Let’s get your relocation off to a great start by helping you calculate and hence budget for your own personal cost of moving to Spain.
People move to Spain for many reasons.
- the cost of living is cheaper,
- the weather is better,
- the scenery is stunning
- the quality of life is ideal for people of all ages.
While the day-to-day expenses and property prices are certainly much lower than in the UK and other north European countries, there are other expenses to budget for before packing your bags and flying to Spain for good.
To help you calculate your cost of moving to Spain, we have listed the main expenses while you are researching your relocation as well as for when you first arrive. We have also made a handy calculator so you can work out your own individual cost of moving to Spain.
Expenses Prior to Relocation:
Research and viewing trips to Spain
Before you relocate to Spain, you’ll need to select and check out different areas. We recommend at least two or three visits before you move to Spain.
Visiting at different times will highlight issues such as a potential area bustling in summer but a total ghost town in winter. The location is always the top priority. Use these trips to get to know the transport links, what the area feels like, how the schools compare, whether you like the local bars, restaurants and shops. Once you select a particular area, you can start looking for property.
- You will, therefore, need to budget for flights for you all at least twice, maybe three times. We recommend avoiding peak summer, Easter and Christmas. Not only are flights expensive at these times, schools are closed and rental agents will be reluctant to organise property viewings. Use a comparison flight booking site such as Skyscanner to see the best flight deals and, if you live close to an airport, the earlier or later flights should be less expensive. Set Up Flight Search and Save Money!
- Budget for accommodation during your trip. If possible, move to a different area every few days. Try to stay in different locations whenever possible. Spending time in an area gives you a much better feel for a place. You can often secure great deals using Booking.com (add my link!)
- Budget for Car hire. You will need a car if you are really going to explore every part of your chosen destination in Spain. Prices vary a lot, from €20 for three days to more than €100 and, while it pays to shop around for the best deal, it may pay to stick to the companies you know and trust.
- Budget for Food. Supermarket shopping if you are in an apartment or dining out. We would suggest it’s ideal to eat out a couple of times at different places, so you can start looking for your favourite restaurants and start integrating with local residents. Look out for the lunchtime set menu (menu del dia) as these are great value and can cost from €8 or even less. You will need at least €20 per day per person for food and drinks.
- Budget for Spending money. On top of this you will need some cash for extras such as petrol for your hire car, bottled water, sun cream and a few other essentials. A further €20 a day should cover these, depending on how much petrol you use – at the moment it’s about €1.23 a litre.
Expenses Preparing for Your Relocation:
Rental Deposits and Agency Fees
Unless you really know an area, it is strongly advisable to rent before buying property in Spain. This is another big expense. In most parts of Spain, you will need to pay at least one month rent, a deposit plus a fee to the agency for finding the property for you. Contracts vary so always read them through thoroughly or instruct a solicitor to have a look.
It is not unusual to pay a deposit equivalent to two months’ rent while agency fees are often one month’s rent. So if your rent is €500, your initial outlay could be €2,000 (one month rent in advance + agency fees + deposit). Long-term rents are usually for one year and if you cannot supply adequate references or a work contract, you may be asked to pay the full 12 months in advance!
Additional Expenses When Buying Property
If you decide to buy a property in Spain, you will need to add an extra 10% to 15% on top of the purchase price to pay for expenses and taxes.
- Transfer tax – this is paid on second-hand homes and varies from region to region. It is usually about 8% of your purchase price. For new builds you will pay IVA (equivalent of VAT) at 10%.
- Stamp duty – this is between 0.5% to 1.5% of the property price
- Land registry fees from 0.1% to 2%
- Notary fees from 0.1% to 2%
- Legal fees of from 1% to 2%
If you are taking out a mortgage, there are additional fees for setting up the mortgage and legal fees of 1% to 2% of the property price.
Getting Insurance Cover
If you are not paying into the Spanish social security system (ie. you are self-employed in Spain or have a Spanish work contract) you will not be eligible for a Spanish SIP card to access the public health system. You will need private medical insurance.
Unless you have a pre-existing medical condition, private health insurance may cost less than you think. Obviously, the rates vary a lot depending on how much cover you require and your age. As an example, a healthy person in their 30s may pay around €40 a month. It can be €100 or more for older people. You can also opt in to get a SIP card which will cost €60 a month for under-65s and €157 for 65+.
You will also need insurance for your household contents. For this budget around €100+ annually for a basic package. Budget also for vehicles.
Pet insurance is another option – that is around €15 a month – but you may find your vet has an annual plan of about €100 which covers an annual check-up and injections.
Getting Your Belongings Shipped Over
Bringing furniture over to Spain can be expensive with quotes of between €3,000 to €7,000, depending on the size of your house and how many items are being loaded. A cheaper option is to hire a van, using a one-way van hire rental option, if you don’t have too many belongings. Even then you have to factor in the insurance, petrol and tolls, overnight stays or the cost of taking the ferry from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Santander or Bilbao and then driving halfway through Spain.
Moving to another country is a good opportunity to declutter – you could hold a garage sale or take part in a car-boot sale to help finance your trip. Also, some furniture from the UK will not look right in Spain, so you may want to buy new. Obviously, you will not want to get rid of personal belongings so it pays to look at removal companies which take part-loads or look at other options. For instance, British Airways will let you take 10 suitcases per person with prices ranging from £36 to £120 per piece of luggage when booked online and £40 to £140 if booked at the airport. You could also check out luggage shipping companies which can cost from £41 for each bag.
