The cost of living in Spain - ups and downs in the new yearLife in Spain Thu, 9 Jan 2014
January is a pretty grim month. It’s cold, Christmas and the New Year celebrations are over and most people are out of money. Some people seem to save enough to make the January sales worth a visit, for the majority, it’s batten down the hatches and wait for the next wage slip.
Matters aren’t made any easier when prices go up. It adds insult to injury when the cost of some basics in Spain are set to increase just at the time when you are tempted to turn the dials up.
So, for those living in Spain, what can we expect to see on the up and is there anything that might give us a little more optimism in a dismal January?
Let’s get the bad news over first. We were all expecting electricity prices in Spain to increase. Since 2006 Spanish electricity has shot up by an astounding 60% according to El Pais. The news was that it was due to rise even further, by as much as 13%. However, in the meantime, the Spanish government has intervened to reduce the projected hike and now we can expect a more reasonable 2.3%.
However, it is a little absurd when you find yourself saying that electricity will only go up by 2.3%. This percentage is, in fact, a lot of money and we wouldn’t find ourselves saying ‘only’ at all if it hadn’t been that the totally unreasonable percentage of 13% had already been mooted.
Electricity isn’t a luxury. It is a staple part of people’s lives and we can’t do without it. This increase will mean for some people, the discomfort of a cold home, no hot water and perhaps more cold meals. A particular risk where older people and children are concerned.
Others in the new year baddies list include train tickets and motorway tolls in Spain. These perhaps aren’t essential. However, encouraging people to use the trains rather than their little metal boxes is important. Public transport remains an under-valued asset. With an increase in Renfe prices by 1.9% from January 1st a train ride, could increasingly be seen as a costly luxury.
It is already expensive to use toll motorways and those with a tight budget will have found other routes already. Raising the toll further by 1.85% is unlikely to increase their use. If the intention of motorway planners was to reduce congestion on other roads and make business swifter and more efficient, then this rise is hardly likely to further the cause.
Some good news
Perhaps good news is too strong. Neutral news given that we are talking about freezes rather than reductions. Telefónica’s subscription charge will stay the same at 14,38 euros per month. For those struggling to stay warm, at least gas won’t get any more expensive. The maximum price you can pay for a butane gas bottle will stay at 17,50€. A couple of drops of solace in an otherwise unforgiving economic climate.