Cost of Living in Spain: August 2013

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.

Shopping trolley in Mercadona supermarket, SpainMany people find themselves reading my blog because they have searched for the term “Cost of living in Spain“.  In August 2012, I posted my first article about the cost of living here in the Axarquía region, east of Málaga, and have continued to write updates every four months throughout the past year.  They have proved to be some of my most popular posts. Of course, all the information is relative.  What is right for one person will be totally different for another. We have found that living like locals – eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, buying Spanish brands and eating out in bars and restaurants full of Spaniards, has enhanced our experience of moving abroad. If you move to Spain and your choice is to buy only international branded food and drink, or dine out at tourist restaurants, then your cost of living will be considerably more expensive than mine. Bear in mind that the costs I will publish are relevant to me, living here on the eastern Costa del Sol.  Prices in other areas of Spain may be different. Competa village, Spain


We moved to Spain eight years ago, and for the first twelve months rented a townhouse in the village of Frigiliana.  We wanted to experience a full year, during every season, before we committed to purchasing our current home.  I would recommend that course of action to anyone considering moving abroad. Most people know about the financial crisis affecting Spain at the moment, so I wont go into the price of houses or apartments.  Search Google for estate agents in Spain if you´re interested, and you´ll find out far more information than I can give you here.  If you do decide to purchase, you will most likely need a sizeable deposit and may find difficulty obtaining a mortgage, should you need one. Bear in mind also the fluctuating currency exchange rate between your home currency and the Euro if you need to transfer large amounts of money into Spain.  Fortunately for us, when we bought our house, the exchange rate was  €1.51 for each British pound sterling (£1).  Today’s rate would only give  €1.16 for each British pound – a considerable difference. You can find a lovely apartment to rent, with 2-3 bedrooms, 1-2 bathrooms and a communal pool, on the coast but away from the main tourist area, for €450- €500 per month (on an 11 month contract).  In more rural areas it would cost less, or in urban/touristy areas the prices would be higher. It’s easy to find a detached villa with a private pool and a large garden for €1000 a month (and often less). So, when you compare the price of some rented accommodation, in a not very nice area of many cities in the UK (for example), you can see the attraction for people wanting a cheaper option, living in Spain. MY TOP TIPS:  It´s only when you are actually here in Spain that you can discover the full selection of rental options that are available.  Almost everyone you meet knows someone who has an apartment to rent, and many of these will never find their way onto any English language website.  If you´re serious about renting a place in Spain, get yourself over here and start asking around. You could also try haggling over the cost of the rent – the worst they can say is ¨No”! Cepsa butane gas bottle


Like many places in the world, the cost of household utility bills has risen considerably over the past few years. Electricity:  For a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom detached house in the countryside with a swimming pool, we pay around €100 per month.   The cost of consumption for us in winter is for heating and lighting, whereas in summer it’s for lighting and the swimming pool pump running for 8 hours a day.  Added to that, we also have air conditioning units in the living room and master bedroom, though we use them sparingly – preferring to open windows during early morning and late evening.  Sometimes though, especially in July and August, you just have to put the air-con on! Gas:  We are not connected to a piped gas supply here, so we use bottles of butane gas.  This is a common feature throughout many areas in this part of Spain. A year ago, a 12.5kg bottle of Butane gas cost  €16.45.  They are now  €17.50.   For us, one bottle lasts (on average) three to four weeks for two people,  although this could be longer in summer, (depending on how many visitors we have), for all hot water, showers and cooking on a gas hob. Last September we had a new, much more efficient gas water heater fitted and, even though it has a larger capacity for water heating than the previous one, it uses significantly less gas. Water: We are not connected to mains water because we live in the countryside, 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 in the summer months.  Our water company, Patamalara, send out their bills every two months, and some of the cost appears to depend on the amount of repairs that have been undertaken on the system.   Over the past twelve months our annual water bill has amounted to  €97. IBI or Council Tax: Paid yearly to the local council.  This year’s bill is  €337 – the same as it has been for the past five years.  Bear in mind, we don’t have a rubbish collection here as we live in the countryside, so we have to take all our household waste to one of the collection centres in a local village – but this is no problem as we take it when we are on our way somewhere.  When we lived in the UK, we used to pay four times this amount – over eight years ago! Telephone:  Living in a mountainous area of the countryside, Telefónica (the largest fixed phone and ADSL operator in Spain) are unable to supply us with land-line telecommunications.  We therefore rely on Skype (via the internet) for most calls (which are free to other Skype users, or by using credit, if not) and have a pay-as-you-go mobile phone with Movistar (also owned by Telefonica). Internet:  We use a wireless internet option costing €29 (inclusive of IVA tax) per month, with unlimited downloads (within reason).  Speeds up to 3 Mbps. House and Contents Insurance: Based on the re-building costs of the house, including contents, we pay €227 per annum with Linea Directa. Peugot 308 saloon


