Cost of Living in Spain vs UK

Cost of Living in Spain vs UK

Are you looking to find out about the cost of living in Spain vs UK?

As we reach the final month of 2023, the cost-of-living crisis in Britain has eased just a little.

However, it remains a challenge for many and will do for some time prompting renewed interest in moving abroad to countries such as Spain, where the work-life balance works more positively.

Spain enjoys abundant sunshine throughout most of the year, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a warm and sunny climate.

The country welcomes families and boasts a vibrant social scene, with a rich cultural heritage and diverse activities and events to enjoy.

Spanish people are renowned for their laid-back approach to life, contributing to the overall appeal of the country.

Moreover, Spain is celebrated for its delectable cuisine.

Whether it’s the paella of Valencia, tapas in Barcelona, or the seafood delicacies of the coastal regions, Spain offers a gastronomic experience that will surely please everyone’s palate.

If you are contemplating a move to sunny Spain, you are probably wondering what to expect from the cost of living there.

Gaining insights into the cost of living is paramount when initially investigating a move abroad.

It empowers individuals to assess the potential financial implications of relocation, helping them determine the feasibility of such a significant transition.

In other words, will you have a decent standard of living when you get there?

Our article delves deeper into the cost of living in Spain vs UK, aiming to provide comprehensive insights into the pros and cons of residing in these countries.

Compare Salaries


There are a lot of job opportunities for high skilled workers in Spain. Image credit: Unsplash

Spain offers numerous job prospects for highly skilled professionals.

If you’re considering retiring in Spain, it will be a decision likely unaffected by salary comparisons however, the focus shifts when seeking employment.

Examining your earning potential and expectations will prove a bit of a challenge.

There are several factors like qualifications, experience, demand for specific skills, and the unique conditions of the job market, all influencing salary levels in each country.

Similar to the UK, Spain’s economy has suffered over the past few years even so, there are some great opportunities to be had in certain industries.

Sectors such as Healthcare, IT, automotive, food/beverage, and tourism are all growing industries in Spain ideal for UK candidates with experience and qualifications in these areas.

Though speaking Spanish may prove very helpful, it is not essential but if you can show that you are attending Spanish classes it could be a deal clincher.

To provide a comparative overview, let’s take a closer look at a few common job titles and explore the average annual earnings one can expect in the UK and Spain for these professions.

According to Horizons, the overall annual average salary in Spain as of 2023 is around €2,250 (£1,927) gross per month or €27,000 (£23,100) per year.

Whereas the average salary in the UK is slightly higher.

The average salary according to Jobted is £1,950 per month equating to £29,600 annually.

When it comes to comparing annual salaries between professions, it is a mixed affair.

Overview of Salary Differences

  • Tech workers in Spain start at €22,332 (£19,131) – UK £23,000
  • Engineers in Spain €30,000 – (£25,750) – UK £48,000
  • Qualified dentists are highly paid in both countries €90,000 (£77,000) – UK £80,000
  • Nurses in Spain earn €25,216 (£21,417) – UK £31,000
  • Secondary School Teacher in Spain €30,000 (£25,700) – UK £38,000

Statistics provided by jobted 

Paying Your Taxes

Same as most countries in the world, you will be expected to pay tax if you live in both the UK and Spain.

Drawing comparisons between the two is not easy but, you must familiarise yourself with the Spanish taxation system.

You can get into serious trouble if you do not calculate or pay your due taxes.

Speaking with a tax advisor before you go to Spain is a good idea. That way you can prepare well in advance of the move and perhaps even reduce your tax liability in both countries.

Historically, evading the payment of tax was almost a way of life in Spain.

Today it is much more difficult, and a swathe of tax reforms has tightened the net considerably.

The tax system in Spain is complicated and operates on three levels: national, regional, and local or municipal.

To add to the complication, some tax levels can change from region to region.

Nationally, taxes such as income tax, corporate tax, value-added tax (VAT), and capital gains tax rates and regulations are determined by the central government.

Regional governments have the authority to set tax rates and rules within their jurisdictions.

Tax in the UK

In the UK we have four income tax bands (2023/2024):

  • Personal allowance earnings between £0 and £12,570: 0%
  • Basic rate £12,571 and £50,270: 20%
  • Higher rate £50,271 and £150,000: 40%
  • Additional rate over £150,000: 45%

Stats as per the income tax website.

Tax in Spain

In Spain, there are six levels, and as income tax rates in Spain are not uniform across the country, your total liable tax will be a calculation of the state’s general tax rates plus the relevant regional tax rates.

