What Are the Best Places to Retire in Europe

Posted Country Guides / February 18, 2020
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

After all the years of hard work have come to an end, it is only natural for you to want to settle down somewhere quiet where you can truly enjoy your golden years. The Old Continent may be perfect for that, so we’ve prepared for you a list of the best places to retire in Europe.

A Guide to the Best Places to Retire in Europe

Wherever you turn on the Old continent, there’s something new and exciting. And affordable, which is very important for many retirees. Bills that arrive every month, including rent, are usually lower than in the US, as well as the real estate prices.

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Best Places to Retire in Europe – How to Choose Between Countries for Retirement?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a place to spend your retirement in. The cost of living is very significant in that regard. It, of course, varies, from very high in the capital cities like Paris or Rome, to the more or less affordable in the countryside or the smaller towns.

Since every US citizen is obliged to pay their share to the IRS, it may be smart to consider some of the countries that have a treaty with Washington to avoid double taxation. Italy and Portugal are among them. Also, the social life is typically vibrant, and each country offers some degree of access to the public healthcare system.

Where they differ from one another is how difficult gaining the right to stay is. In Spain, it’s relatively easy, while procedures in France are more complicated. So let’s go on a quick tour around this continent, which consists of 44 sovereign states.

Landscapes and Tastes of Italy

Moving to Italy offers just about anything you might imagine. It has a rich history, with lots of ancient and medieval sites. It has a globally renowned cuisine. Millions of international tourists visit it every year, and 2020 will be no exception.

If you want to find affordable housing and live to the fullest, you should stay away from the centers such as Rome, Milan, or Florence.

From the Mountains to the Sea

Italian landscapes are breathtaking and famous around the world. Maybe you wish to trek through or ski in the Alps. Or to sip tasty wine in the hills of Tuscany. Perhaps to wander through ruins of ancient civilizations. Even if it’s only to sit on the beach and watch the sunset – it’s all there for the taking. With a nice slice of pizza, of course.

Lavender Fields of Provence, France

Southern France is one of the most beautiful places you can spend your time in after retirement, and the region of Provence stands out from the rest. Famous for its vast fields of lavender and medieval villages, it is located next to the shiny (and expensive) resorts of Cote d’Azur. Towns like Aix-en-Provence and Carcassonne (not in the Provence itself, but neighboring Occitanie) offer retirees a charming medieval atmosphere of minstrels and ladies combined with affordable prices for real estate and low cost of living. Not to mention scores of opportunities for sightseeing. All in all, it’s easy to enjoy life after relocating to France.

Spain – Crossroads of Cultures

Outside of the vibrant and expensive capital city of Madrid, Spain offers excellent opportunities for retirees. The long coastline, including centers such as Barcelona and Valencia, but also cozy seaside cities like Alicante, can fulfill all social and economic needs of older residents. Excellent healthcare, low crime rate, and a mild climate will make everyday life seem like a paradise. Be mindful, though, for just like in France, locals don’t speak much English, so at least some knowledge of Spanish is recommended.

Witness the History in Andalusia

Southern Spain, and especially the region of Andalusia, still keeps the spirit of the times when the Moors ruled the country alive. Cities like Granada, Cordoba, and Seville are like living museums, and locations such as Alhambra palace are visited by countless people every month and every year.

Portugal, the Gem of the Atlantic

Next comes Portugal, a small nation on the Atlantic Ocean and the westernmost European state. Mild, though windy, weather is perfect for retirement, the cost of living is relatively low, and landscapes are wonderful. From the city of Lisbon to the wines of the Porto region, elderly Americans can make a great social life for themselves if they move to Portugal. Even more so because a decent number of Portuguese speak English. Also, planes are flying between Portugal and the US every day.

Algarve – Old World’s Wine Country

In the country’s south lies Algarve, its most famous wine region. If Porto gave its name to the Port wine, Algarve has four wines with Protected Designation of Origin. It’s not hard to imagine that it is a mecca for tourists, many of whom choose to retire here later on.

Beaches of Malta

The small island state of Malta, and especially its capital Valletta, is next on our list. Maltese government actively encourages retired people to come and stay there. From excellent healthcare, abundant social life, and mild climate, to long beaches and low crime rates – Malta has a lot to offer. The upside is that English is the official language, but there is no direct flight to the US.

Scotland, Land of Highlanders and Lochs

Next comes Scotland. A paradise for golfers (sport originates from Scotland) and lake lovers (the Loch Ness monster is still at large), this part of the UK offers great healthcare in an English-speaking land.

Scottish authorities require that expat retirees prove they can “live independently,” which in practice amounts to an income of around 32000 USD per year. If you want to move to Scotland, keep in mind that the biggest cities are Glasgow and Edinburgh, but there are numerous charming towns all around the country. And to clear one thing up – only the whiskey here is Scotch, everyone and everything else is Scottish.

Find Your Leprechaun Gold in Ireland

The natural beauty and widely spoken English make Ireland a place to consider for retirees from the US. Irish ancestry allows one to apply for citizenship (and along with it, automatic residency). Without Irish grandparents, seniors will have to prove an income of around 55000 USD annually to gain the right to residency.

Dublin is a natural choice to settle down in, but coastal towns like Waterford or Dingle should definitely get a place on every shortlist. An Irish countryside is a place for cozy retirement, with excellent healthcare. If all this isn’t enough, there are more than 300 golf courses across the land.

Experience the Adriatic in Croatia

And finally, Croatia. It’s the natural destination for all seniors who enjoy the long coastline, countless islands, Mediterranean climate, and cuisine marked by outstanding wine. Pensioners get Croatian visas reasonably easily. The cost of living is low, and healthcare is not expensive.

Among the most popular destinations is the Istria peninsula, with the numerous coastal towns, the capital city of Zagreb, coastal city of Split, and of course, Dubrovnik.

Feel the Game of Thrones in the Real-Life King’s Landing

Dubrovnik has been a maritime hub since the middle ages and has a well preserved old town. It is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Their number only increased after the town became the filming site of the much-acclaimed HBO series ‘Game of Thrones.’ So if you decide to spend your retirement there, you’ll be walking the same streets as mostly infamous heroes of G. R. R. Martin’s fantasy world.

We Hope This Was Helpful

Our tour ends here. If anything caught your attention, contact your international movers and arrange for boxes and moving supplies. You’ll be in for a new experience of a lifetime.

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