• Spain edition
 
London's cheapest suburb? It's Barcelona
Barcelona by night, 'Gherkin' building included. Photo: Jordi Payà

London's cheapest suburb? It's Barcelona

Published: 30 Oct 2013 14:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Oct 2013 15:50 GMT+01:00

"It all started as a bit of a fun for a couple of friends," the London-based social media manager told The Local about his viral blog piece.

In his article, Cookney demonstrated he would save €387 (£330, or $530) a month by choosing to live in Barcelona and commuting with the low-cost airline Ryainair to London four days a week for work.

To "compare apples with apples" he chose to line up Barcelona’s upmarket Les Corts district against London’s pricey West Hampstead.

Cookney's search revealed he could secure the lease on a one-bedroom flat in West Hampstead for around £1,505 (€1,760) while a three-bedroom place in the Catalan capital would only set him back €680.

For the commute, meanwhile, he found he could fly return from Barcelona to London's Stansted airport with Ryanair in November for around €34 a day.

Even after factoring extra travel costs including a London rail pass and a Barcelona equivalent, the Spanish city still came out the winner.

With total costs in Barcelona being €1,592, Cookney figured he would come out €387 a month by living in the Catalan capital.  

The reaction has been astonishing with media outlets latching on to the story with its "surreal premise".

At the same time, plenty of commentators have taken Cookney to task over his sums, saying he hasn't factored in variables such as changing airline prices, or the toll that all that travel would take.

But the social media manager says those people are not focusing on the key message of the article: "People are being priced out of this city."  

"I’m not seriously suggesting that people start commuting between London and Barcelona, and I’m not about to start doing it either.

"I wanted to highlight how property prices in London are not sustainable."

Cookney said the origins of the idea to compare London and Barcelona could be traced back to when he lost his job in April.

Soon afterwards, he found himself applying for work in Barcelona, a city where he lived and taught English for a year in the mid-2000s.

"I love Barcelona. I always tell people it’s my favourite European city," he explained to The Local.

"It has everything: the sea, the mountains, the nightlife. It is great fun, and friendly there’s a decent start-up community."

Check out The Local's great Barcelona–Madrid city face-off. Which one is best?

Cookney was also spurred on by the recent media debate about property prices in London — a discussion he said originated with a New York Times piece about the city becoming a home for the super-rich.

Recent figures quoted by the UK’s Guardian newspaper show property prices shot up 9.7 percent in London from July 2012 to July 2013.

"I’m very glad my piece has been taken seriously and that it has raised the issue of high property prices in London," Cookney said.

And what advice would he give to the many Spaniards eyeing a move to the UK capital?

“If you can get a decent job in London, the salary is great. But there are also lots of people working a lot of hours just to pay their rent," Cookney warned.        

Click there to read Cookney's original blog piece.

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Airport authority AENA sell-off hits delay
Malaga airport: Shutterstock

Airport authority AENA sell-off hits delay

A last-minute objection by the Economy Ministry means that the agency which manages Spain’s airports will remain entirely in public hands at least until 2015. READ  

Weather watch
Spain's 'mini-summer' set for snowy finale
Temperatures are set to plummet and come in line with averages for this time of year. Photo of rainy day: Shutterstock

Spain's 'mini-summer' set for snowy finale

After a period of unusually warm weather across much of the country, Spain is now set for cooler temperatures with a cold front bringing rain by the bucketful and even the first snows of the autumn. READ  

Halloween tragedy jail terms an ‘insult’: mum
Cheerleaders in Halloween costumes perform during a Euroleague basketball match in Madrid. Photo: DANI POZO/AFP

Halloween tragedy jail terms an ‘insult’: mum

Two years after five young women were killed in Madrid Halloween party disaster, the mother of one victim makes a passionate plea for justice as the case judge also slams Spain’s court system. READ  

Spanish cemetery launches online funerals
A man cleans a relatives grave in Barcelona on All Saints' Day, November 1st, 2012. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Spanish cemetery launches online funerals

A groundbreaking new service in the Spanish city of Valencia will let people watch the funerals of their loved ones online wherever they are in the world. READ  