The cost of motoring in Spain has risen considerably over the past few years. The price of Diesel (gasoil) at the Repsol garage at Torrox Costa is  €1.42 per litre. Unleaded petrol (gasolina sin plomo) 95 Octane is  €1.52 per litre. As in most countries, branded petrol stations such as Repsol are often more expensive for petrol and diesel compared to supermarkets and hypermarkets such as Carrefour. New cars are expensive in Spain, and even though advertising billboards might seem to offer competitive prices (for example using Plan PIVE – a government help scheme offered when trading in a ten-year-old car for a brand new one), the reality is that many special deals are often only available when taking out expensive finance agreements. We found this out for ourselves this summer when we changed our 9 year-old Peugot 307 for a six-month-old Peugot 308. Cash is NOT king around these parts, it seems. Second-hand vehicles (often with high mileage) hold their values well in Spain, making a comparable model of the same age in the UK (for example) much cheaper. Car tax (Impuesto vehiculos traccion mechanica) is based on fiscal horsepower (which bears no resemblance to the mechanical horsepower of the vehicle) and is a means by which the taxation is calculated.  For our Peugot 308 the cost is €51 per annum. Our car insurance for an almost new Peugot 308 1.6 E-HDI (with Linea Directa – the Spanish equivalent of Direct Line in the UK), for fully comprehensive cover with legal assistance included, and an excess of €150 costs €570 per year. There are some toll roads on the western Costa del Sol, but fortunately none in the Axarquía, east of Málaga. ALSA bus, east of Malaga


Spain’s public transport system is relatively cheap and reliable. Trains: Because of the mountainous terrain there are no trains running through La Axarquía, though you can catch a train from Málaga to many other Spanish cities, including Granada, Seville, Córdoba, and MadridI can certainly recommend the AVE train (Spain´s equivalent of the Bullet Train) as an alternative to budget flights, with favourable prices being found in advance, online, via state-owned train operator, RENFE. Buses:  The main bus operator here is Alsina Graells (ALSA for short).  Their website is in English, and from here you can study bus schedules and purchase tickets in advance of your trip.  There are generally plenty of buses between towns and cities, and they usually leave on time.  Buses may be infrequent to remote villages in the Axarquía, with often only one bus per day or none at all at the weekend.  The cost of a bus ticket with ALSA,  from Nerja to Málaga, (approx. 60 kms) one way is  4.43 € or €8.02 for a return trip. Glass of wine near the Alhambra, Granada


Eating out:   Menu del Día (menu of the day, usually at lunch time) 3 course meal, including bread and one glass of beer, wine or a bottle of water) 8 – 10 € Evening dinner for 2: (three courses) at a mid-priced restaurant, including a glass of wine  40 € Tapassmall beer or glass of wine including a tapa 1-2 € (depending on whether it’s a tourist area or not). Cinema ticket  (International release, Yelmo cinema, Malaga)   8.60 € Round of GOLF  (2 players + buggy, Baviera Golf course at La Caleta de Vélez)  97 € Cigarettes (pack of 20, Marlboro)  4.75 € Food shopping


This is the Standard Grocery List I have published previously.  The first price shown is as it was in August 2012, with this month’s prices in RED alongside.  If there is only one price indicated, this is a new introduction to the list.  For the sake of comparison,  I used the Spanish Supermarket – Mercadona. Milk (semi–skimmed UHT, own brand), 1 litre  0.54 €      0.59 € Loaf  (white, baguette 250g)   0.45 €    0.45 € Loaf (white, Bimbo brand, 460g 100% natural)   1.49 € Butter (250g, own brand) 0.98 €     1.05 € Sugar (1kg, white) 0.95 €    0.93 € Coffee (ground, 250g, Santa Cristina)  1.79 €      1.89 € Eggs (12, own brand caged, medium) 1.35 €    1.35  € Olive oil (1 litre, extra virgin, own brand) 2.75 €   (5 litres 12.99€)    3.35 €   (5 litres 15.50 €) Rice  (1kg, long grain, own brand)   0.71 € Pasta  (1kg, own brand)  0.79 € Pasta  (500g, wholewheat)  0.99 € Tinned tuna  (6 x 80g, own brand)  3.39 € Chicken breasts (1kg, boneless, skinless, packaged))  5.50 €     5.80 € Pork chops (1kg)   4.60 € Beef mince (Store brand, pre-packed, 1kg)  5.43 €    3.80 € (for 700g) Fish  (1kg Salmon steaks) 8.75 €    13.50 € Fish  (1kg Dorada, Gilt-head bream)   6.95 € Apples (1kg, green, Golden Delicious) 1.35 €     2.00 € Oranges (1kg) 1.39 €     1.19 € Bananas (1kg) 1.25 €     1.29 € Potatoes (1kg) 0.92 €     1.25 € Lettuce (1 head, Iceberg) 0.85 €      0.85 € Red Peppers (1kg, loose)  2.29 €   1.95 € Green pointed “Italian” Peppers (1kg, loose)  1.99 €    1.35 € Tomatoes  (1kg, loose)  1.19 €     0.99 € Coca-Cola (1.5 litre bottle) 1.09 €    1.09 € Water (1.5 litre bottle) 0.45 €      0.42 € (for a 2 litre bottle) Domestic Beer (1 litre bottle, Cruzcampo) 1.29 €    1.25 € Imported beer (6 x 25cl bottles Heineken)   3.05 € Bottle wine (medium priced)   3.00 € to 3.50 € Colgate toothpaste (100 ml)  1.75 € Pantene shampoo  (300 ml)   3.00 € Toilet rolls (pack of 6, own brand) 1.95 €    1.95 € Washing powder (Box, 35 washes, Elena brand) 5.94 €    4.87 € Currency Conversion from XE €1 = 1.34   USD 0.85     GBP 1.48     AUD 1.40     CAD 1.70     NZD 13.70   ZAR So, tell me – HOW DO PRICES COMPARE WHERE YOU LIVE? Whilst you’re here, you might be interested in these articles: Cost of Living in Spain Series: Watching The Currency Market When Buying And Selling Spanish Property AVE: Taking the Fast Track from Málaga to Madrid


