London Housing: Is It Cheaper To Live In Barcelona And Commute To The UK?

Live Here, Work In London

House asking prices rose £50,000 in one month recently, an astronomical price hike.

So what are the alternatives?


Well, if you work in London you may think your options are limited. Move to the suburbs, downsize, move into a hostel.

But what if you moved to the sunny climes Barcelona and commuted to your day job?

Sounds ridiculous - but it might actually be possible - with a couple of caveats.

As a bit of a thought experiment, blogger, Sam Cookney (@Sam_Cookney) outlined the costs involved in such a venture.

Having recently been offered a job in Barcelona he though decided to look into the matter "for a laugh".

He told the HuffPost UK: "Originally we just looked at commuting once a week, but then we thought 'hang on, we could do this every day'".

Inspired by his figures "London's extortionate house prices", we set about working it all out.

A single young professional living in a (cramped) one-bed flat in West Hampstead (£1,505 a month rent, £111 band D council tax), with a Zone 1-2 travel card (£116,80).

That's £1,732 a month for accommodation and travel.

There is no council tax in Spain so no need to worry about that. But what about the commute?

Well if you book in advance with Ryanair, return flights can be had for around £30 a day. It's £5 to and from Barcelona’s el Prat airport and then £12 return to Liverpool Street with Terravision Coaches.

So for the month that's £265 a week, £1,018 a month. Add this to accommodation costs and we have a grand total of £1,658.

That's a saving of £74 a month, £888 a year. Plenty for some chorizo and Rioja to enjoy on your new roof terrace.

Now obviously there are huge possible variations in this - you could just live in a cheaper part of London for example - but it is possible to live in and commute from Barcelona for less money than living in London.

There are other problems too: What if your flight is delayed? Not to mention the fact you have to spend a significant amount of time on a Ryanair plane.

And you'd have to get up pretty early to make it in for 9AM.

But you'd get to spend your weekends in one of the most beautiful (and generally warm and sunny) cities in Europe.

Story continues after the slideshow...

Beautiful Barcelona

There are actually people who have made such a move. Even in 2006 when house prices were not as high as today Carrie Frais described her commute to the BBC.

She said at the time: "I couldn't afford this quality of life in London - or else I'd have to be working every hour of every day. In Barcelona, you don't need as much to live on - everything from rent, food and clothes is cheaper.

"I wouldn't recommend this life for everyone - you have to be independent and used to travelling. Some people might envy the lifestyle, but they could struggle with the instability."

It's tempting, no?

The current state of the housing market was laid out by Shelter recently.

Campbell Robb, chief executive, said: “Our rollercoaster housing market may make headlines, but these days rising house prices don’t have the feel-good factor, and for good reason. Nobody wants a return to the bad old days of house prices rising then crashing.

“Unless house prices are stabilised, the grim reality is that - apart from a lucky few able to rely on the Bank of Mum and Dad - soaring prices may well lead to the prospect of home ownership slipping even further away from even more of us.

“From families left with no choice but unstable private renting, to the tragedy of repossession and negative equity, people are paying the price for our broken property market.”

Before You Go