Cost of Living in Barcelona for British Expats

Cost of Living in Barcelona for British Expats

Are you finding that the cost of living in the UK is getting you down?

Maybe you have contemplated moving to a warmer and cheaper destination.

Spain provides both, and there are so many wonderful locations to choose from across the country.

Perhaps you have wondered if the cost of living in Barcelona for British ex-pats is cheaper compared to home.

Barcelona is a popular destination and thousands of British ex-pats have made it their permanent home.

Doubtless, you will have all kinds of questions about the cost of living in Barcelona for British ex-pats.

Direct city-to-city living cost comparisons are difficult however, to distinguish the differences we have chosen to concentrate on the cost of living in Barcelona versus London.

In this helpful guide, we will investigate the differences in the cost of living across a number of topics to help you decide whether it is financially viable for you to make the jump and move to Barcelona.

About Barcelona

Barcelona aerial view

Barcelona is a truly diverse city with people from across the world choosing to live here. Image credit: Unsplash

If you are contemplating a move to Barcelona, chances are you are already familiar with many of the city’s positive attributes.

An undeniably incredible place to live, the city attracts people from across the globe with its year-round warm weather, cultural offerings, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife.

Barcelona is a veritable melting pot of cultures, that supports a diverse population of people from all over the world.

This cultural diversity adds to the city’s vibrant atmosphere and offers countless culinary opportunities.

Most importantly, the city’s mild warm climate allows for outdoor activities year-round, whether it is sunbathing on the beach or hiking in the nearby mountains.

Lifestyle in Barcelona

Though the city is buzzing with fun and entertainment, it is also much less frantic than London in many ways.

Characterised by its laid-back Mediterranean vibe, Barcelona is packed with cultural richness and its emphasis on enjoying life to the fullest is so appealing.

You may encounter a few problems with the language barrier to start with but being a top tourist destination, most people can speak some English.

That said, it will pay dividends if you make the effort and learn to speak Spanish.

Salary Comparisons

Salary in Barcelona

Salaries in Barcelona may be closer to what you are used to in the UK than you may initially think. Image credit: Pixabay

The first thing you will likely need to do is to get a job in Barcelona.

Employment opportunities are available, particularly for those who are highly skilled.

In demand are those with professional skills in the areas of human resources, media, admin, customer service, secretarial, legal, or accounting positions.

While graphic design, design, finance, and fashion are also sought-after occupations.

Another option is teaching English. There is a demand for English teachers in language schools, via private tutoring, and even in-company language training programs.

When it comes to salary, here we have listed several occupations and their compared earnings in London versus Barcelona:

The average annual salary in London is £44,190 vs Barcelona’s £37,680

For individual occupations, we have taken the average salary for each.

  • Graphic designer in London £32,037 vs Barcelona’s £36,039
  • Accountant in London £45,000 vs Barcelona £44,500
  • English Teacher London £43,829 vs Barcelona £20,982
  • Customer Service in London £27,571 vs £26,657
  • Construction worker in London £29,330 vs Barcelona £27,302

Statistics calculated using payscale.

When you look at these salary comparisons you can see that there is not a huge difference between the two countries.

Aside from teaching, which in Barcelona would be teaching English as a foreign language, you can earn very similar wages whether you live in London or Barcelona.

Great news for your Spanish budget!

Check out Spain Made Simple for some very helpful insights and tips for landing a job in Barcelona. 

Tax Bands in Barcelona

Once you have found employment, tax on your earnings must inevitably be paid in both countries.

But what are the tax bands for each city as of March 2024?


Personal Allowance   Up to £12,570               0%

Basic Rate                      £12,571 & £50,270    20%

Higher Rate                    £50,271 to £125,140 40%

Additional Rate            Over £125,140             45%

Stats as per the income tax website.


The taxation system in Spain is more complicated than the UK and spans more bands as well as operating on three levels: national, regional, and local or municipal.

Additionally, the rates can change depending on the province in which you live; something to bear in mind if you move out of Barcelona.

Because of the way the tax system is constructed in Spain, it does mean that you are likely to pay more tax when compared to the UK.

  • A tax of up to €12,450 at 19%
  • From €12,450–€20,200 at 24%
  • From €20,200–€35,200 at 30%
  • From €35,200–€60,000 at 37%
  • From €60,000–€300,000 at 45%
  • More than €300,000 at 47%

Stats as per myspainvisa.

These are some of the most important taxes foreigners living in Spain have to pay, but they are not the only ones.

Here is some more information about the Spanish taxation system.

Property Cost Differences

Barcelona properties

Properties in Barcelona are cheaper than you may think. Image credit: Unsplash

Once established in Barcelona your thoughts may turn to making the ultimate commitment and buying a home there.

But how does the cost of purchasing a home compare to the UK?

Unless you are a millionaire and money is not an issue, getting the best deal will be crucial to your budget.

The good news is that this is one area relating to the cost of living where expats can benefit, even more so if you are prepared to live on the city’s outskirts rather than centrally.

Plus, further out from Barcelona homes are not only cheaper, but gardens tend to be much larger and perfectly geared up for spending lots of time outside socialising and eating.

Buying a home in London in comparison is extortionate.

Even small one-bedroom apartments are tiny, and most dwellings don’t have a garden let alone a big one.

You have to travel quite a bit outside of the capital to gain any benefit both in size and price.

So, what are the property cost differences?

The price per square meter to buy an apartment in central London is £13,575.77 vs Barcelona £4,825.30.

