Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain August 2012

Shopping trolley in Lidl supermarket, Spain

Whenever I travel, I´m always interested to know how much things cost, and every day, people from around the world find my blog by searching for the cost of living in Spain.

I was interested in an idea I saw on My Sardinian Life, where Jennifer published receipts for her everyday grocery shopping.   Alyson at the Algarve Blog and Diana of Canadian Travel Bugs also posted their grocery receipts from Portugal and Shanghai, China respectively.

I wanted to do something a bit different, so I decided that rather than post the prices of random items of shopping that you may, or may not be interested in, I would come up with a list of standard grocery items, which I will update the prices of, three or four times a year.   This list can easily be changed, so if there are any other basic items you would like me to include, please let me know in the comments section, below.  This way, if anyone else wants to do something similar, we can have a direct comparison between countries.

For this month´s prices, I used the Spanish Supermarket – Mercadona

Standard Grocery List

Milk (semi –skimmed UHT, own brand), 1 litre  0.54 €
Loaf  (white, baguette 250g)   0.45 €
Eggs (12, medium) 1.35  €
Chicken breasts (1kg, boneless, skinless)  5.50 €
Apples (1kg, green, Golden Delicious) 1.35 €
Oranges (1kg) 1.39 €
Bananas (1kg) 1.25 €
Potatoes (1kg) 0.92 €
Lettuce (1 head, Iceberg) 0.85 €
Water (1.5 litre bottle) 0.45 €
Domestic Beer (1 litre bottle, Cruzcampo) 1.29 €
Fish  (1kg Salmon steaks) 8.75 €
Toilet rolls (pack of 6, own brand) 1.95 €
Washing powder (Box, 35 washes, Elena brand) 5.94 €
Olive oil (1 litre, extra virgin, own brand) 3€
Coca-Cola (1.5 litre) 1.09 €
Butter (250g, own brand) 0.98 €
Sugar (1kg, white) 0.95 €

Mercadona supermarket receipt.   August 2012

I´ve also included my store receipt for the few groceries I bought – mostly of items not included on my standard shopping list.

Currency Conversion from XE €1 = 1.23   USD
0.78   GBP
1.17   AUD
1.22   CAD
1.52   NZD
9.99   ZAR

Other household expenses

Gas:  We don´t have mains gas here, so we use bottles of butane gas.   A 12.5kg bottle of  Butane gas costs 16.45 €.   One bottle lasts (on average) 21 days (for two people… though around 4 weeks in summer) for all hot water, showers and cooking.

Electricity:  For a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom detached house in the countryside with a swimming pool, we pay an average of 80-90 € per month.  The cost of consumption for us is slightly lower in winter with heating/lighting, as opposed to air conditioning/lighting/swimming pool pump running for 8 hours a day, in the summer months.

Water: We are not connected to mains water, so when we bought our house part of the purchase cost was for a share in a local water company.  We have a water deposit to store our house water.  Our water share gives us an allowance of up to 17500 litres of water each week at reduced cost, after which the price rises steeply.  Needless to say, we don´t use this amount of water, even allowing for swimming pool top-ups and garden irrigation.  Our annual water bill is approximately  60 €

Typical Andalucian villa and pool

IBI – Council Tax:   Paid yearly to the local council.  This year´s bill is 338€

Internet:  29 € per month with unlimited downloads (within reason).  Speeds up to 3 Mbps

Petrol/Gasoline:  1 litre of 95 octane petrol is 1.49 €

Vehicle excise duty:  We have a Peugot 307 1.6 and pay 51 € per year.

Eating out:  Glass of wine or beer, including one tapa is 1 € – 1.50 €.  Menu of the day (three course meal, served at lunchtime, including bread and one glass of beer, wine or a bottle of water) 8 – 10 €

How do prices compare where you live? 

You might also enjoy these articles:

All at sea with the Virgen del Carmen

La Noche de San Juan: Families, fires and football!

Patatas a lo pobre: Poor man´s potatoes

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63 thoughts on “Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain August 2012

  1. hi
    I am going on holiday and would loke to know the prices of body wash or soap, shampoo, toothpaste and suntan lotion factor 20,30 and 50. Can you help me

    • I’m not sure where you live, Wendy, but if it’s the UK, I’d say prices are pretty similar – depending on the brand you buy or where you shop.

      You can get many similar brands here. The suncream is often a little cheaper in Spain. Again it depends where you buy.

