Living & Working in Spain

The cost of living is ratcheting up in Spain as a consequence of joining the Euro, but prices are no more than in any other single currency country.

Expats who have lived in Spain for a while bemoan the prices rises, but they started from such a low level they have really own kept up with the neighbours in France.

Where prices may go from now is anyone’s guess as Spain is in the throes of an economic meltdown as banks over exposed to bad property debts pick up a €100 billion bail out.

The bad news for Spanish homeowners is prices have dropped around 40% since their peak in 2007, but the signs are much of the oversupply of new build homes has been soaked up by the market and values are bottoming out.

However, Spanish property is a buyer’s market and it’s unlikely prices will ever be this low again.

The advantage of moving to Spain now is cheap property brings down the cost of living because less money is going out on a mortgage.

If you are buying in Spain, consider switching the cash with a specialist currency firm instead of a bank. The commission is much less and the savings can add up to a significant amount.

Day-to-day bills are pretty much the same as the UK, but expect to pay a premium on water, which is a scarcer resource in Spain than Britain with our never-ending rain.

Unlike France, it’s probably cheaper not to shop for food in the markets than in supermarkets or direct from the farm gate, while the food will not have travelled so far.

Pensioners should watch out for loyalty cards at larger stores for the over 65s, which can make shopping for household essentials and clothes up to 10% cheaper.

Eating out is still a thrill, and lunchtime specials for workers are filing and economical at around €10 for three courses. Restaurants are vying for limited trade as the economy dives and some good fixed price menu deals are available for evening diners as well.

Of course, restaurants are more expensive in the city centres and tourist areas.

For diners who want their money’s worth, musicians and other artistes perform free in city squares and parks at night, when temperatures are cooler. During the day or early evenings, some put on shows for children.

Getting around is not expensive.

Public transport is good. Local buses are reasonably priced, while trains are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable than those in the UK. The over 60s should buy a discount card for a few Euros which gives around a third or more off fares.

Secondhand cars are cheaper than in France, and buyers often border hop to drive off with a bargain.

Petrol and diesel come in a few pence cheaper than in the UK.

For pensioners, the UK state pension is indexed link for anyone living in Spain.