Spain Explained

The cost of living in Spain compared to the UK

Spain is widely known as a relatively inexpensive place to live, at least by European standards. This is especially true in comparison with northern European countries like the UK where the cost of living is quite high. The cost of living in Spain compared to the UK can mostly be seen in the lower cost of renting and property prices. This is, of course, balanced out by lower wages; individuals earn less in Spain than in the UK. However, if you do choose to live in Spain you may notice yourself having more in your pocket at the end of the day, as general expenses are less, well, expensive.

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It is a great opportunity, to live well on a diet of fresh Mediterranean food, sipping on sangria and bathing in the sunshine while staying relatively within budget. Thankfully, throughout Spain, it is not an impossible dream. There are many factors leading to this and many more that you will need to take into account depending on your situation. Below, we lay out the details of the cost of living in Spain compared to the UK

What are the stats?

According to research done by Numbeo, Spain is on average 18.9% cheaper to live in than the UK. It costs the average person €900 a month to live in Spain. 

Although, this all depends on how you live. The larger cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are going to be pricier than more provincial areas. If you rent a large home in here and go out fine dining often, then costs are likely to mount. However, you may be pleased to learn that if you do want that lifestyle, then it is more affordable than in London. In fact, Madrid has 24.31% lower living costs than London and in Barcelona, it is lower by 21.8%. 

How much tax will you pay?

Tax in Spain works slightly different from the UK, and as a result, your tax may be slightly higher. In Spain, you are taxed on everything. However, there are multiple allowances that you can take into account which will reduce the overall tax to pay.

What about daily living costs?

Daily expenses may seem cheaper than the UK when taken individually but small things add up. It is easy to tell yourself that a bottle of wine that only costs a few euros and that would cost £8 in the UK is a good deal. It is still a good deal, provided that one bottle doesn’t end up being two or even three!

There are two unofficial international barometers of cost, depending on the type of person you are; the price of a beer and a litre of milk. In Spain, a bottle of Spanish beer in a restaurant will set you back about €2.00 and 1lt of milk will cost 78 cents. This is notably cheaper than in the UK.

How much can you earn?

The downside to all of this is that salaries are significantly lower. In fact, salaries are on average 56.04% lower than in the UK. If you compare this to the figure of 18.9% lower living costs then you will need to think carefully about this move and about your income stream. If living off a UK pension, then you are likely to live very well. However, if you are looking for work in Spain, then life could be a little more tricky. There is good news, though, the bigger cities of Madrid and Barcelona have plenty of great and well-paid job opportunities. Here, the balance between salary and cost of living works out much better.

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Weigh up the pros and cons carefully

The decision to move to Spain will be driven by where you choose to live and your source of income. The cost of living in Spain compared to the UK is of course lower. However, lower salaries affect whether it is a prudent financial decision. Hopefully, the allure of great culture, music, wine, art and of course, the weather will outweigh these factors. At the end of the day, there is more to life than money! If in any doubt, the Ábaco Advisers blog is full of interesting articles about Spain and its quality of life as well as useful information about how to live in this beautiful country.

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1 comment

Penny Blank

14 March, 2020 10:36 pm

Great advice.