Richest and poorest towns in Spain revealed

Spain’s richest and poorest – Torrevieja (left), where average household net income is under €14,000 a year, and Pozuelo de Alarcón, where families earn over €70,000 per annum

Spain’s richest and poorest – Torrevieja (left), where average household net income is under €14,000 a year, and Pozuelo de Alarcón, where families earn over €70,000 per annum

Spain’s richest and poorest towns have been revealed as a result of a European Urban Audit study compiled with the help of the National Statistics Institute (INE).

The commuter town of Pozuelo de Alarcón in the Greater Madrid region, about 15 kilometres north-west of the city itself, is the wealthiest, and the port town of Torrevieja in the far south of the province of Alicante, bordering on that of Murcia, is the poorest.

A total of 102 towns and cities in Spain were studied, all of which had at least, or close to, 100,000 inhabitants, and in the case of those with more than a quarter of a million residents – 15 in total – separate neighbourhoods were examined.

The largest city in Spain, as is to be expected, is Madrid, with a total of 3,141,991 inhabitants – the only one in the country with two million or more, since the second-largest, Barcelona, is home to 1.6 million and the country’s third city, Valencia, is a long way behind with just 786,000.

Between Valencia and cities with 400,000 or more inhabitants are Sevilla, Zaragoza, Málaga, Murcia and Palma de Mallorca, in that order; those with 300,000 or more are, in descending order from the largest, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Bilbao, Alicante, Córdoba and Valladolid; those with over a quarter of a million include Vigo in Galicia and Gijón in Asturias.

Taking into account the wider conurbations, however – the outer suburbs considered to form part of the cities politically and in institutional terms – this brings Barcelona up to over three million inhabitants and Bilbao to 777,000.

Six of the wealthiest towns in Spain are within a few minutes’ drive of the outer rim of Madrid, starting with Pozuelo de Alarcón, where the mean average income per household is €70,298 after tax, followed by Majadahonda to the north, with net household income of €56,000.

Pozuelo is a known ‘celebrity belt’, home to Liga footballers, politicians and acting and singing stars, and is replete with urbanisations with coded entrance gates.

By contrast, Torrevieja’s mean average household income – one-fifth of that of the richest town in Spain – is just a few euros under €14,000 a year and is the only town with earnings of typically less than €15,000 annually.

As can be seen from the list below, many of Spain’s apparently wealthy and up-market-looking tourism towns and expat belts are in fact among the poorest, despite appearances, since their job market relies heavily or in some cases entirely on summer holiday tourism.

This is largely the case for Torrevieja, whose inhabitants are mainly expatriates – mostly British, although with a smaller number of other Europeans, many of whom are retired and a lot of whom only live in the area for part of the year.

As a result, Torrevieja workers are only able to bring home €13,977 a year after tax per household.

Sant Cugat del Vallès, in the outskirts of Barcelona, with just under €53,000 a year coming in per household is the third-wealthiest, followed by Alcobendas to the north of the Greater Madrid region (€50,500), Las Rozas, also near Madrid (€49,200), Madrid city itself (€36,600), and San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid (€36,100).

Barcelona city is the ninth-wealthiest after Castelldefels in its outer province, both on around €35,100, but with Barcelona just €11 a year lower.

The Spanish-owed city-province of Ceuta on the northern Moroccan coast, despite being home to Spain’s most dangerous and deprived neighbourhood – El Príncipe Alfonso, where most inhabitants are illiterate, children do not go to school, the drugs trade is the only industry, most houses have no electricity or running water, and gun and knife deaths are an almost daily occurrence as the police are too scared to enter – is in fact Spain’s 10th-richest municipality with the mean average income per household being €34,100 after tax.

Over the €30,000 a year threshold, in descending order after Ceuta, come Toledo (Castilla-La Mancha), Santiago de Compostela (Galicia), Cerdanyola del Vallès (Barcelona province), Spain’s other north African city-province of Melilla, close to the Algerian border; Coslada (Madrid), Burgos (Castilla y León), Viladecans (Barcelona province), Alcalá de Henares and Alcorcón (both Madrid), Zaragoza (Aragón), El Prat de Llobregat (Barcelona province), A Coruña (Galicia), Guadalajara (Castilla-La Mancha), Girona, in Catalunya, Granollers (Barcelona province), Tarragona, in Catalunya, and Oviedo, in Asturias.

Under €30,000 but over €28,000 a year, number 26 out of the 102 is León, followed by Santander (Cantabria), Manresa (Barcelona province), Ciudad Real (Castilla-La Mancha), and Palma de Mallorca at number 30 on €29,800; then Vigo (Galicia), Mollet del Vallès and Sabadell (both Barcelona province), Pontevedra (Galicia), Valladolid (Castilla y León), Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona province), Logroño (La Rioja), Terrassa (Barcelona), Getafe (Madrid), Sant Boi de Llobregat (Barcelona), Valencia city, Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), Cádiz (Andalucía), Móstoles (Madrid), Jaén (Andalucía), Lleida (Catalunya), Albacete (Castilla-La Mancha), and Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona).

In the €27,000 bracket, starting with number 49 out of 102, is Murcia, followed by Leganés (Madrid) at number 50, Sevilla, Palencia (Castilla y León), Gijón (Asturias), Lugo (Galicia), Mataró (Barcelona), Fuenlabrada (Madrid), Reus (Tarragona), Rubí (Barcelona) and Badajoz (Extremadura).

Those large towns and cities with an income of under €26,000 fall in the bottom half – which starts, in descending order, from Palencia as above – and cover, in descending order, Badalona (Barcelona), Cáceres (Extremadura), Granada (Andalucía), Avilés (Asturias), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), Córdoba (Andalucía), Salamanca (Castilla y León), Castellón (Valencia region); within the €25,000 bracket comes Cartagena (Murcia), Dos Hermanas (Sevilla), Ferrol and Ourense (Galicia), Zamora and Ponferrada (Castilla y León), and Alicante.

At under €25,000, now in the bottom third, are San Fernando (Cádiz province), Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Málaga, Almería, El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz province), and Parla (Madrid), then under €24,000 come San Cristóbal de la Laguna (Tenerife), Algeciras (Cádiz), Telde (Tenerife), Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) at €22,030, Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz), Gandia (Valencia) and Arrecife (Lanzarote) in the €21,000 bracket, Elche (Alicante) starting the €20,000 bracket which covers Torremolinos (Málaga), Huelva (Andalucía), Marbella (Málaga), and Benidorm (Alicante).

Household incomes under €20,000 a year are found in Santa Lucía de Tirajana in the Canary Islands, Elda (Alicante), Fuengirola (Málaga), and in the bottom three – La Línea de la Concepción and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) and Torrevieja (Alicante).

It comes as no surprise that those with the highest household income are towns with the lowest jobless figures – with Spain’s annual total hovering at around 21% and rising to nearly 50% among the under-30s, Pozuelo de Alarcón has just 9% of its inhabitants out of work, whilst Las Rozas, Sant Cugat and Majadahonda all have between 10% and 11% unemployment.

Yet from Almería downwards on the list, unemployment is at over 33%, rising to 40.1% in La Línea – although its employed inhabitants mainly work in Gibraltar just over the border – and 42.3% in Sanlúcar.

Published Think Spain 17 August 2016

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