The price per square meter to buy an apartment outside the centre of London is £7,654.84 vs Barcelona’s £3,109.03.

It is clear that when it comes to purchasing your own home, whether it be in or outside of Barcelona, you are going to make significant savings compared to doing the same in London, possibly saving as much as 65-75%!

Stats as per the cost of living website Numbeo.

Rental Cost Differences

The vast majority of ex-pats arriving in Barcelona will spend at least a year in a rental property before purchasing a home.

Exactly like all locations, some neighbourhoods are going to be cheaper than others.

Renting gives you much more flexibility as well as the added benefit of having time to find where you think is best for you to settle permanently.

Again, in Barcelona, we find that renting a home works out far cheaper when compared to London:

  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – London £2,204.17 vs Barcelona 1,059.85
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre – London £1,623.50 vs Barcelona £806.83
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre – London  £4,165.38 vs Barcelona £1,773.68
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre – London £2,746.25 vs Barcelona £1,314.97

Stats as per the cost of living website  Numbeo.

Energy Price Comparison

Energy Prices in Barcelona

Energy Prices in Barcelona could be a welcome change from the UK. Image credit: Pexels

There has been a global rise in utility costs over the past four years.

As we know, several factors have contributed to the surge in fuel prices.

Mainly it has been due to the Ukraine/Russia conflict and supply and demand on the global wholesale market.

There is better news on the horizon in the UK, as prices are set to fall in April 2024. 

In the meantime, Barcelona still beats the UK for utility costs.

The average cost to heat or cool your home, water supply in and out and household waste disposal in Barcelona is almost half the cost compared to London.

  • As an example, if you live in a one-bedroom apartment, you will pay £141.50 per month for your utilities in Barcelona.
  • In London, for a similar-sized property, the costs rise to £284.98.

Services is yet another area where significant savings can be made living in Barcelona.

Getting around Barcelona

Travel costs are generally unavoidable unless you live so centrally you can walk to work.

Both cities provide residents with comprehensive transport options including, busses, trains, underground trains, e-bikes, and taxis.

In some cases, walking is the best option.

Just like London Barcelona gets heavily congested, particularly in the summer months making driving a nightmare.

If you live a bit further out, the metro is one of the best options because it is fast and reaches pretty much everywhere.

Public transportation in Barcelona is relatively easy to understand and navigate and, very reasonably priced.

You can buy a monthly local transport pass for around £22. Compare this to London’s £195 and you realise just how cheap getting around Barcelona is.

Buying Your Groceries

Groceries in Barcelona

Groceries in Barcelona are considerably cheaper than in the UK. Image credit: Pexels

Your money will stretch further when you do your weekly shop in Barcelona.

There is a great choice of supermarkets from large hypermarkets to smaller ones.

In addition, there is always a food market open somewhere in Barcelona.

You will also find budget stores and more expensive options.

Here is a list of some common food items and their comparative prices:

  • Milk 1 x litre                    Barcelona £0.92 – London £1.27
  • Sliced white loaf          Barcelona £1.08 – London £1.42
  • Eggs x 12                         Barcelona £2.53 – London £3.39
  • Tomatoes x 1 kg           Barcelona £1.94 – London £3.07
  • Bottle mid-priced wine x 750ml – Barcelona £5.24 – London £9.25
  • Beer x ½ litre                  Barcelona £0.95 – London £1.99
  • Cigarettes per 20        Barcelona £4.41 – London £15.10

You can rest assured that no matter where you shop in Barcelona, in almost every case, food prices are cheaper than in London.

For comparisons on more products visit the living cost website.

Childcare Cost Comparison

When you move with children it does add another dimension to the whole relocation experience.

It is good to know that Barcelona has some fantastic education options for school-aged children.

However, if your children are under school age, you may need to consider placing them in nurseries or pre-schools on a part-time or full-time basis.

In this aspect, Barcelona also stands out in terms of affordability compared to London.

Barcelona has a large network of municipal nursery schools (escoles bressol), where children aged between 4 months and 3 years are looked after.

The costs are subsidised, and the fees are calculated through a social pricing system, according to income and number of members of the family unit the child belongs to.

In London, you can budget approximately £1770 per month for full-day care compared to just £441 per month in Barcelona.

An incredible saving when both parents need to work full time.

In Summary

Barcelona at sunset

Living in Barcelona offers plenty of potential savings. Image credit: Pexels

After weighing the pros and cons of relocating to Barcelona versus London you will now have a better understanding of the cost-of-living differences

When you look at what you would be spending your hard-earned income on in London and compare it to Barcelona, in almost all cases, you will be better off financially in Barcelona.

With careful planning and investigation, overcoming any visa and residency challenges associated with moving to Barcelona can be relatively straightforward.

The city offers a wealth of opportunities for personal and professional development, making it a highly desirable destination for individuals and families alike.

Add to this the potential savings you could make then moving to Barcelona is a very real possibility and one you are unlikely to regret.

Making the Move Happen

WACO Truck

White & Company Truck

To get the relocation underway, you need to contact a removal firm that deals with European removals.

For expert handling, consider reaching out to professionals like White & Company.

With a strong reputation in the removal industry, we are known for providing reliable, trustworthy, and competitively-priced European removal services.

As longstanding members of prestigious organisations such as BAR, Omni, and FIDI, our services are endorsed by the most influential bodies in the removal industry.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation home or virtual survey.

You can also fill out our online quick quote form or chat with our helpful chatbot.

Regardless of the method you choose, we aim to assist you in realising your dream of relocating to Barcelona.

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