Spain’s tax rates in 2023 are as follows:

  • Up to €12,450: 19%
  • €12,451–€20,200: 24%
  • €20,201–€35,200: 30%
  • €35,201–€60,000: 37%
  • €60,001–€300,000: 45%
  • More than €300,000 47%

This is just a basic overview of the Spanish tax system, for further information click here.

Differences in Property Prices

House in Asturias, Spain

Houses on the river in Asturias, Spain. Image credit: Pixabay

As buying a home is probably going to be the largest investment you make in Spain, you are going to want to have an idea of the cost of a home in Spain and whether it will be cheaper than prices paid in the UK.

Given that purchasing a home in Spain is likely to be your most substantial investment, it’s essential to gauge the cost of homes in Spain before you make the leap.

Spain provides plenty of luxury multi-million-pound homes right across the country.

However, for those with less to spend, the vast majority of properties are very reasonably priced, an influential factor when deciding to relocate here.

The additional bonus is the amount of space inside and outside of properties in Spain (apartments aside).

Homes are geared up for outdoor living and gardens very often come with private swimming pools, and in some cases shared pools.

With the weather being so good for much of the year, the outside lifestyle in Spain is well catered for.

According to the latest UK Land Registry stats, buying a home in the UK costs an average of £291,385.

In contrast, the average cost to buy a home in Spain is €249,400 (£213,660).

Despite the average cost, in many regions of Spain, it is not unusual to purchase a four-bedroom home with a pool for under £165,000.

Location is key, with homes further inland always being cheaper than coastal properties.

No matter where you go to check the statistics, you are going to pay less for a home in Spain when you compare costs to the UK.

You may be new to the Spanish property market, in this case, for a full explanation of the buying process visit the Spanish Property Insight webpage.

Rental Cost Comparisons

House for Rent

Renting tends to be cheaper when living in Spain. Image credit: Pexels

Renting a home in Spain is a good start.

Prices vary depending on location, however, aside from the country’s large cities, rental costs are very reasonable.

It also makes sense to rent for a while when you arrive if you are not very familiar with the area. It really provides you with the opportunity to test drive different locations until you find one you love.

Rather than going to the huge expense of buying a property, ever-increasing numbers are opting to rent instead.

There are several explanations as to why renting has become so much more common in both Spain and the UK, and the reasons are not dissimilar.

High job insecurity, large unemployment, the shrinking affordability of houses due to house value and disposable income progressing differently and the reluctance of lenders have all contributed to a problematic housing market home and away.

But what are you going to pay to rent a home in Spain compared to the UK?

For a 1-bedroom apartment in a city centre in Spain, it will cost around £758pcm in the UK this rises to £1081pcm.

A similar-sized apartment on the outskirts of town will be £617pcm and in the UK £846pcm.

Families searching for a centrally located 3-bed rental should budget for £1237pcm in Spain and the UK £1900pcm.

On the outskirts of a Spanish town, you will pay much less at around £937pcm versus £1426pcm in the UK for a similar location.

It is safe to say that Spain is a winner when it comes to analysing the cost of renting a home in Spain.

There have been some major changes to rental laws in Spain during 2023.

To find out how this may affect you as a tenant, visit the website here.

Utility Costs Comparison

UK energy prices have been higher than the EU average for at least five years.

This gap widened in the aftermath of the COVID lockdown and the war in Ukraine.

Brits have found slight relief with some providers cutting costs; however, utility costs remain high.

Whilst you will find the cost of your heating bill plummet in Spain, there is still water, electricity, and services to be paid.

It is also important to bear in mind that in the hottest months of the year, you will likely have your air conditioning on at night adding to electricity usage.

As a comparison, your monthly utilities in Spain will be approximately £126 per month, based on living in a one-bedroom apartment.

In the UK, it is double the cost at £252 per month (on average).

Cost of Getting Around by Car

Car Interior

It is generally cheaper to drive in Spain compared to the UK. Image credit: Unsplash

Whether it is in the UK or Spain, the cost of running and maintaining a car is not cheap.

Car owners in Spain must factor in the cost of car insurance and ongoing maintenance just as you do at home in the UK.

Fuel cost is an area where there can be some big price differences.

The cost for 1 litre of fuel in the UK is between £1.70 – £1.90 per litre.

Unsurprisingly it is lower in Spain where you can expect to pay between £1.30 – £1.60

The Spanish have a technical inspection performed at the ITV station every year for old cars and every two years for newer ones, at around £20-£30.

In the UK, we have an annual MOT. The maximum cost of an MOT for a car in England is legally set at £54.85 although many garages provide cheaper options if you shop around.

