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What is considered a decent salary in Spain?

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The Local ([email protected])
What is considered a decent salary in Spain?
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What's the average salary in Spain in 2022? Are there regional differences to consider? Here we explain in detail the reality of wages in Spain and what you should factor in if you're wondering whether your income is good or bad.

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The average salary in Spain in 2022 is €24,009.12 per year, which works out to a gross income of €1,714.94 in 14 payments.

Although how much this works out to be as a monthly net amount depends on different conditions and tax deductions, this average gross income ends up being around €1,600 net a month. 

However, it is important to note that this amount doesn't give the full picture, and there can be a lot of variances depending on where you live in Spain, whether you compare it to neighbouring countries and even depending on the calculation used to draw Spain's average salary.

So, what is actually considered a decent salary in Spain?

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Regional differences

According to the Spanish government, higher earners are those that earn above €46,225 gross a year, mid-income earners are those that make between €12,943 and €46,225, and low earners are those that earn below €12,943 a year.

But what is considered a decent salary is relatively subjective and can depend on where in Spain you live.

In fact, there are big regional differences when it comes to what is considered a good salary in Spain. The median gross salary in somewhere like Murcia (€1,893), for example, would be considered a very low salary in Madrid (€2,350).

Generally speaking, Spain’s northern regions such as the Basque Country (€2,278), Catalonia (€2,158) and Asturias (€2,161) all earn more on average, and salaries there would be considered very good compared to the southern regions such as Extremadura (€1,760) and Andalusia (€1,837).

READ ALSO: What are the average salaries in each region of Spain?

Therefore, workers from northern Spain might consider an average (or even marginally above average) salary in the south to be quite poor.

Extremadura has the lowest annual gross salary, at €19,947.80 a year, while the Basque Country is the region where workers earn the most, with an average of €28,470 in 14 payments.

With such stark differences between the richest and poorest regions, and north and south, you can see why the national average comes out at around €24,000.

But is this really considered a good wage by Spaniards? €24,000 may be the mean average salary, but is it an unrepresentative figure skewed by high earners?

So, what it the mode, or, in other words, the most common salary in Spain?

Most common (mode) income in Spain

The INE's annual salary structure survey is a good way of understanding the differences between the average salary, the median salary and the most frequent salary of Spaniards each year.

The most frequent salary is measured by the mode and is the value that is most frequently observed in the sample data - that is to say, not the average, statistically speaking, but the most common salary Spaniards receive.

As Spain’s salary distribution is so asymmetrical, the most common salary is often far less than the median salary, which in turn is less than the average salary.

This is important to understand because for many Spaniards, an income below the official ‘average salary’ may well be considered a good salary - this is especially true if you factor in geography. 

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In 2020 for example (the latest official data covering the whole spectrum of calculations, and the evidence suggests little has changed in terms of wages in 2022), the average annual salary in Spain was €24,395, the median salary €20,351, yet the most common or ‘modal’ salary was just €18,490 - a whopping 32 percent lower than the average wage.

Spain's most common salary of €18,490 gross a year works out to be around €1,275 net a month, so €275 less than the €1,549 net a month for the average salary.

Since 2008 the average salary in Spain has always been between 30 percent and 48 percent higher than the most common salary: a difference of €5,500 to €7,400 per year less.

There's even a word for low earners in Spanish - mileurista - a worker who earns around €1,000 a month.

 

Spanish cost of living

Nine European countries have average gross salaries above €2,500 per month, but Spain's average gross salary of €24,000 is 20.2 percent lower than the EU-wide average.

However, when deciding what constitutes a good, poor, or decent salary in Spain, comparing it to other European countries, or even between regions within Spain, is not entirely useful or representative of purchasing power.

What might be considered an extremely low salary in say Sweden, Germany or the United Kingdom could be considered a decent income in Spain.

If you take into account the cost of living in Spain compared to other European countries (recent inflationary pressures aside), you simply need less money to have a decent standard of living.

Your money goes further in Spain, and people can have a good standard of living (including regularly eating out and taking a summer holiday) on salaries that might not even cover rent and travel in more expensive countries.

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According to figures from Eurostat, the Price Level Index (PLI) for household consumption expenditure in Spain (97) is below the Euro area average (106) and far below other European countries such as Sweden (127.9), Holland (115.9) and Germany (108).

The cost of living in Spain is 22.6 percent cheaper than in United Kingdom. Renting a property in Spain, for example, is around a third (33 percent) cheaper than it is in the United Kingdom.

Keeping this in mind, a good or decent salary in Spain is fairly subjective. You need less money to get by, and what is a poor salary elsewhere could allow you to live a comfortable life in Spain.

Many in Spain might be content with an income that is below the official median salary but above the mode (somewhere in the €19,000-€23,000 range) because their income is decent relative to their peers.

And it's worth remembering that Spain’s famous sunny weather and laid-back lifestyle will always be free.

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