Cost of Living in Spain compared to the UK

Be sure to consider the cost of living in Spain compared to the UK before deciding to retire there.

Cost of living in Spain

In accordance with the 2011 census compiled by Eurostat, there are circa 800,000 British people that currently live and work in Spain. Thousands of British expats retire to Spain every year, attracted by its Mediterranean climate and seductive lifestyle. But how is the general cost of living in Spain compared to the UK?

Spain has had its fair share of troubles as a result of the financial crisis, however its cities are much less expensive than other European counterparts such as London and Paris.

As in most European countries the cost of living in Spain has increased significantly over recent years; unfortunately salaries have not kept in line with inflation. This has made life more difficult for many residents. However, for those earning Northern European salaries or retiring to Spain on attractive UK pension benefits, the country offers a high quality of life and value for money.

Cost of Living Indices compared 

Research data on the cost of living in Spain provided by suggests that the UK is significantly more expensive than Spain to live in. Rent prices in particular are almost twice as high in the UK. The findings of Numbeo include the following:

  • Consumer prices in United Kingdom are 49.07% higher than in Spain
  • Consumer prices (including rent) in United Kingdom are 60.93% higher than in Spain
  • Rent prices in United Kingdom are 99.76% higher than in Spain
  • Restaurant prices in United Kingdom are 54.76% higher than in Spain
  • Grocery prices in United Kingdom are 53.78% higher than in Spain
  • Local Purchasing Power in United Kingdom is 14.39% higher than in Spain

Cost of accommodation in Spain

Now that the Spanish property boom has been and gone, the cost of Spanish housing has become attractive once more.

Costs vary considerably in a country of this size, particularly when comparing the major cities with property in more regional areas. In general property tends to be more expensive as you get closer to the coast; this is particularly true of the Mediterranean coastline. Short-term summer rentals for any coastal property can be among some of the most expensive real estate in Spain, while long-term leases are usually cheaper.

The average cost of a one bedroom city centre apartment in Spain is €500 per month compared to €1,000 per month in the UK. Should you wish to buy property, the price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city centre is on average €2,500 in Spain as opposed to €4,600 in the UK.

Transport in Spain

The public transport system in Spain is relatively cheap. Buses offer an excellent, low-cost way of travelling around the country. Spain also boasts an extensive network of high-speed trains (AVE) offering a new way of travelling between major cities. Such transport can be expensive; it is nice however to have the option to get where you need to go faster.

Cost of food and dining out

Surprisingly, the price of food in the supermarket is similar to that in the UK. However the opposite is true when eating out, with Spanish wine and food offering excellent value.


The cost for for internet and telephone services in Spain is higher than in the UK. However, an average bundle of utility services such as electricity, water, heating and garbage collection for an 85m² apartment in Spain is generally 30% cheaper than in the UK.


On the whole, the price for activities such as going to the cinema, fitness and leisure is 50% less expensive than similar offerings in the UK.

The allure of Spanish culture with its welcoming society, warm weather and broad spectrum of traditional cuisine has a lot to offer British expats. If you are a British expat intending to relocate to here, you should consider the benefits of a pension transfer to Spain. The most efficient way to make such a transfer is via a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, otherwise known as a QROPS. Why not take your UK pension with you! 

Get the Free QROPS Guide
Inside information about QROPS - UK pension transfers overseas
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