Living Well in Marbella Spain For 1 Month Cost Us $5,557

Mar 20, 2019

Welcome to my second monthly spending report. This is a regular series where I break down each month’s expenses living as a nomad with my wife. This month we lived on the beach in Marbella, Spain.

Before you dive into this month’s numbers, read about why I share my monthly expenses publicly. In that post, I explain the why behind all of this plus give an overview of our financial situation. Read that first here.

This month’s report includes the following:

  1. Breakdown of all expenses for this month
  2. My thoughts on this months spending
  3. Where we lived, worked, & traveled this month

Browse the numbers for other months & all my personal finance posts here.

My Monthly Expenses Breakdown for February 2019

As the title suggests, Jaimie and I spent the month living in Marbella, Spain. We rented a 3 bedroom beachfront apartment on Airbnb for the month of February. This was our second month as nomads so we binged a bit and took two additional weekend trips. I cover those at the end.

Spending by category

Discretionary: $500

  • Business Services: $427
  • Miscellaneous: $73

Fun: $3,019

  • Clothing: $280
  • Eating Out: $1,573
  • Entertainment & Media: $288
  • General Shopping: $543
  • Travel: $335

Living: $1,770

  • Auto & Transportation: $535
  • Groceries: $725
  • Interest Expense: $166 (DOH! I forgot to pay the full balance before my credit card’s deadline)
  • Phone & Internet: $166
  • Rent: $0
  • Services (Dr. Repairs, haircuts, etc): $176
  • Utilities: $0

Total: $5,289

This is for everything we spent in February for a household of two adults (my wife and I).

Note: all expenses for any business I have are run through those businesses directly and do not reflect on my personal spending. Business expenses above are for new items that don’t have an LLC to be run through.

Expenses covered with credit card points

  • Airbnb in Marbella: I paid for our Airbnb with credit card points I’ve saved up. The total for the Airbnb was $2,886 but I covered the charge with 288,600 points on my Bank of America rewards card.
  • Flight from Lisbon to Malaga, Spain: I booked these back in July 2018. Our two tickets cost $320.30 USD but I covered the charge with 32,030 points on my Bank of America rewards card.

Total value received for free from credit card points: $3,206.30

Note: optimizing credit card point redemption and accumulation has become a bit of a hobby for me. We’re lucky to rack up a lot of points with our personal and business credit cards. A while back I spent a lot of time optimizing for the maximum accumulation based on our spending.

Thoughts on this month’s spending

Last month I predicted February’s spending would be higher than January’s due to Marbella being a more expensive city than Lisbon. I ended up being wrong on that! To be fair, Marbella is much more expensive than Lisbon though.

I was correct that we would spend more on groceries, but eating out ended up costing us less because we cooked at home more often. The further we get into this nomad journey, the less we find ourselves spending money on “things”. Food costs are the biggest variable each month.

Rent and utilities were $0 again this month because they’re included in the Airbnb fee. Things like wifi, electricity, and rent are all wrapped into that cost.

We rented a car for the entire month since Marbella is more spaced out.

Travel expenses: My cousin and his wife came out for a long visit, so we ended up visiting Madrid and Seville with them. Because we put them up in the Airbnb for their time in Marbella, they refused to let us chip in for the Seville and Madrid Airbnb. The only travel expenses we incurred were train tickets around Spain

Comparing to previous months

  • +/- last month: we spent $1,145 less this month than in January 2019.
  • +/- monthly average last year: we spent $3,136 less this month than we did on average last year.
  • +/- this month last year: we spent $2,499 less than February 2018

Where we lived, worked, & traveled this month

Living: Our Airbnb in Marbella had a beautiful beach view, but I can’t say I would recommend it to others. It had some cleanliness and repair issues. We understand things happen, but the hosts handled the issues quite poorly. We did love being right on the beach though!

Here’s our view from the patio of the house. I woke up early nearly every morning to watch the sunrise.

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There’s an obscene show of wealth around Marbella. Our Airbnb was located next to the Puerto Banus marina so we were surrounded by yachts, Ferrari’s, and expensive clothing stores. It was fun to be around but could make one feel uncomfortable. I was like a little kid with all of the exotic cars around.

One quiet evening at dinner, the only cars to drive by were 3 Ferraris and 4 Porsche SUVs. This was in the span of 90 minutes. There’s so much money floating around (literally).

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I wandered into this car shop walking home from the store one evening.

Everyone seemed to be health conscious so there were many great healthy food options. Jaimie and I both fully enjoyed this aspect.

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Working: I worked most days from the patio or living room at our Airbnb. I didn’t work from any coffee shops this month because nothing beats a patio ocean view!

Visiting Madrid: My cousin Ryan and his wife Bella flew out from Fort Worth, Texas to visit us for 10 days. We first met them in Madrid and explored the city for a few days together. Since we were hosting them in Marbella, they covered the cost of the Airbnb for the 4 of us.

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Hiking La Concha: The 4 of us hiked La Concha one afternoon, which is the big mountaintop that overlooks Marbella. We ended up turning around 5 minutes from the top of the peak due to horrible fog. Regardless, we all had a great time.

Hiking Caminito Del Ray: Just outside of Malaga there is a trail through a massive gorge, formerly named “The World’s Most Dangerous Hike”. It was renovated recently and is now quite safe. The path is made up of suspended walkways cut into the rocks. The 4 of us hiked it in just a couple hours.

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Visiting Seville: At the end of Ryan and Bella’s trip, we visited Seville for 2 nights. The Airbnb they booked for all of us was right up against the cathedral. What a view!

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On our drive back from Seville to Marbella, Jaimie and I stopped in a beautiful town with shops and restaurants cut into the hillside.

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What’s next?

We’re spending next month (March) in both Italy and Thailand. The first 25 days will be spent at 4 destinations in Italy. On the 25th we’ll fly to Bangkok, Thailand to start our time in Asia!

It’s been really fun to see how much we can do for less than we spent living back in the USA. I’m loving the downward trend of our monthly expenses too! If you have any questions or comments, reach me on Twitter, Instagram, or comment below!

If you’re interested in what I do, I run an e-commerce business selling products of my own design. I wrote a book about how to invent & manufacture physical products of your own. Signup to get it for free below.

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