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Poll : Does Spain still offer a low cost of living?
02 December 2016 @ 18:43

Spain is known for offering a good quality of life with a low cost of living – which is why it is the third most popular country in the world for Britons to live. 
However, new research shows that those in some of the country’s regional capitals are spending far more than their compatriots in other parts of the country. 

Research by Kelisto.es found that Barcelona residents are paying as much as 30.17pc more than the national average cost of living in Spain. This is higher than San Sebastian, which is 27.85pc above the national average, and Madrid at 22.72pc. 

The cost of living in cities, percentage above or below the national average    Barcelona, San Sebastian and Bilbao also top the league when it comes to paying a premium for property, with a flat measuring 80 square metres in these cities costing from €241,000 to €328,000 on average. The typical flat of a similar size elsewhere in Spain would cost an average of €131,000. 

If you choose to rent in either Barcelona or San Sebastian, you will again be paying a premium. The national average monthly rent for a similar-sized property would be €561.60, with Barcelona costing €970.40 (72.79pc more) and San Sebastian €940 (67.38pc more).  At the other end of the scale, Lugo would be 40.88pc less at just €332 on average, with Ourense at €351.20, putting it 37.46pc below the average cost. 

According to Foreign Office figures, there were more than 770,000 British people resident in Spain in 2014 – placing it behind only the USA (2.2m) and Australia (1.1m) in popularity.  Kelisto examined property prices, the amount of tax to be paid in each city, bus and taxi fares, petrol prices, the cost of a loaf of bread, a litre of milk, the price of a ticket to the cinema and a meal for two. The research covered 50 provincial capitals plus the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

The analysis showed that living in the north of Spain is generally more expensive than living in the south. Caceres ranks as the cheapest city to live in, at 17pc below the national average. Jaen (-12.79pc), Ceuta (-9.37pc) and Badajoz (-8.78pc) also boast relatively cheap costs of living. 

One of the biggest discrepancies across Spain comes in the cost of IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles) – a property tax that must be paid by the owners of all Spanish properties. This is calculated on the basis of the rateable value of the property. The difference between this tax in the most expensive city of Lleida and the cheapest – Pamplona – is 58.29pc. 

The news comes at a time when many expats are finding it difficult to live on their British pensions in Spain. With the pound weakening against the euro, they are getting less for their money than they are used to. For example, in mid November (2015) the pound was worth €1.43 according to data from currency experts Moneycorp, which would have generated €1,430 for every £1,000 of pension. Today, the pound is worth just €1.17, meaning that same £1,000 would be worth just €1,170 – €260 less. 

So is this a sound reflexion of the real life in Spain?  Do you think Spain still offers a low cost cost of living? Please cast your vote...



Like 1




14 Comments


marcbernard said:
02 December 2016 @ 20:16

At the date of this post the top FX was around €1.18, so your figures are adrift. The "November" figure is about right for 2014, certainly not 2016.


Mac75 said:
02 December 2016 @ 20:45

Thanks for noticing that, it was today's figure that was wrong. Now corrected.
Thanks


midasgold said:
02 December 2016 @ 21:03

Shop/buy/ live as the Spanish not as a tourist - this can be( UP TO) 50%
cheaper than Blighty.


grapow said:
03 December 2016 @ 08:34

In the area we live, Dénia, fortunately we have to travel a short distance to visit expat "enclaves" like Javea, Moraira & Benissa. However when we make our annual visit to the Iceland store we are still amazed to see so many Brits who plainly use this store for their main grocery provisions. On our last visit we were staggered to see the prices being charged. For example Porridge was somewhere pushing twice the price of an equivalent product from a Spanish supermarket.
This comment is in support of the post made above by midasgold and one I wholeheartedly agree with.


cuius said:
03 December 2016 @ 08:43

Not mentioned - income tax - whilst council tax, car tax are low compared to UK, income tax is high as tax-free allowances are lower. The fact it's not mentioned perhaps reflects the number of people who think my pension's taxed in UK, so I don't need to get involved with Spanish income tax - dream on!


Ronald said:
03 December 2016 @ 09:23

Non-resident income tax up 30% this year alone, which is certainly an imposition, and our water bill up 60% due to some cock-up with Hydrogea. Just two examples of unreasonable increases. Spain may still be slightly cheaper for some things than the UK, but is certainly not as cheap as it used to be - and god help you if you want to appeal against or query either of the above types of charge...


Annie said:
03 December 2016 @ 10:28

My income tax is 2000 euros higher in Spain than it would be in the UK - mostly because of the low tax-free allowance. Electricity is more expensive but car tax, petrol (but only marginally) and food is cheaper.

Like many, I have lost a fortune on the value of my house in Spain whereas my home in the UK (if I still had it) has doubled in price since I came here.

It's also difficult to find bargains - perhaps in the larger cities it's easier but here I find the price of household goods like furniture, lighting and kitchen equipment higher.

If things go wrong, it's expensive to fight injustice through the courts - no legal aid but, fortunately, that's not as common as the UK papers would have us believe.

