If you’re looking to sell overseas property in Spain, Italy or France, one of the first things that interested buyers will want to know is the cost of living. While things such as utility bills or cost of dining out are not a major concern with wealthy international investors from China, Brazil or Russia, for most middle income Brits or Scandinavians looking to relocate to these countries, the cost of living can be a deal breaker.
Here, we compare the typical living costs in Spain, Italy and France, so that you will have a general idea of what to say to a prospective buyer who asks about them. In particular, we focus on the most important monthly outgoings such as council tax and utility bills.
Here’s what you should know - never assume that everything will be cheaper than back home in the UK or Ireland - that’s not how it is. So, keeping that in mind, let’s get started with Spain first, which is the most popular overseas property destination for most home seekers.
The council tax rates vary from region to region in Spain, but it is generally much lower (about 25%) than what you would pay in the UK. You will be required to pay for the garbage collection separately. Electricity and water are cheap, but you will have to pay more for your satellite TV subscription and the internet connection.
You will be required to pay a community fee as well, if your home is a part of a complex or a holiday development targeted at overseas buyers. Public transport is really cheap in Spain and train fares are very reasonable. You can avail of excellent discounts of anything from 25 to 40 percent on train travel if you are over 60 years of age.
Council Tax rates are very low in most parts of Italy, not more than £20 a month for a four bedroom house. But electricity and gas bills are slightly higher than what you get in the UK. A satellite TV subscription costs less, but Internet connection costs more. For the most part, day-to-day living expenses in Italy are quite affordable. As a foreign national living in Italy, you will have to pay more for the car insurance and health insurance, but most of the other expenses are more than reasonable. The cost of dining out depends on where you have your meals - it costs more in cities than in the lovely eateries in towns and the countryside, where the food is better too. Overall, the cost of living in Italy is much lower than in the UK.
Let’s start with the Council Tax. Council tax on a four bedroom property costs €100 (or £72) a month in France, which around half as much as in the UK. You get cheaper water and electricity, but will be required to pay more for the internet connection and satellite TV. Labour costs are very high in France, so if you need to get any renovation done on your house, better do it yourself than hire a contractor to help you out with it.
Finally, the most important factor to be considered when determining the cost of living in France, Italy or Spain is your income - is it sterling based? Are you dependent on a rental income from a property in the UK or on a UK pension? Exchange rates tend to fluctuate all the time, so anyone living overseas should budget for the changes. Right now, if you are from the UK, exchange rates are very much in your favour as £1 equals €1.38.