Most people are absolutely astonished to find out that you can eat for free in Granada. With every drink (usually a small beer) you buy in most of the tapas bars in Granada, you’ll get a tapa, or a small bite to eat. This could be a mini-portion of paella or beef stew, a plate of fries or a good chunk of tortilla de patatas.

With three drinks that might cost you in the region of 1.50-2€ each, you’ll go home full. Whilst you can get free tapas with drinks in some other parts of Spain too, Granada is probably the place where the free tapas culture is most common.

If you’re looking for cheap Spanish courses, yet with a high standard of tuition, Proyecto Español Granada offers the cheapest ones currently on the market. For an intensive course containing 25 lessons each week, prices start at 238€ (£201 or $305), but if you want more free time, a 15-lessons-per-week course for two weeks costs only 181€ (£155 or $234).

Top tip: In many Granada bars you can’t order a ‘drink + free tapas’ until after 8:00 PM.


CADIZ – “Cheapest entertainment in Europe”

Andalusia in general is cheap and following closely behind Malaga, comes Cadiz. Cadiz is home to the Spanish navy. For a poor student, above all this city offers cheap entertainment: spectacular beaches and so many famous historical sites (plazas, statues, Roman ruins, bridges and towers) that you won’t have time to see them all. Bars and eating out in Cadiz are also cheap

Clic Cadiz language school offers two-week courses starting at 302€ for two weeks (£259 / $391).

TIP: For a cheap VIP experience in Cadiz, visit La Playa de la Caleta. Bring a towel, a good book and 2€ bocadillo (sandwich) from the nearby cafeteria. You’re heading for the famous beach right between two ancient castles, where the James Bond film Die Another Day was filmed. Work on your tan, ogle at passers by and emerge from the Atlantic waves pretending you’re 007. Unbeatable value!


SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – “Cheapest long-term accommodation rental in Spain”

For cheapest accommodation, it is advisable for students to share an apartment or a room. But if you prefer to live on your own during your Spanish course, head for Santiago de Compostela. This city is the capital of the region of Galicia, currently hailed as the cheapest place for long-term apartment rental in Spain, according to the consumer blog

Santiago de Compostela’s University is one of the top three cheapest universities for long-term Spanish language courses. For a full two months of intensive classes at one of the oldest and best-reputed universities in the world, you’ll pay only 941€ (£806 / $1217).


Other ways to save money during your study stay in Spain:

  • The best way to get cheap anything in Spain, is to go where the locals go. Avoid expensive tourist spots and town centre eateries and go instead for residential neighbourhood bars and cafés.
  • Ask local people for ideas about cheap places to drink, eat and shop ¿Dónde puedo encontrar el restaurante/supermercado mejor y más barato por aquí? Where can I find the best yet cheapest restaurant/supermarket around here?
  • Check if your language school or university offers a student card for foreign students. Many places give student discounts, or it may entitle you to using free or cheaper university facilities like internet, gym or sports facilities and eating out.
  • Check for “visitors days” at sites of interest. Many Spanish galleries, museums, cathedrals and castles have one day per week or month that is totally free.


Let us know your money-saving tips

Have you studied in Spain on a budget? Which destination did you choose? What handy money-saving tips do you have to share?

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