Has Covid affected the cost of living for expats in Spain?

If you are a British expat living in Spain, you have likely encountered many changes over the past year or so. With Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, the world has had to adapt and, as a result, the cost of living has changed for most people. From business closures to a halt in travel, there have been many financial implications for both expats and Spanish locals alike.

In this article, we take a closer look at how the cost of living in Spain has changed for expats due to Covid-19.

Increased everyday costs

As an expat in Spain, your everyday items are a necessity. Throughout the early stages of 2021, many of these items increased in price and, as a result, several expats have been affected. These items include:


Due to a global drop in fuel demand, the cost of fuel has increased in Spain. In January 2021, the average cost for a litre of petrol and diesel stood at €1.18 and €1.06 respectively. These rates are higher than in 2020 and it is expected that they will continue to increase as the year goes on. With this said, fuel costs in Spain are still comparatively cheaper than in other European destinations.


As more people have had to work from home and limit their trips outside due to lockdown restrictions, internet usage has increased considerably. Both internet and telecom companies have taken advantage of this demand for more internet usage and consequently increased their internet charges. In November 2020, Vodafone put up their internet prices and Orange did the same, something which has affected prices in Spain as well as across the world.


In Spain, the prices of natural gas are regulated by the Government TUR Index. Gas prices have increased for the first time since 2018 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The average increase for gas pricing for the home stands at 5.97%, depending on the type of user band you fall into.

Wealth tax

For those that have wealth over €10 million, tax has also increased. The original rate of 2.5% will be raised to 3.5% and, while this will not be imposed on every region in the country, it is important to check whether it will affect you.

Fizzy drinks tax

As Spain continues to implement tactics to tackle its ongoing obesity crisis, the government has imposed tax increases on sugary drinks. This started earlier in 2021 and has soared from 10% to 21%. Businesses that are struggling heavily as a result of the pandemic are exempt from these taxes, however, many people will notice that they are paying more to drink their favourite carbonated beverages.

Living costs that have decreased

However, certain living costs have decreased as a result of the pandemic, as well, making many aspects of living in Spain as an expat more affordable.

Public transport prices

With less demand for public transport across Spain, many companies running public transport have decided to decrease their prices or keep them as they currently stand. In Madrid, metro prices remain the same as they have been since 2013 and sea travel in and around Spain will also see decreased rates.

Property prices

As in many places throughout Europe, property prices will fall throughout Spain in 2021. If you are looking to buy a new property in the country, there is no better time than now. In fact, some credit rating agencies have even said that rates could exceed what they were before the pandemic, making it a good investment to consider.

Is Spain still good value for expats?

Yes, despite Spain’s increased living costs, it remains one of the best places to reside as an expat in Europe. Compared with other Western European nations, Spain’s living costs are very affordable although since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Spain has had to adapt prices for many day-to-day things.

As mentioned, property prices in some of the wealthiest areas have also significantly decreased. This has created a great opportunity for those looking to invest in a home or holiday home in the country.

Where is the cheapest city to live in Spain?

Spain boasts many beautiful cities, however, if you are looking for the best value city to live in, it is Alicante. In Alicante, the ratio between local salaries and the cost of living is probably the best in the country. Across the city, consumer prices are 12.66% lower than in Madrid outside of rent. Rent prices in the city are 38.11% lower than in Madrid along with lower restaurant prices, grocery prices and more.

How money does an expat need to live in Spain?

Of course, many people can live comfortably on a lower salary and share accommodation with others to keep costs down. However, if you are looking to reside in Spain as an expat in the long term, it can be useful to know exactly how much your living costs will roughly be.
A single person can live in a city for around €800-900 per month, including rent, bills, and general everyday costs. However, with €1,300, you can live a lot more comfortably, allowing you funds for weekend excursions and trips further afield.

Are you considering moving to Spain as an expat?

Around 360,000 British people have moved to Spain to reside as permanent residents. However, since Brexit, the rules for admission to the country have changed and it is now essential to have the right permissions in place before choosing to relocate to the country.

Without EU membership, British residents no longer have the right to freely work and live in Spain without a VISA or time restrictions on their stay in the country. For expats that already live in the country and have done since before Brexit, it was necessary to register as a resident by applying to the local immigration office.

For new expats looking to call Spain home, it is a little more complicated. You will be required to apply for a VISA, must show proof of income and provide evidence that you have a stable, long-term job position in the country too.

If you want to move to Spain, carry out your research before making the decision. There is a hefty amount of paperwork and admin involved but so long as you complete everything you should, you will be in a position to freely live in the country as an expat.

Is it safe to move to Spain during the pandemic?

So long as you follow the protocols set out by both the British and Spanish governments, you can move to Spain as an expat. You will need to apply for an NIE number and provide all the information required to show you do not have coronavirus. The process can be a little complicated compared to before the pandemic, however, there is an abundance of information.

As always, be sure that it is completely safe for you to move abroad and that you will not be affecting your own or anyone else’s physical health while the pandemic is ongoing.

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