Cost of living in Malaga, Spain: July 2015

Cost of living in Malaga, Spain

If you are considering a move to Spain, either to purchase a property or just to rent for a couple of months, the cost of living will be very much in your mind.

Prices may be different in other parts of Spain, especially in bigger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, so bear in mind that the prices you are reading here are applicable to the area of La Axarquía – to the east of the city of Málaga on Andalucía’s Mediterrean coast.

The kind of lifestyle you choose to embrace is also an important ingredient in the financial mix.

My family eat fresh, locally-grown seasonal produce, buy mostly Spanish-branded foods at the supermarket, and eat and drink in bars and restaurants where the locals hang out.  This has not only saved us money, but we feel has also enhanced our experience of moving abroad.   If your choice would be to only buy internationally-branded foods and eat in tourist areas then you will find costs are considerably higher.

So, whether you’ve always dreamed of moving to southern Spain or you’re just curious, here is my up-to-date cost of living report.

Village houses in El Acebuchal, Andalucia, Spain


Whether you choose to rent or buy is a matter of personal choice depending on how long you want to stay.  

My advice would be to rent for a full twelve months prior to buying so that not only will you get a good feel for the area, but also you’ll experience it through all the seasons.  This summer, Spain has been experiencing a long heatwave, but temperatures can be surprisingly chilly inside the house during the winter months.

It’s no secret that Spain has been gripped by a financial crisis over the past few years, but the signs are that things are improving.  House prices are up to 20% lower than they were in 2006/2007 and there are plenty of houses on the market for sale.   (For an idea of individual prices, search for estate agents on Google using the search terms: Axarquia, east of Malaga, or by the name of any of the villages or towns in the area including Nerja, Frigiliana, Competa, Torrox or any of the others I have written about previously on this blog).

Another key factor to bear in mind is the fluctuating currency exchange rate between your home currency and the Euro, especially if you need to transfer large amounts of money into Spain.  As I write, the exchange rate stands at an 8-year high and would give more than €1.43 for each British pound sterling (£1).  This has made a considerable difference to our income from when the rate stood around €1.08 a few years ago.

You can easily rent a lovely furnished apartment 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).  If you choose somewhere further inland or nearer the city, prices will vary, but there’s no substitute for actually being here and asking around.  Lots of people know of places available for rent that will never make their way onto websites or an estate agent’s rental list.

If you are looking for somewhere to rent in the Axarquía area for a month or two, I have had dealings with, and can recommend Anubis in Torre del Mar.   Speak to Anna and tell her I sent you (and no, I won’t earn anything for saying that)!

Cepsa butane gas bottle


Electricity: For a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom detached house in the countryside with a swimming pool, we pay around €100 per month. Our consumption is generally higher in the summer than in the winter as we have air conditioning units (cooling in summer and heating in winter) plus the swimming pool pump running for 8 hours a day.  We try to use the air conditioning sparingly – preferring to open windows during early morning and late evening and make use of the ceiling fans.  Although sometimes, especially in July and August, you just have to put the air-con on!

Gas: We do not have a piped gas supply here, so we use bottles of gas.  This is a common feature throughout many areas in this part of Spain. Gas prices in Spain are strictly controlled by the government, rather than the gas companies.   A year ago, a 12.5kg bottle of Butane gas cost €17.50. They are now €14.11 (a reduction of almost 20%), with an 11kg bottle of propane gas costing a mere €12.42.  For us, one bottle lasts (on average) 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.

Water: Because we live in the countryside, approximately five kilometres from our home village of Cómpeta,  we do not have mains water.  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 depends on the amount of repairs that have been undertaken on the system. Over the past twelve months our annual water bill has amounted to €119.

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 nine years.  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.

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 mobile phone contract with Movistar (also owned by Telefonica) which costs €11 per month for 800 MB of data and free calls (after an initial connection charge of €0.18).

Internet: We use a 4G wireless internet option from Orange costing €34.95 (inclusive of IVA tax) per month, which gives us 35 GB of data.  Orange provide us with a small router which we just plug into an electrical plug socket,  and which has the benefit of using the mobile telephone system, thus making it portable.

House and Contents Insurance: Based on the re-building costs of the house, including contents, we pay €241 per annum with Linea Directa.

Peugot 308 saloon


The cost of motoring in Spain has fluctuated considerably over the past few years.

New cars which until the last year or two were relatively expensive in Spain, now cost a similar amount in euros as their UK equivalent does in sterling.  But, the currency exchange rate is €1.43 for each British pound, meaning that at present, some new cars in Spain are considerably cheaper than in the UK, though this is not true of all marques – BMW for example.

