Deciding to move to Spain is easy; but figuring out how you’ll afford it is a totally different issue. That’s why we’ve devised a short questionnaire to get to the bottom of exactly how different expats around the country see the Cost of Living in Spain.
COMO Consulting’s twenty-question survey aims at giving you an idea of what it will cost to live in different cities and towns around Spain, including everything from rent and utilities to entertainment or even the guilty pleasures we always seem to factor into our budgets. From Madrid to Málaga, Santiago to Sevilla, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Palma de Mallorca, we’ll be covering destinations big and small with the help of other North Americans living and working in Spain.
Generally speaking, larger cities are more expensive in terms of rent and transportation, and cities in the north are often (but not always) pricier. Living the pueblo life may mean spending less on living costs, but more to get out of town. Everyone budgets (or splurges!) differently, but these questions are designed to give you an idea of how other foreign residents in Spain llegar a fin de mes.
First up are COMO co-founders Cat Gaa and Hayley Salvo. Cat has lived and worked in Seville since coming as an auxiliar de conversación in 2007, and Hayley has lived in towns in both Cádiz and Málaga while teaching English before moving to the Andalusian capital in 2013. Besides budgeting for their cars and day trips here and there, they always find a few extra euros to get together over a cerveza and a plate of food.
1. What type of school are you placed at?
Cat: I currently work as Director of Studies at a small language school, where I give class to students from age four up through certificate students in their late teens.
Hayley: I am an English teacher at a language academy in East Seville.
2. What is your living situation?
Cat: I’m making the transition to living in a house with my partner. We have three bedrooms, two bathrooms and room for our two cars. The best part is the enormous terrace that takes up the third floor!
Hayley: I rent my own flat. It has two bedrooms and one bathroom.
3. How did you find your flat?
Cat: My mother-in-law actually found our house for us! She was visiting a friend nearby and saw a For Sale sign, so she inquired about the price at the real estate agency. Two months later, we were signing on the house!
Hayley: I spent nearly two months scouring the internet for unfurnished apartments in the center of Seville. Although I would have preferred to rent from an individual, I fell in love with a flat that was only available through an agency or inmobiliaria and had to hand over a full months rent to see the place once and sign my contract!
4. How much is your monthly rent?
Cat: I’ll pay 440€ in mortgage costs; my partner pays less because he put down a larger down payment.
5. What do you spend a month, on average, on utilities?
Cat: Since I won’t be renting, our utilities will include everything – gas, electricity, Internet, water, vado and building upkeep. I’m figuring another 200€ for all of our living expenses and the costs of buying all new furniture!
Hayley: My water and comunidad fees are included in my rent and I pay anywhere from 30 to 60€ a month in electricity.
6. What cell phone company do you use and what plan do you have?
Cat: I have a Tarifa Base from Vodafone. For 32€ a month (nearly 39€ including IVA or tax) I get 1GB of internet, 1000 text messages and 350 minutes of talk time.
Hayley: I use Yoigo and my bill usually comes to about 30€ a month. I pay a flat fee of 11€ including tax for 1,2GB of internet and unlimited phone calls, plus the installments on my mobile phone (15€ plus tax).
Cat: We use ONO for internet and pay 41€ a month for 6 megas or megabytes.
Hayley: I have Jazztel (and an obligatory landline or fijo telephone). I pay 32€ a month and get 20MBs of internet plus 6o minutes of free calls from my landline.
8. What do you spend on groceries?
Cat: Enrique and I split our groceries, so I typically spend between 80€ and 100€ each month, and I grocery shop twice a month, more or less.
Hayley: I easily spend 100€ to 120€ a month on groceries, but I like buying specialty items at the Asian market or Mexican food supplies at El Corte Inglés and that seriously hijacks my budget.
9. Do you have any other sources of income?
Cat: I also do a bit of freelance writing, editing and record children’s novels for tablet apps.
Hayley: I teach a few private classes and charge between 15 and 20€ an hour.
10. Are you able to save any money and if so how much?
Cat: For the first time in years I’ve been able to put away a little bit of money, which has helped out tremendously with the house. Usually most of my money from outside sources goes towards traveling!
Hayley: Since moving to Sevilla last August I haven’t managed to save any money but I’m hoping to get back in the habit at the start of next school year.
