Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Why I can’t live healthily in England

Tony and I - healthier, happier and better off in Spain!

Tony and I – healthier, happier and better off in Spain!

It beats me how people can say they’re going back to the UK because prices have gone up in Spain and they can’t afford to live here any more. What planet are these people on? We’ve just come home after two months in England, and we’re short on cash and a bit short on temper, because life has been very different to what we’re used to.

For a start, we’ve hardly been out for a meal in two months. Not that we eat out all that often in Spain – maybe once every week or 10 days, and the odd snack – but it’s just way too expensive in England. Tony’s favourite snack lunch, Cornish Pasty, is up over £3 now in England, and there’s so much pastry it’s repeating on you all day. Yesterday, my friend and I had  chicken and prawn sandwiches with salad, and paid just over €3 each for the privilege of enjoying a healthy, filling lunch to keep us going.

Most of the tapas on offer come out at around €2 each, and for that you can get magra – lean pork in a delicious sauce – Russian Salad, seafood, chicken wings, and all manner of delicious, nutritious food. Two tapas with bread comes out at the same price as a Cornish Pasty, but without the indigestion!

As for eating out, last week we went to our favourite Chinese restaurant, and enjoyed three courses each and a bottle of wine for just €15. The wine with the meal costs more than that in England, and you’d have a job to get one 3 course meal, let alone two, for €15 (around £11).

People say groceries are cheaper in the UK, and they are, if you want to eat stuff like pies and ready meals, but if you’re looking for healthy ingredients for a home cooked meal, you’ll be digging a lot deeper into your pocket. Free range eggs are about half the price in Spain that they are in the UK. I pay €1.35 for a dozen large eggs, and you can’t even get 6 medium for the equivalent price in the UK.

Another one of the ‘cheap things’ in the UK is sausages, and unless you pay the equivalent price of a small joint of meat, you’re not going to get decent sausages – they’ll be full of cheap fillers such as suet and breadcrumbs, and it will come through in the taste. Plus you’ll have a pool of grease left in the bottom of the pan, or the barbecue will be up in flames from all the dripping fat. When I cook fresh Spanish sausages, I need a little oil to stop them from sticking to the pan or the barbecue griddle. That tells me there’s more meat than fillers in my sausages, and the taste confirms it.

Okay, you can get cheap fruit and vegetables from the supermarkets in the UK these days, particularly Aldi and Lidl, but the problem with most of them is that they’re harvested before they’re fully ripe and shipped around the world in cold storage. Here in Spain, produce is picked and sold when it’s ready to eat, so you’re getting the full hit of vitamins, nutrients and flavour. I can honestly say the only vegetable I really enjoyed back in England was Savoy Cabbage – everything else was disappointing. Except for the strawberries and raspberries that is. Nowhere does those quite like England!

I’m not a big fan of lettuce, but I do enjoy a Cogolla – it’s okay, it’s not a new kink I’ve developed, it’s what Little Gems are called here! And at 4 for €1 on the market, they’re a real bargain, but the poor specimens I managed to get in England had obviously had a flavour bypass – they tasted of nothing at all.

Like many people of our generation, Tony and I moved out to Spain to have a healthier lifestyle, and to make our money go further. The area around the salt lakes of Torrevieja is the healthiest in the world for people with joint problems and breathing issues, and we tick both those boxes between us. When we were in the UK, I was popping painkillers for pastime, and Tony spent so much time at the doctor’s he was worried they’d charge him rent! In almost 8 years in Spain, he’s never needed to test out the Spanish health service, and that’s pretty impressive for an 81 year old.

The truth is, the climate here is healthier, and it’s cheaper to eat well, whether you eat out or cook at home. And because of the warmer weather, you don’t tend to eat so much, and you go for lighter foods like salads, rather than loading up on bread and potatoes. Most importantly, we both enjoy much better health here. It’s not just about Pounds versus Euros, it’s about quality of life, and for us the quality of life is so much better here. Cheaper and better in the UK? You cannot be serious!


27 Responses to Why I can’t live healthily in England

  • lynda boyd says:

    I agree on food over here. Use local markets find a good local butcher to make friends with and practice your Spanish on him, I get brilliant cuts of meat from mine at very good prices. Avoid tourist supermarkets and as much English foods as possible and u should eat well and cheaply. Cost of living in general is good

  • Sharon says:

    My daughter lived in Algorfa, recently moved to Quesada, but still goes to Algorfa just for the butcher! I live in Lanzarote and, unfortunately, the prices in the shops are higher than the peninsular, the markets are geared up for the tourists. But you can find a local village market, Mancha Blanca, in the mountains on a Sunday morning!

    • Hello Sharon, that’s interesting. The butcher in Algorfa is hard to beat, I have to say. I noticed when we stayed in Majorca it was more expensive than on the mainland, but still much cheaper than England. Lanzarote is on my list for visiting.