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.

FUEL: Unleaded petrol (gasolina sin plomo) 95 Octane was €1.52 per litre last year.  It is now €1.33 at the Repsol garage in Torre del Mar.

Diesel: (gasoil) at the same garage was €1.42 per litre last year and is now €1.16.

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.  The cheapest fuel prices in the Axarquía area at the moment are:

Unleaded: 1.269 €/l  at BALLENOIL, Camino Higueral El, 28  Vélez-Málaga
Diesel: 1.087 €/l at EROSKI, Avenida Juan Carlos I (at the El Ingenio shopping centre) because you can get a further 2% discount by using your credit card if you use the self-service, pay-at-the-pump option.

Click HERE for an interesting interactive map displaying the current cheapest petrol/gas stations in the area.

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. This rate of taxation differs from village to village, depending on where you live.  For our car, a Peugot 308, the cost is €51.12 per annum.

Car insurance for a two year old 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, cost €570 two years ago.  However, last year we thought we could do better.  We asked for quotes from other insurers and threatened to leave Linea Directa unless they matched the price.  After initially refusing, they eventually relented and this year our premium was €426.

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 Madrid.  I 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). 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 4.52 € or €8.18 for a return trip.

MY TIP: If you are over 65 years of age, a resident in Andalucía and registered on the Padron of your local town hall, you can apply for an Andalucía Tarjeta 65 (full information, link to download the form and address to send it to, HERE)  Once you have the card, you will not only be able to get 50% off bus fares with ALSA, but showing the card will get you a discount at many local attractions 🙂

Brujas - Ruta de la Tapa, Torre del Mar


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 45 €

Tapas: small 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) 4.90 €

Round of GOLF (18 holes, 2 players + buggy, Baviera Golf course at La Caleta de Vélez) 100 €

Cigarettes (pack of 20, Marlboro) 4.85 €

Shopping trolley in Mercadona supermarket, Spain


This is the up-to-date Standard Grocery List I have published previously.  The first price shown in black is as it was in February 2014, with this month’s prices in RED alongside.  

For the sake of comparison, I have once again used the largest Spanish supermarket – Mercadona.

Milk (semi–skimmed UHT, own brand), 1 litre   0.60 €     0.61 €

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

Loaf (white, Bimbo brand, 460g 100% natural)  1.49€        1.49 €

Butter (250g, own brand)    1.25 €       1.15 €

Sugar (1kg, white)   0.93 €      0.76 €

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

Eggs (12, own brand caged, medium)   1.35 €         1.20 €  (special offer)

Olive oil (1 litre, extra virgin, own brand) 3€  3.85 € (5 litres 14.50 €) (5 litres 19 €) **

Rice  (1kg, long grain, own brand)   0.71€        0.71 €

Pasta  (1kg, own brand)   0.75 €       0.85 €

Pasta  (500g, wholewheat)   0.99€       0.99 €

Tinned tuna  (6 x 80g, own brand in sunflower oil)   3.35 €       2.98 €  (special offer)

Chicken breasts (1kg, boneless, skinless, packaged))  5.80 €         5.10 €   (or bought loose at the counter 4.65 € per kg)

Pork chops (1kg, packaged)  4.75 €        4.10 € 

Beef mince (Store brand, pre-packed, 700g)   3.80 €          4.95 € (now packaged as 1kg pack)

Fish  (1kg Salmon steaks)  10.75 €          11.65 € 

Fish  (1kg Dorada, Gilt-head bream)  6.95€         7.50 € 

Apples (1kg, green, Golden Delicious)   1.85 €            1.39 € **

Oranges (loose) (1kg)   0.79 €            1.15 € (or 0.91 €  per kg if purchased as a 5.5kg bag for 4.99 €) **

Bananas (loose) (1kg)   1.39 €        1.25 € **

Potatoes (loose) (1kg)   0.89 €        0.89 € 

Lettuce (1 head, Iceberg)   0.87 €         0.49 €  (special offer)

Red Peppers (1kg, loose)    1.89 €         1.99 €  **

Green pointed “Italian” Peppers (1kg, loose)    1.99 €              0.99 €   (special offer)

Tomatoes  (1kg, loose)    1.29 €          0.79 €  (special offer)

Coca-Cola (1.5 litre bottle)  1.09 €         1 €

Water (2 litre bottle)  0.42 €         0.42 €

Domestic Beer (1 litre bottle, Cruzcampo)  1.25 €    1.37 € (now bottled as 1.1 litre)