11. What is your favorite tapas or pintxos bar and what do you usually order there?
Cat: I love Spanish food, so it’s tough to choose my favorite in Seville! I do love Bodeguita A. Romero II on Calle Gamazo. I typically choose a beer and a piripi sandwich, which costs about 4€.
Hayley: There are literally a thousand places to choose from in Seville and I know I will be scoffed at for my response, but nothing beats La Sureña on a Thursday night. A bucket of beer with 5 botellines of Cruzcampo (4€) and two raciones for the price of one (6€) is an entire dinner for two for only 10€. I usually order chicken fingers / lagrimitas de pollo and shrimp / gambas.
12. Tell us about your favorite afternoon coffee or breakfast hangout and what you usually order there.
Cat: I religiously drink a coffee at Bar Bocaíto in Nervión right before going to work. The 1,10€ I spend on caffeine gets me through work!
Hayley: Just a few blocks from my house in an adorable square, Plaza de San Lorenzo, is a great breakfast deal at El Sardinero. I always order a Cola Cao and an entero or full toast with olive oil, tomato and ham all for 2,50€. Come for the breakfast, stay for the abuelo watching.
13. What is your favorite disco or bar de copas in your city?
Cat: I’m not much of a disco person and much prefer to go to a pub. I do really like Bar Capote near the Triana bridge, where a drink will cost 5,50€.
Hayley: Fun Club on the Alameda is my go to disco. Copas are 6€ and when there’s an entrance fee it’s 6-8€ and always includes a drink.
14. How do you get around?
Cat: Though I own a car, I choose to move around Seville by bike. I have my own, which cost 80€, but also have a Sevici card, which costs about 33€ a year. Since Seville is flat, it’s ideal for walking or biking.
Hayley: I walk most places and bus to work. With my Tarjeta TUSSAM each bus trip is .69€. I also own a bike and a car but they get very little use.
15. What is your favorite thing about living in your city?
Cat and Hayley: Seville is not only beautiful and rather cheap for a city, but it’s also fun to live in. The spirit and energy here is thrilling, there is plenty to do, and it’s a challenge to be bored.
16. What do you dislike about living in your city?
Cat: Seville is either freezing or boiling – even being from Chicago and used to weather extremes, I can’t handle it!
Hayley: My biggest complaint is that I live in the center of the city and there is literally nowhere to park my car.
17. How easy is it to travel around Spain and Europe from your city?
Cat and Hayley: It’s relatively easy to leave Seville and get away: being the capital of Andalucía, there is infrastructure for high-speed trains, there’s an international airport just outside of town, and many bus lines operate from the two bus stations.
Our biggest complaint is that the airport is rather limited in destinations, so we often drive to Málaga (three hours away) or take the train to Madrid to fly internationally.
18. What guilty purchases do you splurge on in your town?
Cat: I’m terrible at saving money, as I tend to spend it all on trips when I have time off from work. Other than that, I eat out quite a bit – probably twice a week – and always factor in 10€ a month for bike maintenance.
Hayley: Clothes. I’m minutes away from Sevilla’s famous shopping district, and it’s a daily battle getting to my destination without being sucked into an escaparate (window display).
19. What are the top attractions in your city?
Cat: There are three UNESCO World Heritage sites – The Archivo de Indias, the Cathedral and Giralda and the Alcázar – and Seville is famous for flamenco. Then, of course, there’s nothing more sevillano than sitting in a bar in a plaza with friends!
Hayley: My absolute favorite place in maybe the whole world right now is Sevilla’s Espacio Metropol Parasol, known colloquially as Las Setas. Providing shade for La Plaza de la Encarnación, this modern waffle-like wooden structure is stunning. A trip to the top will run you 3€ (unless you’re empadronado in Sevilla, in which case the views are free) but you’ll also be treated to a drink with your ticket at the rooftop restaurant.
20. What’s something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain?
Cat: I wish someone would have told me to chill out. I used to obsess over every detail, and though I discovered over time that not a single thing had gone so terribly wrong I still often found myself thinking negatively. I sometimes wish I would apply that advice to my life these days!
Hayley: Careful, you might never leave.
Interested in participating in the series with a profile of yourself and your city or town? We’re looking for expats from all over Spain to break down their budgets. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the survey.