The Cost of Living in Spain vs UK


The cost of living in Spain compared to the UK shows significant differences, with Spain generally being more affordable across various categories. However, certain aspects such as clothing and consumer electronics are more expensive in Spain. Here’s an in-depth comparison based on the latest data from 2024.

Restaurants and Dining Out

Dining out and the cost of restaurant meals in Spain and the UK show significant differences, reflecting the overall cost of living in each country. Here’s a detailed comparison:


  1. Inexpensive Restaraunt:

    • A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Spain typically costs around €12.00 (approximately £10.31). This is usually a basic meal without any additional courses or drinks.
  2. Mid-range Restaurant:

    • For a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant, the cost is about €45.00 (around £38.67). This includes a starter, main course, and dessert.
  3. Fast Food and Casual Dining:

    • A combo meal at a fast-food restaurant like McDonald’s costs about €8.00 (approximately £6.88).
    • Prices for local casual dining options and tapas bars can vary but are generally affordable, offering a range of Spanish cuisines at reasonable prices.
  4. Drinks:

    • A domestic beer (1 pint) in Spain costs about €2.50 (approximately £2.15), while an imported beer, (330ml bottle) is around €3.00 (£2.58).
    • A regular cappuccino is priced at about €1.77 (£1.52)​.

United Kingdom

  1. Inexpensive Restaurant:

    • A meal in an inexpensive restaurant in the UK is typically around €17.45 (approximately £15.00), which is more expensive compared to Spain.
  2. Mid-range Restaurant:

    • For a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant, the average cost is about €69.82 (£60.00), significantly higher than in Spain.
  3. Fast Food and Casual Dining:

    • A combo meal at a popular fast-food chain costs around €8.15 (£7.00) in the UK.
    • Casual dining and pub meals in the UK are diverse, with prices varying based on location and type of cuisine.
  4. Drinks:

    • The cost for a domestic beer (1 pint) in the UK is about €5.24 (£4.50), and an imported beer (330ml bottle) is approximately €4.65 (£4.00).
    • A regular cappuccino in the UK is priced around €3.61 (£3.10), which is almost double the price in Spain​.

Grocery Shopping

Groceries also tend to be more affordable in Spain. For instance, basic groceries like milk, bread, and chicken are cheaper in Spain, though local cheese is notably less expensive in the UK. Overall, the cost of groceries is approximately 10% higher in the UK compared to Spain.

Let’s look at some specific grocery items based on the most recent data available:


  • Spain: The price for 1 litre of whole fat milk is approximately €1.04 (around £0.89).
  • UK: The same quantity costs about €1.31 (approximately £1.13), making milk around 26% more expensive in the UK​.


  • Spain: A loaf of fresh white bread (500 grams) is priced around €1.14 (approximately £0.98).
  • UK: The cost for the same weight is about €1.28 (around £1.10), which is 11.8% more expensive​.


  • Spain: For 500 grams of boneless chicken breast, the cost is approximately €3.86 (£3.31).
  • UK: The price for the same amount is around €4.22 (about £3.62), indicating a 9% higher cost in the UK.


  • Spain: Local cheese (500 grams) costs about €7 (approximately £6.00).
  • UK: The cost for the same amount is lower at approximately €5.19 (around £4.46), making cheese cheaper in the UK​.


  • Spain: A dozen large eggs are priced at around €3.09 (approximately £2.65).
  • UK: The cost is higher at approximately €4.13 (about £3.55), indicating eggs are more expensive in the UK by about 34%​.


  • Spain: The price for 500 grams of white rice is about €0.59 (approximately £0.50).
  • UK: For the same quantity, the cost is around €0.83 (about £0.71), which is 41.6% more expensive​.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Spain: Common fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and apples are slightly cheaper or comparable to UK prices.
  • UK: For example, 1 kilogram of tomatoes costs about €2.29 in Spain and €2.42 in the UK, showing a small difference in price.

