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Mercadona supermarket van Cost Of Living In Spain v UK 2021 Expat Tips

Are you thinking of moving to Spain from the UK?

If so, you’ll need to find out the average cost of living in Spain and how it compares to the UK.

In the following guide, we give you an insight into the living costs in Spain including groceries, utility bills, as well as entertainment and other monthly expenses.

You’ll learn more about:

  • The average cost of living in Spain v the UK
  • The average salary and minimum wage in Spain compared to the UK
  • Food prices in Spain’s supermarkets
  • A comparison between Mercadona and ASDA prices
  • Cost of running a car in Spain
  • The cost of utilities such as electric, gas and water
  • The cost of eating out in Spanish restaurants
  • And other typical monthly costs.

Let’s take a look!

If you've ever thought of taking the plunge and moving to Spain, you're in good company. According to a 2018 uSwitch quality of life poll, around 12% of Brits were seriously thinking of moving abroad, with Spain being the top choice for many.

Out of more than 2,000 people surveyed, only 5% of them said that they were happy living in the UK with almost 50% citing the cost of living as the most influential factor.

Other major reasons for moving abroad included a rise in violent crime and a feeling of living in a fragmented and broken society.

Spain voted the best place to live by over 15,000 expats

In a 2020 survey provided by expat website Internations, four of Spain’s most popular cities were voted as the top places to live worldwide.

The survey which polled more than 15,000 expats, determined Valencia and Alicante as the top two cities in the world to relocate with the other popular cities of Malaga and Madrid finishing in 6th and 9th respectively.

Coupled with the fact that the average European enjoys more holidays, a higher spend on healthcare as a percentage of GDP, lower retirement age and a longer life expectancy, it's no wonder that so many Brits are looking to relocate to Spain.

In a recent HSBC Global Survey, expats voted Spain as the 4th most desirable country worldwide. The vast majority of the 18,000 participants cited the quality of life, physical and mental wellbeing, safety and the Spanish weather as being the most important factors.

What about Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic?

Unfortunately, in 2020, the world experienced one of the biggest and most deadliest pandemics ever experienced. As a result, Spain along with all of other countries, implemented international travel restrictions in order to prevent new mutant strains of the virus from entering the country.

This obviously impacted the Spanish tourism sector massively and prevented UK holidaymakers and those who were looking to emigrate to put their travel plans on hold.

However, with the vaccine programs gathering pace in the UK, Spain and other parts of Europe, there is every possibility that travel and a new life in Spain could be on the cards again at some point in 2021.

Can British citizens still become residents in Spain post-Brexit?

When the Brexit transition period ended, many Brits were under the impression that they could no longer gain permanent residency here in Spain. However, this is simply not the case.

If you have a sufficient income and meet other residency criteria, you can still easily obtain one of the residency visas that are available to UK and other non-EU citizens.

In our other article about Spanish residency visas, you can learn all you need to know about your options and which residency visa may be right for you.

Of course, before you make the move, it's always a good idea to research the monthly cost of living in Spain to make sure that your level of income will be sufficient to warrant moving here.

Below we provide you with a realistic outline of the cost of everyday items here in Spain. Hopefully, this will enable you to plan your own budget more efficiently and live as cheaply as you can once you arrive here.

We've included on our list, many of the most common shopping items you would buy on a daily basis, but we've also incorporated other essentials such as what it will cost to run a car, how much you could expect to pay for utility bills and what you might assume to pay for travelling or eating out.

Obviously, the costs of items we've included are very general. The items that are essential to you will possibly vary from these and so your own living expenses may well differ. What you should do when you undertake research into your everyday living costs in Spain is to consider the following:

  • Whether you’ll be living inland or near the sea (Living inland can be a little cheaper)
  • The types of places you prefer to shop – supermarkets or smaller local stores for example
  • Whether you prefer quality branded products or own brand
  • Whether you like to eat out in local Spanish restaurants or prefer the places where tourists dine.

Also, don't forget that the monthly cost of living in Spain is more than just the items of shopping you put in your trolley. There are a variety of other living costs to consider before you make the decision to seek out warmer climes, and in fact, doing your homework in advance will help you to decide whether moving abroad is economically sustainable for you.