      Sorry to be a bit vague, but I can look for specific brands and sizes next time I go shopping, if you let me know exactly which ones you like. :)

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  7. What a great idea for a post, and the comments make interesting reading too! I’m also Mercadona fan. My main challenge is finding organic produce that isn’t eye-wateringly pricey, especially chicken and eggs, for the little ones. Starting a veg patch is starting to look ever more attractive as prices rise!

    • Yes, the comments have been very interesting. Hmmm …. there doesn´t seem to be the same kind of choice with organic produce here like there is, for example, in the UK, does there?

      We´ve been growing some veg in various places around the garden this summer. I think kids love doing that anyway :)

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    • Australia has become very expensive for us over the past few years, not only with prices rising steeply but also due to the exchange rate. We usually come out your way for a few months during our winter time. We are heading to Sydney mid November to do a housesit over Christmas and New Year!
      That way we get the best of both worlds :)

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  10. How sad is it that I used to explore Mercadona when I was bored in Granada? That had a lot of cool stuff in there though and a lot of it was cheaper than back at home. Especially the bottled water, if I remember right.

  11. OOHHHH …. all the more reason to do it asap so you can make an accurate comparison this time next year!

    Inflation is a dreadful thing, isn´t it? Especially for people with limited (and often fixed income), isn´t it?

    Prices in Spain have shot up recently as well – right across the board – from petrol, electricity and gas to food and drink.

    Thanks for joining in with the comments. It´s fun to compare around the world! :)

  12. This’s been very interesting, Marianne. I’ve been meaning to do the same for here, in Sri Lanka, but every time I go to do it, the price of something flies sky high and I hold my breath, waiting for the next class of products to be hit! One would have thought, with the war over at last, the government would be able to lower taxes, but no – they owe so much money to the IMF etc. that the West has forced it to devalue the rupee and raise taxes, which means – since it’s a national pastime to avoid paying income tax – a sort of sales tax, which they fiddle with all the time!

    Last year my “shopping cart” used to be about Rs10,000 a week – now it’s more like Rs15,000 … But it’s electricity that’s risen most sharply and has had a devestating effect on poor and middle class families, despite there being a graduated price structure depending on usage.

    The thing that’s saving me at the moment is the exchange rate, which is very favorable for the AUD, for a change!

    I’ll make a concerted effort to put together a comparison with actual prices!

  13. I was a bit confused with that list. That’s not actually what you buy or where you from right? I mean who would pay 90 cents or so for potatoes, when I paid 60 cents a kilo a weekend or so ago from the village shop? Mind you in Gib, they are around 90/£1.00 from the shops. No idea what they are in Morrisons apart from expensive.

    And does anyone really buy olive oil in one litre bottles? I try and catch the offers from Supersol paying around 10€ for five litres. Were you here when the price had gone up to more than 20€ for five litres? The price has certainly come down in the last few years.

    Sorry, rude me, should have introduced myself. I moved to La Axarquía more than ten years ago, but now spend time betwixt there and Gib (gib = work = money).

    • Hello “Rude You” :)

      Well, that makes two of us, as I was a bit confused by some of your comments. Forgive me if I didn´t explain so that you understood. I´ll try again.

      I made up a standard list of grocery items (that people may or may not choose to purchase) for the sake of comparison only. No, I didn´t buy them – I just wrote down the prices as I wandered around Mercadona supermarket last Saturday afternoon. I will write down the prices of the same items once again in three or four months time.

      The prices of the items I actually bought are displayed on the photograph of the till receipt.

      A 3kg bag of potatoes was priced at 2.77 € – so that´s a fraction over 92 cents per kilo, by my reckoning. And yes, I really do buy olive oil in one litre bottles, though of course, I accept that the price of a five litre bottle is cheaper, pro rata. This is surely the same with almost everything bought in bulk, isn´t it?

      I´m sure that if I bought each item individually at different supermarkets or village shops I might save the odd Euro here and there – but then I would be taking up all of my time and petrol to get there – when for me La Axarquía = no need to work = lady of leisure ;)

      • OK, thanks for the explanation. So it’s like one of those hypothetical BBC shopping baskets yes? I figured what you’d actually bought, but was curious as to whether you bought the other items from Merca regularly. Mmm, don’t you love nosing over other people’s shopping purchases.

