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Top 10 Best Places to Retire in Europe

Retiring in Europe

Retirement is a new chapter of life that brings a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and a craving for tranquillity. The choice of where to spend these golden years is crucial to making the most of this phase. For many, Europe is a top contender when considering the best places to retire.

Europe has an undeniable charm, from the cobbled streets of Rome to the sun-soaked beaches of Spain. The continent presents an irresistible blend of culture, history, cuisine, and a high standard of living. Yet, with 44 countries to choose from, deciding the best place to retire in Europe can take time and effort. This guide aims to simplify that decision by highlighting the top 10 European destinations for retirees.

The Allure of Europe for Retirees

What makes Europe so appealing to retirees? The continent offers a diverse range of landscapes and cultures within a relatively compact area. Whether you yearn for sun-drenched beaches, snow-capped mountains, or historical cityscapes, Europe has it all.

A significant factor contributing to Europe’s appeal is the high standard of healthcare. Most European countries rank highly in global healthcare indices, providing peace of mind for those seeking to retire in Europe. Additionally, many European countries have affordable living costs, making your pension stretch further.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Places to Retire in Europe

Several factors come into play when considering the best places to retire in Europe. These include cost of living, healthcare facilities, climate, culture, safety, and social integration opportunities. We’ve evaluated each country based on these criteria to present an informed perspective on the best European countries to retire.

Overview of the 10 Best Places to Retire in Europe

In no particular order, the top 10 best places to retire in Europe are Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland, Austria, and Slovenia. Each of these countries offers unique advantages that make them ideal for retirees seeking a European home. Let’s delve into what each country has to offer.

Retiring to Spain

Senior couple eating outdoor in Spain

Spain is a popular choice among retirees for its year-round sunshine, affordable cost of living, excellent healthcare, and rich culture. From the vibrant cities of Madrid and Barcelona to the serene coastal towns along Costa del Sol, Spain offers a variety of lifestyle options for retirees. Its warm and welcoming people, coupled with the relaxed pace of life, make Spain one of the best places to retire in Europe.

Climate: Spain boasts a diverse climate that ranges from the temperate conditions of the northern regions such as Galicia and the Basque Country to the Mediterranean warmth of Valencia and Andalusia. The Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Africa, offer a subtropical climate which is especially attractive for those who desire consistent, year-round warmth.

Cost of Living: One of the major appeals of Spain is its relatively low cost of living compared to other Western European nations. While cities like Madrid and Barcelona might be pricier, many smaller towns and villages offer affordable housing options, fresh local produce at reasonable prices, and a range of services that will be fine with the purse strings. Additionally, Spain’s property market often presents opportunities for retirees to buy or rent homes at a fraction of the price they might pay in other European countries.

To retire comfortably, a couple might need approximately €20,000 to €30,000 annually, depending on location (with urban areas and tourist hotspots generally costing more).

Healthcare: Spain’s healthcare system is highly regarded on the global stage. As a member of the European Union, Spain offers European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders access to necessary healthcare during temporary stays. Retirees from outside the EU will need private health insurance. Still, even then, medical services are often less expensive than in countries like the U.S. Furthermore, many doctors and medical staff in major cities and popular expatriate areas speak English, making healthcare access easier for non-Spanish speakers.

Culture and Activities: From Flamenco dances in Seville to the world-renowned La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain is a country steeped in traditions and festivities. Retirees can enjoy a vast array of cultural activities, including visiting historic sites like the Alhambra in Granada or indulging in Spain’s rich culinary scene, from tapas to paellas. For those interested in arts, cities like Barcelona, home to Gaudi’s masterpieces, or Bilbao, with its iconic Guggenheim Museum, offer many options.

Natural Beauty: Beyond its cities, Spain offers diverse landscapes, from the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees to the golden beaches of Costa Blanca. National parks, such as the Picos de Europa or Doñana, provide nature lovers with countless opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and exploration.

Connectivity: Spain’s transportation network is modern and efficient. High-speed trains (AVE) connect major cities, and numerous domestic airports make travel within the country quick and hassle-free. Being in close proximity to other European destinations, retirees can easily plan trips to neighbouring countries.

Language: While Spanish (Castilian) is the official language, various regions in Spain have their own co-official languages, such as Catalan in Catalonia or Basque in the Basque Country. However, in touristy areas and expatriate communities, English is widely spoken. Many retirees opt to take Spanish courses, enhancing their immersion experience and making daily interactions smoother.

