What is the Cost of Living in Barcelona?
We continue with our series of How To Calculate The Cost Of Living in Spain For You and Your Family! Today, we consider Barcelona …
Barcelona is an incredible city with an amazing vibe, which explains why so many people want to live in the Catalan capital. In the latest of our Cost of Living in Spain series, we will be taking a look at Barcelona. This will compare Barcelona with other major European cities as well as look at how much it costs to buy or rent property, everyday living expenses and other financial outgoings to help you decide whether moving to Barcelona is right for you.
Barcelona has long been a top destination for artists but the city is also making a name for itself in the world of entrepreneurs. According to EU startups, Barcelona is the fifth top innovation hub in Europe, beating Madrid which is sixth.
Be warned though, Barcelona is a tourist destination all year which makes it expensive for buying or renting property as well as going out in the city centre. If you want to be in the thick of things and you have a big budget, this won’t be a problem. Otherwise, you may want to look at the suburbs such as Nou Barris, Horta-Guinardo or Sarria-Sant Gervasi, all north of Barcelona and in easy commuting distance of the city centre.
Even though Barcelona is more expensive than other major Spanish cities, it is still much cheaper than London. Figures from numbeo.com show consumer prices are 26.65% lower in Barcelona, rent prices are 61.52% lower and restaurant prices are 35% lower. The average monthly salary is lower too though. The average London wage after tax is €2,553 while it is just €1,407 in Barcelona.
Shopping in Barcelona
Everyday grocery shopping is certainly affordable as Barcelona has a good selection of supermarkets, including Lidl and Aldi, and markets. You can get a loaf of bread for about €0.80, 1kg of rice for €0.68, 12 eggs for €1.20, 1kg of chicken breasts from €4.50, a bottle of decent wine from €3.00 (you can buy cheaper but a half-decent Rioja is €3-plus) and a 0.5l bottle of beer from €0.70. You can also pick up fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh fish from the daily markets. It’s best to avoid La Boqueria on the Rambla, as it’s rammed with tourists but Santa Caterina or the Mercat de la Concepcio are good alternatives.
For fashion, you can find everything from designer clothes to market-stall bargains. For high-end fashion head to Passeig de Gracia for Cartier, Emporio Armani and Jimmy Choo among others while 40kms from Barcelona is La Roca Village, which is a Chic Outlet Shopping village with discounts of up to 60% on the recommended retail price. Even clothes you can buy in the UK can be cheaper in Spain. For example a pair of Zara jeans are £29.95 in the UK but €29.95 in Barcelona (about £4 cheaper).
Obviously it can be more expensive to eat in the tourist areas and around La Rambla but you can still get a three course lunch-time set menu (menu del dia) for about €10 even in the tourist hotspots. A decent mid-range three-course meal for two will set you back about €30-€50. Half a lager will be around €2.50 at a bar (at least) and a glass of wine about €2.50 too.
Buying or renting property in Barcelona
Compared to much of northern Europe, property rents seem low in Barcelona. However, the tourist hotspots will be expensive. The city also recorded the highest increases in rents in Spain with a rise of 66% in five years to 2017 while other tourist destinations such as Mallorca rose 40% and Madrid was up 20%.
It is possible to rent a small studio by Barceloneta beach for €500 a month but a decent three-bedroom apartment in central Barcelona, such as near La Rambla, will be closer to €1,500 a month.
The average price of a property is €189,973 but one-bedroom flats in central Barcelona are selling for €260,000 with the best properties in top locations changing hands for millions.
On top of the rental price or mortgage, your average monthly bills for electricity, water, garbage collection and internet will add another €155 a month at least to your outgoings. Based on a two to three-bed apartment, costs will be:
- Electricity – €100
- Water – €20
- Internet – €35
Getting out and about in Barcelona
Public transport is the best way to get around in Barcelona as driving can be hectic and parking difficult to find.
You can get a range of tickets at low prices:
- Single metro or bus ticket is €2.15
- Single metro journey between the airport and the rest of the metro network for one zone is €4.50
- Special ticket for the football bus is €3
- A T-10 travel card for 10 bus and metro journeys in one zone is €9.95
- A T-50/30 card allowing 50 trips over 30 days in one zone is €42.50
- A T-Mes monthly travel card allowing unlimited journeys in one zone is €52.75
When you consider parking costs from €2-€3 an hour, then public transport is the cheaper option, particularly when you add the cost of petrol which is €1.279 for unleaded 95.