121 thoughts on “Cost of Living in Spain: August 2013

  1. Hi, great blog, gives a real insight.
    retireing in 18 months, hopefully to a similar area, I was wondering if you have any info: on how much to offer against the advertised price of a villa, don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with a vendor.
    thanks again for the great blog.

    • House prices have been depressed for quite a while here. I sou;don’t worry about upsetting a vendor – just go for it. They can always say no!

      Thanks for your kind words, Richard. Much appreciated 🙂

      • Hi Marianne, i lived in Spain for 20 years but am now back in Britain due to illness of my mum, i had a Spanish residency card when i was in Spain but now it has run out, would i have any trouble in having it renewed when i move back to Nerja in a few years time. Many thanks, Janice.

        • Hmmm … now there’s a question! I guess once your details are on record, it would probably make it easier for you to renew, though of course, the rules have changed in the past few years. They now look at income (to make sure you can support yourself), you won’t automatically qualify for healthcare … and then there is the thorny question of the UK referendum!!

  2. Nowadays in Spain things are relatively cheap. The food is not as cheap as in German but it is not so expensive, too. Moving to Spain is a good decision. Spain had some economic trouble but they coped with most of them. So …. pack your things 🙂 Greetings!

  3. Hi Marianne. I have just took early retirement and will have an annual pension of 16000 Euros as well as a small lump sum. My wife doesn’t retire for another ten years so we will be relying totally on my income alone. We dont drink and dont have expensive tastes so do you think we would we be able to buy a small 2 bedroom home and live relatively comfortable over there? Thanks Brian

    • Hi Brian – I presume you mean to buy a house first, and then manage on your pension? (Rather than have to pay a mortgage out of your pension?) If so, then I have good news for you – I’m sure, given the circumstances you have outlined, that you will be able to live comfortably over here 🙂

      • Hi Marianne. Thanks for that. Yes buying the house would be the first step. My other main concern is health insurance as both my wife and I have not reached retirement age. Any suggestions?

        • Hmmm … that can be a problem. You could take out private medical insurance, though I think there is a scheme where you pay a fixed figure each month to the Junta de Andalucia and you are then included within the Spanish National Health system.

        • Hi Marianne. Thanks for the invaluable information once again. I’m sure you are inundated with requests such as this. I’m so glad I managed to visit your wonderful website the other day and the information you provide helps to alleviate some of the worries and concerns people such as myself may have before they “take the big step”. Can I get in touch with you again when we are about to take “the step”. Thanks Brian

          Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2015 06:35:28 +0000 To:

  4. Marvelous site! Very well done! I can retire at 55 (in 5 years) on a £9000pa pension increasing to £12000pa 5 years later at 60. I have enough savings to buy a finca in “o campo” which are my favourite parts of spain, as well as a brand new car that should see me out. I am encouraged by your site that my dream seems do-able, friends suggest working until I’m 60 but that seems to me like another 5 years of waking up to the alarm and 5 years off the time until I pop my clogs. They say I couldn’t afford many holidays but in reality most holidays are treats to ourselves to recover from work. This site has given me encouragement

    • Hi we are thinking of moving out to Frigliana next year. Scared but ooh so excited. It is great to read all the comments from folk who have been on the same journey that we are just starting. You don’t normally regret the things you do half as much as those that you miss doing- if that makes sense? Xx

  5. Very interesting site, thank you for all your hard work on it. We are thinking of Spain like a lot of others. The new Pension will be starting soon and I am sure it will make a difference. I am also wondering if there will be a change of rules regarding DLA in the future. I have seen other information on this but it is not up to date. Do you know of a site for this? Keep up the good work. Lizzyann

    • A great group I would recommend if you are on Facebook is “Citizens Advice Bureau Spain” – you need to apply to join the group first (which is soon approved). I’m sure they would be able to help you 🙂

  6. hi marianne, just came across your great site. very good im fair skinned i would like to know where is a good place in spain to move to, a location with a max temp. of 20 to 22 WOULD BE GREAT.AND VERY LITTLE RAIN.

