Country Guides June 28, 2023

Discovering the 6 Best Places to Retire in Europe for Every Budget

Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Here’s a look at some of the best places to retire in Europe, each offering its unique benefits while staying within reach financially. From high-end luxurious living to low maintenance but scenic and historical areas, this continent has something for everyone – regardless of their budget.

We’ll explore the six best places to live abroad and retire in Europe, catering to different budgetary needs, and helping you choose your destination before investing in international moving services. For those on tighter budgets, Lisbon and Krakow offer a fantastic blend of affordability and cultural charm. If you have a mid-range budget, Valencia and Ljubljana boast a high quality of life without breaking the bank. And for those seeking the utmost luxury, Cannes and Zurich provide exquisite settings and opulent lifestyles. Let’s delve into these enchanting European retirement havens and help you discover your ideal destination!

Why Retire in Europe?

Retiring in Europe offers a multitude of compelling reasons that make it an attractive choice for many individuals. Europe is renowned for its rich history, diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and exceptional quality of life. From the charming cobblestone streets of historical cities to the breathtaking coastlines and picturesque countryside, Europe offers a tapestry of experiences for retirees.

The continent is home to world-class healthcare systems, ensuring access to quality medical care and a focus on overall well-being. European countries often prioritize work-life balance, providing ample leisure time for retirees to pursue their passions, explore cultural treasures, and immerse themselves in vibrant communities. Additionally, Europe’s well-connected transportation networks make it easy to travel and explore neighboring countries, further proving there are many benefits for retirees.

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How Changing the Scenery Can Extend Your Lifespan

Changing the scenery during retirement can lead to various health benefits, both physical and mental. By relocating to a new environment, retirees can break away from the stressors and routines of their previous lives, which can contribute to improved overall well-being. Embracing a different climate, landscape, and culture can invigorate the senses and promote a more active and engaging lifestyle.

An older couple smiling and looking at each other
A higher quality of life can improve people's overall well-being

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Retirement Destination in Europe

Retirement is a wonderful time to explore new horizons, but choosing a place to call home can be overwhelming, especially when it involves moving internationally to a new home on another continent. Europe is an attractive retirement destination for many, but with so many wonderful places to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Finding the best city to live in Europe that fits your personality, preferences, and a high or low budget is key to ensuring that living the dream stays a reality.

Research the Cost of Living in Your Chosen Destination

Moving abroad to retire is an exciting opportunity, but the cost and choosing a place to call home should come hand in hand. Before you dive in, do your research. Figure out how much it will cost for you to live in particular countries and how that fits with your budget. Once you have that sorted out, take some time to think about what types of buzz and energy you want to have around you.

Would you like to be surrounded by urban city life or to live in a quieter, more understated part? Do you want to live near popular tourist spots or away from it all? These preferences you choose should go a long way in determining the country that’s right for you.

Choose a Climate That’s Good for Your Health

Consider the cost of living in your chosen destination. Are you seeking affordable or luxury living? The cost of living varies widely amongst European countries, with Western countries typically being more expensive. In general, Eastern and Southern European countries are considered more affordable. Be realistic about your budget and keep in mind the cost of healthcare, taxes, housing, and other expenses when making your decision.

Look Into the Best and Most Accessible Healthcare Options

If you have health concerns, choosing a retirement destination with a favorable climate is essential. Many retired expats opt for locations with a temperate climate, which means neither too hot nor too cold. Locations along the Mediterranean coast, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus, are popular with expats and retirees due to their warm climate. Remember that geography and altitude play an essential role in the natural curve of the climate, so make sure to investigate seasonal patterns before making a decision.

The Best Retirement Places in Europe for a Tight Budget

Retirement dreams don’t have to be shattered by financial constraints. In Europe, several amazing destinations can be considered as the best countries to live in during retirement, and they offer an excellent quality of life without breaking the bank. These retirement havens cater to those on a tight budget, providing affordability along with a rich cultural experience.

From the enchanting streets of Portugal’s capital city Lisbon to the historic charm of Krakow, once the capital of Poland, these cities combine affordability, vibrant communities, and a wealth of attractions to create the perfect retirement backdrop.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, has emerged as a fantastic retirement destination for those seeking affordability without compromising on quality of life. With its charming neighborhoods, breathtaking coastal views, and rich cultural heritage, Lisbon offers retirees a vibrant and laid-back lifestyle. The cost of living in Lisbon is relatively lower compared to other major European cities, making it an attractive choice for retirees on a tight budget.

