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From booze to transport: How cost of living in Spain compares to the rest of Europe

There are certain items that are much cheaper in Spain than anywhere else in western Europe, although that doesn't necessarily mean they are all good for your health. And in one particular category Spain was ranked the third most expensive in the EU. Can you guess which?

From booze to transport: How cost of living in Spain compares to the rest of Europe
Photo: JOSE JORDAN / AFP
Spain's low cost of living means that the price of alcohol and tobacco – as well as a number of other goods and services – falls well below the EU average.
 
Eurostat data for 2018 reveals that Spain has the lowest prices in western Europe for alcohol and tobacco, clothing and footwear, and private transport vehicles such as cars, motorbikes and bicycles (personal transport equipment).
 
Spain’s overall cost of living is well below the European Union average, as are national price levels in 8 out of 10 categories evaluated.
 
The EU’s statistics office places Spain 16th out the 31 countries in the European Economic Area (Lichtenstein was not included) in terms of cost of living, with a price level index that was 93% of the EU average.
 
Price level indices (PLIs) are created using the price of a “basket” of goods compared across different places, with a PLI of 100 (in this case, that of the EU) being used as a reference point.
 
The Eurostat website allows users to compare the cost of many products between countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). An infographic demonstrates that Spain has the lowest prices in western Europe when it comes to alcohol and tobacco products, clothing and footwear, and transport vehicles.
 
 
Photo: Eurostat
 
Spain is the 11th lowest ranked country in terms of alcohol and tobacco prices, which are 14.6% lower than the European Union Average.
 
Alcohol and tobacco in Spain is the cheapest in western Europe, though the lowest prices are found in eastern and central Europe. These products are least expensive in Bulgaria, where they cost 41.8% lower than the EU average, and most expensive in Norway, at 116.1 percent higher.
 
The Kingdom of Spain also stands out for its “personal transport equipment” (bikes, cars, motorbikes) prices, the 10th lowest of the group at 11.6 percent lower than the European average, and its clothing and footwear prices, the fourth lowest in the EEA.
 
 
Photo: Eurostat
 
Of the 10 categories measured, prices in Spain were below the European Union average in 8 out of 10: the 3 mentioned as well as transport services, housing costs, food, restaurants and hotels, and recreation and culture. 
 
The only two categories where Spanish prices exceeded the EU average were “furniture and carpets” and communications which includes cost of postal services, telephone and internet service where prices in Spain were the 3rd highest in Europe.
 
Communications prices in Spain are a staggering 40.1% higher than the European Union average.
 
Overall, the highest price level indices were those of non-EU countries Iceland (156), Switzerland (152), and Norway (148), with Denmark having the highest price level index (138) in the EU.
 
Countries in Eastern and Central Europe had the lowest price level indices – Bulgaria registered the lowest PLI in the EEA, at 51 percent of the European average.
 

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