(NB: this was very hastily written, so I hope the logic flows – I just wanted to get it out…)
I think many people thought I was joking when I boldly declared it would be cheaper for me to rent a two bed flat in Barcelona and commute to London every day than get a one bed flat here. Turns out I was – I could in fact get a three bed flat.
I thought at least it would require some poetic licence or awkwardness or dodgy sums, but no. The only assumption I’m making here is my working a four-day week in London, with a day at home (i.e. in Barcelona). Here’s how it pans out:
So, zoopla informs me the average asking price for a one-bed flat in West Hampstead (chosen because I know and like the area, and seems not a stretch to suggest that a young professional may afford to live there) is £1,505:
Throw in council tax (say £75) and a zone 1-2 travelcard for me to get to my job in the City (£116.80), and we get a total of £1,697. To make it a level playing field, let’s convert to euros at today’s exchange rate, and I’ve got 1,979€ a month to play with.
For Barcelona, I’ve looked in the Les Corts district because I used to live there, and being a fairly upmarket residential district, it’s a very decent and fair comparison to West Hampstead. There was no shortage of flats available, but I liked the look of this one here: http://www.habitaclia.com/alquiler-piso-carrer_vallespir_164_les_corts-barcelona-i586001230674.htm.
For those who don’t speak Spanish, it’s a three bedroom flat, with three balconies, a stone’s throw away from the metro, in a nice, safe area. This sets me back 680€ a month, and there’s no council tax in Spain. (There are of course cheaper flats. I’m trying to compare apples with apples – even in spite of the three bedrooms)
So, the commute… A cursory glance at Ryanair in November throws up returns from Barcelona to Stansted nearly every day for 34€ (seriously, check it).
It’s 6€ to and from Barcelona’s el Prat airport (and I can walk to the airport train in 5 minutes from that flat) and then £14 return to Liverpool Street with Terravision (so 23€ in total on transfers each day).
I can then walk to my desk by 9:30am, with time for a Pret coffee and bacon and cheese croissant en route.
So, to recap, we now have fixed commuting costs of 57€/day, 4 days a week, for 4 weeks a month, which gives us 912€. Add on our rent of 680€/month, and Barcelona’s total comes to 1,592€.
This still leaves me with 387€ free compared to my London life, with which to enjoy fine bottles of 5€ Rioja on one of my three balconies. Sigh.