    • AH …. let’s see …. for those temperatures you could move to the top of Monte Mulhacen in the Sierra Nevada mountains, near Granada. There might not be much rain but there would be plenty of snow!

      Other than that …. you are looking at 30-35C during the summer months – so I would suggest you do what the rest of us do – stay in the shade! 🙂

      • marianne, thanks for your reply, what about canary islands, i hear feurventura is windy but what about the temp. any ideas on this,

        • Yes, the Canary Islands are more temperate, year round, due to the sea (though as you say, windy). Have you thought about spending at least the winter months in southern mainland Spain – it’s very pleasant here then.

        • A low of around 13C during the day (when it’s cloudy) to a high of 20-22C. (We’ve often eaten Christmas lunch out on the terrace!). Overnight temperatures are usually 6-8C where we are, a few kilometres inland, but down on the coast it would be a few degrees more as the sea would help to keep the night-time temperatures a little higher.

  7. Spanish’s coast is very nice place to live. In the white coast in Alicante province there are a lot of tourist people also, specially in Torrevieja (Alicante). Torrevieja is very nice, an international beach city with tourist people specially of other countries of Europe, perfect to life, and there are a lot of nice and cheap apartments to live.

  8. I currently live in Thailand (been here for 12 years) but plan on a move to Spain sometime next year. Weirdly, although many people seem to think Thailand is cheap, in many instances it’s not and I’ve found Spain to be much cheaper for many products I buy. The only thing I think is more expensive is rent. I currently pay about 225 euros a month for a one bedroom apartment in Bangkok. For where i want to move to in Spain (small town on the coast), for a similar sized apartment, although slightly more modern, I’d be paying around 500 euros a month so substantially more.

    Food, eating out, beer (I don’t drink much but did compare :), etc., however, are around the same prices as Bangkok or, in the case of many groceries at the supermarket, cheaper in Spain. I also find Spanish fruits and vegetables to often be fresher than here in Thailand.

  9. What an interesting site Marianne, I just came across your writings by chance as I was “traveling” to find a better place on earth to keep my feet warm. Living here in Canada (just east of Toronto, Ontario) I am tired of this never ending winter this time. Even today, April 1/14 I had to wear boots, scarves, a toque and mitts on my morning walk along the lakefront.
    I have not been to Spain proper, but to Gibraltar and Tenerife, and have spent many winters in the Algarve in Portugal. Being retired for many years now, and still having my German citizenship I am thinking of going back to Europe, not only because life seems to be more affordable there but more diversions in culture and places to travel to. The one item that does not seem to get much attention here is about language, so I am curious how one could adapt and manage life there speaking only English and German. I am sure there is no problem within the touristy areas, but what about communicating in more local set-ups, like shopping, restaurants etc? Also, do you think it would it be fairly easy to find a small furnished place for a longer stay (for just myself)?

    Thank you for all this valuable info!
    Cheers, Norbert

  10. Marianne thank you for your fabulous information on prices etc. We are considering moving to Spain, Zurgena to be exact. We have had many trips over the years to various parts of Spain but not Zurgena. The cost of electricity is a concern though as some say €100 a month with hot tub, pool and air con and others say €30 a month, which is a big difference. We would keep a place in the UK as well just in case it doesn’t work out and also we do not want to become citizens, as that seems to be fraught with problems now. I have signed up for your updates and once again thank you very much for all your hard work.

  11. Yes thankl you sooooo much very detailed and informative. We are moving to spain in june/july/august /sept time this year 2014. I have a job in gibraltar and are desperatley trying to find somewhere to rent? We have to 2 dogs and love the rural/country life in the mountains… so if anyone knows any where?????? Needs to be within 30 mins commuting to gib as i know its a nightmare to cross the border in morning even on foot !!! We are looking around San Roque etc area would love a country house with a little bit of land not much… just enough to grow the veggies and have my dogs and chickens if posss…… if anyone can help that would be great????!!!! xxx

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  13. What an amazing post! I shall be sure to keep re-visiting it to see how you guys are faring. I am from USA myself. I remember returning to Madrid after a week in Valencia last year while travelling around Spain, and feeling a gaping hole in my heart. Needless to say, I intend to travel there again next year, and eventually move there permanently in a few years.