International schools in Barcelona
As you would expect from Spain’s second largest city, there is a good range of international schools in the city centre. Tuition fees can be from €10,000 per year for nursery children up to €20,500 a year for sixth form students plus additional fees for uniforms, travel, lunches and matriculation. Some of the best known international schools in Barcelona are:
- The Benjamin Franklin International School following the American curriculum.
- St George’s British School teaching a wide range of subjects from the British curriculum and, in addition, Spanish language, humanities and Catalan.
- Kensington School following the English curriculum
- Princess Margaret school, recognised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation to implement its programme,
- The American School of Barcelona teaching the American system and the IP diploma programme
- St Paul’s School offering the Spanish curriculum
- St Peter’s School which has a broad curriculum following the Spanish system but taught in English
(tables from https://www.numbeo.com)
New Series: What Is The Real Cost of living in Spain?
Welcome to our new series of posts looking at the cost of living in Spain. In this introductory post, we will inform you of general costs and provide you with great sources of information that you can use to calculate your own budget.
Your own personal cost of living in Spain will depend on the size of your family, your chosen destination and, of course, your expected standard of living. The information we provide serves as a guideline and it is up to you, to be honest when making your own calculations. A “Tapas in Malaga” kind of lifestyle budget will be nowhere near a “Popstar in Marbella” kind of lifestyle budget 😉
When talking about why they made the move to Spain, many expats will say the quality of life is one good reason while others point to the sun which seems to be constantly beaming down from the sky. Great food, endless fiestas and friendly environment are also major attractions.
Pensioners find their money goes further in Spain than in the UK and other north European countries, despite the poorer exchange rate compared to a few years ago. However, workers, unless they are self-employed with most of their income earned from outside Spain, will find the wages to be disappointingly low. That said, it is still fair to say your money goes a long way. For most people, the cost of living in Spain is generally lower than in their home country.
As we mentioned, in future articles we will be looking in detail at the cost of living in the top Spanish destinations for expats but now we are going to give a general overview of how much you need to live in Spain.
Living costs vary between the regions and from resort to resort – the top cities of Madrid and Barcelona are expensive but Spain’s third largest city of Valencia is surprisingly cheap. Likewise, the Balearic islands and swanky resorts such as Marbella will cost more than living in Torrevieja or Malaga. It’s worth bearing that in mind if you are still unsure of where to move to in Spain. You will find that some of the most expensive Spanish cities also have the highest incomes. For example, the cost of living in Barcelona is 30.17% higher than the national average, San Sebastian is 27.85% higher and Madrid is 22.72%. However, while. the average salary in Spain is about €23,000, in Madrid, it is €36,000, €33,000 in Barcelona and €29,000 in San Sebastian. Figures also show the cost of living in Madrid or Barcelona is still 40% cheaper than London.
Cost of living in Spain: Day to Day Expenses
These data are based on 26070 entries in the past 18 months from 2114 different contributors.
Last update: March, 2017 Source: Numbeo.com
Tips for reducing your own cost of living in Spain: Food shopping
It goes without saying that you’ll also need to adapt to your new life in Spain, particularly when doing the weekly grocery shopping. Buying everything in one large supermarket is often not the best option.
In Spain, the indoor markets are great for buying fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. This is simply because you can buy as much or as little as you want – no pre-packed stuff there!
Each supermarket has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Lidl can be great for meat, frozen and fresh veg, and fruit while Mercadona is a favourite for toiletries and bread. Other top supermarkets in Spain are Carrefour, Consum, Dia, Supercor and Aldi. (Click on the supermarket’s names to access their websites and compare prices)
Take your time with the food shopping. Visit new places and embrace the change. And it goes without saying, that you should always try to buy fresh products that are in season.
The best idea is to be versatile – as a Spanish teacher advised: “If chicken is expensive then eat fish. If potatoes are dear, eat rice instead.”
What you will find, in almost all parts of Spain, is that it’s much more affordable to go out to eat – and a that is a great way to start integrating.
Internet and mobile phones:
Cost of internet packages vary along with the speeds but, thankfully, fibre optic is making a breakthrough in many areas. The best deals are with Movistar, Orange and Vodafone, although you’ll need to check what their coverage is like in your area. You may also find firms in your area offering packages too.
If you think your children would benefit from being taught in English or following the British curriculum, you will find many private international schools in Spain. There is more information in our articles about international schools in Malaga and Alicante.
A litre of petrol is currently about €1.28. Use this website to check current petrol and diesel costs in your chosen destination: https://www.elpreciodelagasolina.com/
The results show you the location of petrol stations near to where you are …
Cost of Living in Spain: Monthly Expenses
Rent can be anything from about €450 to over €5000 (subject to your requirements) and location. For researching rental prices in different areas, the best online sites are Kyero, ThinkSpain and Idealista.
