Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain – April 2013

Shopping trolley in Lidl supermarket, Spain

Edited to add: When you’ve read this article, make sure you also look at my up-to-date Cost of Living in Spain: (Málaga edition) for July 2015, now available HERE.

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.

Back in August and November 2012, I posted some receipts for groceries I had bought here in southern Spain, which proved to be very popular articles. 

But 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, two or three 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.

To make such direct comparison simple, I have once again used the Spanish Supermarket – Mercadona in Torrox Costa.

This month’s prices are a bit of a mixed bag, with some prices remaining stable, yet others increasing or decreasing.

So, here´s the Standard Grocery List I used previously.  The first prices are as they were in August 2012 – the second prices (in bold) are as they were last November, with this month’s prices in RED alongside.

Standard Grocery List

Milk (semi –skimmed UHT, own brand), 1 litre  0.54 €      0.54 €     0.53 €

Loaf  (white, baguette 250g)   0.45 €    0.45 €     0.45 €

Eggs (12, own brand caged, medium) 1.35  €     1.35  €     1.35  €

Chicken breasts (1kg, boneless, skinless)  5.50 €     5.50 €     5.80 €

Apples (1kg, green, Golden Delicious) 1.35 €     1.00 €     1.65 €

Oranges (1kg) 1.39 €     0.89 €    0.79 €

Bananas (1kg) 1.25 €    1.15 €     1.35 €

Potatoes (1kg) 0.92 €    0.89 €      0.96 €

Lettuce (1 head, Iceberg) 0.85 €    0.85 €    0.85 €

Water (1.5 litre bottle) 0.45 €    0.36 €     0.42 € (for a 2 litre bottle)

Domestic Beer (1 litre bottle, Cruzcampo) 1.29 €    1.20 €    1.20 €

Fish  (1kg Salmon steaks) 8.75 €    8.75 €      9.50 €

Toilet rolls (pack of 6, own brand) 1.95 €    1.95 €    1.95 €

Washing powder (Box, 35 washes, Elena brand) 5.94 €   4.87 €     4.87 €

Olive oil (1 litre, extra virgin, own brand) 3€    2.75 €   (5 litres 12.99€)    2.99 €   (5 litres 13.99 €)

Coca-Cola (1.5 litre) 1.09 €    1.00 €    1.00 €

Butter (250g, own brand) 0.98 €    0.98 €     0.98 €

Sugar (1kg, white) 0.95 €    0.93 €    0.93 €

The following two items were only introduced in November’s grocery list:

Coffee (ground, 250g, Santa Cristina)  1.79 €      1.89 €

Beef mince (Store brand, pre-packed, 1kg)   5.43 €    3.80 € (for 700g)

New items added to the list:

Red Peppers (1kg, loose)  2.29 €

Green pointed “Italian” Peppers (1kg, loose)  1.99 €

Tomatoes  (1kg, loose)  1.19 €

Currency Conversion from XE €1 = 1.31   USD
0.85   GBP
1.24   AUD
1.33   CAD
1.53   NZD
11.66   ZAR

Inside of Lidl supermarket, Algorrobo, Spain

Other household expenses

Gas:  We don´t have mains gas here – we use bottles of butane gas.   In August, a 12.5kg bottle of Butane gas cost 16.45 € – falling to 16.10 € in November.  They are now 17.15 € .   One bottle used to last (on average) 21 days (for two people… though around 4 weeks in summer) for all hot water, showers and cooking on a gas hob.  Last September we had a new gas water heater fitted and, even though it has a larger capacity for water heating than the previous one, it appears to use significantly less gas.  It´s early days yet, but the first bottle lasted five weeks (rather than three weeks).  I´ll keep my eye on how that goes.

Electricity:  For a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom detached house in the countryside with a swimming pool, we pay an average of 100 € 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 14,000 litre water deposit in which to store our house water.  Our water share gives us an allowance of up to 17,500 litres of water each week at reduced cost, though if we use more than this, 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.  The water company, Patamalara, doesn´t always sent out their bills regularly and much of the cost appears to depend on the amount of repairs that have been undertaken on the system, but over the past twelve months our annual water bill has amounted to 92 €.

Village house in Torrox pueblo, Spain

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

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

Petrol/Gasoline:  In August 1 litre of 95 octane petrol was 1.49 €.   In November 2012 the price had fallen to 1.40 €.   The price is now 1.48 €

Vehicle excise duty:  We have a Peugot 307 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:

Menú del Día: Great food at a budget price

Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain  –  August 2012

Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain – November 2012

Goats on the road: I kid you not

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58 thoughts on “Cost of Living: East of Málaga, Spain – April 2013

  1. I am currently living in Costa Rica and looking to relocate to Spain. A few of your items seem a little cheaper than here, but most are about the same. Utilities are higher there, but internet is about the same. I think a lot has to do with the area we all live in. I know in the more touristy areas here, things are more expensive. I was hoping to find out sometime about taxes though. I have been trying to research it and it’s giving me a headache! We are on social security and a pension from the States. No IRA’s or dividends. Could you point me in the right direction to help me figure this out? Thanks so much for the post. It helps us out a lot. I think I have found out about everything else, but the taxes.

    • Hi Cheri

      Thanks for your kind comment and I’m glad my post has helped you out. Have you looked at my slightly more up-to-date Cost of Living post from August 2013?

      Taxes, visas and healthcare are minefields, especially for expats – and I’m afraid I have no specific knowledge of any of them. I am British so have few restrictions placed on me as I come from a country within the European Union. You are probably best contacting the Spanish Embassy in your home country or even your home country’s Embassy in Spain.