  14. Bonjour! I love your blog-very honest and informative. I live in SW France (for 10 years now) moved from the USA. Ive really love living here, we found and renovated a vineyard stone farmhouse on a lake, our kids have great education, and the people are super nice…BUT…it is just toooo expensive here to survive! (my husband has a pretty good job!) the food tax just went up from 5% to 7%, alcohol has gone up from 19.6 to 20%, income and housing/land tax are just too high! health insurance…forget about it! (we paid around 6,500 euros p/yr for basic health insurance, and a “top up” insurance is always needed. So, that is how I found your blog! Considering moving to Spain, warmer weather, better prices! For those of you considering moving to France…DONT! : )

    • Hola! OOHHH sorry to hear that. Just make sure that before you move your job situation is secure. Unemployment is running at 25% here. Otherwise – it’s a great place to live 🙂

      Good to hear from you!

  15. What a fantastic web site! Kudos to you. My wife and I have been toying with the idea of moving from San Diego, CA to Malaga. She’s traveled the world but except for Canada and Mexico, I haven’t been out of the USA. I have a few health issues (nothing life threatening), but still, they require frequent trips to the doctor’s office. I’ve been surfing the net, searching for a reputable health insurance provider, but it seems really complicated and confusing. Most policies have a high deductible–$2,000 or more. I have no problem with this because it’s not the $2,000 bill I’m concerned with, it’s the $50,000 bill for something major. Any thoughts or suggestions where my wife and I can get affordable, yet comprehensive health insurance? Again, your web site is awesome!

    • From what I understand, some regions are now offering a ‘pay in’ system.. You have to initially take out private insurance… I posted a question on Citizens advice Bureau Spain, and got some good responses. Alternatively as you are a writer, you could go the Autonomo route and pay a monthly fee which also covers access to healthcare..

      • Marianne, I understand that a Visa allows you to live in Spain for 90 days. What happens after that? Do you apply for citizenship? Legal residency? What does one need to do to legally remain in Spain and buy a property?

        • Daniel, I’m afraid I have no experience or knowledge of needing a Visa to live in Spain. Being a British citizen myself, I can freely move and live anywhere within the European Union without restriction.

          However, you might be able to discover the information you seek from these two sources:

          1. Family in Spain website (run by Lisa who is very helpful) have lots of information about visas, healthcare and the general paperwork needed for a move to Spain.

          2. The Wagoner family, are Americans now living in southern Spain

          Good luck in your search and let me know if I can assist you further.


    • try CHUBBS insurance …… is an international insurance used by people that live worldwide for their jobs.

  16. Great post, so detailed. I like the way you have individualised each food item. You were very lucky to move to Spain when the £ was so strong against the Euro too. 🙂

    • Thanks Andrew. Yes, we were very fortunate to buy the house when the exchange rate was so favourable 🙂 Currency exchange fluctuations have varied by 30% since we moved here!

      Happy travels 🙂

  17. Huge gratitude for this informative blog entry! We are looking to relocate from Canada and have been comparing lifestyles here and in some Caribbean/ Central American countries so I really appreciate your cost of living break down. For comparison sake, here is what a break down of our cost of living (couple w/out children):

    Household income = 42% is paid to the gov’t for income tax + deductions for social programs such as unemployment insurance
    Rent = $1600* / mo (for 2 bedroom townhouse in city suburbs w/ attached garage and very small yard, includes strata fees for garbage collection & snow removal/yard maintenance)
    Total Utilities (electricity, gas, water) = $250/ mo
    Home Insurance (covering up to $30k contents) – $35/mo
    High speed internet = $100 / mo
    Mobile Phones (2) = $170 / mo
    Groceries = $600 / mo
    Dining Out: mid-range restaurant 3 course meal for 2 incl 1 glass of wine each = $100
    Avg. bottle of wine 750ml= $25
    Gasoline = varies from province to province, $1.20 – $1.50+/Litre
    Car Insurance = (again, varies from province to province) where we live we pay an avg.rate in the country. with no penalties on record, new vehicle $150/ mo.
    Tickets to movie theatre = $14 per person
    Cocktails at a bar = $5 – $12ea
    Inner City Transit = $2.75 per ticket for 90min of travel time on bus or train, monthly unlimited pass $100
    City Parking (Metered) = $5 – $10 / hr ( we have the most expensive parking in Canada for downtown)
    Downtown Parking reserved spot in lot = $300 / mo

    * We live in Calgary, a ‘major city centre’ of the province of Alberta where the economy is very good with ample, high paying jobs. The cost of housing across Canada varies wildly from region to region and is not in accordance with wages or economy. For example, a similar property in Vancouver, BC would rent for $3200/mo and wages there pay 1/2 to 1/3 less than Calgary!
    For an amusing look at housing prices, check out this link: This satirical blog compares the real estate values of properties of the most expensive region of Canada (Vancouver) to different regions of Canada and other countries. Enjoy!