Imported beer (6 x 25cl bottles Heineken)  3.65 €           3.15 €

Bottle wine (medium priced)  3.00 – 3.50€       3.00 – 3.50 €

Colgate toothpaste (100 ml)   1.75€          1.55 € (now packaged as 75ml)

Pantene shampoo  (300 ml)   3.00€         2.90 € (now packaged as 270ml)

Toilet rolls (pack of 6, own brand)   1.98 €           1.98 €

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

** Seasonal changes

Currency Conversion from XE €1 = 1.08 USD
0.70 GBP
1.47 AUD
1.40 CAD
1.64 NZD
13.46 ZAR



103 thoughts on “Cost of living in Malaga, Spain: July 2015

  1. Great site and very informative! Coming to Torrox for the month of April. Food prices seem a little cheaper than Toronto, but I think that you have more local produce than us. Ours comes mostly from U.S. and central and South America during the winter months. Keep up your excellent work and really looking forward to being back in Andalucia. Jim in Toronto

  2. Many thanks for your update on spain it was very helpful. My family and I are going to move to spain when I am 55 that’s in 2.5 years time. I’m going to be retiring on a tight budget so your info was very helpful. Thank you very much


  3. Hello, Thank You for sharing informations with us.
    I currently rent in UK and think to move and rent in Andalucia, most likely somewhere around Malaga. I have few questions tho, Is there any chance to rent out property (1-2 bed flat or studio) without visiting first? are people willing to make any transaction over internet? other problem is that my dog will come with my so not sure if people are likely to rent out flat for someone who have dog? My salary stands around $2200-$2500 pm is that will be ok for one person? Im not going out at all, spending time mainly out in nature but will need car for sure. Are you know any web that Brits rent out flats as may be easier to negotiate ? Thank you in advance, Regards

    • I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to your questions, Marcin. I’m sure that you might find someone who would be willing to make the transaction over the internet, but you would be taking a huge risk whether the property would be suitable for you and your dog. It’s probably better to come over first for a short time and ask around. Personal recommendations are always worth their weight in gold. I’ve looked at your website – great photos 🙂 Good luck!

  4. Hi Marianne, thank you for spending the time to help the confused who are planning to make the move. Would you have any idea about swimming pool maintenance costs?

    • Do you know, Nigel, I’ve had a pool for the past eleven years and I really don’t know the answer to that!

      I can tell you, first of all, that I look after my own pool. I understand that to have someone come in and deal with it for you will be around 100 euros a month (give or take – depending on how professional they are). Then there is the electricity costs for the pool pump running for 8 hours a day. I buy my 5-in-1 pool tablets from Mercadona – which are about 25 euros for a bucket and usually last around a couple of months. There are sometimes other chemicals to buy, too.

      I do put a lot of time into cleaning my pool – and that effort pays off because the water is always crystal clear.

      These costs (for me) are only from April to October as I have the pump switched off and the pool covered during the rest of the year. Over-winter fluid is around 10 euros.

      Hope that helps!

    • Hi Marianne, my wife and I are thinking about making the move to Fuerteventura within the next two years. The plan is to sell up here in England, buy a small property (one bedroom, small garden/roof terrace) and live on what is left and my pension. Obviously we have the usual misgivings about “will it be enough”? Our savings should amount to £30-£40k in bank and a pension of £600 per month. We don’t expect to run a car (hire as needed) and we both prefer the laid back and relaxing lifestyle rather than out and about all the time. I would appreciate your thoughts on whether this would be a practical move or not and if we would be able to survive financially. Thanks.

      • It’s a difficult question to answer, Michael, but I would ALWAYS encourage anyone to rent before you buy for at least a year – especially now that the UK has voted to leave the EU. I think you would be able to manage financially, if you did as you suggested, but you would also need to consider healthcare (which is at present reciprocal if you are of pensionable age (once you sort the paperwork out) … but which might change following Brexit). There MAY also be the question of whether or not pensions paid to UK citizens living in Europe would be index-linked following Brexit or, indeed, whether or not you would have an automatic right to live within Spanish territory.

        Uncertain times ahead. Honestly, my advice at the moment would be to rent out your house in England and use the proceeds to rent in Fueteventura for a couple of years until the future of the UK/EU is more certain … during which time you would be able to work out if you want to make a more permanent move – whilst allowing yourself the option to return to the UK and not be left behind with house price rises.

        Buena suerte … good luck!