My personal experience is that moving to Spain has cost me a fortune but it's good to hear that this is not the norm.


dustyjack said:
03 December 2016 @ 10:42

I think it depends on what you compare costs of. I have just returned from a trip to Northumberland which is a long way from expensive London. Two medium-sized glasses of average white wine cost me 11 Pounds there! A large one of the same quality here in my small town in Valencia Province costs 60 Cents.
Meat is MUCH cheaper here too.


Roger Lines said:
03 December 2016 @ 11:17

For anyone who wishes to drink copious amounts of alcohol and smoke above the average number of cigarettes, Spain is OK for residence but the personal tax allowance for non-Spanish is the lowest in EU, (I say this because ALL of our Spanish neighbours on higher pensions than us pay absolutely no tax), council tax is low but comparable with the service provided, electricity is the highest cost in EU, food is on a par with UK and France, but fuel is cheaper and new cars are cheaper. Corruption is acknowledged to be high (black money scams are the norm) and try fighting the legal system. On balance about the same costs as UK and France


Chris S said:
03 December 2016 @ 19:22

I have lived in Spain for 15 years and owned several properties over this period of time in the South and now in Northern Spain. I hear so many people saying that they have lost a fortune on their property but this only relates to those who bought their first property at the peak. For many of us who bought around 2000 the gains we have made still far out weigh any price drop many times over.
Wrongly people still want to gauge the current property value against the peak price and ignoring what they bought it for, this screws the figures up badly and paints a picture of doom and gloom.
Cost of living has gone up a lot in 15 years for sure but the same can be said of the UK.The UK higher income tax allowances are balanced out by all the other taxes which are so much cheaper over here. I still think we are better off over here in Spain at the moment but who knows what the future may hold for us!


Catalanman said:
03 December 2016 @ 21:33

If I may clarify the situation re income tax. The personal allowance here in Spain is over 12,000 euros and is only applicable to state pensions, other private pensions etc are taxed at 20%. Hence the reason why some expat people living in Spain pay more here than they would in England.


marelison said:
04 December 2016 @ 12:50

Good articles here above. - For me, from ICELAND (the country) it is much more cheaper to live in all ways. - I notice nobody mention the big different of weather and security of having the same good and stabil weather, even many weeks and months in a row. - For me, thats worth much of money. - We in Iceland have very cheap electrisity and the hot water is also cheap and means everything for us in this cold country. - But you can also spare the water, and heat at winters in Spain, just change a little your former lifestyle.

Mar Elison, Iceland


karisy said:
05 December 2016 @ 21:05

Although we seriously considered buying/living in Spain some years ago, we didn’t take the plunge as personal circumstances could have made things complicated in the future. So we don’t own a property in Spain but, for some years now, we have spent at least four months a year renting a beautiful one bed apartment overlooking the sea which, hopefully, will continue for many more years to come. We love the people, the climate & activities available which have given us a wonderful lifestyle in our autumn years. The ex-pat community (a good nationality mix) also seems so much more friendly & vibrant than our local community here in the UK. I should add that we also have family connections in Spain as two of our immediate family (plus spouses) live in the same area as we rent.

As we spend less than 6 months a year in Spain, we don’t have any of the possible tax problems mentioned here & renting means we won’t have any of the potential inheritance complications of Spain & this was a major factor in our decision not to buy/settle permanently. But we do find it increasingly difficult to get on the plain home when our two month spring & autumn stint is up & are always impatient to return!

Does Spain still offer a low cost of living? It’s not as cheap as it was & our scenario may be a different to most but, for us, it’s a definite yes. We do have the additional cost of flights, health insurance & car hire (we get that at a ridiculously low off-peak price anyway) but we spend only ¼ of what we would on petrol in the UK as our location means that we simply don’t need to use the car that much. White goods/technology seems comparatively expensive but I’ve noticed that’s changing & it doesn’t really affect us anyway. Meat & some grocery goods are more expensive but the price of the fantastic fish on offer & our extremely low monthly wine bill more than cancels that out. If you’re savvy, it’s also relatively cheap to eat out & sometimes it hardly seems worth cooking, especially with the price of electricity (extra for us) in Spain! But our biggest saving is on the heating cost we would incur in early spring/autumn here in the UK.

Taking everything into consideration, us spending 4 months a year in Spain is probably cheaper & certainly no more expensive than if we stayed at home here in the UK. We get the wonderful spring/autumn weather Spain has to offer, the pleasure of some great friends we have made over the years, a fantastic social life &, potentially, the best the UK summer months can offer between June & August; but sometimes even that can be very disappointing!



AlanR said:
07 January 2017 @ 17:53

Karisy is correct. One can have the best of both
worlds by renting in Spain. I have a whole-year
rental (giving both cheapness and flexibility plus
registration as a local resident) but keep my time
in Spain to less than 183 days a year - usually in
three blocks. One difference is that I purchased
a car in Spain - saving the costs of car rental - but
I needed to get an NIE to do that.

Taking everything into consideration, spending
five months a year in Spain is probably cheaper
than staying in UK. Spain has some wonderful spring/autumn weather and the best summer months in UK are between June & September.



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