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My experience living in madrid after 5 years

My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Old Nov 16th 2020, 1:20 pm
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Default My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Hi Everyone I want to ask if anyone else is feeling disenchanted with Spain as I am.


To tell you a bit about my story I moved to Spain back in 2014 with a job offer , in the uk I had a fairly good job in IT, a house with a mortgage a Spanish wife and a son and a dog things were good I just didn’t appreciate it.
We moved to Spain mostly because I didn’t like the rain much in the UK, I worked a lot and had little time for family. I felt the wages were low in the uk I was on 22k which seems like a lot but after taxes and mortgage payments left little to save.

and every time we came on holiday I enjoyed myself in Spain and I thought it was cheap to live here.

We sold the house in the uk and with 30k moved to Spain. we moved to Madrid where I had a job in IT on the outskirts of Madrid that took 1.30 hours to get to via public transport , we rented a Franco piso which was supposed to be temporary.
and I still can’t believe how badly and small they were built W/O air Con and central heating in madrid the weather has extremes too hot or too cold. but hey I’m paying 500 euros rent, and apart from the noisy neighbours who play bachata loud o the gitano neighbours its ok.
buying a car was super expensive because unlike the uk the Spanish 2nd market if 30 percent expensive.

And we had to buy a big car now we had 3 kids , in any case after buying furniture "most Spanish rented houses have really outdated furniture" we had little left of the 30k.
we also had the costs involved in paying school fees and uniforms , that we take for granted in the uk, education is Spain is not free .

I spoke Spanish fairly okish understanding simple words. And integrating well with several Spanish friends from work.

within 2 years my marriage broke down, partly because my ex-wife’s family changed .As soon as we moved, they became possessive and suffocating us which led to arguments my ex-wife wanted me to be home and not see any Spanish friends only her family .
my ex-wife was dealing with some past issues with her family also. like a love hate relationship. and me being grumpy because I found Spain to be far expensive than advertised and her family being around 24/7 but not willing to look after our children.

my ex-wife tricked me in to signing a document that gave her custody of our children it was in Spanish I trusted her I could not read it very well.
and soon she made false allegations of violence on 3 occasions "I spent a good few nights in the calabozo" I was found innocent , she did this so I could not get custody according to Spanish law.

I have had 2 lawyers and found out the Spanish justice system to be fair is awful , the feminist movement has removed equal right or innocent until proven guilty. and yet after 2 years I am still not divorced. But she can pick up a phone and get me arrested without any repercussions.

furthermore the hacienda after 3 years doing my renta said I have been filling it in wrong and I have to pay back 5k which has wiped out my savings.
it seems like everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong in my case moving to Spain.


The good news is I speak fluent Spanish now and I am very well integrated in the Spanish culture etc.

I get to see my kids every fortnight but I am not very optimistic I will get shared custody because I don’t trust the Spanish justice system.


I can’t leave and go back to the UK because of my kids,

I have a stable job now that pays above 30k

I am not settled with my new Spanish partner who lives with me in the Franco piso. and we visit her family on a regular basis and she gets on well with the kids.

recently we were planning our future and wanted to buy a house of flat in Madrid, we both don’t like Madrid she is from the north but Madrid is where the jobs are, unlike the uk its Madrid or nothing for jobs. And better if the job is in the city as transport out of the city is awful.


But I found it extremely expensive with all the taxes it’s like an extra 13 percent you need to save and a further 20 percent for a mortgage. for a decent property in Madrid that costs 200k in a good area and I’m not counting the gasto’s de comunidad that could be 120 euros a month on top of the mortgage.


i feel that buying a house in Spain will enslave us to a 30 or 40 year mortgage and we will be saving for 6 years just to get a decent deposit costs that is with both combined salarys .

TBH I feel completely disenchanted with Spain . most of the information online is outdated by many years. I find ahora mas, mercadona , carrefour really expensive.

I miss Christmas in the Uk, spain Its less festive , I miss the german markets in Manchester or the lights on oxford road, the curry mile. The way things just work, the tax system is uncomplicated. Seeing a friendly face in your neighbourhood and having a chat on their doorstep while walking the dog.

less paperwork, the theatres in London , how everything is not a car ride away.