    • Glad to be of assistance, Janine.

      I always find it interesting to compare the cost of living around the world. Thanks so much for sharing your costs here.

      Whilst costs are much lower here, wages are lower too and jobs hard to come by – so there are always lots of things to consider 🙂

      Hope you manage to find your perfect balance – wherever you decide to settle.

      Happy New Year 🙂

    • I live in St. Louis Missouri and my home is paid for as I have lived here for 22 years. I pay about $275 per month for gas heat, water, electric, sewer. The home phone attached to the plug and the internet and the tv are about $60 per month. The real estate taxes are $3000 per year and the personal property for me alone is $66 but my car is 14 years old and has 82,000 miles on it. It is not possible to make use of public transportation in the suburbs where I live as the system does not work for my location. It would take 3 hours with a metro train and bus combo to get to work one way. “no way”! The house insurance is $1000 per year for a complete rebuild with a $1500 deductible. The car insurance for my old car is $235 per year but is only a state required policy for the benefit of the “other” driver and would not fix or replace my car in the event of an accident. My children are 35 and 32 years old and are completely off my pay-role “at this time”. I spend about $35 per week on groceries for 2 people but we do not do booze nor do we smoke and we do not eat much meat. We are not getting skinny though. “I wish”. Unfortunately I do not have personal health insurance as it would cost $551 per month and I cannot afford that!! This is a major failing of living in the U.S.A. !!! No affordable health plan for my age of 60. I was happy to pay for my personal doctor visit’s of $70 and blood teat of $130 and medical of $40 per month when Obama are did not exist. Now the government forces me to have the $551 per month health coverage and then they will make me pay it back at tax time next year. I am really mad at this system. My best friend lives I Toronto and I know everything is high cost and even though her condo in Richmond Hill is paid for she pays $800 a month for home care fee and utilities. This is before taxes and insurance and all the other cost to live. It is crazy. Well I have been all over Spain and love the easy life style in the south east of Spain. Cadiz is one of my favorite towns that is easy to get around in and on the water and has great cheap tapas and friendly people. A 2 bedroom apartment is about $400 – 600 per month with everything included. and on the bus route.

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  21. I lived and married in Gibraltar many years ago and often wanted to return, especially to spend more time in Adalucia, just loved it. I now live in Perth, Western Australia, retired. I note that my retirement income of around AUD$55,000 pa is close to the average monthly wage there. But the cost of living here is expensive (one of the most expensive in the’s all those natural resources the world wants!), so a 6-12 month extended stay in, say, Granada would be a breeze for us (no mortgages or other payments to make, debt free). I liked your piece on the AVE to Madrid and would really like to do that. Hope to get to Spain next year and re-experience all that the south has to offer. Like your website!

    • Hi Chris

      Thanks of getting in touch and pleased you like my blog 🙂

      I know how expensive Australia has become over recent years in particular, as I usually spend three months there each year. I think Perth is one of the most expensive cities in Australia because of the mineral industry there, isn’t it?

      (We keep our costs down by housesitting there and in New Zealand during our winter months!)

      Like you, we live a comfortable mortgage and debt free life. You will easily be able to enjoy yourselves on your retirement income during a year in Spain.

      I hope you do get to try out the AVE train. There are routes throughout the country including Cordoba, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona – so plenty destinations to choose from.


  22. I’m heading over to Spain in January with the insight of possibly moving there later in the year. Its pretty daunting knowing which area to research and then getting all the relevant information. Can you help with the banking system – Interest rates and taxes, or are bank accounts ‘tax free’. Also does the climate vary dramatically from north to south. Thank you for your invaluable information.

    • First thing you need to know before you an open a bank account in Spain is that you will need an NIE number (details here:

      We’ve found here that most banks have staff that speak good English and can help you with most queries.

      I’m afraid bank accounts are not tax or charge free.

      The weather is much wetter in the north of Spain, making the landscape greener, of course. Central Spain (including Madrid) and many inland cities get very cold in winter, yet baking hot in summer.

      The best advice I can give you is make sure you do your research before moving here and ensure your finances are in place.

      Good luck, Michele 🙂

  23. Hi Marianne. Yes I did what thousands of others do and put in the ‘How much… ‘ etc question. Came up trumps with your blog. I love the easy style all very well laid out and precise. I know you cover the subject and it is mentioned on lots of blogs about the various amount that ibi?[council tax] can be, is there some portal to check what it is in different areas? I have looked at a very useful site

    That gives and overview of lots of towns and cities around the world? against my currency £ and I think others as well.