Housing Rentals and Purchase

Housing costs significantly differ, with the UK being considerably more expensive. For example, the monthly rent for a furnished 85-m2 accommodation in an expensive area of the UK is about 98% higher than in Spain. A similar trend is observed in less expensive areas and for smaller accommodations.

Renting Property


  • City Centre: Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Spain costs about €428.18 (£366.41) per month on average.
  • Outside City Centre: For a similar apartment outside the city centre, the average rent is approximately €342.55 (£293.17) per month.
  • These figures can vary significantly based on the specific region or city. For example, rental costs in popular expat destinations like Alicante or coastal areas might be different compared to inland or less touristy areas​.


  • City Centre: In the UK, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is considerably more expensive, averaging around £650 (€761.06) per month.
  • Outside City Centre: For locations outside the city centre, the average rent for a similar apartment is about £500 (€585.43) per month.
  • Rental prices in the UK can also vary widely, with cities like London being substantially more expensive than other parts of the country​.

Purchasing Property


  • Overall Costs: Property prices in Spain are generally lower than in the UK. The cost per square metre for buying property is about 40% cheaper in Spain.
  • Specific Regions: In areas popular with expatriates, like the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol, property prices can vary. For example, you might find properties starting from below €100,000 in these regions, which is significantly lower than equivalent properties in popular UK regions​.


  • Overall Costs: The UK’s property market is typically more expensive than Spain’s. Prices per square metre are higher, and there’s a significant variation depending on the region. For example, London and South East England are notably more expensive than other parts of the UK.
  • Specific Regions: In sought-after areas or major cities like London, property prices can be among the highest in Europe.


The cost of utilities is a significant aspect of the cost of living in both Spain and the UK. This includes expenses such as electricity, gas, water, and telecommunications services like internet and mobile phone plans. Here’s a detailed comparison:


  1. Electricity and Gas:

    • The cost of electricity and gas in Spain varies depending on the usage, the size of the home, and the provider. On average, a monthly utility bill (which includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage) for an 85m2 apartment ranges from €100 to €150.
    • Spain has been experiencing an increase in electricity prices, which can affect monthly costs significantly.
  2. Water:

    • Water bills are generally lower in Spain compared to the UK. The average cost can be around €20 to €40 per month, depending on the locality and consumption.
  3. Internet and Telecommunications:

    • The cost for internet services in Spain is relatively affordable. A standard broadband internet connection costs around €30 to €50 per month.
    • Mobile plans, including data and calls, can range from €20 to €40 per month, depending on the provider and the package.

United Kingdom

  1. Electricity and Gas:

    • In the UK, utility bills are generally higher. The average monthly cost for electricity, heating, cooling, water, and waste for an 85m2 apartment is approximately £150 to £200.
    • The UK has also seen an increase in energy costs, affecting monthly utility expenses.
  2. Water:

    • Average water bills in the UK can range from £30 to £50 per month, varying by region and individual usage.
  3. Internet and Telecommunications:

    • Internet costs in the UK are somewhat comparable to Spain, with the average monthly bill for broadband internet being around £30 to £50.
    • Mobile phone plans in the UK, including data and calls, typically cost between £15 to £30 per month, depending on the provider and plan chosen.
  1. Utility costs, including electricity, gas, and water, are about 63.48% cheaper in Spain than in the UK. However, the costs for internet and mobile services are slightly lower in the UK​


Transportation costs, including fuel prices and public transportation, are generally lower in Spain. The average price of petrol, for instance, is around 9% cheaper in Spain​.

Focusing on bus, coach, and train travel, reveals notable differences reflective of the overall cost of living in each country.