  5. Good site with some much needed information we are currently in the process of buying in Mesquitilla to live for five months during winter.

  6. Hi Marianne, thanks for a great website, most informative and useful. A difficult question perhaps, what is the work situation like? I don’t speak Spanish which is not a good start. Are there many English speaking businesses? Nick

    • Hi Nick – well, I can’t speak from personal experience as I don’t work here, but there is still lots of unemployment around. Obviously it would help to speak Spanish, but yes, there are plenty of not only English-speaking businesses, but businesses run by Brits. How you would go on getting a job with them though, is another can of worms. It’s a tough one. All I can suggest is coming out for a while before you make any kind of commitment, and see how you get on finding work. Good luck!

  7. Hi marianne,fantastic website and info provided. I am looking to move to the Marbella area next year. I have a private pension that pays me 1700 euros in my hand a month.Will I be able to live on this including renting an apartment ?? I intend to find work,but only enough to cover the rent.Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

  8. I’m on Social Security Disability in the US, do you know if Spain has a social security agreement with the US? Also I get $1,165 US dollars a month, could I comfortably live on that?

  9. Dear Marianne,
    Excellent down to earth factual blog. We both love the sun and warm weather but I live outside of the Euro Zone in a little but extremely expensive island called Jersey. A decent one bedroom flat is £200,000 and food is supposedly the most expensive in the Euro zone and on some products almost double the price of the UK. We have no Aldi or Lidl only three large supermarkets. However my partner and I are becoming very interested in retiring to Spain for the quality of life and warmer weather. We both suffer a little with arthritis. The question is not about accomodation or the cost of living it is about tax maybe you would be kind enough to offer some advice

    As Jersey is not in the EU zone like Turkey or Norway would the earnings from renting the house out on the island be subject to worldwide income tax by Spanish Tax department. My partners earnings come from the UK so is taxed ” within ” the UK which I believe would not suffer another hit from Spain it’s European partner. Obviously I would also pay tax to Jersey but would I be double taxed as the income is outside of the zone. Sorry to ask an awkward question but it would be painful to have to pay double tax. Maybe there is a financial site you are aware of in english, if this subject is outside of your remit.

    Thanks so much for all the hard work you put in. I have friends who run blogs, and it is very time consuming.


    • Hi Tim No, I don’t have specific tax information to give you, but once you are living in Spain and become a fiscal resident (if you live in Spain for more than 183 days in a year), then you would be liable to be taxed on your worldwide income, in Spain. There are, of course, double taxation agreements between certain countries so that you don’t end up paying tax twice, but which they are – well you would need to speak to someone who knows.

      I use Adam Rutter at Secure Solutions – so you could ask him.

      Good luck and thanks for your kind words 🙂

  10. Marianne.
    Thank you so much for compiling this wonderful priceless blog.
    We are Brit couple living in Vancouver Canada contemplating a year in Spain soon to see if that’s something we may want to extend. The cost of living in Vancouver is astronomical now . Decent wine is $20can. Pint of beer out is $8. Detached house is $1.8Mc for a rip down . Decent 1 bed condo is $550k starting.
    It’s lovely here but the weather in winter is dreary .
    I was based in Gib in 1986 and loved the area and culture especially Grenada .
    Blogs and efforts from people like yourself are incredibly motivating.
    Cheers and Merry Christmas !!

    Fred + Elaine.

    • We are also from Vancouver and have been thinking of moving to Spain for a few years now. The weather here is just awful with 8months or rain with the temp. around 10-15 degrees and perhaps a couple weeks to a month of warm weather between 20-26 degrees. The prices here have skyrocketed as Fred and Elain mentioned! It just doesn’t make any sense to stay here any longer. Your blog was just what we were looking for to get a general sense of the day to day cost and we are pleasantly surprised! We are young EU/Canadian citizenzs so it should not be an issue for us.
      We are anticipating having passive income between 2K-3K Canadian which is at most €2,000 Euro per month. On top of that if we both find even the minimum paid jobs of approx €1,000 x 2 of us, this would add up to €4,000 – €5,000/month. I don’t want to sound stupid but compared to the numbers on your blog this should be a very good amount to live a good life in Spain correct? We also love to travel a lot and have 1 child now and possibly 1-2 more in the next 4 years.

      Do you have any idea on how much it costs for kinegarden or daycare per month? Also am guessing that school would be free unless private? Just to be sure I understood you correct, you pay for car insurance approx €400-€500 per year? We pay $200 per month here and thats for an older 10y old car 😄

      We plan on living closer to Barcelona so I suppose the prices would be slightly higher correct?
      Great blog!

