Cost Of Living In Spain Vs UK

When it comes to the cost of living in Spain versus the UK, it’s clear that the Spanish know how to live la vida buena without breaking the bank.

With an average 31% lower cost of living, Spain is a budget-friendly paradise for anyone seeking a sunny Mediterranean lifestyle without emptying their pockets.

This article will examine every aspect of affordability, including housing, food, taxes, and childcare, giving you a complete picture of how Spain compares to the UK.

Spain vs UK: Housing

Looking for a new pad to call home? If price is your top priority, you should pack your bags and fly to Spain. The country’s housing market is notably kinder to your wallet than the UK’s. How kind, you ask? On average, renting a one-bedroom flat in Spain’s city center rather than the UK will save you roughly 36%. For instance, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Spain is about £661.94, compared to a colossal £901.97 in the UK.

But wait, there’s more! The pricing disparity is much more notable if you’re in the market to purchase a home. Spain’s median home price of £2,820.03 is 55% lower than the UK’s average home price of £4,396.56. That’s a lot of extra paella you can enjoy, or fish and chips if you prefer that.

There are, of course, exceptions, as with anything else in life. The exact region and locality within each country can have a significant impact on the cost of housing, so it is advisable to do your research before deciding where to settle down.  However, Spain is a smart choice if you want to save the most money and still lead a respectable lifestyle.

Tip: Interested in buying a property in the UK or Spain? We have created a transferring money from Spain to the UK guide that showcases the best companies to work with if you need to send large sums of money between the two countries.

Spain vs UK: Salaries

The grass may seem greener on the UK side when it comes to salaries, but let’s not forget to factor in the cost of living. While software engineers in the UK may enjoy an average annual salary after tax of £59,900, their counterparts in Spain take home around £2062.25.

Likewise, nurses in the UK may make an average annual salary after tax of £54,500, but in Spain, they still earn a respectable £2088.90. Even teachers in Spain have something to smile about, with an average annual salary after tax of £2551.12, which may not match the UK’s £75,300 but is still a respectable sum.

Journalists in the UK may earn an average annual salary after tax of £82,800, but in Spain, they could expect to take home a decent £35,184.48. Graphic designers in the UK may earn an average annual salary after tax of £43,600, but in Spain, they still earn a respectable £1830.

So whether you’re a journalist breaking the latest news or a designer breaking creative boundaries, remember to consider the cost of living before you make a move. After all, it’s not just about how much you earn but also how much you can keep in your pocket after paying for housing, food, taxes, and other essentials.

Spain vs UK: Food

When it comes to food prices, Spain and the UK have some notable differences. Eating out at an inexpensive restaurant is more affordable in Spain, with meals costing around £10.58, while the same meal in the UK costs £17, which is a 41.7% increase. However, mid-range restaurants in the UK are only 24.7% more expensive than those in Spain.

If you’re a fan of fast food, you’re in luck in Spain, as a McDonald’s combo meal costs 15% less there than in the UK. However, if you prefer a beer with your meal, you’ll pay more for it in Spain. A 0.5 liter draught beer costs 81.4% more in the UK, and an imported 0.33 liter beer bottle costs 51.2% more.

If you’re a coffee drinker, be prepared to pay almost twice as much for a cappuccino in the UK than in Spain, with a 90.3% price difference. The same goes for a bottle of water, which costs 4.4% more in the UK.

In terms of groceries, prices for milk, bread, and eggs are all higher in the UK, with cheese and bananas being exceptions that are less expensive there. However, fresh meat is generally less expensive in the UK, with beef and chicken fillets being slightly cheaper. If you’re a smoker, beware that cigarettes are more than twice as expensive in the UK as they are in Spain, with a 172.1% price difference.

Spain vs UK: Taxes

The tax rates in Spain and the UK appear to be closely comparable, but when it comes to real estate tax, Spain clearly wins with a rate of 0.52%, while the UK falls behind with 1.93%.

In terms of income tax, Spain’s rates are marginally lower than those in the UK, but don’t be misled—with their sneaky 45% rate, you may wind up paying more in the end. And, once again, Spain outperforms the UK in terms of sales tax, with a 1% higher rate. Overall, it’s a tough choice, but the Spanish sun could just make the extra taxes worthwhile!

Spain vs UK: Utilities

When it comes to utilities, it seems that Spain has the upper hand in terms of affordability. Basic utilities for an 85 m2 apartment in Spain cost €129.81 or £114.48, while in the UK, it’s €216.66 or £191.08—a whopping 66.9% difference!

However, if you’re a heavy mobile user, you might prefer the UK, where a minute of prepaid mobile tariff is slightly cheaper at €0.14 or £0.12, compared to €0.16 or £0.14 in Spain. And while Spain wins in terms of affordable internet at €35.24 or £31.08 for 60 mbps or more, the UK is not far behind at €34.02 or £30.00. Ultimately, it depends on your priorities—do you want to save on basic utilities or mobile usage and internet?

Spain vs UK: Childcare

Childcare costs can be a real headache for parents, whether you’re in sunny Spain or rainy old England. If you’re considering moving to either country, it’s worth taking a closer look at the cost of raising kids. For starters, if you’re looking for a private preschool, you might want to stick to Spain, where you’ll pay around £320.46 per month.

In the UK, on the other hand, be prepared to part with over £1,000 per month—a whopping 224.2% more than in Spain. And if you’re planning on sending your little ones to an international primary school, be ready to dig deep. In Spain, it’ll set you back around £6,557.62 per year, while in the UK, the cost jumps to a whopping £13,615.98—a 107.6% increase.

Of course, the price you pay for childcare may depend on a variety of factors, such as location, quality of the facility, and number of children enrolled. However, it’s clear that when it comes to childcare, Spain is the more affordable option.

Spain vs UK: Crime Rates

When it comes to crime rates, Spain seems to have a leg up on the UK. The level of crime in Spain is classified as “low” compared to the UK’s “moderate,” and the incidence of violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery is lower in Spain as well. However, Spain has its fair share of problems, with property crimes like theft and vandalism being categorized as “moderate.” But at least you can walk alone during the day in Spain with a 79.39% chance of being safe, whereas in the UK, it’s only 68.45%.

But while the crime rate in Spain may be lower, the increase in crime in the past three years has been classified as “high” at 60.03%, compared to the UK’s 63.93%. Worries about being mugged or robbed are rated “low” in both countries, but the UK seems to be more concerned about being insulted or attacked, with worries in those categories being rated as “moderate” to Spain’s “low.”

Drug usage and dealing is rated as “moderate” in Spain and “high” in the UK. In terms of corruption and bribery, which is rated as “moderate” in Spain but only “low” in the UK.

In the end, it’s important to remember that while statistics can give us a general idea of crime rates, they don’t tell the whole story. It’s always a good idea to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are.


Even though living in the UK could result in a higher income, total living costs in Spain are generally cheaper. Spain not only has lower crime rates, but also cheaper housing, food, tax, utility, and daycare bills. In the end, there should be more considerations than just your income when deciding where to live. The key is striking the ideal balance between earning a living and truly enjoying your life.


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