      I can offer three websites that may be able to help you:

      http://costaconsultingbureau.com
      http://comoconsultingspain.com/services/
      http://www.spanishresidency.co

      I am not connected with any of these sites. I just know of their existence.

  2. This is great, thank you! I live in Panama right now and have been trying to get a sense of just how much more it would cost to live in Spain. The few grocery items I compared are surprisingly similar. It’s the real estate and utilities that are dramatically different. Again, thank you for taking the time to post this!

  3. Brilliant post….as a ‘newbie’ hoping to move to Spain very soon trying to get facts is very hard. Ask somebody what the cost of living in Spain is and you get a lot of ‘ it all depends’! This is just what I needed, some facts I can make some calculations on 🙂

    • Glad to be able to help out, Steve. If you have a look at the tabs of my blog, there is one called “Cost of Living” and some of the previous posts I have done are there, too. I usually do an update every 3 or 4 months, but if there’s anything specific you want to know, just give me a shout!

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  6. Good shopping list and pleased to see you go to Mercadona Marianne! However, not so pleased to see you opted for Cruzcampo over Alhambra beer :p

    This is a great reference post. Good work!

  7. I remember when Jennifer and I also did this and you all balked at our prices here in China! I should do another and see if I can be more thrifty 😉 Chicken and pork have been problematic lately and not available for purchase as much due to avian bird flu and a local problem with pigs. Maybe I should wait a few weeks… this has caused some prices to rise as things are now being imported.
    Great idea to show the conversion rates for different currencies too!

  8. Great post

    Italy is more expensive, my car tax Mini is 170.00 euro (I don’t think Mrs Sensibles diesel Peugeot was much cheaper , Petrol is around 1.78.

    Wine and coffee is cheap 🙂

  9. What a great idea Marianne I always thought it would be far more expensive in Spain, but compared with Australia it is much cheaper. I will have to come over for a holiday. What is the cost of hostels?

    • Oh yes, it’s much cheaper in Spain than Australia. I’ve just spent almost three months in Sydney and Melbourne, so I’m speaking from experience.

      Hotels and hostels vary in price here, as they do everywhere. What’s probably best is for you to use an aggregate site like http://www.trivago.com which will compare prices for you for whichever town/city you choose. There are some bargains to be had!

  10. Stunning post and photo’s Marianne and I got stuck here last night checking how the prices in Spain compares to the South African Rand and boy, if only we paid that little for a loaf a bread, we would smile for sure. In SA rand you pay R5.25 for a loaf where we now pay R10.00 or more already, so it’s actually double. Very interesting post and I love the photo’s. They are awesome! Thanks for sharing hon. 🙂 *hugs*

  11. It’s an interesting exercise, Marianne, and you’ve got me thinking of doing something similar here. Right now, our tax structure is in a state of flux, as our local governments attempt to lower deficits. This next year will be “interesting”. 😦

    • I guess it can’t be worse than the state of the economy here in Spain, John! What a state the world has got itself into – and most of it comes down to spending more than they have.

      It would be interesting to compare prices around the world 🙂

    • Funnily enough I flew back to the UK last week for a few days and I was shocked to see that Spanish prices seem to have mostly caught up with English prices. When we first moved to Spain, eight years ago, prices were much cheaper here – probably around two-thirds of the costs of the UK.

      Sadly, the exchange rate for changing our British pounds into Euros make things much more expensive for us, too 😦

  12. This is an interesting exercise. Looking at your costs, I must say things are really expensive here. But noticeable electricity is very expensive in winter with underfloor heating and constant lights and in summer it goes down remarkable.

    • Hey, it’s great living here in Spain, but why do you think that most years, during our winter months, we head out to Australia and New Zealand? We love it out there, despite your escalating prices and the terrible exchange rate for our British pounds! 🙂

    • I totally agree, Bella, and I love visiting (especially) outdoor food markets, too 🙂

      When we were in SE Asia last year, we found so many items we had no idea what they were!

  13. Surprised that prices of most stuff are mostly the same as here. I thought perhaps the added transport costs would make goods more expensive. Perhaps some goods are but not these basics.

    • That’s good to hear, Linda. I can check some other prices if you like – let me know what you want me to look at 🙂

      It would be interesting to see if prices across the range are similar.

  14. This was a lot of work! I like the photo of the housefront and all the plants. Are the plants over the windows blocking light?

    • This is a photo of one of the village houses in the nearby village of Torrox. There are a few houses together here, and they are all covered with flowers like this one.

      And yes, the plants must be blocking out the light, but more importantly they will be keeping the sunlight out of the house – keeping it cooler.

      Thanks for your kind comment Trish, much appreciated 🙂

  15. What, no wine on your shopping list? Isn`t that essential in all that heat? Anyway, I want to move there. Heat, lower cost of living, and the possibility of cheaper great wine sound great to me.

    • I’ve considered putting wine on the list – and perhaps I should 🙂 In general you can get a decent bottle of Spanish red for under 5 euros 🙂

      One of our favourites is from Lidl supermarket and costs € 2.69 🙂

      • Care to share the name of the LIdl wine? I can never seem to get a decent one there. They give me what I call my “Lidl” headache. Only its generally a Big Lidl headache 😦

        • Cimarosa Valle Central Cabinet Sauvignon 2011 from Chile. Their Cimarosa Australian Shiraz is also quite acceptable and a similar price here 🙂

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