      • Hi Rasho – thanks for your message. You should be OK on the income figures you mention – though obviously supplementing your income will give you spare money for travelling. Bear in mind that unemployment is high here, so there is plenty of competition for jobs, though clearly I don’t know what your particular skill-sets are.

        Yes, car insurance is around the €500 mark for us – and the car tax is variable depending on the age, engine size etc of your car.

        I’m afraid I haven’t a clue about childcare costs as my offspring are grown up, though I understand that local schools are free unless you choose to pay for a private school. The best I can do for you is to direct you to a lovely Irish lady called Grainne who lives nearby, writes a blog and who has children. I’m sure she would be able to help you. Here’s her website:

        Good luck with your move!

        Marianne 🙂

      • Rasho. Good luck with your plans. One thing not mentioned was health care. You’re of working age so if you work, you’ll pay into the Social Security system in Spain. If not working, you’ll have to have private medical insurance.

  11. Marianne,
    Interesting stuff. Can you help me with this maybe? I’m seriously thinking of moving to the area you write about but for a couple of years I will only have my work pension as income. I’ve priced up accommodation (a 1 or 2 bed apartment) and calculate that would leave me with about 500 euros per month for everything else. I don’t plan to eat out much. Do you think 500 is enough for utilities, TV, broadband and food for one person?
    Hope you can help.

    • Sorry for the delay, Steve, your comment seems to have slipped throughout the net and I’ve only just seen it.

      I think you’d be OK with your budget. You’d probably find that once you get here and ask around, you might find an apartment cheaper locally than the ones advertised on the internet. I guess if you got a 2 bed apartment, you could always rent out the spare bedroom for some extra income? Eating out can be quite cheap if you stick to tapas (where the Spanish go – NOT where the tourists go) or a Menu del Dia (the 3-course lunch option including bread and a drink) which can be bought for anything from about 7 euros upwards.

      Good luck!

  12. So pleased to have found this site, thank you…….. We are planning to move to Spain ( east of Malaga ) and would like to get some tips on learning the language.
    We are a mature couple and would love to master the language or at least enough to get by with daily life …… Is there private tutors / classes ?

    Thank you

    • Hi guys – thanks for the lovely message and good luck with your move.

      There is a tab at the top of the blog about learning Spanish (have a look at some of the excellent comments, too).

      Yes, of course, there are private tutors and classes at language schools. Another good way is to join in with a free “language exchange” where Spanish and English speakers meet regularly as a group, to help each other with their language skills.

      I’m sure you’ll soon get into the swing of things 🙂

  13. This is an excellent site – congratulations. Marianne. Is there anyway you can list the type of rates and local taxes you have to pay Thankyou Danielle

    • Not sure what kind of taxes you mean, Danielle. I’ve mentioned IBI – which is the tax you pay to the local council for your property – but I guess there must be loads of different ones depending on each person’s situation.

      I see you have made a comment on a different article in which you mention your mother having a house near Lake Viñuela – so I’m sure she will be able to get you up to speed in no time 🙂

  14. Pingback: Coast, Villages or Countryside of the Axarquía: The open Countryside | East of Málaga

  15. Hi Marianne I have visited nerja Torres Costa and frigliana so many times and always wanted to move there or nearbye at last 71 I am going to do it thank you for wonderful website so much good information your advice is excellent. Johnny allen

  16. Hi Marianne just read through your blog some very interesting information we are looking to move over for 6 months next October, to see weather we would like it enough to move over lock stock and barrel, I will be 65 then. and one of the sticking points is the healthcare how much will we have to pay to register with a doctor, or do we have to and what happens if we have to attend the hospital, we will have EHIC medical cards but will we still have to pay, also can you get long term car rental or will it be cheaper to buy a second hand car would I be able to buy a 5 year old car for 3000 euro’s sorry about all the questions thanks for any help.

    • Hi George – if you moved over here full time, being over 65 you would come under the Spanish system, just as you would the NHS in the UK. You would have to get a special form (I think it’s called an S1) from Newcastle – but then you would be covered. I don’t think this would apply for just a six month visit, though. I suggest you bring your EHIC cards which, as you say, cover you for emergencies – and make sure you have some travel insurance to get you back to home (in case you are taken very ill and need to be taken back to the UK). In the meantime, if you just need to see a doctor, you can pay (about 30 euros or so) and go along to one of many English-speaking doctors- such as at the Clinica Rincón chain, or there are several independent ones in Nerja and Torrox (and I’m sure in many other places, too). If you are generally healthy – you’ll probably find you don’t even need to visit the doctor – but it’s always good to know you have the emergency EHIC back up, if you need it.

