Every year, thousands of Britons are making the move to finally live in the land of their dreams, Spain. The cost of living in Spain can be both high and low depending on the location and type of lifestyle. Numbers are looking up for the Mediterranean destination since it recently ranked 9th worldwide in terms of economy size and 5th all over Europe.
Unemployment rate is still soaring over 18.7% which has been teetering on a greater problem brought about by the current worldwide recession. Living in Spain is more expensive nowadays but expatriates can still find several scenic places that are considerably much cheaper than many places in the United Kingdom.
The total GDP of Spain is estimated to be over 1.2 trillion euros. The country is in a better position now but almost all of the population still has debts to the government. Spain still owes it to foreign investors and overseas workers bringing in dollars and pounds to keep businesses and the free market afloat. Commodities have become more affordable as stated in Spain Expat Forum last September 2, 2009:
A Reuters housing poll of Spanish and foreign-based economists found that on average prices were expected to fall 32 percent from their 2007 peak.
Wednesday’s data compares with a 10.1 percent year on year fall in June according to private surveyors Tinsa, compared to a 9.8 percent fall in May.
Regardless, Spain has so much to offer in terms of food, leisure activities, entertainment and housing that one may opt for the higher quality living choices at more expensive rates.
Food and Drinks Costs in Spain
There is plenty of food in Spain and prices of goods can range from very cheap to moderate to very expensive. Depending on the city and seller, raw materials and cuisines may fluctuate in value plus the inclusion of value added tax.
Vegetables like artichokes, cabbage and thistles as well red beans, Fava beans, cherries and pears are much cheaper if bought from community and farmers markets. Some other cheap choices are rice, tortilla, potato and flour. As for drinks, there are several locally made beers and wines as well as soda products available for export. Barcelona comparably costs 18% less than London in terms of food.
On the average, a family of four in Spain spends about 400 to 500 euros every month on food. You can get an average meal in less than 20 euros so long as you know where to find them.
Imported products tend to be more expensive but a lot of locals prefer purchasing Spanish brands and buying raw materials outside the big cities. Expatriates will notice the difference when buying food products at smaller cities than getting them in Barcelona or Madrid.
Clothing and Accessories Costs in Spain
Shopping in Spain is not cheap but it is reasonable. There are affordable items at the Northern regions and coastal areas like Costa de la Luz. In big cities, prices of clothes and wares can be very high and even become more expensive than in the UK. There are locally made clothes and textiles found in shopping malls and department stores. Malls and individual designer label shops house top-of-the-line clothing from Europe and the United States. These are some of the highest priced places in any part of the country. This has changed Because of declining sales, many of these high priced boutiques have slashed prices and gave massive discounts in the past few months.
Trinkets, souvenir items and other gadgetry are moderately priced anywhere. Some can find bargain items at flea markets although these are not as common today compared ten years ago. Electronics and cars are imported from Japan and other European nations and prices could soar depending on popularity and demand. Barcelona is still the place to go when shopping for fashionable items. The latest trends in terms of style can be found there since Spanish designers aim to compete with the best in the world.
Housing Costs in Spain
The property market in Spain has been somewhat hindered by inflation. However, prices on rentals and property ownership are still more affordable than most European nations. Some properties have very competitive prices especially in the northern and coastal regions. Retirees find these locations more suitable because of the less stressful environment plus lower demand in terms of prices of commodities, living conditions and the like. The southern coasts of Spain remain to be some of the most expensive in Europe due to the fast-growing economy which mainly relies on foreign investments and trade. The property prices in Spain have made it a buyer’s market as continuous falling prices have been reported all throughout the country. This has been echoed in Spain Expat Forum last August 16, 2009:
The report, which is grimmer than the bank’s previous forecasts, does include one positive note: the dropping prices, combined with falling interest rates – which it predicts will hit 0.5 per cent by the end of this year – mean that the housing market will become more accessible to potential buyers than it has been in 20 years.
The average Spanish tenant pays 200 to 350 euros every month for a two-room apartment downtown. The closer the apartment is to the main city attractions, the higher the cost. Some beach locations are also very expensive. Most landowners cover utilities like water and electricity to an extent.
Gas consumption is usually taken care of by the tenant. The quality of most Spanish homes and apartments are good and well maintained so expatriates get what they pay for in most cities. There are also a number of farm areas for sale at very reasonable rates but road accessibility and mode of travel is still not fully determined.
Services Costs in Spain
Transportation in the major cities has been fully systematized and convenient. On the average, people spend less than 8 euros daily for fare and transport. Several buses and taxi cabs are available in all parts of the city. Also, some prefer private vehicles to travel. Internet service is also good in most locations. There are a number of companies providing fast and reliable network. Almost all cafes, restaurants and hotels in Barcelona have WiFi access. Internet connection costs less than 10 euros every month.
Health care is also excellent in terms of quality and equipment. The workforce at present is in shortage that is why more foreign skilled health professionals are in demand. Nevertheless insurance policies are best served in all major districts and nearby provinces. Public hospitals are subsidized by the government and there are private institutions as well which provide care and rehabilitation programs at the highest level for the tourism industry.
One of the major problems facing the country and its citizens is inflation with an average of 10% per year though officially it is listed at 3.5%.
Employment Costs in Spain
Spain is said to be in its deepest recession in half a century with the unemployment rate projected to rise at 16% in 2009. The government at present is aiming to increase both employment and literacy rates so that more jobs will be available for locals. Foreign investors are usually directed to give financial support in the bigger cities while expatriates can find decent and well-paying jobs in smaller yet fast-growing regions.
Currently, Spain needs more doctors, nurses, engineers, agriculture experts and construction workers. Expatriates are also welcome within the business and trade sector since the country is still heavily active on these areas to provide a significant part in their overall GDP.