        Sorry if I confused you – I’m not sure where though, apart from the fact that I missed out the word ‘buy’ – should have read where you buy from (not where you from).

        I wouldn’t call buying olive oil in large bottles buying in bulk – we actually use a lot. A litre bottle would last no time at all. Just over a week maybe?

        We live in different places though. I think you are in Competa, whereas I am near the coast. The white village hill towns tend to have higher prices for local shops as far as I have noticed eg Comares, Canillas, Sayalonga,etc etc but with local delivery vans and cheap shops it is pretty competitive down on the coastal strip. And luckily we don’t need to drive, we either walk or cycle so our shopping costs are revenue neutral :)

        • Exactly. A hypothetical BBC shoppìng basket, where many of the items feature regularly in everyone´s regular weekly shopping trip – including mine.

          I live in the campo, a few kilometres from Cómpeta, so wherever I go shopping, I need to take the car. The small shops and supermarkets in the village tend to be a bit more expensive than the bigger ones, as you quite rightly say.

          As far as the bigger supermarkets go, I do use Mercadona but I would say I use Lidl just as much, if not more. Both of these are down on the coast. I rarely use Eroski, Aldi or Supersol but that´s purely personal choice. I try to buy Spanish products to keep costs down. If I want any specific English products like fresh lamb, crunchy peanut butter, parsnips, tea bags or Daddies brown sauce for example, I either bring them back from the UK; get them from Iceland near Fuengirola (if I´m heading out that way) or, if we have visitors staying with us who want to make a trip to Gibraltar for the day – I go to Morrisons! The benefit of shopping in Gibraltar is that I can pay in British pounds, so no need to lose money on currency conversion.

          Thanks for your interest and comments.

  14. Ah but you can tell your hubby that the Mercadona peanut butter doesn´t taste as good as in the UK – and there is only the smooth variety and I prefer the crunchy! I look out for it in Lidl, too! ;)

    Our electricity prices are on the rise here as well – from the next bill, I think. Austerity measures are really biting hard now.

    I was very interested reading your table of comparison costs from last year. There is such a variation in costs between your respondents, isn´t there?

    One of the main fluctuations for us has been the currency exchange rate. When we moved to Spain from the UK and bought our house, we got €1.50 for each pound. Over the years that dropped to almost parity, meaning a drop in income for us of over 30%. Nowadays that has crept back up to around the €1.27 mark making things much easier financially.

  15. great post! I think you compare pretty well with us in Portugal – except for electricity! (just a warning – we used to be that cheap for electric – and then we had 3 price hikes in one year due to ‘austerity measures’ (privatisation is on its way?!) and now our electric is eye watering compared to how it was – 3x the old price per month … water is next?!)
    we only pay 45c for 5 litres of water … and I think our beer and wine is even cheaper here than yours?!
    But the thing my hubby is weeping over – you can buy peanut butter easily!! every now and then it appears in our local Lidl’s and he clears the shelf out!!!! :)
    thanks for adding all your costs to the growing lists on various blogs – it’s a great thing to compare – you may also like one of my posts from a year ago which started all of this off for me … http://algarveblog.net/2011/09/22/how-much-does-it-cost/

  16. Is this your villa? I only scanned quickly your shopping list and prices, and it seems that life there is cheaper than in Croatia (what a disgrace for us)…. I will read this post more carefully later on Marianne, and I have a pic for your challenge and all, just waiting for some time to upload it as I still have till the end of the month ;).
    Kind regards, Paula

    • Yes Paula, it´s my home. I´ve had a tremendous response to this post. People are clearly interested in cost of living comparison, all over the world!

      Look forward to seeing your CBBH Challenge photo, too. :)

    • True. II think people are always interested knowing how others do things. I know I am. Maybe that´s why, outside coffee bars, there are always so many folk “people-watching”! We just love knowing what others are up to! :)

  17. Ooh, this is a fun post! It seems like your Mercadona may be cheaper than mine, though I’ll have to look at my local shop the next time I go.

    Everyone here tells me Barcelona rent is so expensive. But my comparison point is San Francisco, which is probably twice as much. I think I’m getting a great deal; they think I’m getting scammed! It’s all relative, eh?

    • Don´t forget that Andalucía has traditionally been quite a poor region, so it´s likely that prices are a bit cheaper here.

      You´re right, of course, it´s all relative – but still fun to compare, huh?

      • Yes, that’s true. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw how little you can get a room for in Sevilla center!