The Final Cost of Moving To Spain
Factor in the costs of your final one-way trip to Spain for all the family. If you do not have much luggage, then flying will be the cheapest option. Otherwise, you can drive through France and Spain, trying to avoid as many toll roads as possible as these can be expensive. Just the trip from Calais to Alicante, for example, will cost €298.66 – €127.10 in tolls and €171.56 in fuel for an average family car – and will take 17 hours 30 minutes to drive 1,848kms.
Catching the Brittany Ferry from the UK to Spain is less stressful and can cost from £229 for two adults, two children and a car one-way. With a pet, it can cost from £258.50, so just a few pounds more. The onward journey to Alicante will cost a further €106.86 – including tolls of €31.70, and €75.16 fuel.
If your dog, cat or ferret does not already have a pet passport, it is essential to start planning this well in advance. They will need the passport to show they have had their rabies injection and are microchipped. One vet is quoting £14.50 for the microchip, £42.80 for the rabies vaccination and £20.00 to issue the passport, so a total of £77.30 for a dog. While another vet charges £115.26 for the passport. Other vets may charge more, so you should always ask for a quote. The costs are about the same for a cat.
There are companies who will transport your pet to Spain but we think it is less stressful for them to be with you. Many hotels will accept pets so there won’t be any problems when you drive over with them (ensure you pre-book these in advance). The ferries have kennels at the top of the ship and some have pet-friendly cabins – there aren’t many and they get booked quickly so secure your cabin as soon as you know your moving dates.
Children’s School Fees
Unless your children are very young and are able to pick up the language easily, or they already speak Spanish at a decent level, then private education is the most likely option
They will be taught Spanish along with English but can follow the British education system, which will be familiar to them. Moving country and finding new friends can be difficult enough without having to learn subjects such as maths or science in a new language.
Costs vary depending on their age and the school but budget for around €500 per month for nursery or primary education up to €1,000+ for secondary schools. On top of this, they will need a new uniform and to pay enrollment fees. Enrolment fee could be another €500 and the school may ask for a similar amount as a deposit too.
Buying or Hiring a Car
If you are bringing your own car to Spain, you will need to change it to Spanish plates or sell it to someone returning to the UK. It may be easier to rent or buy a car once you arrive. Monthly car rental rates are cheaper than short-term leases and you may be able to get a car for a month for around €3 to €10 per day. Second-hand cars are not cheap to buy in Spain but will certainly be more economical than long-term car rental. As an example, a 2008 Seat Ibiza is being sold for €2,995 and a 2009 VW Golf for €8,999. (prices march 2017)
Extra Expenses For Your Rental Property
If you are renting and, therefore, not bringing all your belongings over until later, you will need a few items for your home. Although the house will have all the furniture and kitchen equipment you need, you may want to buy sheets, towels, duvets and pillows. The larger supermarkets are the cheapest places to go shopping unless you have a Primark nearby. Allow for a further €200 for a family of four for these items.
Stocking Up On Essentials
Your first shopping trip is going to be more expensive than usual as you will have to restock everything in your kitchen cupboards and bathrooms. Salt, pepper, butter, olive oil, herbs, spices, tinned goods, milk, coffee and tea are some of the essentials on the list along with washing-up liquid, cleaning products, shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, sun cream and shaving foam. This can easily add up to another €75 to your final bill.
Now you’ve moved in you will want to keep in touch with friends and family back home as well as find out all the news in your new hometown. That means sorting out your mobile phones, internet and satellite TV. Internet packages vary and not all companies can cover all areas, so check who can provide good internet speed in your area and then ask for quotes. With your mobile, you can change your SIM card to a Spanish one rather than invest in a new phone. Vodafone and Orange are available in most areas while Telefonica/Movistar have the most extensive coverage. You will also find English firms offering good deals in phones, internet and TV packages such as Freeview or free to view packages through the internet or a satellite dish so you can watch your favourite programmes on BBC and ITV among others. Mobile phone and internet charges can be from €20 a month, depending on usage and speed. For a landline, mobile and fibre optic with Movistar, will be about €80 a month. British TV can also be provided for a setup fee or others charge a monthly fee, also about €20. Satellite TV, such as Canal+, is expensive – about €60 monthly – and, although Sky cannot officially be set up in Spain, there are ways around it. You will be charged for the dish and box to be set up – say €100+ – and then have to pay your monthly subscription as usual.
There are always unexpected extras when you move home, such as the TV packing up or you realise you left something behind. It is, therefore, worth having at least €250 put by for these minor hiccups. Then, if your careful planning means your move to Spain runs smoothly, you can treat yourself to a day out to celebrate your new life in Spain.
Use Our Online Calculator To Calculate Your Cost of Moving To Spain…
Simply access the spreadsheet, make a copy of the file to save on your own PC, input the values in the YELLOW cells and the sheet will do the rest for you.
Select “File” and then “Make a copy …” You can then access and edit the tool whenever you need to.
We hope you find this information useful. We’d love to receive your input and feedback in the comments … If you have ideas how to improve the tool, please let us know!
Moving to Spain is not cheap, nor always easy, but is it worth it? Our Instagram photos may give you an answer 😉 Have a look!
COMING SOON: How To Calculate The Cost of Day to Day Living in Spain
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