Spain Cost of Living – Retire to Spain, Part 2

market in Spain
Carrefour Supermarket in Barcelona; Image Credit: Javierito92 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Spain has typically been regarded as one of the best value places to retire to. If you are looking to make your income stretch as far as possible then a Spain retirement offers a chance to live the good life for an excellent price.

How Much Do You Need?

As with anywhere else on the planet, the amount you need to live in Spain depends upon a number of factors. Will you be eating out a lot or going to theaters and shows? Do you want to live in a big house in an expensive area or in something more modest?

If we use US$1,300 as our baseline figure, we’ll see that while it’s possible to live in Spain on this, you’d have to manage your luxuries and treats carefully.

The Spain cost of living has increased a lot here over recent years, with it no longer being the incredibly cheap place to live that it once was. Having said that, Spain is going through a serious economic crisis at the time of writing (2015), which has impacted upon the cost of living.

We will look at the cost of housing later on but if you can avoid paying rent or a mortgage then this will make a huge difference to how much you need each month. Without this expense the figure of $1,300 we looked at earlier begins to look a lot more impressive.

The average monthly wage in Spain in 2014 was just over $2,000. The state pension paid to Spanish pensioners depends upon the amount of their contributions. The average monthly pension for 2010 is listed at just under $1,000.

If you want some help around the house then the cost of domestic workers starts at about $10 per hour.

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What Is Cheap and What Is Expensive in Spain?

As you would expect, some things here offer tremendous value while others don’t. Knowing what fits into each category can be a huge help in working out your budget and then sticking to it.

In Spain food and drink are typically good value, so we will look at them in their own section further on. Lightweight summer clothing, flip flips and other beach gear also don’t tend to cost too much, so it is easy to hit the beach in style.

Transportation is fairly cheap too, with buses and trains letting you travel round Spain at little cost. Buying and owning a car is typically cheaper than in the UK and other North European countries, although North Americans might not be quite so impressed. If you smoke then you will find that cigarettes are cheap here. Perfume is another item that many tourists take home from Spain due to its low cost here.

In terms of what is expensive here, some electrical goods and bathroom products can be more expensive than you might expect them to be. Having said that, buying online can help keep the cost more in line with other countries in Europe.

If you like the idea of buying food from back home, imported goods are often very expensive, although many expats can’t resist getting a taste of home from time to time.

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The Cost of Spain Housing

As we have already seen, the cost of housing is one of the issues that can have a massive effect on your Spain cost of living.

If you are thinking of buying somewhere to live in Spain then now is a fantastic time to do so. The property market went through a boom at the start of the 21st century and prices rose dramatically as new developments sprung up all over the country.

However, the economic problems suffered by Spain mean that prices have plummeted in the last few years. There are some amazing bargains to be picked up just now and you might find your dream home at a fraction of the price you would have paid a few years ago. Spain housing prices are slowly recovering, though, so expect them to rise over the next few years.

Equally, rental prices are now a lot lower than before as well. The price you pay will depend upon factors such as the area and the size of the property. Prices start from about $500 monthly, although the quality that you get for this price will vary considerably from one region to another. You can expect to be asked to sign a contract and to pay a deposit up-front.

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Spain Food, Drink and Restaurants

For many people planning a Spain retirement, the food and drink on offer provide some of the biggest reasons for going ahead. This is a country where you can eat superbly well for little money.

For cooking at home, you will find that the big supermarkets like Mercadona and Carrefour offer a big variety of goods at decent prices. If you stay near a fruit and vegetable market or fish market then you can get exceptionally fresh food at excellent prices here. Spain is also a great place for buying cheap but good quality wine, with lots of different brands to choose from.

Eating out is also very affordable here. An insider tip is to stick to the “menú del día” (menu of the day) whenever possible. This is a set menu that most Spain restaurants offer and that varies from one day to the next. It usually includes a main meal, dessert and sometimes wine too. The cost can start from as low as $10, with $20 being about the top end of the range.

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Spain Cost of Living Summary

Retiring to Spain isn’t as cheap as it used to be but it is still affordable for many people. When you consider the quality of life here and the chance to enjoy a better retirement it is still unbelievably good value.

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