Why go back to the Uk? Is Spain not cheap enough?

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28 Sep 2012 02:42 by mac75 Star rating in Valencia. 409 posts Send private message

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 Well having seen how many are complaining about the crisis and the IVA increases in other threads I was curious to find out if Spain is still cheap for Expats, as I live here permanantly and have done for a long time, I don't live off a pension so maybe my vision on things is a bit distorted.

I would have thought that Spain is still really cheap for the Brittish, I can't think of anything that is cheaper in the Uk and with the pound being strong surely all expats on pensions are better off now than a few years ago. So I don't really get why there is so much complaining about the vat increases. The vat is pretty much the same as it is in the Uk so surely it can't have had such a big impact on people's disposable income. The ones who should really be complaining about the IVA increases are the ones on Spanish salaries or Spanish pensions. No matter how much your pension is, if it was sufficient enough in the UK surely it is more than sufficient to be able to live in Spain, or has Spain been a destination for expats who couldn't live properly on their pensions in the UK and came over here to make their money go further and seeing that recently some prices have gone up  are starting to get nervous. Nonetheless why would a pensioner want to go back to the UK because of the crisis? If they can't make their pension work with the exchange rate the way it is now, there's no way they'll make it work back in the UK, so what is it that some are going back to? Why do so many want to sell up and go back to a higher cost of living?

Any enlightenment? maybe I'm missing the picture here.


This message was last edited by mac75 on 28/09/2012.


A donde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina.

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28 Sep 2012 09:27 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Yes, Mac, the essentials like a glass of wine down the local bar still costs one euro in our village in Spain, with the tapa thrown in.  And for the puffers, cigarettes are still mega-cheap compared to the UK.  The difference in petrol prices has narrowed over the years, I think.  But you can still live very cheaply in Spain, especially if you've got a bit of a garden as vegetables are far easier to grow.  I've thrown an unwanted gift of watermelon into the garden, only to see a whole load of them pop up the next year; ditto with trees, with loquats and avocados; they grow without having been planted - just if you throw away the stone.  We've also got oranges and lemons for a large part of the year.  It kills me in the UK having to buy them.  And although electricity has gone up, for instance, it's still nothing like the cost in the UK and no gas bills in Spain, just the bombonas (they have doubled over the last ten years). It does depend on your lifestyle - maybe if you don't drink and don't smoke, there's not such a difference, but I would imagine most expats like a tipple.


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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28 Sep 2012 09:33 by gill556 Star rating in orihuela. 69 posts Send private message

 when we came here 9 years ago I had just become a pensioner. Since then we have lived on my pension and some interest on savings as my husband doesn't get his pension until next year. At first we went out 2 or 3 times a week, never thought twice when grocery shopping, never thought about how much petrol we were using but then the crisis hit us, prices soared and the exchange rate went against us. Yes we have survived and the pound has strengthened but not back to what it was 9 years ago. Generally things are cheaper in Spain but in the UK you don't pay for all sorts of  things you do here. Most people have to pay for translators, community fees etc.and for most the odd flights back to the UK. I never tried to live on my pension in the UK as I worked until 2 days before we moved but the biggest difference is that if you really don't have enough to live on you can get pension credits etc, to top your income up.

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28 Sep 2012 10:17 by Harry07 Star rating. 205 posts Send private message

Tough question !!

How much after tax to live in Spain (euro/per month) on the basis of:

1) owning home,

2) 1 car,

3) dining out twice a week,

4) Excluding holidays,

5) living "comfortably" (but not over the top)



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28 Sep 2012 10:26 by Harry07 Star rating. 205 posts Send private message

Question based on monthly income for couple !!

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28 Sep 2012 10:51 by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 386 posts Send private message

To expand on Harry07 it is easy to set out the difference in costs:-

                                                                                 Spain                                            UK

1) Owning a home: Running costs here far less than U.K. 

                     What was Rates                       a few hundred                                 two thousand +

2) Running a car:   fuel cheaper here,   mechanics  cheaper here, cost of replacement more expensive here. Parking!!!!! no contest. 'Illegal ' parking (yellow lines) far less chance of being caught here than in U.K. Speeding, far less chance of being caught here. etc.etc.etc.

