A Guide to the Cost of Living in Spain for Remote Workers

Sian Burton, Commercial Director, at property portal Kyero shares tips and advice for remote workers wanting to escape the UK climate

Spain has long been considered a cheap and affordable country to live in, and despite the cost of living in the country having risen over the last couple of years, compared to the UK it is still typically cheaper in terms of rent, food, transport, eating out and entertainment. (The same goes for the cost of living in Spain vs the US).

According to the cost of living site, Numbeo consumer prices in Spain are 20.1 percent lower than in the UK and 30.5 per cent lower than in the US. And with remote working now commonplace for many, a move to Spain has arguably never been more do-able, or attractive. Currently, around 13% of residents in Spain are foreign nationals.

Property

Cheaper house prices may be foremost in a lot of people’s minds when it comes to making the move. And although Spain is not without its more exclusive and expensive locations (such as Benahavís in the province of Malaga, with average prices exceeding €1.86 million), there are certainly bargains to be had when it comes to property. Some of the best value areas include Alcaudete de la Jara in Toledo province (at €284/m2), Blemez and Fuente Obejuna in Córdoba (€352/m2) and Villafranca del Cid in Castellón (€353/m2). Generally speaking, smaller towns and rural areas of Spain tend to be cheaper, whilst larger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are more expensive.

Meanwhile for renters, although costs have risen in Spain during the last year (average rents in Spain are €11.4/m2 per month), the Spanish government has stepped in to protect renters by introducing rent caps (no more than a 2 per cent increase throughout 2023). Most residential properties in Spain are owner-occupied, so competition for renting a property is high, making it more expensive. The most expensive places to rent are the Mediterranean coastal areas and large cities, while north-western and central cities tend to be cheaper.

Transport

This is one area that’s definitely cheaper in Spain and generally you’ll typically find you get a better service too with more comfortable trains and nowhere near as many delays as seen in the UK. To give you an idea, a single metro ticket in Barcelona is €2.40, one of the most expensive cities in Spain, while in London it is €3.40 and in New York, it’s €2.75. To help with the cost of living crisis, some cities are also offering half-price metro tickets, while a government policy saw short and medium train journeys made free throughout the country during 2023. Long-distance trains and buses are also cheaper.

Healthcare & Taxes

In Spain healthcare is free if you’re paying into the country’s social security system. You will automatically do this if you’re employed in Spain or if you’re registered as an autónomo (or freelancer). If you’re not paying into the system you’ll have to sign up for private healthcare, which can range from €50 to €200 per month. Taxes are quite high in Spain, something to be aware of when you consider your move. The tax-free threshold is lower than in other countries and as the tax system can be very complicated, so you’ll probably feel more confident with a gestor (similar to an accountant) handling your taxes. Certain tax rates and deductions can also depend on where you live in Spain, so do your research beforehand to find out where you’ll pay the most and the least. If you sign up to be self-employed or autónomo you’ll also have to pay your own social security fees on top of your taxes, which are among the highest in Europe at an average of around €300 per month, but it does depend on how much you earn. Worth noting that most autonomous regions offer freelancers a tiered discount on these costs that can last for up to 24 months.

Household bills

Just like other costs and bills, household bills have risen significantly over the past few years. Depending on which energy company and package you choose, there are cheaper times of day for electricity, so for example only putting your dishwasher or washing machine on during certain hours or days can help reduce your bills. The Spanish government has also implemented measures to reduce household energy bills, which could also help keep costs down. Meanwhile the average cost of 12 basic food products in Spain, including bread and milk, comes to a total of €30.55 according to the consumer protection association Asufin.

Leisure and entertainment

Generally speaking, leisure and entertainment is still quite affordable in Spain compared to many other northern European countries. Activities such as playing sports, going to the cinema or going to exhibitions are usually quite reasonable. If you’re used to the free museums in a big city such as London, however, you’ll find not as many are free in Spain, but there are typically discounts on certain days of the week, for residents, students or pensioners. Spain has an incredible landscape and beautiful weather so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities such as hikes or a day on the beach or in the mountains, activities that can be enjoyed all year round without having to spend any money!

About Editor 2611 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of International Business News. As the Owner of Need to See IT Publishing, Lisa is an experienced business and technology journalist and publisher.