      Have a look here for more information:

      To buy a car, you would need to register for an NIE number (at the national police station in Torre del Mar). NIE is like a social security number, but you need it here for most large purchases or rentals. You might be best either bringing a car down from the UK, or staying somewhere on a good bus route – and just renting a car as and when you want to go somewhere NOT on a bus route.

      Hope that helps, George – and good luck with your visit 🙂

      • Marianne, further to the issue of the NIE number, is necessary for things like opening a bank account and getting broadband installed? Sorry to hijack your question, George 🙂

        • No worries, Paul – it’s a good question.

          The Numero De Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE) is the fiscal number by which the Authorities (and in particular the Tax Office) keep track of your financial dealings. With the number they can track and view every bank account, house or car purchase etc., in Spain.

          Certainly in theory and, I have found almost always in practice, you cannot open a bank account or enter into any other financial agreement without your NIE number.

          I have been asked for my NIE when buying a washing machine, for example, though I can’t specifically remember being asked for it when we had our broadband installed. I would think it varies from company to company – but you will ALWAYS need an NIE if you buy a car (from a showroom), or a house.

          An NIE number is easy enough to get (and only costs a few euros), so if you are thinking of spending any length of time in Spain, you would probably be best to get one.

  17. Hi Marianne, first of all, thank you very much for this website. It is great help for planning a move!.
    I was just wondering, do you know the aprox. prices of International School in the Malaga area?
    We have two daughter age 5 -9 , we live in the uk now (Been here for 15 years!) and our daughters speak english and understand spanish 100 % but a bit lazy to speak it. We thought it would be nice to live in spain (at least for 1 or 2 years) so that they fully speak it. What do you think?
    We speak Spanish as first language, so it may be easier for us 😉
    Another thing is, if we spend on average 350GBP on weekly expenses , what would you think it would be over there? (This is not taking account of DD or housing cost)
    Work over there? no chance?…I do window cleaning here, so thinking of renting the round and travelling 10 days every 2 months….
    I hope you don’t mind me asking all of these!.

    All the best

    • Hi Christian – I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question about fees for International Schools – but surely, being of Spanish parents, your girls would be encouraged to start speaking Spanish quicker if they were fully emerged into the Spanish system? They will VERY soon shake out of their lazy habit if they have to speak Spanish at school. Besides, there will no doubt be other English-speaking kids in their class to encourage them 🙂

      Weekly expenses are very subjective – we all spend money on different things – but if you are meaning just your weekly shopping costs, then I’m pretty sure you could manage on half of that money, around here.

      As for work – well, times are difficult, but being Spanish you might have more success than some people.

      My advice is – if you are thinking about spending a year or two in Spain – then do it! If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to the UK.

      Good luck!

      • Hi!, thank you for your reply and encouraging words. Reason of International School is ” i was told ” it is better, but who knows!.
        The expenses it is a mix of everything I would say (food-going out a bit-petrol-bits and pieces )by looking at different costs, I will be happy 30%-40% cheaper in Spain. I can see petrol is 20% cheaper and food (fruits and Veg) half !.
        I would definitely go on an inspection trip or two.
        Thank you!

  18. Thank you Marianne for your very informative site. We’ve been researching moving to Spain for some time now and found your costings on the everyday things in life very helpful. It’s helped us work our budget. We’ve gone ahead and just purchased a house in Oliva and are really looking forward to relocating here and enjoying a few pre-retirement years before the pension kicks in! Once again, many thanks, Anji

  19. I have to commend you on your excellent blog and really detailed string of information which I find really helpful in making a decision on moving to Andalucia. I love Spain and especially the Andalucia area after living in Gibraltar for several years while working for the British government.
    The only aspect that you don’t seem to cover in detail is the health entitlement or quality of health care / nearness of major hospitals etc.
    I am considering moving to Spain to retire….I will soon be 65…so some information on this would be helpful
    Many Thanks
    Barrie (Philpott

    • Thanks Barrie – you’re right, I haven’t covered healthcare because it is so different for different people, depending on their age, where they are from (UK gives emergency EU entitlement but US doesn’t), how long people are staying for, whether they are working etc. There is really no “one size fits all”, I’m afraid. I have had little contact with healthcare in Spain, but the care I have received has been speedy and excellent. Appointments can be made online to see my GP (for example) and I can usually get an appointment the next day. Within the Axarquia region, there is one State hospital at Torre del Mar though there are a few smaller private hospitals nearer to Malaga as well.

