Cost of Living in Spain
Last year we moved to the Costa Tropical on Granada’s southern coast. We live in a lovely seaside resort that has retained its Spanish identity even on the promenade. Before we moved to Spain we already had a good idea of how much things would cost us as we’d lived in the Canary Islands several years before.
However, prices have increased throughout Spain and the islands and more people than ever have bought properties as either holiday homes for themselves or to rent out. This has definitely pushed the prices up especially along the coast. So before you move it may be a good idea to get a good picture of the cost of living in Spain and whether you can actually afford to live here.
The good news is that Spain is one of the cheapest places in Europe to live. Obviously, it will all depend on where you decide to live. Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian are up to 40% more expensive than elsewhere in the country.
Similarly, if you’re coming to the southern coast then you’ll find that rental prices will vary hugely. Places like Marbella top the rent scales and smaller countryside villages can bottom out at about €200 to €300 for a 2 bedroom apartment.
So, let’s get to the nitty gritty!
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We were looking at houses over the internet before we moved and we came across our 2 bedroom apartment which is on the front line of the beach, very close to the school for the kids and it accepted pets. We ideally want a 3 bed but we’re bound to a year long contract so we probably won’t move until after September.
At the moment we pay €575 for our 2 bedroom apartment with €20 for a storage room. We have free on-street parking available for most of the year but when the summer comes we have to pay to park here. We can either rent a garage space for about €50 a month or, as we did last summer, we have to pay by the hour.
The parking along the seafront was absolutely manic in summer and some days we had to wait until 1 or 2am to find a space to park! It’s much more convenient and a lot cheaper to get a parking space though so I’ll definitely be factoring that in this summer.
We’ve recently been looking around for another property as our lease is up in August. We’ve found that you can easily find a 2 bed apartment for between €300 and €600 depending on the area and the amenities. For a larger 3 bed house we can expect to pay anything from €700 to €1300.
If we moved to the countryside then we’d be able to get a lot more space for our money, like a pool and large gardens, but we’d have to sacrifice other things. Like our time spent on driving places as well as added fuel costs. Plus we probably wouldn’t be able to find a parking space in summer when we want to hit the beach!
Our landlord pays for the community charges here which takes care of the swimming pools, tennis court, gardens, a summer lifeguard, complex cleaners and porters as well as bin collection.
When we first moved here we were a little shocked at the cost of electricity. In the Canaries we were only paying around €40 to €50 a month but that was several years ago and we never needed heating or air conditioning.
We don’t have air conditioning or central heating here either but we do need it. We had to buy a small oil filled radiator in November as the apartment was colder than outside! This runs on electricity and that really pushed our bills up. We also have an electric boiler without a timer of any sort so it was constantly on. We’ve learnt our lesson now and we turn it off when it’s not needed.
We also don’t have a tumble dryer or a dishwasher, which is fine as there’s very few days that we need a dryer.
Most Spanish houses don’t have things like gas central heating or double glazed windows so heating can be expensive especially when it’s done with electric heaters. Many homes have a log burner or small fireplace though and wood isn't too expensive.
Our electricity is billed bi-monthly and our last bill over winter was €175 for 2 months. Between August and September we paid just €90.
Our water bill is also billed bi-monthly and it’s fairly cheap. Like I said, we don’t have a dishwasher and this does help with our water bill. Our showers and baths also come from our small electric boiler which is not big.
In the UK we would fill the tub until it was practically overflowing or we’d have long hot showers. Now, we’re helping the environment by being forced into having 5 minute showers or a bath in just 10cm of water. So this is not a negative, we’ve been educated into conserving water and we also try to educate the kids into not leaving the water running all the time.
On average we pay just €60 every two months.
We don’t actually use gas in our apartment but I know that many people do rely on it for heating or cooking. I’ve read that it can be more costly than the UK but if you buy gas bottles instead, which are government regulated, then it’s actually cheaper than the UK. Considering that many people here have outside cooking areas that’s not a bad idea at all.
INTERNET & PHONE
The internet speed in Spain is very good. It’s actually better than what we were getting in the UK. We have high speed internet of 300 mbps. I know that some places out in the countryside don’t get such great coverage, but the same could be said for any country.
We have a package deal with Yoigo where we have unlimited broadband plus a phone contract with 30gb data a month plus unlimited texts and calls. We also had a pay-as-you-go sim card for free when we signed up with them which we just popped into our old phone. (We didn’t have to buy new phones as our old phones from the UK were still useable).
We pay €46 per month for all of the above but if we use up our data or phone abroad then we obviously have to pay a little more on top of that.
