how to make your money go further in Spain

Cost of living in Spain as a family

One big thing that draws families to Spain is the lower cost of living compared to the UK. In recent years though the gap has closed and the cost of living in Spain isn’t as cheap as it used to be, however there are some things that are significantly cheaper.

Obviously, the cost of living in Spain will vary drastically depending on where you live – the cost of living in Madrid or Barcelona for example is probably going to be on par to living in London. If you relocate away from the cities though, you can definitely find a much cheaper lifestyle than you’ve become used to.

We’ve listed some common household expenses below so you can see if the monthly cost of living in Spain is better than the UK…

Groceries

In our experience the food shop in Spain isn’t that much different to the ones we used to do in the UK. You don’t get all the 2 for 1 or BOGOF deals in Spanish supermarkets that you get in most UK supermarkets, so if you rely on those you will probably end up paying more in Spain.

Shopping in Spanish supermarkets rather than the British stores, and buying Spanish brands that you may not have heard of before (but that are just as good) can save you a bit of money. You also have the option of buying fruit and vegetables at the weekly market in most towns and villages which can be quite a bit cheaper than in the supermarkets. Much of the fruit and veg sold in Spain is produced locally so it’s also important to buy seasonal if you don’t want to spend a fortune on imported fruit and veg.

We’ve listed some common groceries with Spanish & British supermarket prices for comparison…

  • Bread – Loaf of sliced white bread in the UK is around £1, in Spain a loaf of sliced ‘English’ bread with cost you around €2.50. However, if you buy a freshly baked baguette like the Spanish do, you can pay around 40 cents.
  • Milk – 1 litre of milk in the UK will cost you around £1, in Spain it will cost approx €1.20
  • 650g chickean breasts – in the UK this will cost you around £3.50, in Spain the same weight will cost approx €4
  • 300g of minced beef – This will cost you around £2.50 in the UK and around €3 in Spain
  • Cucumber – a large cucumber in the UK will cost you around 45p, in Spain an English cucumber will be about 80c or a Spanish cucumber around 20c cents
  • Bunch of bananas – For some reason bananas are almost double the price in Spain costing around €1.50 for a bunch compared to around 70p in the UK
  • Toilet rolls – a pack of 9 brand name toilet rolls is £4.99 in the UK, same pack £3.99 in Spain

As you can see the prices are pretty much the same when you convert Euros into Pounds, so don’t expect to save much money on your weekly food shop.

Utility bills

We’ve found monthly household utility bills to be much the same as in the UK. Electricity is more expensive in Spain but as most homes don’t have gas you end up paying the same for the monthly electric bill as you would for both gas and electric in total in the UK. Of course, if you have a private pool or air conditioning you can expect to pay a lot more for electricity. Iberdrola is the main electricity company in Spain if you want to have a look at their costs.

Water bills are paid quarterly and also seem to be around the same monthly cost as in the UK. Again though, if you have a private pool you can expect to receive a much larger water bill – ours was more than double over the summer when we moved to our new house!

Broadband is something that we have saved a lot of money on each month! In the UK we were paying Sky around £40 a month for what was quite honestly a ridiculously slow service. Here we pay €29 a month for 500mb fibre broadband.

Rent/Mortgage

One thing we found to be a lot cheaper in Spain was the cost of renting a property. We rented a 3 bedroom house with a communal pool for our first year and paid just €550 per month, which is around £475. We hadn’t ever paid rent that low in the UK, even on our 2 bed flat 15 years ago!

Do some research on rents by contacting local estate agents or asking in expat groups on Facebook. Costs will vary by region and the average rent in Madrid or Barcelona will obviously be a lot more than average rents in other parts of Spain.

Spanish mortgage deals seem to be pretty similar in monthly payments and you still need quite a large deposit as deals tend to start at 80%. However with property prices being a lot cheaper in Spain you can get a great property for a lot less money! As an example €150,000 will easily get you a 3 bed house with a shared pool in most areas, and a mortgage for this amount would cost you around €440 per month, or £400.

IBI (Council Tax)

Now this is where you will save a huge amount of money! There’s no monthly council tax in Spain, instead you pay a yearly fee which covers things like the bins being emptied (every day!) and road repairs.

The amount you will pay varies, depending on the value of your property and which region you live in. We haven’t had our first IBI bill yet but as an example, a friend who was paying £200 per month council tax in the UK is now paying €450 a year in Spain!

Petrol

Petrol in Spain is a bit cheaper than in the UK, for example today our local petrol station is selling Unleaded at €1.10 per litre (£0.99), and Google tells me today in the UK the same amount would be around £1.15.

You will probably also find that you don’t use your car nearly as much in Spain as in the UK as you can walk places much easier, so will save on petrol anyway. You will usually live within walking distance of the local school, and each village has it’s own shops and bars.

Childcare

We’re very lucky that childcare isn’t something we have had to worry about in Spain as we both work from home and have my parents nearby. However, this was a big expense for us, still costing £120 per month in wrap around care even when our daughter was at school.

We’ve seen summer clubs in Spain advertised from anywhere between €2.50 – €10 per day. Either way, that’s a bit different to the £20-30 per day we used to pay in the school holidays.

Our school doesn’t have things like breakfast or after school clubs, though some of the bigger schools do. There are also usually after school activities until 5pm which are free.

Pre-school is compulsory from the ages of 3-6 years and is free in Spain. For babies up to the age of 3 you can expect to pay around €250 per month for all day care and a meal – a bit different to the £50 per day we used to pay! Again this obviously depends on area.

Going out

If you like to go out this is where you will save a lot of money! Eating out is considerably less in Spain than in the UK. As an example, dinner or lunch out for 3 of us in the UK would cost on average £50 a time, here in Spain it’s usually around €35. If you choose the menu del dia (menu of the day) you can get lunch for as little as €9 per person in many restaurants.

Drinks wise we can get a beer and 2 soft drinks for €5, and a glass of wine or a beer will cost between €1-2 each.

Days out also cost a lot less with parking usually free unless you’re in a city. We used to live near the beaches of Poole and Bournemouth in the UK and it would cost around £2.20 per hour for parking in the summer or £1.20 per hour in the winter, if you could even get a space! Here on the Costa Blanca the parking spaces near the beach charge €1 per hour in the summer and are free in the winter. I think we only had to pay for parking twice in the middle of summer as you can always get a free space on a near by road. Shopping malls also have free parking, I was used to paying around £2.50 per hour in central Bournemouth!

Entry into attractions such as castles and museums is often free or a very small fee of a couple of euros.

Clothes

Shopping for clothes costs around the same in Spain as in the UK as most of the high street brands are the same. There are some exceptions but on the whole I’d say the prices are no different. However, when you just live in t-shirts and shorts for most of the year you don’t find yourself going clothes shopping as much.

Kids clothes in Spanish stores are extortionate, but if you stick to the usual high street shops like H&M and Primark then they are the same as you’d pay in the UK.

So, as you can see general day to day expenses aren’t that different to those in the UK, so we’d say that the daily cost of living in Spain compared to the UK isn’t that much cheaper. However, you will save a lot of money if you’re buying a property and the equivalent of council tax, so over the year should be better off by moving to Spain!

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