For retirees seeking a balance of culture, affordability, and quality of life, Spain presents itself as a compelling choice in the European landscape. The country’s unique blend of tradition and modernity, along with its diverse offerings, make it a haven for those looking to spend their golden years in a vibrant and sun-kissed setting.

Retiring to Portugal 

senior couple at the beach

Portugal is another top pick for retirees, offering a low cost of living, world-class healthcare, and a warm, Mediterranean climate. Whether you choose to retire in the historic capital of Lisbon or the charming coastal towns in the Algarve region, Portugal offers a relaxed pace of life, rich history, and delicious cuisine.

Climate: Portugal boasts a varied climate, from the oceanic influences of the northern regions like Porto to the Mediterranean warmth of the Algarve in the south. While the coastal areas offer milder temperatures year-round, the interior regions can experience more pronounced seasonal variations. The Azores and Madeira archipelagos, situated in the Atlantic Ocean, provide a gentle, temperate maritime climate.

Cost of Living: Portugal is often lauded for its affordability, especially when compared to many other Western European countries. Retirees frequently find that their money goes further here, from housing to food. The Algarve region, in particular, is recognised as one of the most affordable places to retire in Europe, offering a combination of scenic beauty and cost efficiency.

Living costs are relatively affordable, with a comfortable annual budget for a couple being in the range of €18,000 to €30,000.

Healthcare: The Portuguese healthcare system is well-respected, providing both public and private healthcare options. As an EU member, Portugal allows European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders access to necessary healthcare during temporary stays. Non-EU retirees often opt for private health insurance, which remains reasonably priced compared to many other Western nations.

Culture and Activities: Portugal’s rich tapestry of history is evident in its UNESCO World Heritage sites, from the Tower of Belém in Lisbon to the Historic Centre of Oporto. Portugal’s cultural calendar is bustling with festivals like Fado music events, traditional fairs, and the famous Carnival celebrations. Culinary enthusiasts can revel in the nation’s cuisine, renowned for its fresh seafood, pastries like “pastel de nata,” and distinctive wines, including the world-famous Port wine.

Natural Beauty: Portugal’s landscapes are diverse and breathtaking. The coastline, particularly the Algarve’s cliffs and golden beaches, attracts sun-seekers and nature lovers alike. The Douro Valley, known for its terraced vineyards along the Douro River, offers spectacular vistas and wine-tasting opportunities. Moreover, the Azores offer an unspoiled paradise for those interested in hiking, whale watching, and diving.

Connectivity: Portugal’s infrastructure is modern and continually improving. The nation’s road and rail networks are efficient, making travel between cities and towns easy. International airports in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro facilitate connections to the rest of Europe and the world.

Language: Portuguese is the official language, and while it’s beneficial to learn some basic phrases, English is widely spoken in tourist areas and larger cities. Many retirees find that attending local Portuguese classes helps with communication and enriches their immersion in the culture.

In sum, Portugal offers retirees a harmonious blend of cultural richness, scenic beauty, and affordability. The country’s welcoming spirit, coupled with its relaxed pace of life and array of recreational activities, makes it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy their retirement amidst history, nature, and warmth.

Retiring to Italy  

With its rich history, stunning architecture, and world-renowned cuisine, Italy is a haven for retirees. Its diverse regions, from the romantic cityscapes of Venice and Florence to the tranquil countryside of Tuscany, offer something for everyone. Italy also boasts an excellent healthcare system and a reasonable cost of living.

Climate: Italy’s topographical diversity translates into a myriad of climates. The northern regions, such as Lombardy and Piedmont, experience a continental climate, while central Italy enjoys a temperate climate. The southern regions and Sicily, on the other hand, revel in a Mediterranean climate, boasting warm summers and mild winters. Coastal areas are especially appealing for those who enjoy the allure of the sea combined with pleasant temperatures.

Cost of Living: While major cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence can be pricier in terms of living expenses, numerous regions in Italy offer a more affordable lifestyle. Regions like Abruzzo, Calabria, and Puglia are particularly attractive for retirees, providing a blend of affordability, cultural richness, and scenic beauty.

The cost varies significantly from the countryside to metropolitan areas. On average, a comfortable annual budget for a couple might be €25,000 to €40,000.

Healthcare: Italy’s healthcare system ranks among the top in Europe, offering both public and private medical facilities. EU retirees can access healthcare services using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), while non-EU retirees typically opt for private health insurance. The quality of care is generally high, and many doctors in popular regions are accustomed to treating international patients.