This article will help you to decide on the best location for you: http://movetomalagaspain.com/property-finder-malaga/where-to-live-in-malaga/
This article explains how to use portals to check out specific rental properties in different destinations: http://movetomalagaspain.com/how-to-find-your-ideal-long-term-rental-in-spain/
Use this table to calculate the rent in your chosen area: http://www.fotocasa.es/indice-alquiler-inmobiliario__fotocasa.asp
TIP: Rent prices are rising and good rental properties are difficult to find. Be ready to act quickly as soon as you find something you like!
Here is a breakdown that serves as a guideline as to where your money will go
Cost of Living in Spain: Annual Expenses
You will also need to factor in annual expenses such as:
- car insurance (average of €600 a year)
- house insurance (contents and building is from €129 with Linea Direct)
- travel insurance (from €70)
- health insurance if not eligible for SIP card (from €40 a month for a 30-year-old male)
Check out our article on how to save money on insurance in Spain
- car tax (€90 for a four-year-old family car)
- municipal taxes (about €125)
- IBI tax as a homeowner (depends on property value but from €200 to €800)
You should budget for a further €1,800 to cover these annual bills.
If you run a business, you will have to pay:
- tax on earnings
- IVA (the equivalent of VAT) of 21% which you collect from your customers
- any insurance needed such as public liability insurance.
You can read more in our articles about the costs of setting up a business in Spain as a freelance and whether it is such a good idea or not.
As you can see, many costs are fairly low in Spain, especially the fun ones such as having an after-work drink or dining out. When you add the other benefits of living in Spain such as the sheer beauty of the country, the crazy fiestas and the attitude of the locals, it’s worth every penny!
Take the first step towards living in MALAGA or ALICANTE. Contact us now!
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!
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.
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!
CONTACT US about Your Move to Spain!
COMING SOON: How To Calculate The Cost of Day to Day Living in Spain
Lisa’s Book Available on Amazon
As we explained in a previous post, Spain is a fabulous place to bring up your children. Family comes first and children are children for longer. However, don’t fool yourself, it can take time to adjust to new ways of doing things, especially when they are so different to what we thought were the right way to do things. There are so many tell tale signs that your kids grew up in Spain. I’m sure you can add many more to this initial list that we are sharing.
We were asked by The Local Spain to write a list and we will continue to add more to this list as you share our ideas with us. So, let’s get started …
You know your kids grew up in Spain when …
- You don’t scream for help when a stranger picks up your child to give them a hug.
- The never ending battle of getting them to say “Please” … is never ending!
- Hot chocolate and donuts (churros) are considered a normal breakfast.
- The first word your toddler learns at nursery is “Mío”.
- Dogs say “guau guau”.
- Tweety Pie is renamed “Piu Piu”.
- You send them off to their first day of school, escuela infantil, before they are even 3 years old!
- You have learnt to do divison sums backwards
- You catch yourself introducing yourself as “la madre de …” or “el padre de …”
- Hand and facial gestures are often used in place of words by your kids for expressing themselves.
- Cacahuete! (How many times do the kids find ways to use that word?)
- 3 month long summer holidays are just the norm.
- You can only dream of early bed times!
- Sea air is a popular cure for many illnesses … especially the never ending snotty noses!
- Your kids grow up able to spray salt water up their own nostrils to help clear a blocked nose.
- Lunchtime can be any time from 2pm to 5pm … especially at the weekend.
- They prefer olive oil on their bread rather than butter.
- Your kids complain when school days last longer that 9am to 2pm.
- You are no longer surprised when you go outside to find a pool full of children…and most of them aren’t yours!
- You don’t usually go outside if it’s raining and, to their English grandparents’ horror, your children do not possess any wellies
- When the children ask for “jamón” (ham) you need to check whether they want “Serrano” or “Cocido” (Spanish cured or boiled).
- Your kids, from an early age, are experts as sucking fresh shellfish, “mariscos”, from their shells.
- They do not think twice about having a full blown conversation with an unknown “abuelo” or “abuelito” in the street.
- They are constantly told by friends and family, back home, that they “look so well” due to year round exposure to fresh air and sunshine.
- They know the difference between a barra, baguette, pitufo, pan de molde and mollete.
- They can roll their R’s a lot better than you.
- You no longer flinch when Spanish radio and TV play the explicit lyrics of UK / US songs and videos.
- You are totally unflustered when you receive a note on Friday evening telling you that it’s a one week school holiday … starting on Monday!
- Your family conversations are often a mezcla of two idiomas. Spanglish rues!