But with such diversity, which country is best? Considering a range of factor – healthcare, cost of living, expat communities, taxes, ease of acclimatising and environmental factors, here are the top countries in Europe perfect for retiring overseas.
Portugal is a great destination for retirement and should be on your list of possible retirement destinations. Thousands of expats have already chosen Portugal as their new home. It has a relatively low cost of living (compared to many other European countries), year-round sunny weather to the south and a long, beautiful coastline.
Whatever your personality and interests Portugal can offer the life you want. Portugal offers a huge number of golf courses and wide variety of water sports in most regions. If you are looking for a more laidback retirement lifestyle, you can choose from a vast array of beautiful beaches.
They have a great healthcare system, low crime rates and welcoming locals. With an established retirement program, Portugal allows the expats residency process to be completed with relative ease. It no surprise, Portugal continues to see its expat community increase each year.
In OECD better life indicators Portugal scores highly than the OECD average for factors such as water and air quality, with a cost of living lower than many European Countries. Properties prices vary greatly between regions, with regions like the Algarve having more robust price levels due to the level of foreign interest.
France has long been a popular retirement destination. In 2019, almost 200,000 British expats were living in France. Renowned for its amazing cuisine and fine wines France is home to some the world’s best restaurants – gastronomic heaven for foodies.
Beautiful homes in beautiful locations – you will be spoilt for choice, whether you are looking for a rustic stone cottage in rural locations or a stylish apartment in the French Riviera. With a vast array of choices on every aspect of a new life overseas, France is sure to meet your requirements – rolling hills, rivers galore, amazing ancient villages, cities of culture and beautiful coastlines.
In terms of infrastructure, France has excellent healthcare, once ranked the best in the world and regularly in the top 10. Its transport system is equally excellent with easy international access to any part of the country.
Expats on the whole enjoy a lower cost of living – eating and drinking well on any budget, cheaper clothing, relatively cheap public transport (great discounts for over 60’s) and cheap properties in many areas. In fact, the OECD Better Life Index states “France ranks above average in the income and wealth, housing, health status, civic engagement, work-life balance and personal security.”
Almost 6 million foreigners choose Spain to be their home, and for obvious reasons; mild winters, hot summers and the stunning beaches on it beautiful coastlines have ensured this sun-soaked Mediterranean country has been firm favourite for many years. Great golfing weather in January, family-oriented lifestyle, delicious food and wine, friendly life-loving people are just some of the many reasons you’ll quickly get into the Spanish way of life.
Spain has a high standard of living, at a fairly low cost compared to countries like the United Kingdom. In Spain, you’ll find your pension goes much further. Prices in restaurants are as much as 30% below the UK according to Numbeo, the price comparison site for expats. Property prices have not yet returned to pre-financial crisis levels, so properties are very affordable and plenty of room for gains in the future.
Spain’s healthcare is ranked highly among other healthcare systems, regularly within the top 20. Although, retiring expats will need to take out private medical insurance to access excellent healthcare is affordable.
Spain’s friendly, helpful fun-loving people are one of Speaking Spanish will make life easier, you’ll find most Spaniards speak English.
Sometimes referred to as one of the best countries in the world to retire Italy has large expat communities in some areas. A healthy lifestyle is easy maintain with fresh local produce and generally mild climate in Italy. This combined with an approach to life based on being part of community, where the young respect the old and events are multi-generational, makes Italy an ideal country for Retirees.
Italy offers a diverse array of amazing landscapes, excellent healthcare and a culture revolving around Incredible food and wine. Whatever your preferences – low-key lifestyle in a small village, culturally rich cities or a bit of both, Italy has the right spot for you.
Many believe Italy is expensive, but, once you are outside the tourist hot spots you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the sweet life. Wherever you go, you’ll always find expensive restaurants as well as budget family-style eateries.
Similarly, real estate prices vary from the much famed 1 Euro properties in the quieter villages to multi-million euro villas in Tuscany or Lake Como.
Located right on the Mediterranean, Greece stands out thanks to its extensive waterfront real estate, year-round sunny beaches, welcoming locals, laidback lifestyle, high standard of living and tax benefits.
Greece has plenty of ancient historic monuments if that’s your thing. The food is pretty amazing too, most restaurants pride themselves on providing good quality locally sourced produce and it’s a dream for seafood lovers.
Because Greece’s accommodation and services costs are low, despite the high standard of living you will find Greece is affordable, 30% cheaper compared to other European countries. A couple can live very comfortably on €2,200 a month.
The public healthcare system is pretty robust, but many expats prefer to opt for local private healthcare or international health insurance to guarantee a higher standard of healthcare.
Retiring to Cyprus is a very popular option, especially for Brits. The wide use of English, mild climate, low crime rates, low cost of living and tax benefits has made Cyprus attractive to retirees. In fact, there is an extensive network of expats providing support to those moving to Cyprus.
Brits are well catered for with English language newspapers, British societies and associations in the main cities and towns.
Retirees also benefit from substantial tax benefits. Cyprus imposes low income tax on pensions and has double-taxation treaties with many countries. Some countries, such as the UK, have an agreement with Cyprus that allows state pensions to remain index-linked when pensioners are resident in Cyprus. Arriving as a retiree, you can benefit from duty-free privileges, such as duty-free importation of a car and personal effects.
Like the rest of Europe, public and private healthcare services coexist, with patients picking consultations and surgical procedures as required. In 2013, nominal charges were introduced for treatments whether Cypriot or permanent expats. Most doctors, nurses and support staff in Cyprus speak English. Emergency healthcare is free to all Cypriot citizens and expats.
Cyprus dropped off the checklist for many retirees following the financial crisis and while prices have recovered, property prices are still lower than pre-crisis levels.
Whichever country you are considering for retirement, the Overseas Property Forum team together with our network of in-country experts, are here answer your questions and help your dream of retiring overseas a reality.