    I have signed up for your weekly newsletters. So add me to your fan list. Thanks mark

    • Hi Mark

      Thanks for getting in touch. Hmmm ….. not sure I know if there is an IBI comparison chart. I’ll try to find out from an estate agent friend and get back to you. They are usually set by the local town hall, but I don’t get the impression it is worked out in quite the same way as it might be back in the UK!

      Yes, I’ve had a look at numbeo – and whilst it does give an overview – I try to give lots more information in my posts. I find it a bit too general.

      Thanks for signing up to receive free updates – glad to have you on board 🙂

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  25. Thanks Marianne for this, it is very helpful even though it will be a couple of years yet before we move to Spain, this information is a great way to help plan ahead. Thanks again, Roy

    • Hey Roy -you’re welcome! Long time no hear!

      I’ll be updating this Cost of Living report next year – it’s a useful exercise for me too 🙂

      When are you heading back this way again?

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  27. I have lived in Gandia, Valencia for over 25 years, I travel all over the world on business as I am a FIFA licensed players’ agent, and I honestly believe Spain is by far one of the cheapest places to live (well) in the WORLD, if you wish to live a more or less occidental existence, that is. I also have a house in Montevideo, Uruguay, and although the house is rented out at the moment, taxes and amenities are far more expensive than Spain. Clothing, eating out, beer, wine, fuel, are all more expensive (are usually no where near as good). Countries like Colombia, Costa Rica can be cheaper, IF you live like the locals, however, the moment you go into a western type supermaket (of which there are many for the wealthy locals), or a decent restaurant, then you will more than likely be paying (far) more than you would in Spain…. which I still find amazingly cheap and incredible value.

    • Thanks for that insight, Clive. It’s good to know we have chosen a great place to live – for many reasons! Spain is not only more affordable than the UK, for example, I love it’s diversity – beaches, mountains, plains, modern and ancient architecture, friendly people, good food …. yes, I could go on and on.

      Your comment is much appreciated, thank you.

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  31. I live inland of the Costa Del Sol and food prices are pretty similar but rental prices are very low at the moment. My old house, a 4 bed detached villa with private pool, was 475€ a month. We just moved to a 4 bed detached farmhouse with a 2 bed holiday apartment and an acre of land plus a huge pool and it is 900€ a month….bargain hey?

  32. I love this post and I agree completely with you about eating like locals which is what we do when we’re in Turkey – some of the Turkish restaurants aren’t particularly scenic but the food is usually great and cheap

  33. It’s always interesting to me to read about life elsewhere, so thanks for this comprehensive report. I’m forwarding it to my sister-in-law in Melegis (Lecrin Valley) to see how your costs compare to hers. I hope your summer has been fabulous!

    • I’d be interested to see what your sister-in-law has to say, Patricia. I’m not sure if the Lecrin Valley would be affected by prices in Granada city or not.

      We’ve had a wonderful summer here on the south coast of Spain. A couple of degrees less heat than the normal average, making it just perfect. How about you?

      • This summer in Toronto has been lovely too, for the most part. It is certainly drawing to an end with perfect weather – I like it hot! My husband and I are leaving for France in two weeks and will spend a month in Nice. I am having a lively book launch party on Oct. 4th in the Antibes Bookshop for my new novel, The Promise of Provence. It promises to be great fun and I’m counting the days to get back there! I’m not even going to suggest what the cost of living is in that part of the world! Even so, as you suggest, by shopping wisely at the wonderful daily markets and eating at small local cafés, one can happily stick to a budget. Travel doesn’t have to break the bank!

        • It’s been a while since I visited Nice. I recall having a glass of champagne in the Negresco hotel – OH BOY was that expensive!! Gorgeous chandeliers though 🙂 We also took the chance to hope along the coast to Monaco. It was only a couple of weeks before the F1 Grand Prix hit town, so excitement was building. Happy days, indeed.

          I hope your book launch part is everything you want it to be, Patricia. 🙂

  34. That’s a ton of great information, thank you. It’s got us thinking about doing the same here in Órgiva – be interesting to see what the differences are, if any. It’s hard here to get a glass of wine for less that €2, for example. Although you can get a litre if Larios gin for €9.99!

    • You’re welcome. Yes, I agree about a bottle of gin, though it’s not something I buy as I can’t stand the stuff!

      For 1.50 – 2 euros in most places around here you can get a glass of wine and a nice choice of tapas included 🙂

  35. Thanks for this post Marianne. I think I was probably one of those who used those search terms and stumbled across your blog last year 🙂 As someone who is planning a move to Spain at some point, hopefully within the next couple of years, this is very useful information.

