Let me start by saying, we love that you follow along with our adventures and are curious about the cost to live in Spain. You really keep us motivated to keep up with our writing. Living in Spain for a year was amazing and we will keep on going!
I have to admit I do love that people actually read my boring budget stuff. It’s great fun to play with spreadsheets, look for the best travel deals, and plan away. I can’t believe there are other people out there that like this stuff too. They don’t even include any exciting photos, but these budget posts are popular! Let’s get into the cost of living in Spain!
Update: October 2018 (exchange rate for US dollar is great about $1.14 to the euro. That means the dollar will go farther. This is a good time for living in Spain as an American!) We live in Almunecar Spain, a smaller town in the Costa Tropical.
Keep in mind these expenses were for the full year of 2013. Part of the trade-off of living in Spain as an American is dealing with an ever-changing exchange rate. In 2013 the exchange rate average was 1 Euro to $1.38 USD. As of January 2018 the exchange rate average was 1 Euro to $1.20 USD. What does that mean? Our spend in euros remains about the same after nearly 5 years, but the exchange rate fluctuates.
- In 2013 1000 Euros = $1380 USD
- In January 2018 1000 Euros = $1200, so just from the change in exchange rate alone it is a $180 USD savings per 1000 Euros spent!
- In October 2018 1000 Euros – $1140, so while you are spending in Euros in Spain you are actually spending fewer dollars! (at least for now, it can always change)
Bottom line = It is currently cheaper for you to Live in Spain or your $ will go a lot further than it used to.
Cost of living in Spain a year
We have had plenty of private conversations via email with our readers about budgeting. It seems those that are in the dreaming or planning stages are a little gun-shy to ask questions publicly. I get it, I really do. Sometimes saving or budgeting seems impossible, but once you decide to make the move, you need fewer things. It is easier to get your life down to the minimal things required and then you will be amazing at how much money you can save!
In the beginning I was very hesitant to share any of our info on the blog. It made us feel very vulnerable and open for question and judgement, but thus far that hasn’t happened. At least not that we are aware of. We have been sharing information from the get go and it’s been a good experience for us. We have received plenty of positive feedback, so we will keep it going.
There are varying opinions in the blogging world about sharing the details of finances. As you well know, we are all different. What some consider “budget” another may consider high-end. It is all relative and there is no way I am going to stake a claim as to what type of traveler we are.
We are a family of 4 that needs our creature comforts. We aren’t willing to stay all in one bed together in a cardboard shack to save a few bucks. Nor are we the family that regularly needs room service, high-end linens, and a concierge, but it is a nice treat now and again. I guess I would consider us to be just an average family, trying to get the most out of our $.
We try to make it last as long as possible without too much sacrifice. I myself love to read about what others are spending on their travels. I use their information as a guide to help me plan our travels for a given city or region. Of course if it is a single backpacker on a shoestring, that likes to party, they obviously have a different lifestyle than ours. I would make my guesses on what to adjust to meet our lifestyle. The same would apply if it were family on their 3 week vacation. Again, I would make adjustments to allow for any changes we would make.
Either way, it all helps as a data point for me to come up with an estimate. Once I read their blogs, I get a feel for the type of traveler they are. At that point I can see where we are in comparison and make adjustments. It isn’t always exact, but every data point helps. Keep in mind that all of the information we share is our real data. We can’t make the alterations for you based on your needs, we can just give you a data point to put into your mix. Okay, I know this isn’t what you came to read. You want the meat, the nugget the numbers!
How much did it cost to Live in Spain for 1 year? (2013)
October 2018 – even though these are numbers from 2013, we are pretty much still spending the same in Euros in 2018.
Yes, we have been in Spain for 16 months, so everything in this post is for the calendar year of 2013. If you want to know how much we spent our first 4 months in Spain, we have shared that info as well. In fact we share our information every quarter, so you can review each individual post if you like for more detail.
- Budget in Spain & Reality for our first 4 months
- Living Abroad Budget in Spain – Actual Spend (Months 5,6 & 7)
- Cost of Living in Spain Budget – Actual Spend (Months 8,9 &10)
Way Over the Monthly Budget! – Actual Spend (Months 11,12 &13)
- Our Budget & Actual Spend (Months 14, 15 &16)
Before we get to the actual number, let me just share with you where the money went. If you want to know now, just scroll down and you will see, but then come back up and read the rest!
What’s included in the total Spain cost of living spend? Everything!
- 12 months of daily living in Spain (Housing, Food, Supplies, Utilities, ect)
- Medical Insurance (about $2000 / year in total for the 4 of us)
- Auto Insurance (about $1000 / year)
- New Shoes (Yes, that can break the bank here! Lars wears out shoes about every 2 months! He is already a size 9 (men), so his shoes aren’t cheap.)
- Every snack, coffee, buñuelo (Spanish doughnut), school supplies, auto fuel, toilet paper, the works!
- All travel (hotels, apartments, air fare)
- Our Awesome 6 week European Road Trip
- If we spent it, then it is included in our calculation
Some other summaries for 2013 (A full year living in Spain)
- Where did we travel in 2013? No Schengen Visa Needed For Wagoners Abroad In 2013!