Culture and Activities: Italy is a treasure trove of art, architecture, and history. From the Roman ruins of the Colosseum to the Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, the country is an endless source of cultural enrichment. Italian cuisine is world-famous, with regional specialities varying from the creamy risottos of the north to the robust olive oils and wines of Tuscany to the seafood delicacies of the south. Festivals, operas, and local events further amplify the cultural experience.

Natural Beauty: From the serene lakes of Lombardy and Veneto, such as Lake Como and Lake Garda, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, the sun-kissed Amalfi Coast, and the rugged landscapes of Sicily and Sardinia, Italy offers a diverse array of natural attractions. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Alps and the Dolomites provide unparalleled hiking and skiing opportunities.

Connectivity: Italy’s transportation network is vast and efficient. High-speed trains like the Frecciarossa connect major cities, making travel between regions quick and comfortable. Several international airports across the country facilitate easy connections to other parts of Europe and beyond.

Language: Italian is the official language, and while it’s advantageous to know the basics for daily interactions, English is commonly spoken in tourist hotspots and larger cities. Many retirees embrace the opportunity to learn Italian, finding it enhances their immersion in the local culture and community.

In conclusion, Italy presents retirees with an enchanting blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether one dreams of a tranquil life in the countryside, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, or a vibrant urban existence amidst historic landmarks, Italy promises a retirement experience that’s as rich and varied as its storied past.

Retiring to France

France offers an unparalleled quality of life, making it one of the best places to retire in Europe. From Paris’s cosmopolitan charm to Provence’s serene beauty, France offers a diverse range of locales for retirees. Renowned for its excellent healthcare, fine dining, and rich culture, France is a top pick for retirees.

Climate: The climate in France varies considerably from region to region. Normandy and Brittany in the northwest have an oceanic climate, while Paris and the Loire Valley tend to be more temperate. The Mediterranean regions, like Provence and Languedoc, boast warm summers and mild winters. The Alpine regions are cooler, with snowy winters — ideal for skiing enthusiasts.

Cost of Living: While Paris is often associated with a higher cost of living, many regions in France are surprisingly affordable. Areas such as the Dordogne, Limousin, and Auvergne provide excellent value for money, offering both affordable real estate and a lower general cost of living. The south of France, known for its glamour, can be pricier but still provides many cost-effective areas for retirees.

Living in France can be more expensive, particularly in cities like Paris. A couple might need €30,000 to €50,000 per year for a comfortable retirement.

Healthcare: France’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world. Public healthcare is accessible to residents, including retirees from other EU countries, through reciprocal agreements. Non-EU retirees usually opt for private health insurance. Both the public and private sectors offer high-quality care, and many doctors and healthcare professionals in urban areas and popular regions speak English.

Culture and Activities: France is a cultural haven. From the art museums of Paris, such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, to the wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, there is no end to the cultural experiences. French cuisine is globally celebrated, and each region boasts its own culinary delights, from Normandy’s cheeses to the South’s Provençal dishes. Festivals, theatre, and music abound, offering a myriad of entertainment options.

Natural Beauty: France offers diverse landscapes that cater to all preferences. The Riviera’s sun-soaked beaches, the lavender fields of Provence, the vine-clad landscapes of Bordeaux, the picturesque villages of Alsace, and the snow-capped peaks of the Alps and Pyrenees are just a few of the country’s natural attractions.

Connectivity: France’s infrastructure is top-notch. The TGV (high-speed train) connects major cities and regions efficiently. A dense network of highways and country roads makes road trips scenic and enjoyable. Several international airports, including Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Nice Côte d’Azur in the south, ensure easy global connectivity.

Language: While French is the official language, many people in tourist areas, major cities, and expatriate communities speak English. Learning French can greatly enhance the retirement experience, opening doors to deeper cultural immersion and fostering closer ties with local communities.

In summary, France offers retirees a captivating blend of cultural depth, scenic landscapes, and a high standard of living. Whether you dream of a pastoral life amidst vineyards, a seaside retreat on the azure coast, or a cosmopolitan existence in the City of Lights, France provides a retirement backdrop that is both picturesque and profoundly enriching.

Retiring to Greece 

Elderly couple enjoying the beach.

Greece offers a unique blend of ancient history and stunning natural beauty. With its affordable cost of living, warm climate, and friendly locals, Greece is an attractive destination for retirees. Whether you choose to retire on one of its idyllic islands or in a historical city like Athens, Greece promises a rewarding retirement experience.

Climate: Greece offers a predominantly Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild winters. The islands, especially, are known for their sunshine-filled days. The mountainous regions can be cooler, with occasional snowfall in the winter. This variation allows retirees to choose a location that aligns with their climatic preferences.