      In your case, Barrie, once you are 65 you can apply to come under the Spanish Health system (with co-operation from Newcastle) for all your health needs, just as a Spaniard does. From what I hear of the state of the NHS in Britain, there is nothing to worry about the quality of healthcare here in Spain, at all.

      Good luck and thanks for your kind words.

    • Hi Barrie

      I have first hand knowledge of hospitals and healthcare in Malaga and Velez-Malaga and was very impressed by the standards in Spain and the treatment which is first class.

      My Mother lives near lake Vinuela in Andalucia in a beautiful spot and is selling to move to a smaller property, she has lived there for 12 years.. She is also considering letting her villa if you are interested please email me. Good luck with your search.

      • Danielle Hi
        Firstly apologies for not replying earlier.
        I was interested to see your comments on the healthcare in Spain….I’m assuming that I am late to enquire about the villa to let
        If not could you send me some details to my email address
        Many heart felt thanks


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  22. What a fantastic site, Marianne! I’m going to have a mid life adventure by moving from Ireland to Frigiliana for a year, starting in October. I’ve never been to this part of Spain (except as a kid to Benalmadena) and Frigiliana looks like a nice compromise between the local and the touristy. Your marvellous article on El Acebuchal made me want to live there but it would be just too ‘in too deep’ really :). Well done on your wondeful site, Marianne (and your opinion of Frigiliana would be most appreciated, if you have one)!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Paul 🙂

      Frigiliana is indeed a lovely village – indeed, we rented there ourselves for 12 months before we bought our own house here, ten years ago. It does attract a lot of tourists, but the bulk of them will have left by the time you arrive (until next summer). No doubt you will visit El Acebuchal (you can hike there from Frigiliana).

      OH yes, this area is very different from the area around Benalmadena – you’ll love it!

  23. Just found your posts and they are excellent. As a couple who have holidayed for many years in the Nerja area, my husband wants to buy now. I like your idea of renting for a year first. We are not in a position to use a property for more than a few visits a year until we retire in 2 years. Should we have someone ‘look after’ the property in our absence?

    • Thanks Moira. I guess it’s a matter of personal choice about having someone to look after your property. We are happy keep an eye on our neighbour’s property, but many people either don’t know or trust anyone to do it, or just don’t bother. I think now is a good time to buy, Moira 🙂

  24. We move next year to Nerja. What about the “Income Tax”, if you have your own house in the country side? There is the IBI-Impuesto de bienes immuebles. But what with the Income Tax for the house (if we live as early pensioner)?
    We could read: Properties that are used purely private and are not rented out. It has a notional rental value is taxed? Form 210. This value (notional rental value) is based also on IBI? And what happen if you rent out the property for 2 months in the summer time? Best Hanspeter

    • I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by “income tax if you have your own house in the countryside”. We have a private house in the countryside (not rented out) and just pay our IBI to the local council.

      If you rent out your property for two months during the summer, then you will have to pay taxes on your rental income.

  25. Thankyou for your really excellent information. Do you think a couple could live on £1,000 per month with no mortgage or rental costs?

    • Yes, I do, Sarah 🙂 Of course, you would need to live like the locals, buying mostly Spanish products and fresh fruit and vegetables. We tend to eat out during the daytime – a three course menu del día with a drink and bread only costs around 8-10 euros per person. Tie that in with a visit to one of the lovely villages, and a wander around – and you’ve had yourself a cheap day out! Good luck 🙂

        • You’re welcome:) The reason I do it is that so many people ask me about it – so I guess it must be useful. Thanks for your lovely comments though – that’s part of the reason that makes me continue doing it! 🙂

  26. Hi Marianne,
    This is so helpful and appreciated. We are in the process of preparing a move to the Moraira area and busy doing our research and homework, so all comments and suggestions welcome.
    Best regards, Colin

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  28. Great posts Marianne. really informative

    Out of interest I did a comparison on your supermarket shop using Tesco as a comparator. I was as exact as I could be and the total cost came out at £99.90, almost double the cost in Spain based on current exchange rates. Food for thought indeed!

