Cost of Living in Spain


Expats enjoy a relatively low cost of living in Spain
While the cost of living in Spain has markedly increased over the years, the average Spanish salary has not - thus making life more difficult for residents and expats who choose to live in Spain. 
 
Furthermore, the economy of Spain has been deeply troubled, with around a quarter of the work force still being unemployed in 2014.
 
However, Spain’s largest urban centres are still far less expensive than popular European destinations such as Paris, Geneva and London.
 
Spain provides a seductively fine quality of life. The country is relatively large and varies enormously (culturally, climatically and economically) from region to region. Common to most of Spain is, however, a benign overall climate, a welcoming society, decent infrastructure and political stability after around four decades of sustained democracy.
 
Certainly, Spain still represents terrific value for many foreigners from developed countries who are either retired or earning Northern European or US salaries. For these expats, a very high quality of life is available for the current cost of living.
 

Cost of accommodation in Spain

 
During the latter years of the Spanish property boom, housing in Spain became absurdly expensive both to purchase and rent. This has change radically and Spanish housing now offers good value for money.
 
Of course, costs vary massively in a country of its size with there being little relationship between the centre of Madrid, for example, and inland areas away from the coast. 
 
Generally speaking, the closer a property is to the coast, the more it will cost and this is particularly true of the Mediterranean coastline. This trend is due to a passion for the beaches of Spain, a love which is shared by the Spanish and foreigners alike.
 
Needless to say, the sky is the limit for high quality properties in prestigious locations but there are also some exceptional bargains to be found.
 
Short-term summer rentals for any coastal property can be among some of the most expensive real estate in Spain, while long-term leases are usually cheaper.
 

Cost of transport in Spain

 
Public transport in Spain is generally cheap with coaches (buses) providing an excellent, low-cost way of travelling around the country. Meanwhile, the rail network also provides good value for money. Spain is also second only to China in the distance covered by its high-speed AVE network. Although more expensive than normal trains, the AVE does mean that travel between different parts of the country can be undertaken very quickly.
 

Cost of schools in Spain

 
State primary and secondary schooling in Spain is compulsory until age 16, when the option exists to leave school altogether or study for the Bachillerato which allows students to access the university system. Alternatively, students can pass into the Ciclos Formativo system to undertake vocational training.
 
It is free for expats to send their children to state schools in Spain, as long as they have registered for their Empadronamiento at their local town hall.
 
Most schooling is taught in Spanish, but in areas such as Catalonia and Valencia, primary schooling is taught in the local language (Catalan or Valenciano). This can be awkward for foreign students who often prefer to be taught in only one language (Spanish), rather than having to the regional language and Spanish at the same time.
 
Private schooling is available with fees varying greatly depending upon the school concerned, its location and the language and curriculum it teaches.
 
An English-language private school in the centre of Madrid will, for example, generally be more expensive than a Spanish-language private school in the provinces. 
 

Cost of food and clothing in Spain

 
Oddly enough, the cost of supermarket food equates with prices found in a country such as the UK, and is therefore surprisingly expensive in comparison to the wage levels of the Spanish themselves. However, the inverse it true when eating out, a pursuit which can be of tremendous value. Similarly, alcoholic drink is cheap, which is not too surprising given the vast quantities of wine produced by Spain.
 
Clothing is, however, relatively expensive. It is difficult to understand why this is the case; although, it may have something to do with the Spanish reticence to slash costs to the minimum to preserve business. That said, there are certainly more than a few options in which expats can find reasonably priced, stylish clothes.
 

Cost of living in Spain chart (2014)

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)

Accommodation 

Furnished two bedroom house EUR 400+
Unfurnished two bedroom house EUR 350+
Furnished two bedroom apartment EUR 350+
Unfurnished two bedroom apartment EUR 300+

Shopping

Dozen eggs EUR 1.60
Milk (1 litre) EUR 0.80
Rice (1 kg) EUR 1
Loaf of white bread EUR 0.95
Chicken breasts (1kg) EUR 7
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) EUR 4.70

Eating out

Big Mac meal EUR 7
Coca Cola (500ml) EUR 2
Cappuccino  EUR 1.55
Bottle of beer (local) EUR 2
Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant EUR 25

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) EUR 0.15
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)  EUR 35
Basic utilities (Includes electricity, water, refuse) EUR 117

Transportation

Taxi rate/km EUR 1
Bus fare in the city centre  EUR 1.50
Petrol/Gasoline EUR 1.45

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