Spain tops 12 nations in new cost of living study


living better, for less

Amid wince-inducing prices, it’s not surprising that many are looking beyond their home country’s borders. A new study of the cost of living in Spain offers thought-provoking insights.

Is it expensive to live in country X? How affordable are living expenses in country Y?
As inflation continues to take its toll, these questions seem to be on the mind of lots of folks these days — from current, or soon-to-be, retirees contemplating a move to a more hospitable location to digital nomads seeking a comfortable place to work remotely at reasonable costs.
If you happen to fit into any of these categories, you may be interested in reading about a new international survey that has attempted to address these very issues. It compared living expenses in a dozen or so countries, including several advanced industrialized nations in Europe, North America, and Oceania.
And the conclusion? – The cost of living in Spain is the lowest!

Cost of Living in Spain

The study, Cost of Living Overseas Index, was released in January by Property Guides, an online publisher that undertakes to serve as a “free and impartial resource” for those who are interested in moving overseas and buying property abroad.  The 13 countries surveyed for the Index are: the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. The United Kingdom served as the main reference point for comparisons.

“Those drawn to life in Spain will be pleased to know that out of all 13 of these countries, Spain boasts the most affordable cost of living,” concludes Property Guides.

To arrive at this conclusion, the team of Property Guides researchers tried to present a practical summary of “everyday living expenses” in each country, rather than what a hotel-bound tourist may encounter on a short visit.

“We aim to provide a realistic perspective on the day-to-day outlays an expat, holiday homeowner or retiree may encounter when settling into a new home abroad,” researchers say. They point out that their “basket of goods” includes everyday staples like a liter of milk and a loaf of bread.” In addition, they also compared the cost of renovating or furnishing your new home, including decorating materials such as paint and the cost of IKEA bookcases, as well as the cost of a cleaner to keep your home tidy.
Since many prospective property buyers are looking for a more laid-back and relaxed lifestyle, the team also checked the prices of popular leisure items and activities – from Netflix subscription costs to the price of movie tickets. (Please check here for information on the pricing of high-speed internet service in Spain). Noting that certain commonly used items happen to be very expensive in some countries – “such as paracetamol in Canada or laundry powder in Greece” – they factored those into their calculations as well.   

What makes it affordable

Outdoor cafe in downtown Malaga; affordable dining options keep cost of living in Spain lowPin

According to Property Guides, there are many reasons that make Spain, and particularly its Mediterranean coast, so attractive. They include the promise of over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, great beaches and “the welcome of a large expat community.”
But beyond the obvious lures of a friendly climate, natural beauty, cultural landmarks and culinary delights, it’s the cost of living in Spain that makes the country a great choice for expat living. In its analysis, which incorporated feedback from expats, Property Guides assessed several key factors, among them:
Groceries. Spain came out as the most affordable on that front, with the 17 basic items examined costing roughly 53% less than in the UK.

Travel. While Italy was found to be the most affordable country to travel in, Spain offers a range of pocket-friendly options, including excellent train service.

Home. This category included the expense of hiring a domestic cleaner for two hours, paint and kitchen utensils. The team also made calculations to arrive at a rough representative cost to heat and power a flat or small house for one week. The verdict: “Spain came out as the least expensive country.”
Not a surprise that in its report on the release of the Overseas Index the Travel and Leisure magazine suggested that now could be “the perfect time to take the leap and move abroad specifically, to this sunny country on the Iberian Peninsula, which was just revealed to have the lowest cost of living in Europe.”

The latest findings by Property Guides research team support the conclusions flagged by elsewhere on our website, including on such important issues as affordability of childcare.

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