        I love comparing cost of living, it’s so much fun.

  18. What a fun idea! Enjoyed the post and the comments, too. I bought gasoline for $3.04/gallon USD last week. (Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA) Then it shot way up to $3.29 within just a few days! Our internet/phone/cable TV services are bundled into $99.00 per month, but with taxes, fees and who-knows-what, the total comes to $120.00. Your eating out seems like quite a bargain!

    • That´s fantastic, thanks Jody!

      OK then, here´s how we can directly compare:

      There are 3.785 litres per 1 US gallon.

      To do the maths to convert the fuel price:

      €1.49 x 3.785 (L to gal) = €5.64
      €5.64 x 1.23 (exch.rate) = $6.94 USD/gal

      So, here in Spain, we pay the equivalent of $6.94 per US gallon for petrol. WOW!

      My internet is just that – no phone or TV services included, so I can´t directly compare that with you, but maybe someone else has the kind of package you have, so we can have a try! ;)

  19. Great post and it is so cool to compare. I find most things cheaper here than Canada, except western items. Eating out, brand names from home cost a lot more. We just filled 2 suitcases with food items from home that are hard to find or expensive.
    Thanks for the ping back :)

  20. oh my, this is fabulous!! I had started putting together a rough draft of a budget and found bits and pieces of information on a forum I have perused. and of course prices might change before we get there (almost certainly I would think) but this gives me a general idea so THANK YOU very very much!! you are a wealth of information!!

    • Oh yes, the supermarkets here vary in price too. I guess if you buy certain things from each store then it might be cheaper, but I was trying to give a snapshot of one particular store.

      Often the fresh produce is cheaper at the open-air street markets here, or at the municipal market in the town (if there is one).

  21. Nice blog and interesting post. Bueno idea. Re the water. we too have a storage tank, but our village currently has no water for the campo. Currently only providing for the village so today we have to order a private delivery to fill our tank. Will we get a reduction from town hall when they start to provide again? I think not!!!!!!

    • Hi Debs No, I don´t think you will get a reduction from the town hall either! Bear in mind that a share in the private water company where our water comes from costs around 12,000 € – so it´s much cheaper for you to get a private delivery from time to time to fill your deposito! :)

      I´m loving your blog BTW :)

  22. Hi Marianne – I’m interested in your internet, as 29 euros per month seems pretty good. Who do you use? I’ve got a phone line being put in this week and then plan to use Europa Network, as a woman up the road says she gets a fast and reliable connection from them, but I think I’ll be paying significantly more than you!

  23. I did a quick conversion from Euros to Rands on your items and I think you are a little more expensive than us. But a lot of it is relative to earnings. Would you say the prices are reasonable in Spain?

    • Actually, your comment gave me an idea to add some currency conversion to my post. I´ll do that – thanks.

      There´s no doubt that many prices have risen quite sharply recently. One the whole I think that the cost of living here is reasonable, especially compared to the UK. For example, what you might save on some costs of groceries is more than wiped out by the huge cost of Council Taxes in the UK.

  24. Holy smokes it is pricey where you are compared to over here!!! I didn’t go into that much detail as China doesn’t really have all those things. But to put it simply:

    Per year I pay about (I don’t really know I just hand over a whack of cash and my assistant takes care of it all)
    Electricity: 1000rmb
    Water: 100rmbish per year
    Internet: (unlimited the skies the limits for download I filled 1TB hard drive of movies last month) 800rmb per year
    Drinking water: 25-30rmb per month for the apartment
    Gas for cooking: 85rmb every four months
    Mobile Phone: I just put 200rmb on each month whither I need it or not that covers unlimited internet and free incoming calls from all over the world, and countless international text messaging.

    Great post and you have a stunning and beautiful home!!!

    • Thanks for that. It´s good to compare prices around the world. :)

      I try to stick to as many Spanish brands or use local seasonal produce as much I can. International brands can prove very expensive.

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    • There is ticketed entrance at this particular Mercadona store, because it´s in a busy, touristy area – so you get free parking only if you shop in the store. Most of the supermarkets in this area have free parking, whether you shop in the store or not.

      Yes, our annual water bill is only about 60 euros, but don´t forget we had to buy a share in the water company which I understand is about €12,000! Of course, that will pass with the house, if and when we move.

I´d love to hear from you, and much appreciate your comments. Thank you.

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