The city boasts an extensive public transportation system, affordable healthcare, and a variety of affordable housing options, including charming apartments and cozy neighborhoods. Retirees can enjoy leisurely strolls through historical districts, indulge in delicious local cuisine, and bask in the city’s warm and sunny climate. Lisbon truly offers an unbeatable combination of affordability, beauty, and a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle.

Buildings near the seaside in Lisbon
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is known as the "City of Seven Hills"

Krakow, Poland

Nestled in the heart of Poland, Krakow is a captivating city that offers retirees an exceptional blend of history, culture, and affordability. Known for its picturesque old town, charming cobblestone streets, and impressive architecture, Krakow’s rich heritage adds a unique charm to everyday life. Retirees will find a wide range of affordable housing options, including apartments and houses with reasonable rents and property prices.

The cost of living in Krakow is relatively lower compared to many other European cities, allowing retirees to enjoy a high standard of living without breaking the bank. You can find prices on Numbeo and compare it to the city you’re currently in, to see the difference. The city offers a vibrant cultural scene, numerous parks and green spaces, and a variety of dining options, including traditional Polish cuisine. With its welcoming atmosphere and affordability, Krakow presents an ideal retirement destination.

The main market square in Krakow
Krakow, a historic city in Poland, is home to the world's oldest operating medieval university

The European Capitals to Retire In for Mid-Range Budgets

Looking to retire in Europe with a comfortable mid-range budget? You’re in luck! Europe offers captivating cities that provide a high quality of life without stretching your finances to the limit. Two such cities that stand out for their affordability and appeal are Valencia, Spain, and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Valencia, Spain

Nestled along the sparkling Mediterranean coast, Valencia offers retirees a delightful blend of history, culture, and a vibrant modern lifestyle. This charming Spanish city boasts a pleasant climate, stunning architecture, and a lively atmosphere. With a mid-range budget, retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Valencia, as the cost of living is relatively affordable compared to other European cities.

Housing options are diverse, ranging from affordable apartments in the city center to cozy homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. Residents can savor the city’s world-famous cuisine, including paella and fresh seafood, explore the beautiful Old Town, and take leisurely walks along the beach. Valencia’s excellent healthcare system, efficient public transportation, and numerous parks and gardens further enhance the retiree’s experience.

Comunidad Valenciana in Valencia, Spain
Valencia is famous for hosting an exhilarating event known as La Tomatina, the world's largest food fight

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tucked away in the heart of Central Europe, Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is a hidden gem that offers retirees a peaceful and affordable retirement experience. Known for its picturesque old town, lined with colorful baroque buildings and cobblestone streets, Ljubljana exudes a charming and welcoming atmosphere where you can easily make friends. The cost of living in Ljubljana is relatively lower compared to other European capitals, making it an attractive choice for retirees with a mid-range budget.

Housing options include affordable apartments and houses, allowing retirees to find comfortable and cost-effective accommodation. Unlike big cities, Ljubljana’s compact size makes it easily walkable, while its efficient public transportation system ensures convenient access to amenities and attractions. Retirees can spend their days exploring historic landmarks, enjoying the city’s vibrant café culture, and taking strolls along the scenic Ljubljanica River.

A square in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is known for its unique citywide bike-sharing system

The Best Places to Retire in Europe for High-End Budgets

If you have a high-end budget and desire an extravagant retirement experience in Europe, two exquisite destinations epitomize luxury and opulence – Cannes and Zurich.

Cannes, France

Renowned worldwide for its glamour and sophistication, Cannes is a prestigious city nestled on the French Riviera. With its stunning beaches, palm-lined boulevards, and luxurious yacht-filled harbor, Cannes exudes an air of exclusivity and elegance. Retiring in Cannes offers a lifestyle of refinement and indulgence. The city boasts a plethora of upscale amenities, including world-class restaurants, high-end shopping boutiques, and luxurious spas.

Retirees can enjoy the Mediterranean climate while savoring gourmet cuisine and fine wines. Cannes also hosts renowned international events like the Cannes Film Festival, providing a vibrant cultural scene. With its upscale real estate options, including luxury apartments and villas, retirees with high-end budgets can find their dream retirement location in this prestigious French city.

An aerial photo showing Cannes Bay
Cannes has a permanent red carpet that stretches for about 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles)

Zurich, Switzerland

Nestled amidst the Swiss Alps, Zurich is a cosmopolitan metropolis renowned for its financial prowess, cultural richness, and impeccable quality of life. Retiring in Zurich offers an unparalleled standard of living for those with high-end budgets. The city exudes a sense of sophistication and efficiency while maintaining its Swiss charm. Zurich offers a wide range of high-end amenities, including gourmet dining, exclusive shopping, and world-class healthcare facilities.

