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WORKING IN SPAIN

What is considered a decent salary in Spain?

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.

What is considered a decent salary in Spain?
Photo: Pixabay.

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?

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. 

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.

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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WORKING IN SPAIN

Your questions answered about Spain’s digital nomad visa

Spain's long-awaited digital nomad visa is finally available, but there is still much confusion about it, so we've answered all your burning questions.

Your questions answered about Spain's digital nomad visa

Spain’s Startups Law, which also introduced a new digital nomad visa, was approved at the end of 2022, but didn’t come into force until January 2023 and all the details are only just now being revealed. 

From how much money you need to your tax obligations and if you can bring family, members, here are all your questions answered. 

What are the financial requirements to apply for the visa?

You must prove that you earn 200 percent of the SMI or Minimum Interprofessional Salary. The current minimum wage in Spain is €1,000 per month (across 14 payments) or €1,166.67 across 12 payments.

Keep in mind though that the minimum wage is currently being re-evaluated and is likely to go up to €1,082 (across 14 payments) per month in the near future.

This means that currently, you must be able to show that you will have an income of at least €2,333.34 per month or €28,000 per year, but it is likely this will increase. You can prove this amount either with job contracts, invoices or bank statements.

Can I bring family members with me on the visa?

Yes, you are permitted to bring partners and children with you to Spain on the digital nomad visa.

In order to add a family member, however, you must prove that you have an extra 75 percent of the SMI or minimum wage. This currently equates to an extra €875. For each additional family member after this, such as children, you will have to prove you have an extra 25 percent of the SMI, currently €291.66.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best cities for digital nomads to move to in Spain

Do I need private health care?

You must also make sure that you have either private or public health insurance, simply getting travel insurance with health coverage is not enough.

The Spanish government mentions the option of getting public health insurance instead of private cover, but it is not yet clear whether this means that you will have to contribute to the social security system or be eligible for the convenio especial – the public pay-in scheme.

Do I have to have any professional qualifications? 

You must prove that you either have professional qualifications or a degree relating to your job or that you have at least 3 years’ experience working in your field. 

How long is the visa valid for?

The visa will be valid for an initial period of one year, however, it can be renewed for up to five years. After that, if you want to continue living in Spain, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.

Does the visa give me access to travel around the EU?

Yes, once you have your visa and you’re in Spain, you will be able to apply for a residency card. This will allow you to travel throughout the EU during the time that you’re living in Spain.

Keep in mind though, it won’t give you the right to work or live in other EU countries, but you will be able to go for short breaks. 

How long do I have to stay in Spain for the visa to be valid?

Many digital nomads choose to split their time between different countries. If this is your case, and you want to split your time between back home in the US or the UK for example, you must make sure you stay in Spain for a maximum of 6 months per year for your visa to remain valid.

Do I have to pay tax in Spain?

Yes. If you stay longer than 183 days, then you will be considered a tax resident in Spain. This means that any money you earn while working in Spain, even if it comes from clients or companies abroad will be taxable.

However, the digital nomad visa grants you tax benefits, such as being able to pay the Non-Residents Tax Rate (IRNR) rather than the regular progressive income tax (IRPF) that Spain’s resident workers pay.

Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

IRNR is generally 24 percent in Spain but this will be reduced to 15 percent for digital nomads and remote workers, as long as you earn below €600,000 a year.

This favourable tax rate will be available for four years, if you choose to renew your visa. 

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