Other things that can affect the amount of income you will need include:

  • If you have children, where will they be educated and how much will that cost? For example private or state school?
  • What sort of car do you drive and how much is the fuel, road tax and insurance?
  • Will you be working and what income will you have?
  • Will you look for employed work or become self-employed (Autonomo) and go it alone?
  • Will you be in receipt of a UK pension and will the exchange rates have an effect on this?
  • Do you intend to rent or buy? How much will that cost you?
  • How often do you intend to travel back to the UK?
  • Do you have savings? How long will they last if you're not working?

The days when the cost of living in Spain was very cheap are unfortunately long gone, but then this is the same all over the globe so it's only to be expected. However, you can still live relatively cheaply if you set your mind to it and make an effort to budget properly and live more like the locals do.

Overall, the cost of living in Spain in 2021 is still much cheaper than in the UK. Rents, for example, are around 38% less, groceries 19% less and the Consumer Price Index (including rent) over 27% lower than the UK. Source: Numbeo.com

However, despite the lower cost of living in Spain, the average salary is far less than that of the UK.

The average Spaniard takes home around €1,331 per month. This is a lot less than the average monthly net income in the UK which is around €2,239 per month. Source: Numbeo.com

The national minimum wage in Spain for 2021 is currently set at €1,108 per month (Gross) with the UK at €1,583 per month (Gross). Source: Wikipedia.org

Remember too, that while Spain has a welfare system, it’s different to the UK and so there is no Universal Credit or working/child tax credits as such. There are a few tax allowances for people who have children, but these are really nowhere near as substantial as the ones you may already be receiving in the UK.

Take a look at the following page about the UK and Spanish benefits you may be able to receive while living here in Spain.

View the following page for a full list of tax allowances and thresholds in Spain.

TIP: The best way to approach your research into the cost of living in Spain is to write down all of your current monthly expenses and then compare them to the prices we have included below. This will effectively demonstrate just how the cost of living in Spain will compare to that of the UK.

Which are the most expensive regions in Spain to live?

Where you live in Spain can be just as important as to how you live.

Prices can vary considerably and will depend on whether you live in a larger city or in a small rural town or village.

According to the Numbeo website which collects the cost of living data that is input by users, the most expensive places to live in Spain for 2021 can be seen below.

Most expensive cities Spain

Spain’s two biggest cities, Barcelona and Madrid usually come out near the top. Living in either of those is going to be more expensive than living in other regions popular with expats such as Malaga and Alicante.

So how much does it cost to live in Spain?

The following costs are for April 2021. They are a comparison between mainly ASDA (mostly own brands), which is one of the cheaper UK supermarket chains and Mercadona, considered to be its equivalent in Spain. In order to make the comparison easier, the UK prices have been converted into Euros and are correct as of April 2021.

Supermarket chains Lidl and Aldi also have a strong presence here in Spain, so if you usually shop at these stores, you may be able to reduce your weekly grocery bill further still.

Note: Different municipalities in Spain charge different amounts for services and utilities such as water, road tax, council tax etc. You should do some area-specific research in order to make a completely accurate account of what it will cost you to live in your chosen area of Spain.
The exchange rates below are as of 26/04/2021 at a rate of £1.00 = 1.15 Euros

Cost Of Shopping Items In Spain

Item Spain UK
Bread €0.95 loaf 820g €1.06 Kingsmill White Loaf 800g
Milk €0.79 1 litre €1.23 4pt Semi-Skimmed
Butter €1.50 250g €1.73 250g Salted
Sugar €0.78 1 kg €0.77 kg (Silverspoon)
Coffee €2.37 250g €2.24 Asda Gold Roast 200g
Coca Cola €1.59 2 litre €2.35 1.5 litre
Lettuce €0.99 €0.50
Red Peppers €0.81 each €0.56 each
Potatoes €1.00 kg €0.56 kg
Bananas €1.29 kg €0.84 kg
Tomatoes €1.65 kg €0.84 6pk (Salad Tomatoes)
Oranges €1.26 kg €1.51 for 5 Medium Oranges
Apples €1.29 kg €1.45 for 6 Braeburn
Cornflakes €1.05 500g €0.60 450g
Extra Virgin Olive OIl €3.17 litre €5.98 litre (Napolino)
Pasta - White €0.98 kg €0.59 500g (Spaghetti)
Rice - White €2.10 kg Basmati €1.62 kg Basmati
Eggs €1.29 for 12 medium €2.12 12 medium free-range
Chicken €5.06 650g €3.80 650g
Pork Chops €3.92 800g €5.60 kg
Fish/Salmon €18.00 kg €13.86 kg
Tuna/Tin €2.28 240g x3 €3.92 4 x 145g
Water €0.21 1.5 litre €0.56 1.5L
White Wine €3.00 (Low) €5.00 (Medium) €4.76 (Lower Price)
Beer €1.64 litre (San Miguel) €1.67 660ml San Miguel
Vodka €18.07 Litre Absolut €25.00 Litre Absolut
Cigarettes  €5.00 Marlboro 20 €13.27 20 Marlboro Gold
Toothpaste €1.75 100 ml €0.89 Colgate 75ml
Shampoo €2.99 Pantene 270cc €2.18 400ml Herbal Essences
Hand Soap €0.94 500ml €1.12 300ml Imperial Leather
Toilet Rolls €3.82 for 12 Bosque Verde €5.60 for 12 Cushelle
Washing Powder €5.00 (35 Washes) Bosque Verde €5.60 Daz 40 Washes 2.6 kg

