Europe's Top 10 Affordable Countries To Retire
Maybe you dream about living in a cobbled lane of a city rich in history or on a sun-drenched Mediterranean beach and imagine waking up to the sound of waves, or the smell of freshly-baked croissants.
The promise of relaxation and carefree idleness is tantalizing. Everyone dreams of retiring one day to a place with sea, sun, affordable real estate, excellent restaurants, good hospitals, and cultural activities. Europe's old-world charm draws many expats with the promise of a slower pace and lower cost of living.
Dreaming of retirement in Europe can easily be a reality. The history, culture, and variety you want is cheaper than you think, but you need to look beyond the tourist destinations.
Here we explore the ten best low-cost options for your perfect European retirement, but this is only a guide to answer some of the more basic questions on your mind. Please consult an expert before you book your one-way ticket to paradise.
Choosing the best place to retire in Spain depends on how you want to live and what you like. You may prefer city life among the locals or living at the beach among the expat community. Perhaps, you prefer the isolation of the countryside.
Spain offers a laid back lifestyle where having fun is the norm, and hanging out is an art. It is also very affordable. The cost of living varies according to the location with Barcelona and Madrid being more expensive. The Canary Islands, Malaga, and Alicante are more affordable.
From its culture and history to its food and weather, this tiny Mediterranean island nation of Malta is one of the best Mediterranean countries to retire to. It has a low crime rate and excellent health care and a welcoming local population that speaks English.
Valletta, the capital, is the warmest city in Europe with ample sunshine in winter. Sliema is also lively throughout the year, and both have some of the best restaurants in the Mediterranean. Or try the island of Gozo for a country lifestyle.
Malta’s affordable options make embracing a European lifestyle easy. It has an excellent Global Residence Program for non-EU citizens - you can qualify by renting accommodation for 800 euros a month.
You didn’t expect to find France on the list, did you? It may be a First-World country, but don’t let its shiny reputation blind you. If you choose a location outside the high-glitz zones of Paris and the Riviera towns, the real estate and cost of living are cheaper.
France offers something to suit everyone from Alpine ski slopes to golden beaches, from stone villages to vibrant cities. Properties in the beautiful country towns or the seaside town of Brittany are affordable.
The right place can cost a couple as little as $2,200 per month, including rent, meals, and entertainment.
The Mediterranean country has become popular in recent times because it featured in Game of Thrones. But this Balkan country has lots to offer retirees. From the Adriatic sea to Roman temples and palaces, it is a fairytale destination.
Its second-largest city, Split, boasts a palace, a university, and a large hospital. However, rental costs have gone up over the years because it is home to a large expat community. It is advisable to try a neighboring town for cheaper rentals.
Istria, near the Slovenian border, is also perfect for retirees - it offers sea and forests. Istria is peaceful, and its real estate is affordable. A couple can get by on a monthly budget of between $2,050 and $2,840.
Greece is a retiree’s dream come true with its thriving local culture and tasty food. It also has hot summers and mild winters. You can choose between a metropolis like Athens or one of the more picturesque towns in Santorini.
Neighborhoods with more expats have higher rentals, so choose more remote areas for more affordable apartments. You can further cut your costs by choosing to live on one of the sparsely populated islands like Samos Island.
There is lots to love about Italy: the lyrical language, its gastronomical delights, and a relaxed pace. From crystal alpine lakes to undulating hills to the dramatic seacoast, the beautiful scenery in Italy begs one to stay and enjoy the dolce vita permanently.
Many expats are drawn to the art towns, hill towns, seaside towns, and modern suburbs - there is a place that suits every taste. Try cities like Sant'Angelo and Pescara in Italy's Abruzzo region, close to the Alps and the sea. The climate in Italy is mild, but winter is colder, with Sicily being milder.
There is a misconception that Italy is expensive. If you look outside the tourist destinations, the cost of living is reasonable. Apart from housing, living expenses are fairly standard throughout the country.
The country has castles, cathedrals, and white stucco houses with terracotta tiles laced with bougainvillea. Add to this the calm turquoise sea, golden sands, and tasty fish drenched in olive oil, and you get an overwhelming sense of well-being.
Portugal offers affordable living in addition to quality health care and a temperate climate. There are several expat enclaves, including Porto and Lisbon (if it’s city life you crave) or beach towns like Cascais or the Algarve, where English is widely spoken. If you want the continental lifestyle on a budget, then the Algarve, with its beautiful beaches and golf courses, is the answer.
A couple can live comfortably in the smaller cities for $1,700 or in Lisbon for $2,200 a month.
Slovenia is in the heart of Europe, nestled among Croatia, Italy, Austria, and Hungary. The mountainous country has 30 miles of Mediterranean coastline.
The capital, Ljubljana, is a modern city with small-town charm, and it has easy access to the beaches and ski resorts. You can have an old-world lifestyle with excellent infrastructure for as little as 1,400 euros a month ($1,631).
Nestled between Croatia and Albania, this tiny country offers the best-preserved medieval town in the Mediterranean. Bayside Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is surrounded by mountains on one side and the Adriatic Sea on the other.
This little known, yet friendly and safe, corner of Europe is welcoming and affordable.
If you prefer four seasons to year-round sunshine, then consider Bulgaria. It boasts a coast on the Black Sea. You will find architectural landmarks and a wealth of history. But, also expect lots of outdoor activities, culture, and traditional Balkan fare served up as contemporary cuisine.
Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, is beautiful and the cheapest European capital to retire to with most expats residing in the capital.
Depending on your lifestyle and income, a couple can live comfortably on a budget that doesn’t break the bank.