3)  Dining out twice a week                          €100 per couple                            £200-£300 per couple

4) Living comfortably? although power is more expensive here you use far less of it as we don't heat our homes 8 to 10 months of the year. Food in shops? no 'bargains' as in U.K. but most fruit and veg is better quality and fresher. Fish is cheaper and better. Meat is about the same. As for booze and fags well no comparison as its much cheaper here.

To sum up on the points made by Harry07 your weekly expenditure is cheaper here than in the U.K.  However 'white goods' and cars more expensive but how often do we need to buy them and also the mechanics are far cheaper here so we can get them repaired here whereas in U.K. you just throw away and buy new. ( For white goods there is always Amazon with mostly free delivery to Spain and better consumer rights than buying in any shop in either country)

Another point is rent. Here it is well under half for an equilivant property in the U.K. Also a lot of ex-pats have come from higher priced areas of U.K. to 'cheaper' parts of Spain. If you compare Madrid with London, Madrid wins hands down on all counts.   Cost of buying property here, far far less than in U.K.

So on purely financial points Spain wins hands down over U.K. What hasn't been mentioned is the weather! Any comparrison??

So it is all down to personal choice and for most out here the choice is ........ wait for it....... big drum roll please......

(Please fill in your own answer!) 







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28 Sep 2012 11:02 by REIDPJ Star rating. 239 posts Send private message

One reason is that in the UK there is a minimum income level for pensioners (a 'top up' for those on Basic State Pension), which, I believe, is between £30 and £40 per week per couple.   Another, not taken serious enough, is homesickness - which can strike at any time.

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28 Sep 2012 12:04 by Harry07 Star rating. 205 posts Send private message

Many thanks Guys.

So how much to live "comfortably" per month in Spain for a couple based on criteria which I outlined below ??



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28 Sep 2012 13:23 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

 When we moved over, we had £1,000 a month sent over for living and the exchange rate (then 1.09) gave us around €1100 a month (after charges).  We have no mortgage or rent to pay.  We run a car, dine out when we feel like it (during the summer about 3 times a week in the evenings) which is now about once or twice a week.  That £1,000 a month was building up too much and we have now reduced it to £800 a month wich gives us about €1,000 a month at 1.25..  Even that is too much and is building up.

I would say that €800 a month would give you a very good lifestyle even with the tobacco and alcohol.  We eat well, never skimp and, sometimes, tend to overindulge.  Amstel beer is currently 50c a pint can in the supermarket, an excellent bottle of Rioja at less than €2.  

We ate out twice last week.  One in a Hungarian restaurant which was starter of prawn salad (her), pate on melba toast (me).  Main course Hungarian goulash with vegetables (her) lamb fillet with boiled potatoes and veg (me).  Dessert was chocolate crepes (both of us).  Including a glass of wine each (large ones) the bill was €14.  

The other time was with a few friends and this was the menu at a very good Chinese restaurant:

3 with large spring rolls and sweet and sour sauce.  2 with salad, 1 with fried wantons.  Followed by 2 chicken curry with vegetables, 1 duck in orange sauce, 2 sizzling duck/chicken/beef with vegetables and sweet and sour sauce, 1 chicken balls with chips (he was only 7).  Each accompanied by boiled rice/fried rice or noodles.  1 bottle of Rosada and 1 bottle of Red plus 2 Cokes.  Followed by 4 icecreams and 2 coffees.  Total bill was €36,50.  Now you can see why we sometimes overindulge.

Excellent Spanish restaurant just up the road which has an evening meal of salads, bread, aoli followed by massive Paella Valencia (contains meat, chicken and rabbit) or Paella Tradicional (the one with the fish and shellfixh etc) and a choice of dessert.  Cost (including a Flamenco show) is €15 per head.  During the week, with no Flamenco show, there is a full MDD in the evening for €13 a head and this is in the restaurant of a 4 star hotel.  

The only thing to watch is electricity which is more expensive than UK.  However, we have no gas bill so it works out about the same as UK.  Water, on the other hand, is about a third of what were we paying in UK for rates.  Council tax in UK was £1700 a year (about €2125).  IBI here is €201 a year and community charges are around €400 a year so just over 600 euros as opposed to over 2000 in UK.  Diesel is £1.08 a litre.  Car insurance about the same as UK but includes breakdown cover.  