I think spain has some wonderful quality’s the majority of people are friendly and welcoming , the beaches , the weather, you have the mountains in scenery in Galicia o Asturias the beaches in the south and warm waters. But its not an easy life as advertised or not as I found it.
i have a lot of fond memorys of holidays on the beach, asturias, galicia theme parks etc with the kids in spain. but i can also acknowladge they wil lnever expiriance bonfire night or haloween or christmas like the uk or going to blackpool to see the lights in november

We are hoping to save for 5 or 6 years or until the kids grow up and buy a property in the uk for half the price as the Spanish market. if the hacianda or hundred other agencys dont try and fine me.
this is just my personal experiance other people will definatly have had better luck




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Old Nov 16th 2020, 2:31 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Originally Posted by WhamBham View Post
Hi Everyone I want to ask if anyone else is feeling disenchanted with Spain as I am.


To tell you a bit about my story I moved to Spain back in 2014 with a job offer , in the uk I had a fairly good job in IT, a house with a mortgage a Spanish wife and a son and a dog things were good I just didn’t appreciate it.
We moved to Spain mostly because I didn’t like the rain much in the UK, I worked a lot and had little time for family. I felt the wages were low in the uk I was on 22k which seems like a lot but after taxes and mortgage payments left little to save.

and every time we came on holiday I enjoyed myself in Spain and I thought it was cheap to live here.

We sold the house in the uk and with 30k moved to Spain. we moved to Madrid where I had a job in IT on the outskirts of Madrid that took 1.30 hours to get to via public transport , we rented a Franco piso which was supposed to be temporary.
and I still can’t believe how badly and small they were built W/O air Con and central heating in madrid the weather has extremes too hot or too cold. but hey I’m paying 500 euros rent, and apart from the noisy neighbours who play bachata loud o the gitano neighbours its ok.
buying a car was super expensive because unlike the uk the Spanish 2nd market if 30 percent expensive.

And we had to buy a big car now we had 3 kids , in any case after buying furniture "most Spanish rented houses have really outdated furniture" we had little left of the 30k.
we also had the costs involved in paying school fees and uniforms , that we take for granted in the uk, education is Spain is not free .

I spoke Spanish fairly okish understanding simple words. And integrating well with several Spanish friends from work.

within 2 years my marriage broke down, partly because my ex-wife’s family changed .As soon as we moved, they became possessive and suffocating us which led to arguments my ex-wife wanted me to be home and not see any Spanish friends only her family .
my ex-wife was dealing with some past issues with her family also. like a love hate relationship. and me being grumpy because I found Spain to be far expensive than advertised and her family being around 24/7 but not willing to look after our children.

my ex-wife tricked me in to signing a document that gave her custody of our children it was in Spanish I trusted her I could not read it very well.
and soon she made false allegations of violence on 3 occasions "I spent a good few nights in the calabozo" I was found innocent , she did this so I could not get custody according to Spanish law.

I have had 2 lawyers and found out the Spanish justice system to be fair is awful , the feminist movement has removed equal right or innocent until proven guilty. and yet after 2 years I am still not divorced. But she can pick up a phone and get me arrested without any repercussions.

furthermore the hacienda after 3 years doing my renta said I have been filling it in wrong and I have to pay back 5k which has wiped out my savings.
it seems like everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong in my case moving to Spain.


The good news is I speak fluent Spanish now and I am very well integrated in the Spanish culture etc.

I get to see my kids every fortnight but I am not very optimistic I will get shared custody because I don’t trust the Spanish justice system.


I can’t leave and go back to the UK because of my kids,

I have a stable job now that pays above 30k

I am not settled with my new Spanish partner who lives with me in the Franco piso. and we visit her family on a regular basis and she gets on well with the kids.

recently we were planning our future and wanted to buy a house of flat in Madrid, we both don’t like Madrid she is from the north but Madrid is where the jobs are, unlike the uk its Madrid or nothing for jobs. And better if the job is in the city as transport out of the city is awful.


But I found it extremely expensive with all the taxes it’s like an extra 13 percent you need to save and a further 20 percent for a mortgage. for a decent property in Madrid that costs 200k in a good area and I’m not counting the gasto’s de comunidad that could be 120 euros a month on top of the mortgage.


i feel that buying a house in Spain will enslave us to a 30 or 40 year mortgage and we will be saving for 6 years just to get a decent deposit costs that is with both combined salarys .

TBH I feel completely disenchanted with Spain . most of the information online is outdated by many years. I find ahora mas, mercadona , carrefour really expensive.

I miss Christmas in the Uk, spain Its less festive , I miss the german markets in Manchester or the lights on oxford road, the curry mile. The way things just work, the tax system is uncomplicated. Seeing a friendly face in your neighbourhood and having a chat on their doorstep while walking the dog.

less paperwork, the theatres in London , how everything is not a car ride away.