    • It’s a lot of work putting together a post like this, as you might imagine! Glad to know it’s appreciated. Thanks for letting me know, Sue. Makes it all worthwhile 🙂

  36. Cost of living has been very much on my mind, and I enjoy reading your posts. We’ve been focusing on shopping at farmers markets and/or buying as local as possible, pasture/free range, organic produce and grocery items. It’s not as convenient but we seem to be spending about the same, although I did today in desperation pay $21.50 per kg for organic mushrooms. I only bought 6 though. We are lucky living in the middle of the city to be able to do this, although we but less and cook more to make the most of it. Our energy costs are going up, but we’ve adjusted our consumption patterns to alleviate it slightly. Ditto for insurances – we’ve mitigated the costs by increasing our excess payments. We’re fortunate living in an apartment that we don’t pay for water. On the other hand we do pay for car parking. We spend over all about the same as ever but are constantly working on keeping balance as there’s been very little change to our income.

    • I guess most of us with a fixed budget have had to adjust our “eating out” for more “eating at home”. Same with electricity and gas consumption. It’s the same around the world, EllaDee.

      Thanks for throwing in your 2 cents worth 🙂

  37. Great list Marianne. My electricity has doubled in the last year in Seville. Used to pay about 30 or 40 euros a month now near 70. My rent has dropped though, from 700 to 600, our Landlord is a decent chap and he dropped it when he found out my wife was preggers and she wasn’t working (I did mention we might be looking to move as well, which might have helped).

    Life in Seville is relatively cheap, like you say if you shop in the right places and know the most economical places to eat out then you can live well. Not sure what it’s going to be like with a baby surviving on a teacher’s wage but will keep you informed.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Our electricity bill has gone up by about a third since last year, but certainly not doubled. 😦 That’s bad news for you, Baz, especially with a little one on the way. Good of your landlord to help out by dropping the rent, though – that will have evened things out a bit.

      I would be very interested to know how you get on with your bills over the next year or so.

      When’s the baby due?

        • Awww how wonderful! I wish you and your wife all the best 🙂

          Still need to ask you something, Baz, but can’t DM you on Twitter as you don’t follow me. Are you on FB?

    • Thanks for saying so, Mrs Gillies – much appreciated.

      I know that this report may not be relevant or of interest to everyone, but clearly, as my blog is about living in Spain, then the cost of living is something that affects anyone who does.

      Whenever I travel, I’m always interested to know how much things cost in other parts of the world.

      • Definitely! It is so helpful in knowing how long you can stay if you’re just planning on visiting. It is also helpful in the options that you give, it’s hard to know about the tourist vs. the local if you’re a tourist! When i travel i much prefer eating and experiencing like a local.

    • I know that the Cost of Living in Spain is a phrase regularly searched for, so I’m just responding by providing a resource for those people.

      There are a number of Cost of Living sites but on a global scale, with just figures inserted for each country around the world for the same items. As someone who actually lives in Spain, I’m trying to provide a much more comprehensive idea of the true costs of everyday living.

      I’m sure there are things I have missed out, but if anyone wants to know all they need to do is ask.

      Yes, this post took quite a while to put together, Gemma, and I consider it very generous of you, as someone to whom it has no real relevance, to acknowledge that. Thank you 🙂

      • My car insurance is just under €200 a year INCLUDING roadside rescue/ assistance, for a brand new car. I don’t think that’s expensive! House insurance is €240 (but that does include damage by a spaceship landing on my roof!!!)

        • I agree that your car insurance seems very reasonable, Tamara. Ours is nearly three times as much!

          We stayed with Linea Directa when we changed our car a couple of months ago, because we were already part way through a year’s insurance, but we are looking to change companies when it comes up for renewal next year.

          I think I’d better have a word with you about your broker 🙂

  38. Entertainment: In Toledo, we have a weekly cinema club, which shows a prize-winning film every week, in the original language with subtitles (hurraaah! I HATE dubbed films), for the bargain price of €3! We love it 🙂

    • I think there’s an film shown in Nerja each month (well, there used to be – not sure if it’s still going) Original Version (in English) for about €3. The films are usually a year or so old.

      They also used to have an Original Version film on the programme at the cinema complex at the Velez-Malaga, but they’ve knocked that on the head. It means we have to travel to Malaga 😦

      • It’s a pain, that… I’d have to schlepp into Madrid to see brand-new original version films, but the last train back to Toledo is at 21.50, which is rather inconvenient.

        There seems to be this prevailing myth that Spanish dubbing is the best in the world, and that they’re actually ‘improving’ films with weak-ish scripts. Every time someone tells me that, I just turn my eyes up inwardly… There’s no point arguing. It’s not like (most of them) can actually judge it for themselves. I can, and to me, it stinks.

    • I can believe that, Gilly. I remember how high the council tax charges are in England.

      Hmmm…. electricity charges may be high, but coupled with only about 17.30 Euros a month for gas, it’s not too bad.

      • My electricity is coming in at bang on €30 per month, winter or summer. I have no pool but that includes heating my outdoor hot-tub September to June), electric radiators in winter, and air-con in the bedroom in summer.

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

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