Oh, and did I mention the weather?  So, if you've saved, you have a little private pension maybe, you can live very comfortably over here.  Even the state retirement pension for a couple is only just under the 800 euros a month I quoted earlier.  Of course, all this assumes no mortgage and no rent.  You would have to think very seriously about moving to a foreign country (any foreign country) if you only have a state pension and have to pay rent.  And, as previously stated, if you look to your very elderly years, you won't get the medical and nursing support you get in UK.  Hopefully, I've got another 20 years before I fall into that bracket.



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28 Sep 2012 14:43 by marcbernard Star rating in Marina Alta; Alicant.... 253 posts Send private message

I don't really want to travel all the way down to your village, but where do you get diesel at £1.08/litre? In Javea area it is €1.44 which equates with FX at 1.24 to be £1.16. Your argument otherwise holds up reasonably well, although food prices up here in restaurants of all types are higher.

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28 Sep 2012 15:10 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

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 Diesel at San Pedro today is €1.30 which equates to about £1.05p at the exchange rate you gave.  Fuel prices do vary greatly throughout Spain and the cheapest we got a while back was actually on the motorway (A1) just north of Madrid.  About 8 cents a litre cheaper there than here for unleaded 95 (at the time).

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28 Sep 2012 16:26 by iain4702 Star rating in East Lothian & Lo.... 42 posts Send private message

My wife and i are just back from South costa Blanca after a three week break in our holiday home which we have owned for about 7 years.From my experience Spain is a far cheaper place to stay  than here in scotland.There is no comparison in costs

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28 Sep 2012 18:31 by mac75 Star rating in Valencia. 409 posts Send private message

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So why do so many want to go back?  Are they just homesick?


A donde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina.

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28 Sep 2012 18:48 by REIDPJ Star rating. 239 posts Send private message

I suspect, also (though very free would admit it) that a lot come to the realisation that the 'grass is not greener on the other side', that their (I include myself here - hence why I would never move to Spain) boring humdrum lives in the UK (or wherever) translate into boring humdrum lives in Spain - that Eastenders doesn't get interesting just because you've moved a thousand miles south.

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28 Sep 2012 20:05 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

 It would all depend on what you actually read.  Yes, a lot of people are going back.  Many of whom are now getting older, have seen their pound drop from 1.5 to 1 and back to 1.25.  Others are elderly and, as said before, the lack of nursing care, especially if there is only one of you, does not compare to the care given in UK.  The Spanish rely on their extended families which many expats don't have in Spain but do back in UK.  

On the other hand, you can also read that people from UK are still coming to Spain.  It doesn't mean they lead boring humdrum lives in UK.  To my mind, even in a glorious year like this with the Jubilee, the Olympics etc, it doesn't take long for the Brit in UK to become grumpy, unfriendly and downright rude.  For me, I spent 30 years in the Army of which 28 were overseas.  Every time I went back to UK I couldn't wait to leave again.  Most of the time was in Cyprus but also Germany, Belize and other places.  When I left and moved into a village (quite a large one) and could probably count the number of people I actually got to know on one hand after 15 years of living there.  Maybe it was me but the commute to work (the horrible, rainy days, knowing where the traffic jams would be, watching the road rage and so on) and then doing it all again in the evening.  Going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, seeing the same, miserable faces and listening to the same old moans day after day after day. 

Here, I know more people in the 4 years we have been in this house (and only one of those years permanently) than I knew in UK in the 15 years I was there.  I can do what I want, when I want to.  A walk on the beach or the seafront if I want, catching up on all those books I meant to read, pruning the hibiscus, trailing the bouganvillea over the arch, chatting to neighbours over the wall,  simply passing the time of day with anyone who walks past, eating what I want, when I want with no more slave to the clock.  Being able to actually plan things and knowing the weather will be kind.  

I realise that most people who post on websites have an axe to grind, hence the incredible number of negative posts that have appeared on here recently.  Those enjoying it generally get on with it and, though I might be in the minority on here, I am certainly not in the minority in Spain.  My wife's arthritis has cleared up, the poor circulation she had in UK, being confined to the house for weeks at a time due to icy pavements and roads, not being able to actually plan anything due to the weather and so on.  

Anyone thinking of moving here should do so. Just don't do it if you need to work, if you don't have enough money to do so, if you are so close to your family you are going to miss them terribly, if you were born in (insert county here) and have never moved more than 30 miles from where you were born, if you enjoy the climb to the top and work obsessed lifestyle of the UK, if you don't like ham or chicken, if your idea of a good night out is going up the pub with your mates or if you don't like the sun.