 

Cost Of Utility Bills In Spain

Item Spain
Phone/Internet Between €30 and €55 per month for both line rental and 50Mb-300Mb broadband. See our page on Broadband Internet in Spain                                                                    
Water The average monthly water bill in Spain is around €40 - €60 - Dependent on occupants and usage. The cost of water in Spain is similar to the UK.
Gas €13.37 max for butane bottle - More info via our page Butane Gas Bottles In Spain
Electricity

The average monthly electricity bill in Spain is around €60 - €100. However, your electricity costs in Spain will depend on occupancy numbers, usage and the time of the year.

It will also depend on the contracted kW of your home. Small/medium-sized homes should be contracted for 3.45kW, Larger homes 5.75 kW and Larger homes with heavier electrical consumption 10.35 kW. Make sure your property is on the right kW or you may be paying too much. Find out more here.

IBI/Council Tax Varies by region. Around 1/4 of UK council tax.
Rent 1 bed apartment €500 per month (Outside City)  - 2-3 bed apartment €760 per month (outside City) - 3 bed City apartment €1,035 per month. Villa with a pool around €1,000+ per month. Will also depend on whether inland or in a more tourist area. Prices are generally cheaper inland.
Community Fees If you own a property on a complex or urbanisation, you may have to pay towards the upkeep of the grounds, pool, lifts etc. Allow between €50 - €200 per month.

  

Cost Of Running A Car In Spain

Item Spain
Road Tax Around €50 per year for a small car and €100 for large. For more info, see our page on Spanish Road Tax
Petrol €1.32 per litre unleaded. Diesel €1.18 per litre.
MOT/ITV Around €35.00 Full list here - All About The Car ITV Test In Spain
Servicing From €64.00 for a full service. (NorAuto.es)
Toll Roads Variable. Quite expensive.

  

Eating Out/Restaurants

Item Spain
Meal for two with a glass of wine Medium range restaurant around €35
Menu del Día Set three-course lunch in Spanish restaurant around €10 per head
Coffee €1.50
Beer Domestic beer 0.5 ltr €2.50, Imported beer 0.5 ltr €3.00
Wine €2.50 per glass
Coke/Soft Drink €1.74

  

Insurance Costs In Spain

Item Spain
National Insurance/Self Employed Between €50 (First 12 months only) and €285 per month (Whether working or not) More info here
Car Insurance Dependent on driver age and history.
Health Insurance From around €47 per month with ourselves. You can get a quote for one of our policies here.
Life Insurance Cost dependent on current health and age.
Buildings and Contents Insurance Allow for around €250 per year.

 

Sports and Leisure

Item Spain
Gym Membership Approximately €37 per month.
Cinema  Around €8 per ticket.
Golf Varies on quality of course. Allow at least €50 per round minimum.

  

Schooling Fees In Spain

Item Spain
International School Between €4,500 and €10,000 per annum per child.
Spanish School Free, although there may be a small yearly charge for books etc. More info on school books here
Preschool/Kindergarten  Private: €400 - €600 per month for one child. State: €50 - €400 per month and based on family income level.

As you can see, prices can vary considerably. They may also depend on which region of Spain you will be living in.

With the UK no longer a member of the EU, the residency process has now changed from 2021. Any UK nationals wishing to live here for longer than 90 days will need a residency visa for Spain.

Photo Credit: Mr Ricochet [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons