Like many countries across Europe, costs of both utilities and every day items have soared in Spain this year.
Spain is still slightly cheaper than the UK for many things but the cost of living is definitely not as low as it used to be. This combined with the ever fluctuating exchange rate means that for many British expats their money isn’t going as far as it once did.
We thought it might be useful to put together a list of things that you can try if you need to save money on your groceries and utilities in Spain.
Let’s start with saving money on your groceries…
Shop at the local market
Our top tip is to buy your fruit and vegetables at the market. We used to do this when we first moved over but to save time we got into the habit of just getting everything at the supermarket in one go.
Over last couple of weeks we’ve been buying all fresh fruit and vegetables at a local market and estimate we’re saving around €10-15 per week. Not to mention that it’s so much fresher too.
Things like herbs (fresh and dried) and spices are also a fraction of the cost of the supermarket.
If you’re shopping at the market you’ll have to do this anyway, but buying the fruit and vegetables that’s in season will save you money.
Strawberries, watermelon and cherries are all very reasonably priced in the summer months but much more expensive the rest of the year
In autumn and winter, things like pumpkin, squash, broccoli and cauliflower are some of the cheaper options.
Spanish supermarkets are so much cheaper than places like Carrefour and any of the British/International supermarkets. You’ll find most of what you need in a Spanish supermarket, you might just need to go for a different brand to what you’re used to.
The supermarkets own brands are good quality for both food and toiletries.
The cheapest supermarkets in Spain have been reported as:
Take bags with you
This one applies to most countries but don’t forget to take carrier bags with you as all Spanish supermarkets now charge for bags.
Sign up for loyalty cards
The supermarket loyalty cards we’ve found in Spain are no where near as good as the Tesco Clubcard when it comes to vouchers and discounts, but if you get a card from Mas y Mas and Consum you’ll receive regular money off coupons and discounts.
Both have apps which are easy to download and use in store.
OK, on to your house hold bills…
Check your energy tariff
Prices for electricity in Spain can vary massively between the various tariffs. When energy prices increased recently in Spain we received an email from our energy supplier Iberdrola to say our unit price would remain the same due to our tariff. This has meant that our bills are no different to last year.
Check your tariff and pick one that suits you best. For example, with Iberdrola you can pick a tariff that gives you cheaper energy in the evenings and weekends, or if you work from home like us you can pick one that gives you cheaper energy during the day.
Use appliances at off peak hours
If you’re not on a tariff, the cheapest times to use your household appliances are between 12am-8am during the week, and all day the weekend.
So if you can put your washing machine and dishwasher on over night without disturbing anyone then this will result in much cheaper bills.
Put aircon and heating on timers
In the summer months it’s hard to live without air conditioning and fans in every room but these can rack up high energy bills. We’ve found that in July and August our electricity bill jumps up by around €50 per month.
In the coldest months (usually January – March) you’ll need some kind of heating, and with most Spanish houses not having central heating this is usually in the form of plug in electric heaters. You might be surprised when you realise just how cold Spanish houses are in the winter!
If you’re using plug in heaters and fans it’s a good idea to buy timers that you plug the appliance into. You set the times for the appliances to go on and off which stops you forgetting to turn them off if you fall asleep or pop out.
Most houses in Spain run on electricity with no mains gas, so although prices have risen its not as much of a jump as in the UK.
Light a fire or use a wood burner
If your Spanish house doesn’t have central heating, a cheaper option to plug in heaters is a wood burner or open fire if you have a fireplace which most older houses do.
We found last winter that for around €8 we could buy enough chopped wood to last a week.
Dry washing outside
One of the best things about living in Spain is of course the weather, and when it comes to drying your washing it’s a godsend! We have a tumble dryer but have only used it a handful of times in 2 years.
The Costa Blanca gets an average of 320 days of sunshine a year which means that you should be able to dry your washing outside most days.
Don’t wash your car at home
Did you know it’s actually illegal to wash your car on a public road in Spain? If you have land or a driveway you can wash your car there, but it’s much cheaper to use the hoses at the car wash for €1 than to add to your water bill.
We hope that some of these tips on how to save money on groceries and bills in Spain will help!
If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them as a comment below.
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