- What did you read the most in 2013? Top 10 Posts for 2013 – They May Surprise You
- Read about our full-time living abroad, as we recently celebrated 500 days. Living Abroad 500 Days – Lessons And The Unexpected
Okay time to get to the numbers already!
What Wagoners Abroad’s actual cost of living in Spain for a year? (2013)
This is where I am supposed to say Priceless, right?
Total Spend = $44,173
Okay, there you have it! Once you catch your breath, remember that this is our full year of living and travel. Could we have lived off of less? You bet! Could we have spent more Of course! Keep in mind this isn’t a vacation budget, it is our every day living inclusive of travel. Yes it even includes a 6 week road trip through 5 countries in Europe!
If you are using this as your guide for a vacation or living in Spain for a month, you won’t be able to just divide our year by 12 for a monthly cost. We have a 12 month lease with our apartment, so of course that helps lower the cost. If we were to rent for a short period the price would be higher.
How is the cost of living in Spain compared to the US?
Believe me, it was way more than that for us to live in North Carolina. In the near future, I will write up a post comparing our cost of living in Spain vs. cost of living in North Carolina. That should be interesting! Now that the number is available to you, can we get into the fun stuff?
It is time for the analysis, charts and spreadsheets! Wooo Hooo!
**Just a reminder, I have very broad categories here. the “Food” category is a bit deceiving and it is only because I am lazy. When we make a trip to Motril to Al Campo (the big Target / Wal-Mart type store), I count our entire purchase as Food. We do however purchase school supplies, dishes, towels, shampoo, power cords etc in addition to food. So there is a bit of a mix there, but in general it is Food and Restaurants.
When I export the details from our credit card, I don’t bother to spot check the itemized receipt and see exactly what portion is Food vs Misc.
So as you can see our budget of $100 a day for a family of 4 is achievable for day to day living, plus the cost of our summer 6 week European road trip.
If you read our post for Q3 of 2013 (Way Over the Monthly Budget! – Actual Spend Months 11,12 &13), you will see that we decided to deviate from our budget to allow for our 6 week European Road Trip.
We share all of the costs from that adventure as well. Again, it was our choice to deviate from the budget to allow for a once in a lifetime road trip that set us back a bit more than we had planned. I wouldn’t change that decision for anything. So we dipped into our funds a bit more and likely shorted our journey by a month, but we would do it again!
Don’t forget the road trip!
For those of you that are saying “hey, they didn’t live off of $100 a day, they are telling a lie!”, I will share the daily cost of $121 per day (inclusive of about $8,500 ish road trip). total spend.
Wow, it is cool to look at it that way! for just $21 a day more, you too can have a 6 week European Road Trip!
Do keep in mind that our Misc bucket is a catch-all, so that does include our Medical Insurance which is approximately $2000 a year. The first portion of the year we had Travel Insurance and the last few months we also had Spanish medical insurance via Mapfre.
(As of October 2017 – we have updated our Medical Insurance in Spain and tell you all about it. We have change our insurance coverage and tell you about several other options. Full coverage, including dental is about $1600 / yr for the entire family of 4!)
We were covered with both for a while, as we couldn’t cancel our travel mid-policy. As of the end of February 2014 our Travel insurance will lapse, so we did have a little extra expense there. With our Spanish insurance, we can have regular doctor and dental visits, so we felt that better suited our needs.
When we hit the road again, we will go back to travel insurance.
What happened in October?
October was also a bit of a hit, because our annual Auto Insurance was due and we also purchased new Medical Insurance. Remember to go through our past posts to get the details of each month/quarter.
There you have it friends! That’s our cost of living in Spain for a year as a family of 4! Of course it will be different for you, but we hope that helps you budget your year in Spain or retirement in Spain.
Again, I just want to state, this is only intended as a data point for you. Your lifestyle choices, location in Spain, food choices, accommodation style and comfort levels may differ from ours. Your cost to live in Spain per month or per year would obviously differ.
Cost of Living in Spain Update as of October 2018:
We are often asked about our budget for living in Spain, now that we have been here over five years. We do keep track for personal reasons, but we no longer share the detail publicly. It was loads of work and really not much has changed. Our budget is still the same as when we moved to Spain 5 years ago. We still target $3000 a month and for the most part we hit that or go below for the month.
There are always unexpected expenses which arise and we are now feeding 2 teens, so we do have times when we go over! Often that is when we are traveling and eating out and Lars may need 2 meals to fill up rather than one. That said, we have also relaxed a bit when we travel and splurge a little more often with activities too. I would say we are on target with our daily cost of living in Spain and during our travel we have a few more splurges. The annual cost of living is just about $38 – $40k a year.
Looking for lightweight luggage, so you can have more inside?
There are so many luggage choices these days, so it can come down to preference. We tend to like the suitcase with 4 wheels and can roll any direction. We prefer carry on luggage for travel within Europe, but for the bigger trips or the move we wanted something more. Here are some choices for you as well as complete sets: lightweight luggage sets
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