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From Bay Area to Barcelona

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Utility Comparison [ Sunday, 10 Apr 05 | 15:07 ]
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Now that I have had my piso for a couple of months, the utility bills are arriving finally. Here in España, they bill every two months instead of the usual every month in the US. Also, the facturas are paid directly from my bank account without me having to write a check. It’s equivalent to having EFT payments. Even my city “taxes” are done this way.

One of the reasons for moving here was that I thought I could live cheaper than in the Bay Area. Following is a comparison of utility bills between here and last year in Richmond.

Luz (Electricity)

I had PG&E in Richmond and now have Fecsa Endesa here in El Masnou. Last year my average monthly PG&E bill was $98 and the lowest month was $67. Here my monthly rate is 22,25 €, or about one-quarter of what it was last year. There is a difference, as my PG&E bill also contained gas charges, and I don’t have a gas bill yet here for comparison. But the gas component in Richmond was less than 20% of the total.

Agua (Water)

Richmond is in the EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District) and my monthly average bill last year was $16. Here in El Masnou with Sorea, monthly bill has been 3,25 €. Water here in Spain is a scarce commodity just like in California. My water consumption is lower because I don’t have a small yard to water, just a few plants.

Telefónia (Telephone)

A year or two ago I switched from SBC to AT&T for my local service because it was a bit cheaper. Still, my monthly bill averaged to $65. I had reduced my service after I was laid-off, but it was still never below $42. Here in Spain I am using Telefónica which is like Ma Bell used to be (or SBC is now) as they actually own the telephone lines. When I contracted for the service I received a promotional rate of free local calls for a year. Remember that Barcelona is a “local” call, so that’s a pretty good deal. My monthly rate here is about 17 €.

Basura (Trash)

In Richmond I had Richmond Sanitary Service pick up the trash (you don’t have a choice) and the monthly rate worked out to about $22. El Masnou has a municipal service and it is collected once a year. The yearly rate is 103 € or 8,60 € a month.


The city government charges for the fact that I have a parking space, even though I am not using it. If I buy a car here, I have to pay a local tax as well. I guess this is for road maintenance and the like. The yearly rate for having a parking space here is 18 € or 1,50 € a month.

Comunidad (Community Association)

Just like in Richmond, I belong to a community association here in El Masnou. The monthly dues in Richmond was $93 and here in El Masnou it is 60 €.


So here is a monthly summary of my utility bills comparing Richmond and El Masnou:

Monthly Utility Comparison
Utility Richmond El Masnou
Electricity $98 22,25 €
Water $16 3,25 €
Telephone $65 17 €
Trash $22 8,60 €
Parking $0 1,50 €
Community Dues $93 60 €
Monthly Total $294 112,60 €

So, as you can see my monthly utility bills are running considerably cheaper than back in the US. Once I have an Internet connection and satellite TV subscription, I will report on those as well. I believe that they are comparably priced to the US.

Reducing my monthly cash outflow was one of the reasons for moving to Spain and I have acheived that. It is true that at least part of the difference is due to the size of my piso being smaller than the house in Richmond, but a number of costs are fixed and related to the size of the residence (e.g. phone, trash.)

From: (Anonymous)
Tuesday, 12 Apr 05 | 06:23 (UTC)

What about food costs?

So how much is food in restaurants and bodegas? And how's your cafe bill?
(I just barely managed to pay the 2nd half of my yearly Alameda County tax bill - $3200.)
-rchrd in Oakland
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Thursday, 28 Apr 05 | 07:48 (UTC)

Re: What about food costs?

I have already replied to the poster directly...

I find that the food costs here are about the same or a little less than in the Bay Area. I go to a "big box" store called Alcampo and their selection is better than what I have seen in the US. For produce they not only tell you that it's a tomato, but also its variety and where it was grown. I have recognized some varieties of produce that are the same in the Bay Area and some that are different.

As for eating out. I tend to go to cheap restaurants--under 10 €. Difference here is that normally tax (IVA) is included and you don't tip, unless it's excceptional service. That can amount to 20% or more in the US. Also, I often choose the "menu del día" and that includes bread, beverage and dessert plus two "plates" for a fixed-price.

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