Is this country cheap or expensive? As usual, there is no ‘fits all’ answer to this question and many variables determine the response. Remember that this cost measurement considers how much you pay for basic everyday products and services.
As a starting point, we will look at the Economist’s 2017 Cost of Living Index for the main cities in the world. In it, Barcelona and Madrid appeared respectively in 39th and 44th positions (16th and 19th in European terms). There are no big differences between both cities’ overall costs, presenting them as around 20% less costly (in these living terms) than New York.
Our next stop on the index is inside of Spain. According to Numbeo, among the big cities in Spain, Bilbao and Palma de Mallorca are between 5% and 9% more expensive. The cheapest places to live in are Granada, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas (the last two in the Canary Islands which is one reason why they are considered “afortunadas” (fortunate)), being in the range of 20% and 25% cheaper than Barcelona and Madrid.
Expatistan provides a list including more cities and confirming the rule of thumb that could be taken from the previous paragraph: the further away you are from the beach, big cities, and the north-east quadrant (where most of the economic activity takes place), the lower the cost of living. Obviously, there is a big correlation to the economic activity of a location.
After food, rent is the item taking the biggest part of the cost of living (being even higher in big cities), a similar trend to that found in big/active urban areas around the world.
Figures like those aside, I find that in comparison to other countries food, alcohol (beer and wine for this index) and eating out (in inexpensive venues for these purposes) are comparatively more economic. Public transportation is also reasonable, particularly if you get monthly tickets. On the other side, we have costly rent and electricity bills, with gasoline not being a bargain either.
Another key factor when considering how “cheap/expensive” you find Spain are its salaries. We will deal with that in a future post, highlighting that unfortunately it is not one of our strengths, as I also wrote in my Labour Market post.
In future posts we will go into the primary aspects measured in the cost of living such as food, drink, clothing, household supplies, rent, transport, utility bills, private schools, and recreational costs.
What do you think of the cost of living in Spain? What is the lowest priced item in your opinion? And the highest one? Is it a key factor when deciding to move here?
Links of Interest:
Expatistan, Cost of Living in Spain
Investopedia, Cost of Living
Numbeo, Cost of Living in Spain
The Balance, Cost of Living: How to Calculate, Compare, and Rank
The Balance, Standard of Living
The Economist, Measuring the cost of living worldwide
The Economist Intelligence Unit, Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017
Photos: Euro Coined in Spain (with the King’s face on it). Expatistan’s visual map of the cost of living of our main cities. Wind turbines somewhere in Spain.