I think spain has some wonderful quality’s the majority of people are friendly and welcoming , the beaches , the weather, you have the mountains in scenery in Galicia o Asturias the beaches in the south and warm waters. But its not an easy life as advertised or not as I found it.
i have a lot of fond memorys of holidays on the beach, asturias, galicia theme parks etc with the kids in spain. but i can also acknowladge they wil lnever expiriance bonfire night or haloween or christmas like the uk or going to blackpool to see the lights in november

We are hoping to save for 5 or 6 years or until the kids grow up and buy a property in the uk for half the price as the Spanish market. if the hacianda or hundred other agencys dont try and fine me.
this is just my personal experiance other people will definatly have had better luck

Sorry to hear it has been far from perfect but it's also good you can give us a different picture and I agree with many points. We often hear from retired people how cheap everything is but if you have to work and make a living it's a complete different story. This is one of the reasons we are still in Ireland and although I had plenty of job offers in Barcelona, it just wasn't worth it and many of my Spanish friends say similar. We like parts of Spain but I would also not like to live in Madrid and not a fan of Barcelona either. Staying here meant we can afford a small place near the coast in Girona (preferred area) and the cost of two homes is still less than what we would have to pay in Barcelona. I suppose with Covid you might have more opportunities to work from home in the future, so maybe that's something to look at. Of course others will argue that the UK is far from perfect but one should never underestimate the simple things in life, like a conversation, or maybe even tiling the terrace without a licence. Of course weather is always the first thing people complain about but all the other things play a big part too.

Last edited by Moses2013; Nov 16th 2020 at 2:35 pm.
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Old Nov 16th 2020, 3:18 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Well you can't be certain what would have happened had you stayed in the UK - maybe things would have gone worse. There are no guarantees in life.

I have been in Spain 20 years and had issues to deal with some of which have caused me sleepless nights but I have survived and maybe even prospered but doubtless my net worth would be more had I stayed in England. However, I enjoy my lifestyle here and overall have no regrets.

I really don't understand - 'buy a property y in the uk for half the price as the Spanish market' Surely UK prices are far higher and always will be?

You say you have a well paid and stable job that is a huge advantage, so I hope the other things improve for you. Good luck and be positive.
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Old Nov 16th 2020, 3:54 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Originally Posted by spainrico View Post
I really don't understand - 'buy a property y in the uk for half the price as the Spanish market' Surely UK prices are far higher and always will be?
OP talks about Christmas market and Curry Mile in Manchester and Blackpool Lights, and in parts of North West, you can buy a family house from £100k (110k€) and a 4-bedroom detached house with garden from £200k (220k€). Compared to properties in good areas of Madrid, that's cheap.
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Old Nov 17th 2020, 10:56 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Many of the posters here are retired and live in areas with high levels of English spoken. If you are working in Spain and live in a predominantly spanish speaking community the experience will be different and no doubt harder. I work in Spain and like the poster have a young family living here. It is not cheap in Spain if you work here. Culturally you need to integrate to survive. You need good Spanish and you have to go through periods where you feel very isolated and depressed because of cultural alienation. It's very hard and not many manage. I think the OP has done very well after 5 years and I am not surprised they feel worn out and a bit frustrated. However as some one has pointed out things might not have been all rosy if they had remained in UK.
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Old Nov 17th 2020, 12:15 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Th lifestyle and climate you all describe, in Madrid and on the Peninsular, is so different to what we experience, here on the Meridian island of El Hierro, 1946 km south west of Madrid.

I am fortunate that I do not need to seek employment, we own our house, the cost of living is cheaper than he U.K., no heating or air-conditioning needed, we grow a lot of our fruit and veg. Meat and fish, are produced locally
Hardly anyone here uses the English language, in fact there are few English residents on the island, most of our friends and neighbours are Herreños, or Canary Islanders or from South America.

I have enjoyed visiting the Peninsular, Asturias and Galicia are very appealing, but they have winters we don't.

All we are short of here is employment for the young and rain..
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Old Nov 17th 2020, 12:45 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

I'm sorry that life in Spain has thrown so many challenges in your way and I can quite understand your disenchantment.

