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The Cost of Living in Spain Compared with the UK

Take a look at our handy comparison guide for the differences in cost of living between Spain and the UK.

6 minute read

Are you a Brit dreaming of a move to Spain? Would you enjoy life in the sunshine? Eating tapas on the terrace of a pretty Spanish restaurant, watching the world go by, is what most people dream of when they think about moving to Spain. But can this dream be a reality?

The most important question to ask is, can I afford to live in Spain?

Here, we look at some of the frequently asked questions around the cost of living in Spain compared with the UK. We hope it’ll help you to decide whether you can afford to purchase your favourite wine from the bodega each week, visit your friendly local Spanish restaurant and still pay the bills.

Although, please note the prices below are general and can vary from region to region and from the city to the coast.

Are property prices in Spain lower than in the UK?

Property prices in Spain are still lower than in the UK. In Spain, an inland three-bedroom country property, with a pool and BBQ house (with 10,000sqm of land) can cost from €300,000 to €500,000, depending on the area. A similar property in the UK can be anywhere up to a million pounds.

However, stamp duty in Spain is a lot more expensive than in the UK, at 10%. In total, you’ll need to allow around 15% extra for the purchasing fees, including stamp duty, conveyancing, notary fees, and land registry fees.

What are property rental prices like in Spain, compared with the UK?

Renting a property in Spain is relatively cheaper than renting a property in the UK. A 2-bedroom city apartment in Spain can cost around €400 to €500 per month. In the UK, the same type of property, depending on the area, will be at least £800 to possibly over £1,000. Community charges (maintenance of the building) are generally included in Spanish rent costs, too.

Do you have to pay council taxes on properties in Spain?

Yes, you do pay council tax on properties in Spain. The tax is called ’Suma’ and is calculated on the size of the land, house and the local amenities available. The Suma in Spain is considerably cheaper than council tax in the UK, and in some areas, a yearly amount of Suma can be the same as a monthly rate in the UK. The Suma varies from area to area but, per year, it is generally between €150.00 for a small townhouse to €600.00 for a large, detached villa on 1,000sqm of land – a considerable difference to the UK.

Car prices in Spain vs the UK

It is always advisable to buy a new car in Spain, as the price of second-hand cars is considerably higher than in the UK, and they will include “Spanish kisses” (scratches and bumps).

In Spain, a ten- or twelve-year-old car could sell for over €3,000, complete with Spanish kisses.

How much will my car insurance be in Spain?

Car insurance is generally cheaper in Spain, compared with the UK, and includes breakdown recovery on every policy at no extra cost.

In Spain, you insure the car as opposed to the driver, and all policies include any driver providing they are over the age of 25 and have held a driving licence for over two years. Those younger than 25 must be named on the policy at an extra cost. A UK policy costing £400 per year, excluding breakdown recovery, would cost around €300 including breakdown recovery in Spain.

House insurance costs in Spain vs the UK

House insurance in Spain is generally cheaper than in the UK, although it is difficult to compare like for like policies and prices will depend on the individual insurance company.

For example, bricks and mortar insurance on a four-bedroom villa with a pool, covered for accidental damages caused by earthquakes (which may not be applicable in the UK) may cost around €300.00 per year, this also includes €30.000 to cover contents as well.

What are the costs of home utility bills in Spain, compared with the UK? Home electricity prices in Spain have risen recently and are similar to those in the UK, if not slightly more expensive.

Depending on where you live, you will pay your electric bill every month or every two months. On average, a monthly bill for a four-bedroom villa with a pool is around €100 per month.

Are water bills lower in Spain than in the UK?

Water bills are slightly lower in Spain compared with the UK. A four-bedroom villa with a pool may cost around €40.00 per month, compared with the same home in the UK without a pool, which would cost approximately £50.00 per month.

The price of clothes in Spain vs the UK

Clothes are generally cheaper in Spain than in the UK. However, if you are looking for named brands, expect to pay higher prices in Spain than in the UK, with many people flying back to the UK with empty suitcases for a shopping spree.

Food costs in Spain vs the UK

Providing you shop where the Spanish shop and follow the Mediterranean diet, food bills in Spain are a lot cheaper than the UK. Not only are fruit and vegetables fresher and more affordable in Spain, but they are also considerably larger, with a red pepper being the size of a small rugby ball, compared with the UK, where they can be the size of a tomato.

The most affordable way to buy food in Spain is at weekly markets. Every town and village in Spain holds a weekly market, where they sell local produce at a reasonable price.

For meat and fish, check out the local Spanish butchers (carnicería) or fish shop (pescadería) which offer high quality and low prices. Spanish supermarkets are also cheaper than in the UK.

Is it more affordable to dine out in Spain than in the UK?

Compared with the UK, it is cheaper to dine out in Spain, whether at a café or restaurant. Spanish restaurants offer the famous ‘Menu Del Dia’ at lunchtimes, originally designed for workers to eat a good meal at an affordable price.

For dinner, the Menu Del Noche is available in most restaurants, and prices usually start from €15.00. Restaurants that serve an a la carte menu typically charge from €30.00 per person.

A cup of coffee in Spain is around €1.20, a beer €3.00 and a wine €1.50 for a large glass, making it much more affordable to dine out in Spain, compared with the UK.

How good is the education system in Spain?

Spanish education can vary from region to region, but overall, it is a good system. Children are valued highly and treated very well in Spain.

Do you have to pay for schooling in Spain?

Like the UK, schooling is free in Spain unless you enrol your child in a private school, but it is usually better for integration purposes if your child attends the local Spanish school. There is no school uniform in the state schools.

However, you will have to pay for all of the books and accessories your child needs. These typically cost from around €400 for the school year. Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to access financial support to help with these costs by contacting your local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento).

Do Spanish schools provide dinners for pupils?

Some schools in Spain do provide school dinners, however, these must be paid for by the parents.

School dinner menus in Spain are excellent and do not include junk food. Some primary schools still stick to the traditional Spanish routine times of 9 am-1.00 pm and then resume classes at 3-5 pm. In this case, the child will go home for lunch.

High school hours in Spain are from 8 am until 2 pm and pupils will eat at home.

How does the healthcare system work in Spain?

Depending on your circumstances, for example, whether you are retired, your healthcare is covered, or if you are working, you will pay into the healthcare system in Spain.

If none of these cases applies, you will have to take out comprehensive healthcare insurance to cover your needs as you will be refused treatment if you do not qualify for it.

Considering all the above, Spain is the more affordable option when it comes to the cost of living, compared with the UK.

For those dreaming of a move to Spain, you can enjoy your dream of living in the sunshine while enjoying tapas with your Spanish friends, however, it’s still important to understand the rough cost of living before making the move.

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Author: Carole Jarvis
Carole Jarvis is a freelance writer and content creator and has written for companies around the globe. Originally from Liverpool in the UK…