We’re not a particularly frugal family but neither are we the type to eat out every day. We tend to eat pretty much the same as in the UK. Probably a few more salads here than before though. We’ve always had home cooked meals with no pre-made or ready meals so it hasn’t really impacted our way of eating in a big way. We eat a lot of vegetables and fruit too.
We know we should shop in the local fruit and veg shops and the butchers as I’ve heard that they’re actually better quality and cheaper but we have a Mercadona supermarket practically on our doorstep and we always put it off.
There’s also a Lidl in the centre of town so we quite often do a big shop there. We’re also not big alcohol drinkers but even if we were, the Spanish wines and beers are so cheap it would hardly make a dent in our budget. You can get good quality wines for between 2 to 5 euros.
We tend to spend on average €150 a week on food.
We tend to eat out maybe once or sometimes twice a week. We rarely pay more than €60 for the 4 of us but our kids are still small so they tend to share a meal anyway.
There’s also the fact that if we order a beer or wine we get a tapas for free so most of the time we actually save on getting starters.
The Menu del Dia is a big thing in Spain. Most restaurants offer a 3 course meal with a drink and a coffee for around €12 per person, which is amazing value for money.
Apart from this deal, you won’t really find the same kind of offers like in the UK or the US where loads of chain restaurants compete with each other offering 2 for 1 on meals or other types of promotions. You also won’t find that many chain restaurants here. There’s some, mostly in shopping malls, but it’s not saturated like the UK and the US. Most restaurants are independently owned, which is just fantastic!
We do love our coffee though and the kids love ice cream so we tend to spend a small amount each month on this. Coffee is rarely more than 1.20 euro per cup so it’s not going to break the bank.
We spend around €200 to €400 a month eating out but sometimes this goes up or down depending on what we’re up to.
We have a municipal gym here which is just €1 a visit but it’s not a particularly well equipped gym. We’re considering other gyms and they are about €25 to €40 a month but we have yet to decide on which one to join.
Most coastal towns in Spain have long stretches of promenades with bike lanes and you’ll see people of every age out walking, running or cycling every day. There’s also beach side gyms, some of which have great equipment and some could do with a bit of an update.
We’ve stopped going to the municipal gym and we’re trying to get ourselves into Spanish mode by walking or cycling everyday instead.
We send our kids to a free state school and not to a private school. (If we did we’d be looking at about €4000 for kindergarten and €7000 for Primary school). We have a small cost at the beginning of the school year where we have to buy course materials, books and other items such as toilet paper and soap. This cost about €100 to €200 for both children. In most parts of Spain, the parents are expected to pay for the school books but in Andalucia this is paid for by the local government.
School lunches are €4.50 per day but our kids also come home at the end of school at 2pm so we don’t pay for them. Many children do stay until 4pm though and they get a full 3 course meal for that price.
There are a range of after school clubs for the kids from art, languages, martial arts, football, swimming, dance and music classes which range between €15 to €30 euros a month per class. Some can be more expensive than this though. There’s also a few sports classes like basketball and table tennis that you can get for free through the school.
We spend about €90 a month on classes for the kids.
Compared to the UK we spend a lot less on fuel, probably around a quarter of the amount. On a daily basis we tend to walk a lot more so we use our car less. We walk to school everyday and we tend to walk to the shops rather than drive.
We used to use the bus when we first arrived and that was only a euro for a one way trip into town. Now that we know the area better we walk to town as it’s really only takes 20 minutes.
Fuel is also a lot cheaper here than in the UK so we only spend around €100 a month which I consider to be very low.
In the UK each weekend, especially over summer, was taken up with visiting places like the zoo, museums or kids farms or even soft play centres. We spent a small fortune doing this. In Spain, we tend to spend more time outdoors, cycling, walking and playing on the beach. There’s also play areas on almost every corner here of varying sizes. We still go places like the zoo or the science museum but just not as often.
So what’s the total?
That's our total. We do have some other costs, like car insurance, road tax, clothing, sports equipment and travel as this tends to change on a monthly basis and they tend to vary from person to person so we didn't include them. We also haven't even touched on the subject of tax or social security. That is obviously something you have to pay for if you want to access Spain's healthcare and be legally working here but the cost can vary depending on your circumstances.
I hope this has given you an insight into what kind of costs you’d be looking at when you move to Spain. The living costs here are very affordable if you can support yourself and we’ve found that we are living on a lot less money than we were in the UK.
So does Spain look like an affordable place to for you to live? Let me know in the comments below and if you have any questions then I'll do my best to help you out.
If you like this article then you should check out my post on How to Improve your Life Abroad