  1. Buses and Coaches:

    • In Spain, bus travel is a popular and affordable way to get around, especially for shorter distances. The cost can vary depending on the distance and the region. For example, a bus ticket for a short journey within a city can be as low as €1 to €2.
    • For longer coach journeys between cities, prices can range from around €15 to €50, depending on the distance and the service provider.
  2. Trains:

    • Spain’s train network, operated mainly by Renfe, offers various services from high-speed trains (AVE) to regional and local trains.
    • A high-speed train ticket for a journey like Madrid to Barcelona can cost between €40 to €120, while regional train fares are significantly cheaper.
    • Spain also offers rail passes like the Renfe Spain Pass, which can be cost-effective for tourists planning multiple train journeys.

United Kingdom

  1. Buses and Coaches:

    • In the UK, bus fares vary widely depending on the region. In London, a single bus journey costs £1.55 (about €1.82), with daily caps and travel cards offering more value for regular commuters.
    • Long-distance coach travel, offered by companies like National Express and Megabus, can range from £5 to over £30 for cross-country journeys, depending on how far in advance you book and the time of travel.
  2. Trains:

    • Train travel in the UK is known for being relatively expensive, especially when tickets are purchased on the day of travel.
    • Prices vary greatly depending on the route, time of travel, and how far in advance you book. For example, a standard off-peak return train ticket from London to Manchester can cost between £50 to over £150.
    • Railcards offering discounts and advanced bookings can provide significant savings.

Both countries offer various discounts and passes that can reduce travel costs, especially for frequent travellers, students, and seniors.


Spain is known for its highly rated public healthcare system, which is accessible to all residents. Private health insurance is also more budget-friendly in Spain compared to the UK. For example, a middle-aged expat might pay between €100 to €200 annually for private health insurance in Spain​.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Cultural Activities

  • Spain: Cultural activities, such as visiting museums and historical sites, can be very affordable or even free. Spain’s rich cultural heritage and pleasant climate also encourage outdoor activities, which are often low-cost or free.
  • UK: The UK offers many free museums and cultural sites, especially in London. However, special exhibitions or events in museums and galleries can come with a ticket price. Theatre and musicals, particularly in London’s West End, are renowned but can be expensive.

Sports and Recreation

  • Spain: Participating in or watching sports like football can be a major pastime. Ticket prices for football matches vary, but there are options for budget-friendly entertainment.
  • UK: Sports events, especially Premier League football matches, can be costly. However, there are also lower-league matches that offer more affordable ticket prices. Recreational activities like golf or tennis might also be more expensive in the UK.

Parks and Outdoor Activities

  • Both Spain and the UK have beautiful parks and natural landscapes. While access to public parks is generally free in both countries, certain outdoor activities like guided tours or adventure sports might be more affordable in Spain due to lower overall costs.

Memberships and Subscriptions

  • Gym memberships, streaming services, and club memberships can vary. In general, these costs tend to be lower in Spain compared to the UK, aligning with the overall trend of a lower cost of living.

Overall Cost of Living

On average, Spain is about 19% less expensive than the UK. This includes categories like restaurants, hotels, and furniture. However, Spain is more expensive for clothing, footwear, household appliances, and consumer electronics​.

while Spain offers a more affordable living in terms of food, housing, utilities, and healthcare, it can be pricier for certain consumer goods and services. The lower cost of living in Spain does come with a caveat of generally lower salaries compared to the UK, which is an important factor to consider for potential expatriates or those considering a move.

In conclusion, the comparison of the cost of living between Spain and the UK underscores the significant savings potential for individuals and families considering a move to Spain. However, the process of relocating, especially internationally, can be daunting and expensive if not managed effectively. This is where a company like Matthew James Removals Spain proves invaluable.

In summary, Matthew James Removals Spain offers an essential removals service for those moving between the UK and Spain. Our expertise not only lies in the physical aspect of moving belongings but also in the ability to provide cost-effective, efficient, and stress-free relocation experiences. For anyone considering a move to Spain, particularly in light of the attractive cost of living, partnering with Matthew James Removals Spain can be a wise and economical decision.

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