The city’s well-preserved historical center, along with its picturesque lakeside setting, adds to its allure. Retirees can indulge in leisurely walks along the Limmat River, explore the city’s renowned museums and art galleries, or simply take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Zurich’s exceptional infrastructure, efficient public transportation, and reputation for safety and cleanliness contribute to its status as one of Europe’s premier retirement destinations for those seeking the finest experiences.

The following video offers a glimpse into the economic and cultural hub and one of Europe’s main financial and industrial capitals – Zurich.

YouTube video

How to Plan an International Move for Retirement in Europe

Moving overseas for retirement can be a stressful prospect, especially when considering the logistics of obtaining visas and finding suitable housing. To make the process as smooth as possible, it is important to plan and take into account any potential challenges that could arise along the way. Here are some tips for planning an international move for retirement in Europe:

  • Depending on the country in which you plan to live overseas, you may need to apply for special visas permitting your stay. Research visa requirements and other documents for each country and begin the application process several months before your intended arrival date.
  • Research different areas and neighborhoods within Europe, and decide which area is best suited to your lifestyle. Look into different housing options, such as rental apartments or buying a home outright.
  • There may be unforeseen obstacles that arise during the international moving process, such as language barriers or cultural differences. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette to avoid any potential misunderstandings and culture shocks. Additionally, consider taking classes to learn the language of the country in which you plan to reside.

By following these tips and carefully planning your transition, you can make an international move for retirement in Europe a successful and rewarding experience.

Quality of Life Index by Country 2023
Quality of Life Index by Country 2023, Data by Numbeo

Don’t Move Without Professionals – Hire Our International Moving Company

Embarking on an international move for retirement in Europe is a significant undertaking, and the key to a successful and stress-free relocation is hiring the right professionals. Our international moving company is here to make moving abroad seamless and efficient. With our expertise, experience, and personalized solutions, we ensure that every aspect of your relocation is handled with care and precision.

From logistics and coordination to packing service, shipping, and customs clearance, Schmidt International Relocations takes care of it all, leaving you free to focus on your exciting journey ahead. Don’t take any chances with your international move – trust our reliable and dedicated team to make your transition to Europe smooth and worry-free. Contact us today to hire our services and experience a seamless international relocation.


How Can Americans Determine Which European Countries Are the Most Retirement-Friendly?

Americans can determine which European countries are the most retirement-friendly by researching factors like the cost of living, healthcare options, visa requirements, and climate. Countries like Portugal, Spain, and France are often popular retirement destinations for Americans.

What Are Some Common Challenges for Americans Who Retire in Europe?

Common challenges for Americans who retire in Europe include adapting to a new culture and language, navigating visa and healthcare systems, and staying connected with loved ones back home.

How Can Retirees Ensure That They Have Access to Affordable Healthcare While Living in Europe, and What Resources Are Available to Help With This Process?

Retirees can ensure access to affordable healthcare by researching the healthcare system in their destination country and obtaining necessary insurance coverage. International health insurance plans and local public healthcare options are available to retirees.

Are There Any Specific Visa Requirements for Americans Who Wish to Retire in Europe, and How to Obtain the Necessary Paperwork?

Specific visa requirements for Americans who wish to retire in Europe vary by country but generally involve obtaining a long-term stay visa. Retirees must also demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay.

How Does the Cost of Living in Different European Countries Impact the Feasibility of Retiring There?

The cost of living varies significantly between different European countries, which can impact the feasibility of retiring there. Generally, countries with lower costs of living offer more affordable options for retirees.

Are There Any International Tax Implications for Americans Who Retire in Europe?

Americans who retire in Europe may face international tax implications, such as double taxation or the need to file taxes in both the US and their destination country. Consulting with a tax advisor can help navigate these issues.

What Are Some Unique Benefits of Retiring in Europe?

Unique benefits of retiring in Europe may include access to world-class healthcare, cultural experiences, and a slower pace of life. Retirees may also enjoy the opportunity to travel and explore different parts of Europe.

How Do Housing Options and Real Estate Prices Vary Across Different European Retirement Destinations?

Housing options and real estate prices vary across different European retirement destinations. Retirees may choose to rent or buy property, depending on their individual needs and budget.

What Are Some Popular Activities or Hobbies for Retirees in Europe?

Popular activities or hobbies for retirees in Europe include exploring local parks and museums, trying new foods and wines, and participating in community events and clubs.

How Can Americans Stay Connected With Family and Friends Back Home While Living in Europe?

Americans can stay connected with family and friends back home while living in Europe through various means, such as video calls, social media, and regular visits. Joining expat communities or local social clubs can also help retirees build new connections abroad.

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