In the years I've been contributing to forums, I've lost count of the number of times I and many other members have replied to posts from people saying they are intending to move to Spain (usually with a spouse and children) and either running a business or looking for a job. The vast majority of responses always tell them how difficult it is to find work and make a living here, point out that there aren't things like Child Benefit or tax credits here to help with expenses, nor Housing Benefit, school books are not free, and employment prospects for older children once they leave school are dire. The OPs never like to hear these responses and say we are just being negative.

I bought a house in Spain whilst I was still working, with the intention of moving here full time when we retired, and although I would have liked to make the move permanently years earlier than we did, we knew we needed to wait until we would be able to support ourselves here without the need to find work. Seeing how some families we got to know during those years we were coming backwards and forwards for holidays were struggling and really living hand to mouth just reinforced that decision.
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Old Nov 17th 2020, 1:17 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Originally Posted by Chipmonk View Post
Many of the posters here are retired and live in areas with high levels of English spoken. If you are working in Spain and live in a predominantly spanish speaking community the experience will be different and no doubt harder. I work in Spain and like the poster have a young family living here. It is not cheap in Spain if you work here. Culturally you need to integrate to survive. You need good Spanish and you have to go through periods where you feel very isolated and depressed because of cultural alienation. It's very hard and not many manage. I think the OP has done very well after 5 years and I am not surprised they feel worn out and a bit frustrated. However as some one has pointed out things might not have been all rosy if they had remained in UK.
I agree and those retired just don't see the challenges younger families have. If you made money elsewhere, have decent savings and no longer need to work the whole of Spain offers opportunities.


When you look at local salaries vs cost of living it's certainly not cheap and even the basics can cost more than parts of Northern Europe (Electricity, groceries and so on). Most of the better paid jobs would be hard to find in our area and along the coast it's often seasonal, so the only real option is Barcelona. Our area would also be a long commute to Barcelona and even the Costa Maresme which would be closer is definitely not cheap when it comes to housing. It's cheaper to buy than rent, however you'd also need the deposit for a mortgage and hard to save when you're faced with high rents. This is also one of the reasons why Spain has such a low birthrate compared to other countries: https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-02...Tlm/index.html

In Spain, this is particularly problematic for another reason - we have a very precarious labor system so it takes a long time to get stability in your job and leave your house. Young people leave really late, after 30-years-old when the average in Europe is almost five years less. So we also have a problem in revenues, in incomes below 30."

Roldan added that the precariousness in Spain's job market makes it very expensive to become a parent, so people have few children. "The gap between the kids [people] have and those they would want to have is widening. So it's not like people don't want to have kids, they cannot because we are not supporting them to have them," he said.

Because couples are having their first child later in life, their chances of having multiple children are reduced. Spain, according to the latest data by Eurostat, has become the European country with the highest proportion of first-time mothers over 40.

Last edited by Moses2013; Nov 17th 2020 at 1:20 pm.
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Old Nov 17th 2020, 3:44 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

This is very true.

My partner and I are in our late 30´s. We are "miluristas" - meaning our combined income is €2000 a month. We are renting (€500) and run 2 cars (another €500 maybe, taking fuel into account) Its very difficult to save anything more than 100€ or so each month, after bills and food. We have both been in our jobs for 5 years (her) and 10 years (me). We thought about having children, but cant afford to.

She is on ERTE right now, and thats making things more difficult, as we work in the tourism industry at Malaga Airport.

The cost of living in general may be cheaper, but the services cost more (telephone, electricity, gas, firewood etc) when you take it as a percentage of the wages that you earn.
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Old Nov 18th 2020, 7:20 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Interesting to hear the other side of "living the dream"
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Old Nov 18th 2020, 7:54 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

My question for the younger posters is do you not think it is exactly the same in the UK? (and probably other locations) I read about the UK gig economy and low paid non perm contract employment, mortgage problems with huge deposits required and rising property purchase prices, higher rental costs (OK maybe falling in London) high costs of poor public transport and high council taxes for limited public services etc.

Plus lower standards of living with drug and gang warfare (people getting knifed every day it seems) poor education standards, insufficient policing, under resourced health system, people living from foodbanks....

I sympathise with your issues but regrettably for your generation they seem to be endemic in these times.
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Old Nov 18th 2020, 10:30 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Originally Posted by spainrico View Post
My question for the younger posters is do you not think it is exactly the same in the UK? (and probably other locations) I read about the UK gig economy and low paid non perm contract employment, mortgage problems with huge deposits required and rising property purchase prices, higher rental costs (OK maybe falling in London) high costs of poor public transport and high council taxes for limited public services etc.

