I’m a Brit who quit UK for Spain – bills are only £40 a month, every train feels like first class and pints cost pennies

POPPING out for a pint or ordering her favourite coffee, Holly Cope knows she won’t be breaking the bank.

That’s because the British expat is living in the capital of Spain – and says the cost of living is far cheaper than in the UK.

Holly Cope saves thousands a year in rent thanks to moving to Spain


Holly Cope saves thousands a year in rent thanks to moving to SpainCredit: Supplied
Holly Cope says public transport is Spain is much better than in the UK


Holly Cope says public transport is Spain is much better than in the UKCredit: Supplied

Digital nomad Holly, 31, currently pays £770-a-month (€900) for her two-bed apartment in Madrid.

Her spacious flat is in a “nice part” of the city and has a balcony. It’s also just a 10-minute drive to the city centre.

Unlike the UK, Holly doesn’t have to pay council tax and she rarely uses the heating thanks to Spain’s warm climate. While household bills have soared in the UK, Holly only pays £42-a-month (€50) for electricity, water and internet.

Rent less than half UK

The lawyer, who moved to the Spanish capital from Sheffield last May,says she pays more tax than she would in the UK, but feels far better off.

“A two-bed apartment in Zone 1 in London would cost you £3,500 and that’s without bills,” she said.

“Add council tax, heating, water, electric and things like the internet and you’re looking at well over £4,000-a-month.

In Spain I’m paying a quarter of that. The rent on my apartment is half what my friend is paying for a one-bed flat without a terrace in Sheffield.”

A spokesperson for property website housesearch told The Sun: “We are seeing a huge increase in Brits moving abroad in recent months – especially to Spain. The cost of living crisis is becoming unaffordable for Brits in the UK.

“They can have a much better quality of life in somewhere like Spain and get more from their salary as the cost of living is significantly cheaper.’

40p commute

For Holly, who hosts the More Than a Lawyer podcast, this is true. She tells how “everyday expenses” are a lot more affordable.

Anton and Giovanni share a hug after visiting Spain together

“A lot of other things are cheaper in Spain,” continues Holly.

“Public transport is amazing. It’s capped at 40p (50c) a journey and you can travel right across Madrid for that. I checked and a zone 1-6 travel card is £15.60 in London.

“Standard class here is like first class in England. When you go to the train station it’s like going to an airport, your bags get checked, your tickets get checked before boarding the train, it’s a great service and there’s no strikes.

Public transport is so much better here and there’s no strikes

Holly Cope

“Going out for a coffee or a pint is also a lot cheaper. Whereas in England I’d always be thinking ‘Is this going to break the bank?’ Here. because I can get a coffee for £1 (€1.2) and a pint for £2.50 (€3), it doesn’t even enter my mind.

“It’s true that the rate of taxation is higher in Spain but overall the quality of life and standard of living is so much higher.”

Holly Cope loves her new life in the sun and is saving thousands in the process


Holly Cope loves her new life in the sun and is saving thousands in the processCredit: Supplied
Holly Cope doesn't miss public transport in the UK or the constant rail strikes


Holly Cope doesn’t miss public transport in the UK or the constant rail strikesCredit: Supplied

Higher tax

Holly only pays £74 a month (€87) in social security payments, the UK’s equivalent of National Insurance.

After two years this will rise to around £260 (€300).

This aside, despite spending over £2,000 getting a Digital Nomad Visa – which is supposed to leave people paying 15 per cent income tax – Holly said that she actually pays 21 per cent income tax which is higher than she did in the UK.

On top of this, in Spain the tax-free amount is £4,700 (€5,500) – less than half the £12,500 figure in the UK.

I would be paying £3,500 for the same size flat in London

Holly Cope

Although she feels “short-changed” by the tax situation it hasn’t deterred Holly – who speaks Spanish and fell in love with the country as a teenager – from living in the Mediterranean country.

After spending a year teaching English there in 2015, she always harboured ambitions to return permanently.

She doesn’t regret the move but admits that the tax situation is complicated and she may consider moving again in the future because of it.

Holly can work from her balcony


Holly can work from her balconyCredit: Supplied
Sightseeing at Madrid's Plaza Mayor


Sightseeing at Madrid’s Plaza MayorCredit: Supplied

“Whether I will I stay in Spain forever is a hard question to answer,” she said. “It would be a balance between my head and my heart.

“I’d consider looking at Gibraltar or look at other visas around the world and think what is the most tax efficient.

“On the face of it, it seems like a brilliant visa because the way of life in Spain is undeniably amazing but does it make the most commercial sense?

“I think people need to look at their unique circumstances and make a serious decision based on that.”

Everything you need to know about visiting Spain

  • Brits must have at least three months left on their passport from the day they plan to leave the country.
  • Tourists do not need a visa if visiting for up to 90 days in an 180-day period.
  • Make sure your passport is stamped on entry and exit.
  • Travellers may be asked to show hotel booking confirmations and that they have enough money for their stay at the border.
  • Spain is one hour ahead of the UK.
  • The country uses the euro with around €10 working out to £8.55.
  • Flights to Spain from the UK take between 2-4 hours depending on the destination.


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