For anyone else, come and join us.  One thing it isn't is boring. 

Now, this has been my last post on here.  It is getting depressing, people make things up just to make Spain look bad (no, it isn't perfect but where is?) people forgetting why they actually moved here in the first place.  The dishonesty of some people (I reckon we should have a special thread called "How to break the law in Spain and get away with it" rather than the "How can I bring my car without getting it MOTd, have insurance, drive illegally" or "How can I fiddle my taxes and not pay into the Spanish system even though I want all the benefits", or "How can I fiddle the NHS but still access the Spanish system for nothing" or even "How can I get away with paying fines that I was guilty of" and so on.  And how come its only the Brits that seem to ask these questions?  

So, if you want to move to Spain (or anywhere else for that matter, even going from Leeds to Southend) do it if it will improve your lifestyle.  Don't do it if it will make you unhappy.


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28 Sep 2012 20:41 by mac75 Star rating in Valencia. 409 posts Send private message

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 Well said Bobaol!  And I do agree, Spain is not a boring place to be, it is fantastic, with all it's pros and cons. I was just surprised at all the negative comments, as moving back to the UK for me wouldn't even be a consideration.

REIDPJ I can assure you if you are living the real Spanish life you will soon have no need for Eastenders!


A donde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina.

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28 Sep 2012 22:04 by REIDPJ Star rating. 239 posts Send private message

Hey!!!!!  I was only answering your question.  If you don't like negative answers, then don't ask negative questions.  If you prefer a lecture on the pros of living in Spain, rather than people's opinions on why some may return to the UK, then please rephrase your request.  Maybe, you would rather not be 'enlightened'

BTW I neither said, nor implied, that Spain was a boring place.  Please re-read my comments...........



This message was last edited by REIDPJ on 28/09/2012.

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28 Sep 2012 22:46 by wend691 Star rating in Lincoln & Rojales (C.... 179 posts Send private message

As always, some sensible comments from bobaol ....

I am not equipped to answer the question about why people are going back to the UK... could be for one or a significant number of reasons, with the economic climate and personal finances being just one of them.


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28 Sep 2012 23:07 by camposol Star rating in Camposol. 1408 posts Send private message

gill556 makes some good points about things you pay for here that you wouldn't in UK. Added to  the list is funeral insurance, and security, something not usually paid for in UK. Most people do want to make a visit to the UK at least twice a year, and that is no longer cheap. I am surprised by those who never go back, saying" They know where I am, they can come and see us if they want".My daughter can only manage once a year. I could not wait longer than 4 months to see the family. I always remember speaking to a woman out here who said" i've got a new grandson in theUK, but i've never bonded with him, as I'm out here!" Sad.Definitely, missing the family is a huge factor in returning to the UK. Yes there's skype, phone, txt but nothing can match a cup of tea and a comforting chat. Many  out here have large military,teacher's or police pension on which they can live very comfortably indeed, while also building up a big bank balance. Many have a bolthole in the UK, and it must be comforting having such security. Those  who were paying £2000 a year rates in  UK, must indeed find it cheaper to pay 200 euros  here.Most of us were paying a far more modest amount. So if you were wealthy in UK, obviously you would think it cheap here, but for most of us there's not much difference.

I'm sure it isn't only me who finds electricity/water bills more expensive than UK. Heating a concrete box is phenominal, though I appreciate others have better insulated houses.  Fruit and veg-actually I find that, when I visit UK, Tesco's have a far better range and more offers. I do not often shop in Brit shops here, and visitors often  remark that Spanish supermarkets are dearer,(talking about everyday products, not British favourites) eggs being one example  Much of the market stuff here is of dubious quality. Eating out-Bobaol must live in the cheapest part of Spain. We are always paying out here, repairing or putting stuff right,

It is not FAR cheaper to live here-it is only a bit cheaper in certain areas.Our pensions are the lowest in Europe, but that is of no consequence to wealthy early retirees, who probably regard them as extra pocket money when retirement comes! For the average person on a State pension + one small other  eg private, works, I wouldn't recommend Spain as a place to retire to.

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28 Sep 2012 23:08 by REIDPJ Star rating. 239 posts Send private message

Know what you mean re. water, camposol.  Is Mazarrón the only town with a minimum water charge - 15 cubic meters?

This message was last edited by REIDPJ on 28/09/2012.

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