Plus lower standards of living with drug and gang warfare (people getting knifed every day it seems) poor education standards, insufficient policing, under resourced health system, people living from foodbanks....

I sympathise with your issues but regrettably for your generation they seem to be endemic in these times.
Since I'm in Ireland and no longer UK, I can only say that I do find this part of an article to be true:The gender pay gap has remained stubbornly higher in the UK than the European average; median hourly pay among women is 18.4 per cent lower than for men. And we see a similar racial wage gap between white and black workers.In London, the UK has the richest region in northern Europe, yet the stark fact is that the UK also has six of the 10 poorest regions in northern Europe, making the UK the continent’s most geographically unbalanced economy.

In contrast, the figures from Ireland on every corresponding measure show a much richer and more equal society. Ireland is currently fourth on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, while the UK is at 14th.
Every time I come back from the UK, I really notice how different it is. In the UK there's either posh or rough but nothing in-between.
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Old Nov 18th 2020, 10:31 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Originally Posted by missile View Post
Interesting to hear the other side of "living the dream"
I´ve always been told, and i totally agree - "spain is a great place to retire to, but a hard place to live if you need to work". This is probably applicable to a good 80% of the people that move to spain, and the people that have grown up here, spanish and foreign alike, the other 20% are multinational company owners without a care in the world or silverspoon - lottery winners - living off daddies money type people

Originally Posted by spainrico View Post
My question for the younger posters is do you not think it is exactly the same in the UK? (and probably other locations) I read about the UK gig economy and low paid non perm contract employment, mortgage problems with huge deposits required and rising property purchase prices, higher rental costs (OK maybe falling in London) high costs of poor public transport and high council taxes for limited public services etc.

Plus lower standards of living with drug and gang warfare (people getting knifed every day it seems) poor education standards, insufficient policing, under resourced health system, people living from foodbanks....

I sympathise with your issues but regrettably for your generation they seem to be endemic in these times.
Spainrico - with due respect, do you see anyone in the uk working a 40 hour week (starting at 5am and finishing at 3am, doing 8 hr shifts) for only 750 pounds a month after working there for 10 years? Do you have people working for 40 hours a week on a 10 hour contract in the UK ? I wouldnt of thought so.

Does electric cost 100€ a month, even tho nobody is even in the house for 8 hours a day?

does the internet cost upto 100€ a month for a standard ADSL connection?

Do people have all these issuses with paperwork etc when they are trying to buy a house? The banks in the UK welcome younger / new home owners - you certainly dont need 30-45% of the purchase price as a deposit in the UK. Some of the houses on the market here in spain, you wouldnt even house a pack of wild dogs. For the same price or even less in the UK you get a 3 bedroom terraced house, front and back gardens, maybe a garage and central heating.

There may be more "gang warfare" in the uk, but if you are in the bigger cities here in spain there are areas that even the police wont go into at night. Go to any big town on a weekend and you can see fighting / arguments / gangs against gangs / violence. Drugs are everywhere. Just because its not reported doesnt mean it doesnt happen.

The news here in spain has been all about the rise of people using food banks and church soup kitchens - this week is the big "donate food & money" in the super markets.

I didnt post about life here in spain for sympathy, its to make people see that not everything is rose coloured and sitting on the terrace with a g&t.

I suppose bottom line is that we choose to live here and this is what we have. If we dont like it, we can work towards leaving.

I can totally agree with the OP´s post - the points made are valid and there you go, thats their opinion, but thats the way it is - its put up or shut up. There are alot of things that are better or worse somewhere else, the same can be said for anywhere in the world i imagine ?
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Old Nov 18th 2020, 11:11 am
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

Not every Brit who retires to Spain live in "English" areas and do not worship the sun or like alcohol.

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Old Nov 18th 2020, 12:24 pm
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Default Re: My experience living in madrid after 5 years

bfg69bug makes some valid points. In relation to my post above, I do feel that it is also a cultural thing. Many dumb lazy people in the UK still have more than a hardworking educated Spanish person, so how do you measure poverty. In Spain you are forced to look after yourself, so even in the poorer parts it doesn't seem as rough because there are educated people living in poverty but they tend to look after things more. All I can say is that we have a home here and in Spain but although the home in Spain is smaller, costs are higher (water, electricity, property tax). I was looking at broadband prices in Spain and again didn't find anything cheaper than here. I've compared jobs for the past few years and the exact same job in Spain often pays 50-60% less. Of course one can argue about services and other things but it's just something I noticed.
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