Cost of Living in Nerja.
Note: I originally did a Cost analysis in 2022. I’ve just updated the post with our costs during the 1st quarter of 2023. There are some surprises.
So how expensive is it to live in Spain? Or, more precisely, Nerja?
I dug up all our costs, comparing the first 3 months of 2023: January, February and March.
I’m breaking down our total costs below.
COST OF LIVING IN NERJA – APRIL 2023
When I first did this cost analysis last year (March to September of 2022), our numbers totalled this:
Total breakdown here.
So surprisingly, our costs have gone down by 300 Euros in 2023. Most of that has been due to lower grocery costs (that’s a surprise) as well as fewer restaurant outings. These declines though have been offset by higher rent and, if converting to our home currencies, a stronger Euro (which is a real cost if your savings are in USD or CAD).
Breaking down some of our costs
Rent. Our rent went from 800 Euros in 2022 to 850 Euros. After a couple of years of rents being frozen due to Covid, we were hit by a 6% increase in December. That’s for a 3 bedroom townhouse with a huge yard. We get a lot for our money. We would easily pay more than double (maybe triple) what we pay for something equivalent in Montreal (where we previously lived). Our rent includes water usage. We also have a pool in the complex.
Note: the average apartment in our complex is now about 700 Euros (just to give you an idea of what you can pay on average)
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Electricity. Our average bill comes out to 55 Euros/month. On my last cost analysis people were surprised that it was so low (water is heated by gas in our apartment and we don’t have a TV or a dryer). We’ve had months where we’ve paid as little as 33 Euros. We rarely ever heat the apartment in winter, our worst months are July and August when we use the AC.
Wifi. Axartel is our service provider. We find internet speed average at best (compared to other places we’ve been around the world). But they respond quickly when there are issues.
Cellphone service. We both have phones which we charge up once a month with Vodafone. 10 Euros each and it meets all our needs.
Gas/garbage. Our water is heated by gas and every 6 months we have to order new tanks from Cepsa. It’s not expensive though. Twice a year our landlord gives us a 12 Euro garbage bill that we have to reimburse.
Food. Besides rent, food is our major expense. And when I say food that includes alcohol – we drink wine every night and I usually also enjoy a shot or two of rum (Brugal rum from the Dominican Republic is my favorite). It also includes many bathroom products (TP, toothpaste, face creams, nail polish, shampoo, conditioner etc. We usually buy all that at Mercadona).
For convenience we do most of our everyday shopping at the local Coviran (bread, coffee, milk, wine, water etc). A couple of times a month we do a big shopping at Mercadona (which is downtown and convenient). We also occasionally shop at Iranzo. We nickname it “the expat store” because we buy imported stuff there that we don’t find elsewhere (Oriental soups, Indian sauces, and tofu products for Lissette). It’s more expensive though so we’re careful what we buy there.
Fresh vegetables/fruits are bought at a local fruteria owned by a Spanish man and his wife. It still amazes us the selection of exotic fruits you can buy in Spain.
Pharmacy, hardware store, and odds and ends from China Home round up some of our other “basic” costs.
Note: Our monthly “food and other basics” expense last year was 888 Euros/month. Summing it up this time, it’s come down to 595 Euros/month. I don’t know how that is possible honestly…I’ve accounted for it the same way and I don’t think we’ve really changed our consumption habits. Have prices come down?
Restaurants. We don’t go to restaurants much. We love Indian food (Mum’s is our favorite) and we usually order in twice a month (40 Euros each time. But it’s usually good for 2 meals). We have a Chinese restaurant close by where we also order a couple of times a month. Finally, we have a little Spanish restaurant that specializes in take away food: roasted chicken, potato tortillas, bacalao in tomato sauce, paella…They’re quite inexpensive.
Tapas/coffee. We enjoy going out for Tapas and it’s great value. I’ve documented many of our Tapas experiences on the blog (see the Nerja section for that). We also enjoy Coffee experiences around town (some posts coming up).
“Other”. Finally, we have other costs such as Private Health Insurance. It’s a requirement as temporary residents of Spain. It’s 55 Euros/month each and luckily we haven’t had to use it except for the one time we went to the dentist for a cleaning – and found out that our Adeslas plan covered the cleaning (we paid a ton in taxes in Canada for healthcare and never had dental cleanings covered). I also stuck another 100 Euros/month into “other” in case someone accuses us of underestimating our costs.
I think the above is an accurate depiction of our costs here in Spain. It doesn’t cover things such as travel, I’ve stuck to the day-to-day costs of living.
The bigger picture: It’s interesting analyzing these figures. Back in 2017 we lived in Split (Croatia) and I did a similar breakdown of our costs there…and compared them to a couple of friends who lived in Spain and Portugal at the time (post here). Although costs in Spain today (in Euros) are slightly more than what we all paid in 2017 in Croatia, the monthly cost of living in USD in 2023 is less than it was in 2017. That’s all due to the very strong USD. For Americans, it’s actually cheaper living in Europe today than it was 6 years ago (in 2017 the USD/Euro rate was hovering around 1.23. In 2023 it is at 1.10) . For Canadians, like us, it’s about the same as it was (the Canadian dollar has strengthened against the Euro as well, although not as much as the USD).
Either way, living in Spain is good value compared to either the United States or Canada.
I recently wrote a post on our other blog about living in Spain and working towards Permanent Residency. There were several reasons we’ve wanted Permanent Residency in Spain: we wanted to be in Europe, we wanted to get away from 6 months of winter and, finally, as retirees we wanted a cheaper cost of living. The above is proof that you can have an affordable lifestyle in Europe*.
* PS. I’m stating the obvious if I say that different people will have different costs depending on their lifestyles. The above if just to give you an idea of our costs. I hope it’s helpful to people.
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