Cabinet moves to block new Catalan ballot
Catalan independentist flags during celebrations of Catalonia National Day in Barcelona on September 11, 2014. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Cabinet moves to block new Catalan ballot

Catalonia’s breakaway president called for a popular consultation on November 9 with same questions on region’s status as had been planned for court-suspended referendum. READ  

Aznar admits to multi-million Gaddafi deal
Former Spanish leader José María Aznar was angered by the West's support of rebels who eventually ousted Colonel Gaddafi from power. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

Aznar admits to multi-million Gaddafi deal

Former Spanish prime minister signed a contract with an energy company to clinch the Libyan’s approval for desalination plants, but war against the dictator frustrated the eventual sale. READ  

UK-style 'pound shops' launch in crisis-hit Spain
Alicante town hall officials open the first Dealz store on the Costa Blanca.

UK-style 'pound shops' launch in crisis-hit Spain

The UK chain Poundland has entered the Spanish market with its formula of top-brand products at rock-bottom prices now available in Alicante, Torremolinos and, as of Friday, Madrid. READ  

Ex-bullfighter threatens lawyer with hoe
A bullfight in Malaga in August. File photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Ex-bullfighter threatens lawyer with hoe

A former bullfighter was arrested by police on Thursday after he appeared at the offices of his lawyer bearing a hoe and spraying insults. READ  

Police smash major heroin ring in Catalonia
The ring would transfer its profits to Morocco where its leaders would launder the money by buying real estate. Photo of man with needle: Shutterstock

Police smash major heroin ring in Catalonia

Police in Spain's Catalonia region said on Thursday they have crushed a major heroin smuggling ring with the arrest of 36 people and the seizure of 2 million ($2.5 million) worth of heroin. READ  

Spanish judge accuses 26 in graft scandal
Spanish High Court judge Eloy Velasco arrives at the National Court in Madrid on Thursday, during a hearing in an alleged corruption scandal involving local government construction contracts. Photo: A

Spanish judge accuses 26 in graft scandal

A judge in Spain has launched judicial investigations into 26 suspects including governing party politicians and businessmen in a bribery probe that has seriously embarrassed the government, according to written rulings released on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Tech
Meet Mr Biceps: Spanish policeman heats up Instagram
National
37 arrested as massive anti-corruption raids rattle Spain
National
Spain's public holidays in 2015: Official list
Health
Drug mule 'left to die' in airport over Ebola fears
National
Viral photo shows two worlds collide at Spain's African border
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
National
Top Ten: the very best new Spanish words
National
Flash floods: woman dies in Canary Islands
Health
Cured: Spanish nurse with Ebola beats virus
International
Mango apologizes for 'Nazi blouse'
National
Where's the best place to live in Spain?
Travel
Top ten: great autumn getaways in Spain
National
The great Spanish cities quiz: take it now
National
Revealed: the cost of expat food in Spain
Politics
Catalan leader calls independence vote 'lite'
What's On
Games of Thrones star 'barred' from Seville film set
Education
Only one Spanish university makes world's top 200
Politics
Spanish court suspends Catalan independence vote
National
Catalonia defies Madrid and calls independence vote
National
Spanish village swaps bulls for giant balls
Society
Spain scraps plans for tough new abortion law
National
'This is a great time for entrepreneurs in Spain'
National
Loud porn movie scares locals into calling cops
National
'We'll axe Catalan autonomy but won't send in tanks'
National
Spain's Thatcher square defaced by 'Brits'
National
Top 10: best Spanish movies of all time
National
Gravedigger suspended for corpse photo gaffe
Society
Named: the best city to live in Spain
Travel
Top ten amazing activities in Tenerife
National
Spain opens door to ban on burqas
Travel
Top ten: best bike rides in Spain
Travel
Spain to reopen 'world's most dangerous walk': The Camino del Rey
National
'Catalonia could be the shock Spain needs'
National
Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions
Sport
Think you know Spanish football? Try these amazing facts
International
Australia set to welcome young Spanish workers
Opinion
Is tourism destroying Barcelona?
Society
Fashion fail: Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids
National
Man hurt as friend swaps ice bucket for plane
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Politics
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,679
jobs available