      • Hi Marianne,
        Just read Ben’s comments re: cost of Tesco’s et al in the UK. Undoubtedly they are more expensive than local Spanish prices, however, if you premium shop in Carrefour in Spain, for example, then you’ll likely pay similar to the UK. If Ben went to Lidl or Aldi, which I have started to do recently as I just got tired of all the little tricks Sainsburys and Tesco play to grab more cash from you, then he’d find the prices ultra competitive with no loss in quality or freshness, just a different manufacturer. Having worked as a consultant to the food industry for a part of my career I’m sure many people would be surprised to hear that many well known brands are outsourced to low-cost producers and packaged and marketed expensively to keep margins high and that many supermarket own-brand foods come from exactly the same factory, ingredients and equipment as the premium priced branded foodstuffs. There is a modicum of trial and error required but over the last few months I’ve knocked 60% to 70% off my food bills by changing behaviour and not acting like an impulsive magpie whilst sauntering down the supermarket isle, going to three shops instead of just one convenient stop. It gives me huge satisfaction that I’ve gotten one over them :-).
        Love the blog. Keep up the good work

        • You make a good point, Fin. Of course, we also have Aldi and Lidl here in Spain and I too use them for at least half of my grocery shopping. Usually excellent quality. Maybe I should do a comparison of prices next time using one of those two instead of Mercadona. Now THAT would make a very interesting comparison, don’t you think?

          Thanks for your information – very interesting 🙂

  29. Great post! Very thorough – you covered things I probably would have forgotten if I had made a similar post. I returned from a 6-week trip in northern Spain in mid-May of this year. I found it very economical, not to mention gorgeous.

  30. I am going to be en Malaga October 4th do yo have a recommendation of a charming nice hotel close to the center of town. We are three mature ladies traveling in Spain. The Parador is full for that evening.,thank you

    • You could try the RoomMate Larios or their sister hotel, RoomMate Lola nearby. I’m a big fan of RoomMate hotels 🙂 Failing that, you’ll enjoy the Molina Larios. Have fun, ladies 🙂

  31. Love this. Very helpful! Thank you so much. In USD it’s about $1245.00 per month (rounding up a bit). But that doesn’t include food, transport or entertainment. Just housing costs and utilities. I’m hoping that number would be a lot lower if I flat out bought a piso or something and didn’t have to pay a monthly rent!

  32. Love this. Very helpful! Thank you so much. In USD it’s about $1245.00 per month (rounding up a bit). But that doesn’t include food, transport or entertainment. Just housing costs and utilities. I’m hoping that number would be a lot lower if I flat out bought a piso or something and didn’t have to pay a monthly rent!

      • Our council tax was £150 a month 8 years ago. The first year we lived here, it only cost us £1,500 equivalent for all the bills on the apartment – utilities, IBI, insurance, community fees, bottled gas, logs for the fire. That’s the same as our council tax, and our gas and electric was another £1,500 a year, before we added insurance and water. It’s a bit more now, but still less than half of our UK running costs, and of course, the shopping, diesel and eating out is all so much cheaper. When I treated my son and his wife to a meal in the UK, I paid £15 for a bottle of house wine to go with it. We can have a meal for 2, plus wine here for less than that!

  33. A brilliant post – we’re away more than there right now and on our last visit noticed that prices seemed higher – it seems that some have come down and we’re definitely going to look at an internet only connection for the phone as we pay 45 euro a month and we’re mostly not using it as we’re not there!

  34. Hi, I very much enjoy your blog. This recent one is a very interesting price comparison. I have lived in the Axarquia area of Malaga Province for 24 years and shop in Mercadona, buying locally produced and own brand as much as possible. As a retired person, I have the Andalucia 65 card which gets me half price on busses and various other things. You have to be a Resident to get this card, but well worth it. Lastly, I would say that learning the language is a top priority if planning to live in Spain.

    • Thanks Mary – yes indeed, the Andalucia 65 card makes for excellent savings for older residents on public transport. It’s also useful for gaining reduced price entrance to many attractions (museums, art galleries etc). Viva España!

      • This Over 65 Card is given to all residents over 65 who are registered on their local Padrón (Town Hall Register). It can be obtained at your local Social Services Office and can probably be found on the Junta de Andalucia website. You can also send a letter of application to Consejería de Igualdad y Bienestar Social, Apdo. 1130,
        41080 Sevilla. You will need: Passport, Resident Card/Certificate, Certificate of Empadronamiento and 1Passport sized photo. If applying on line it will be sent to your home address. There is also an Over 65 Gold Card for pensioners with low incomes, lower than 9,000€ per year, you will have to prove this. Hope this helps. Mary.

        • Thanks for the information, Mary. I have put a link (in the public transport section) to an easy download of the application form for the Andalucia Tarjeta 65, as well as in a response to Gillean 🙂

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

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