Where to retire in Europe
If your retirement dream is to live in one of the grand old cities of Europe, it can be difficult to narrow down your options. Retirees on a budget need to consider the cost of living and affordability of real estate. As you get older, you will need health care that is readily accessible at reasonable prices. Entertainment and recreation options are a top consideration for many retirees. You will also want to factor in the ease of establishing residency and traveling back to the U.S. Adopting a European lifestyle can be an ideal way to relax and enjoy your retirement years. Consider what retirement could be like in these enchanting European retirement spots.
Tavira is an ancient town found in Portugal’s Algarve region, the area of the country that’s historically been the most popular with expats. It holds a reputation as the most charming town in the region and has all the hallmarks of a traditional Algarvean village, including whitewashed buildings with azulejo tiles, lacework chimney pots and cobblestone streets. The graceful Gilao River splits Tavira in two, with restaurants, cafés and social buzz found in town squares on either side. Unspoiled, golden-sand beaches that stretch for miles are a short boat ride away from Tavira’s center. Portugal is one of the easiest countries in Europe to retire because of the low financial threshold of about 1,200 euros per month required to qualify for residency.
The big attraction in Annecy, the pearl of the French Alps, is the ski slopes in winter. But this lakeside city is an appealing place to be year-round. Unlike other top ski destinations in France, fairy-tale Annecy is not a tourist town, but a living community that is more cosmopolitan than a typical haunt of snow bunnies. Annecy is a city of art and history that can seem like an open-air museum. Every July its streets are given over to Noctibules, an annual art festival, and the much-anticipated Fete du Lac in August features the biggest fireworks show in Europe.
Slovenia is nestled among Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia in the heart of Central Europe. It is a mountainous country with 30 miles of Mediterranean coastline. The Old World capital city, Ljubljana, is the heart of the country, with easy access to both beaches and ski resorts. Ljubljana is a modern city with all the amenities of 21st-century living that manages to retain a small-town charm. Local farmers bring their produce to market in wooden carts each day. You could embrace this Old-World lifestyle supported by top-notch infrastructure on a budget of as little as 1,400 euros a month.
A miles-long stretch of sheltered coves, sandy dunes and rocky outcroppings, the coast of Cascais, Portugal, offers some of the best beaches in Europe. Cascais has a marina, top-tier golf courses, more than 100 parks and gardens, world-class dining, a year-round mild climate, proximity to the capital city, Lisbon, and an overall extraordinary quality of life. This seaside city is home to a large and welcoming community of expats. Cascais began life as a village of fishermen and farmers but has transformed itself into a small city of about 200,000 complete with a university campus, international and bilingual schools, hospitals, a shopping mall and a casino.
Citta Sant’Angelo, Italy
Perched on a hilltop with views of Gran Sasso Mountain, the Adriatic, vineyards and olive groves sits ninth-century Città Sant’Angelo. In the heart of Italy‘s Abruzzo region, this is one of the greenest parts of Europe, with more than a dozen ski resorts in one direction and 80 miles of coastline in the other. Città Sant’Angelo has earned the title “Borgo,” joining Italy’s association of towns of historical interest. Sant’Angelo has also been designated a “Città Slow,” a town committed to preserving traditional ways of life and resisting development. Not much has changed in Città Sant’Angelo over the centuries, and that’s the way residents like it.
This tiny seaside country of a half-million people dispersed throughout an area smaller than the state of Connecticut is nestled between Croatia and Albania in Southern Europe. Bayside Kotor, surrounded by towering mountains on one side and the dazzling Adriatic on the other, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and perhaps the best preserved medieval town in the Mediterranean. The Old Town square is anchored by the 11th century Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral, but its cafés and shops are lively and bustling with a youthful energy. This is a little-known but friendly, safe and welcoming corner of Europe comparable to the historic stone villages in Italy, but more affordable.
County Clare, Ireland
County Clare, found along Ireland’s west coast, holds a special place in the hearts of the Irish. It’s a stronghold of the true Irish spirit — the idioms, friendliness and charming sense of humor that the Irish are famous for. Here, dramatic cliffs traced by walking trails stare out at moody Atlantic waters. Clare holds a reputation as a surfers’ mecca because of the swells at beaches across the region. For those looking to live in Ireland permanently, the Stamp 0 Visa is one residency option. Applicants must prove an annual income of 50,000 euros, which is expensive relative to other European destinations, but also reflective of the high standard of living in Ireland.
Central Paris is an open-air museum where little changes, yet every day offers the chance for discovery. Paris provides the best of city living, from bookstores, antique shops, champagne cellars, parks and gardens to museums, theaters, galleries, five-star restaurants and luxury shopping. Paris has excellent public transportation, eliminating the need for a car, plus it’s flat and walkable, leading to a healthier lifestyle by encouraging you to set out on foot more. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it’s also one of the best storehouses of wealth. An apartment of charm in a good location in this city will always find a buyer and a renter.
Nestled in the valley of three Apennine mountains, Popoli, Italy, with a population of 5,000, is a complete escape from the troubles of the modern world and is a sought-out healing center. This medieval town is known as the City of Water, thanks to a long-dormant volcano that rumbles beneath it, bubbling up thermal spring water famed for its healing properties since the days of the Romans. The first healing center was built on the site in 1885, but was destroyed during World War II. The modern Terme di Popoli opened in 1998 and uses the area’s thermal waters as the basis for the treatment of dozens of ailments. In high season, the facility sees 1,000 or more patients each day.
From its weather and food to its history and culture, Malta is not only the best of Mediterranean Europe, but also one of the most affordable options for embracing a European lifestyle. This three-island, 122-square-mile nation has been working hard to raise its profile internationally, and Malta’s capital, Valletta, is known for its culture. The language is English, crime rates are low and the health care is excellent. Malta does not offer a retiree visa, but its Global Residence Program for non-EU citizens amounts to one of the best residency opportunities in Europe. You can qualify simply by renting a place to live for as little as 800 euros per month.
The best places to retire in Europe:
— Tavira, Portugal.
— Annecy, France.
— Ljubljana, Slovenia.
— Cascais, Portugal.
— Città Sant’Angelo, Italy.
— Kotor, Montenegro.
— County Clare, Ireland.
— Paris, France.
— Popoli, Italy.
— Valletta, Malta.
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Update 06/16/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.