5 Surprisingly Expensive Goods and Services You’ll Find in Low-Cost European Countries

If you’re contemplating moving somewhere in Europe, read this

Charlie Brown


Image courtesy of author — Tirana, Albania. It may be a poor country but not everything is cheap here

First, don’t move to Europe only because you want to save cash. That’s a douchebag move that won’t fly with your new compatriots and will only make you miserable. The cost should come way down in your priority list, far underneath this place makes my soul sing.

That being said, it’s no secret that if you do want to move somewhere like Spain, Italy, Croatia, or Portugal, the overall cost of living is generally lower than in Anglophone countries like the UK, US, or Australia.

But if you expect everything to cost less, you’re going to be in for a rough ride. There are some surprising costs attached to goods and services in countries like these that naively I had no idea about before I spent all my time in them.

Like these:

Drugs (and not the illegal kind)

I found myself without ibuprofen and with a big headache in Spain last month so I dutifully took myself off to a pharmacy. Spain has dramatically increased their prices for over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen — just a few years back I remember paying around $2 for 48 x 600mg.

But not now. A 24-pack of 400mg ibuprofen cost me $6, and that has been around the going rate everywhere I’ve visited in Spain in the last year or two.

Compare that to the UK and US:

UK: 16 x 200mg = $0.51 in Boots pharmacy ($0.03 per 200mg)

US: 100 x 200mg = $2.18 in Walmart ($0.02 per 200mg)

Spain: 24 x 400mg = ($0.12 per 200mg)

In the UK — and I understand in the US too — we are lucky to have access to cheap drugs at large pharmacies like Boots or in stores like Walmart.

Not so much in mainland Europe. Here, the supermarkets don’t sell drugs, the pharmacies do. They are all behind a counter and you have no idea how much it’ll set you back until they ring up your purchase.

It might not seem like a whole lot of money, but in my experience, most over-the-counter drugs are more expensive in Europe than…



Charlie Brown

Writer of opinions. Wine & food pro. Editor of Rooted, a Medium food & drink pub.. Niche-avoidant. Also at thesaucemag.substack.com