Budget Talk: Is The Auxiliar Salary Really Enough?

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As an auxiliar de conversación living in Madrid, I make €1000 every month. The most frequent question I get from my readers is if it’s enough money to live comfortably on. To make a long story short, yes it is. Even without teaching private English lessons. So yeah. That’s it. You can rest easy now. In fact, you don’t even have to read the rest of this article. But for those of you who prefer a more detailed story, keep scrolling.

I was working full-time in Chicago before moving to Spain, so being an auxiliar meant taking a pay cut of about 60%. That may seem like a devastating change (I mean it kinda is), but my ratio of expenses is still pretty similar. Yes, I made way more money in America, but I also had bills that nickel and dimed me to poverty death. At the end of every month, I had about 35% of my income. In Spain, I’m left with about 45%. I am able to manage this by minimizing my expenses. My monthly budget looks a bit something like this:

Salary: €1000

Rent: – €400

Groceries: – €80

Metro Pass: – €20

Phone: – €15

Gym: – €20


Spending money: €465

These are the ONLY repeat expenses that I have each month. So that leaves just under €500 to spend how I want, which 9 times out of 10 is some kind of travel. I usually catch a flight 2 times a month, and do a Spanish day trip once a month. By the last week before payday, I’ll typically have €40-€100 left in my account. Since travel is my #1 priority, I’m just fine with that.  It’s how I booked a trip across 4 different countries for Christmas break. Or how I managed to afford a trip to Turkey and Morocco within the same month.

It’s what I DON’T do is what most people would have a problem with. I don’t go out to eat more than 2-4 times a month. I rarely ever do tapas or bars with friends (glass of sangria at a bar = €6. Bottle of wine at Mercadona = €1.50). I don’t do clubs or many events. I don’t go shopping for new clothes or shoes. Besides toiletries, art supplies, and a candle here and there, I am truly living a minimalist lifestyle. That allows me to stretch my euro as far as I can. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a social life. I just do more free and low-cost events, like picnics in Retiro Park or live music at Afro-Jam. I can also always change my travel plans throughout the month in order to afford something else that I want.

Just one more important factor: I have not tried to create a Spanish savings, nor do I regularly send any euros to my American bank. Not because it’s impossible, I have lots of friends who do. But all of those friends also teach multiple private lessons. I personally am not interested in teaching or trying to save money. It’s just not what I quit my job to move to Europe for. I came here for a break from real life to travel my heart out, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

So yes, considering my spending priorities and what I am able to deny myself of, I am living quite comfortably on €1000 per month. I would say anyone who is willing to compromise can do so, as well. And if not, you can always teach private lessons or pick up some other side hustle.

Are/Will you be able to live on €1000 per month?

About Lauren Victoria 87 Articles
Lauren is a Chicago native and budget traveler obsessed with foreign languages, neuropsychology, dancing, and applesauce. She recently quit her full-time job in social services to be a human English dictionary in Madrid, Spain.
  • Ariana Peters

    so were you able to find a furnished apartment for that €400/mo? on your own or is this something your school was able to help you with? roommates?

    • I found the apartment with some other auxiliares, they are my roommates now!