  • Angela Seager says:

    Brilliant Sandra, hubby and I have just come to live in Nerja permanently, life changing decision. Hubby has had two hips replaced etcetc . Food is so much cheaper and you eat far more healthy food, and less of it.

    • Hello Angela, and welcome to Spain. As you say, the food is healthier and you don’t eat so much. I’m 2 stones lighter than when I arrived here! Good luck to you both.

  • Rachel says:

    While I would definitely agree for the most part, Sandra – it’s impossible to eat out anywhere decent for less than £30.00 (and that’s without drinks), I do think that ALDI and LIDL offer great value for fresh produce. ALDI were recently selling cauliflower for 30p each, and that’s just one example of their inexpensive prices. I get a lot of my stuff from there now.

    • Hello Rachel. Yes, Aldi and Lidl are great for produce, and I bought nearly all of mine from there while we were over. It’s just that some of it has been shipped in cold storage, and it tends to spoil the flavour. If you’re buying it all the time, you wouldn’t notice, but coming from Spain to England, we do. I buy a lot of produce in Aldi and Lidl here – in fact that’s where I do most of my shopping – and I do notice the difference in the stuff I bought in the UK. The Spanish ethos is pick it when it’s ready to eat, and sell it as quickly as possible, rather than keeping it hanging around.

  • Sharon topham says:

    Hola,,,yes we live here in Spain and is cheaper than uk, I’ve just made shepherds pie for tea, and if it cost me 3 euros that was it. The mince I bought will make 3 meals for us two. Threw in carrots peas and onions. The mince was only 3.50 for the pack,so I may be over cost slightly…and yes we eat out regularly here, but could not do that on our pensions in the uk,,,,definitely much better here all round ….

    • Hello Sharon – thanks for dropping by. Shepherds pie is one of my favourites too, and I often make it over here when we want a change from Spanish food. Lovely mince, really cheap, whether you buy it from the butcher or the supermarket.

  • Susan Jackson says:

    The problem I find with Aldi fruit and veg in the USA is that they are so ripe they are almost past their eat life

  • Emma Healey says:

    This post has made me homesick for Spain. We were in Los Boliches for the first half of the year and I so miss our local Fruiteria and getting a half dozen free range eggs for just over a euro! Here in New Zealand they would cost three times the price. We can’t wait to get back to Spain.
    Emma Healey recently posted…The Cost of Coming HomeMy Profile

    • Hello Emma, and welcome from the other side of the world! Just checked out your blog – love it, and love the motivation behind it. I find it difficult sometimes keeping up with the family in England, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for you.

  • Graham & Linda Powell says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more! Whenever we are in UK, as we were this summer gone, we always comment that we couldn’t afford to live there, even if we wanted which we don’t ! Eating out is criminally expensive and can easily exceed £100 for two including drinks. We believe eating out to be half the cost here in Dénia as is our usual weekly shop. Like you we avoid tourist dominated supermarkets like Mas y Mas in favour of the central produce market. Not only are the prices better, so is the quality and service.

    • Hello Graham and Linda. Criminally expensive is about right. Even without the tax on alcohol in the UK, I don’t believe there are any restrictions on profit margins, so people can charge what they like. 5 of us went out for lunch yesterday – 4 courses, 3 bottles of wine and water for €52 (about £38.50 for paella, fish or pork, followed by dessert, with a salad to start) Less than £8 a head. One bar we went to in England wanted almost £8 for a large glass of wine!

  • Lindsay Dench says:

    My husband and I are renovating a house on the Costa Almeria, in readiness for us to retire there. We find the cost of most things in Spain amazing and often find ourselves taking goods back to UK. We like nothing more at the end of a busy day, just relaxing in our garden in the UK and adding to that a large glass of vodka and cola goes down well, especially when the 1ltr bottle of vodka has only cost 4.75 euros. We too eat more healthily and cheaper when in Spain and we just can’t wait to be there on a permanent basis.

    • Hello Lindsay – with you on the vodka, although I prefer lemonade with mine! When we drive back to the UK, our motor home is loaded with stuff. When we come back, there are a few things that are cheaper over there – mainly Poundland specials – but nowhere near as much as we take back to the UK, for ourselves and the family.

  • Pablo says:

    I’m with you. Spain is also much cheaper and much healthier than the US. I can’t speak about the UK, but I remember from my two visits that it was much more expensive, and with the pound sterling conversion rate, it was even worse. I eat so much more healthy here than I ever did in the States. Let the naysayers go back to the UK and States, and those of us who love Spain can stay here and keep positive and happy! 🙂
    Pablo recently posted…Albergue de Güemes: La Cabaña del Abuelo PeutoMy Profile

    • Hello Pablo, and welcome. I haven’t been to the States for around 30 years, but it struck me then how many overweight people were around. We also noticed this during our last visit to the UK. The food and the lifestyle is certainly much healthier here.