To have a service in the UK, for a small car, you’re looking at a full car service cost of around £170. For a medium car, that price is about £210, and for a large car, you’ll pay in the region of £395 for the full car service.

This is quite a difficult area to compare due to the way things are done, but for the most part, you will find it cheaper to run and maintain a car in Spain.

Cost of Getting Around by Bus

Public transport is the favoured way to navigate locally in Spain.

It is also much more reasonably priced in comparison to the UK.

According to Numbeo:

One way ticket on a local bus route in Spain is £1.29 vs £2.50 in the UK

A monthly bus pass in Spain is £33 vs £78 in the UK.

Another cost-saving point awarded to Spain!

Getting Around by Train

Spanish train

The Spanish Railway system is operated by the state. Image credit: Pixabay

The Spanish Railway system is operated by the state.

Spain has made significant advancements in its rail travel infrastructure in recent years.

The introduction of High-speed AVE trains has been a leading factor in this.

These trains connect major cities in Spain at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph), providing a convenient and efficient mode of transportation.

By booking tickets in advance online, passengers can often find great deals and affordable fares.

One key factor contributing to the comparatively lower prices of rail travel in Spain is the fact that the Spanish rail system is operated by the state.

This means that the government plays a role in setting fares and maintaining affordability for passengers.

In contrast, the train services in the UK have been privatised, with multiple companies operating in different regions of the country.

This has resulted in a more fragmented rail system, with varying service levels and pricing structures across different regions.

While it is challenging to make direct cost comparisons between the two countries, it is generally observed that rail travel in Spain, even for long distances, tends to be more affordable than in the UK.

The state’s involvement in the Spanish rail system helps in keeping prices relatively lower for passengers no matter where they travel in Spain.

Food Shopping Comparisons

Food in Supermarket

Food prices tend to be cheaper in Spain. Image credit: Unsplash

Food prices tend to be cheaper in Spain.

Numerous factors influence the price of food items in both Spain and the UK.

Location, local supply and demand, transportation costs, agricultural practices, and seasonal availability all play a role in determining food prices.

The availability of locally produced food can also have an impact on prices.

In both Spain and the UK, certain regions may have a higher abundance of certain agricultural products, leading to lower prices for those items in those specific areas.

Transportation costs also come into play.

Food items that need to be transported over long distances or imported from other countries will incur additional costs, which can be reflected in the final price.

Seasonality is another crucial factor. It is generally cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season locally.

They are more readily available and don’t require extensive transportation or storage.

Out-of-season produce often needs to be imported or grown in controlled environments, which can drive up prices.

Moreover, the pricing strategies of supermarkets and retailers can vary significantly within the UK alone.

Different supermarkets may have different pricing structures, promotions, and markups, leading to variations in food prices across different stores.

Bearing in mind these complexities, Numbeo the price comparison website, has done the hard work and produced some handy price comparisons as follows:

  • 1 litre of milk Spain €0.78 (66p) – UK £1.04
  • 500g loaf of white bread Spain €1.05 (90p) – UK £1.07
  • Dozen medium-sized eggs Spain €2.28 (£1.95) – UK £2.50
  • 1kg Potatoes – Spain €1.28 (£1.10) – UK £1.07
  • Mid-range bottle of wine €5.00 (£4.28) – UK £8.00
  • Cigarettes per pack of 20 € 6.00(£5.15) – UK £12.50

How to Move Your Belongings to Spain

White&Company Truck in Transit

White&Company Truck

Once you have weighed up the pros and cons of moving to Spain and are ready to join the almost 300,000 Brits already living there, you need to get your personal effects safely transported across.

When a job needs doing, call in the experts.

White & Company have a sound reputation within the removal industry, and we are well known for providing a reliable, trustworthy, reasonably priced service.

What is more, as long-standing members of BAR, Omni and FIDI you will have the added peace of mind that our service is backed by the removal industry’s most influential organisations.

Don’t hesitate to call us today for a free-of-charge no-obligation home survey.

You can complete a quick quote form online, chat with our Bot, or alternatively, just call by phone.

Either way, we will respond as soon as we can and hopefully, we can help work towards getting you much closer to your Spanish emigration dream.


These are just a few of the comparisons concerning the cost of living between Spain and the UK.

Due to the significant differences between the two countries in terms of culture, lifestyle, and other factors, comparing the two is not an exact science.

That said, generally, the cost of living, on the whole, is cheaper in Spain than it is in the UK, especially in terms of housing, food, and entertainment.

Ultimately, the comparison between living in the UK and Spain will depend on your personal preferences.

This could include lifestyle goals and individual circumstances.

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