Cost of Living: Greece, particularly in recent years, has been recognised for its affordability. While Athens, the capital, can be pricier than rural areas, many regions, including popular islands like Crete and Rhodes, offer a surprisingly affordable lifestyle. Whether it’s property, food, or daily essentials, many retirees find their pensions or savings stretch further in Greece.

Greece is relatively affordable, especially compared to other European nations. A couple could live comfortably on €18,000 to €30,000 per year.

Healthcare: Greece has a mix of public and private healthcare facilities. While the public healthcare system has faced challenges, the private sector is known for its high standard of care, especially in urban areas and popular expatriate destinations. EU retirees can access public healthcare services using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Non-EU retirees often opt for private health insurance.

Culture and Activities: Greece is the cradle of Western civilisation. It offers a wealth of historical sites, such as the Acropolis in Athens, Epidaurus’s ancient theatre, and Delphi’s ruins. Moreover, Greece boasts a rich culinary heritage, with delights such as moussaka, tzatziki, and baklava. Festivals, music, and dance play a pivotal role in Greek life, with many events rooted in ancient traditions.

Natural Beauty: Greece’s landscapes are varied and breathtaking. From the pristine beaches of the Cyclades Islands to the rugged beauty of the Peloponnese and the verdant valleys of Thessaly, nature enthusiasts have a plethora of choices. The country’s extensive coastline, clear blue waters, and mountainous terrains offer endless opportunities for exploration and recreation.

Connectivity: Greece’s infrastructure is geared towards supporting its robust tourism industry. The main cities and islands are well connected by ferries, flights, and an extensive road network. Athens International Airport serves as a primary gateway to other European destinations and beyond.

Language: Greek is the official language. However, English is widely spoken in tourist areas, major cities, and by younger generations. Learning Greek, even if just the basics, can enhance a retiree’s experience, allowing for deeper connections with locals and a richer understanding of the culture.

In conclusion, Greece beckons retirees with its enchanting blend of ancient wonders, azure waters, and vibrant traditions. Whether one envisions a tranquil island escape, a home in the olive groves, or a residence in a bustling historic city, Greece promises a retirement experience infused with mythology, warmth, and sunlit days.

Retiring to Malta 

Seniors having food and drinks outdoor.

With its Mediterranean climate, English-speaking populace, and rich history, Malta is a popular choice among retirees. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Malta packs a punch with its vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and excellent healthcare.

Climate: Nestled in the Mediterranean, Malta boasts a pleasant climate year-round. Summers are warm and sun-soaked, while winters are mild and temperate. This consistent climate makes it an ideal location for those who relish outdoor activities and the allure of the sea throughout the year.

Cost of Living: While Malta has seen a rise in living costs over the years, it remains affordable compared to many Western European countries. Certain areas, especially tourist-centric locations, can be pricier, but savvy retirees can still find value in lesser-known villages and towns.

For a decent retirement in Malta, a couple might consider an annual budget of €20,000 to €35,000.

Healthcare: Malta’s healthcare system is commendable, offering both public and private facilities. The public hospitals and clinics provide quality care, and many doctors and healthcare professionals are English-speaking due to the country’s British colonial history. Both EU and non-EU retirees can access healthcare, though many opt for supplementary private insurance.

Culture and Activities: Malta’s strategic location has made it a melting pot of cultures. Its history is layered with influences from the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Knights of St. John, French, and British. This rich tapestry is evident in its architecture, festivals, and daily life. From the historic capital of Valletta to the ancient temples of Gozo, Malta offers a cultural journey through time. The island is also known for its festivals, music events, and vibrant nightlife.

Natural Beauty: While Malta is a small archipelago, it is brimming with natural wonders. Its coastline features a mix of sandy beaches and rugged cliffs, with popular spots like the Blue Lagoon and Golden Bay. The islands also boast unique landscapes, such as the Dingli Cliffs and the serene countryside of Gozo.

Connectivity: Malta’s size means that getting around is relatively straightforward. A well-organised public transport system, primarily consisting of buses, services the entire island. The Malta International Airport in Luqa connects the archipelago to numerous destinations across Europe and beyond.

Language: Maltese and English are the official languages of Malta. English is widely spoken, making it easier for retirees, especially those from English-speaking countries, to communicate and integrate. However, learning some Maltese phrases can be a delightful way to connect more deeply with the local culture.

In summary, Malta offers retirees a captivating blend of Mediterranean charm, historical depth, and modern comforts whether one dreams of residing within the ancient walls of Mdina, enjoying the seaside pleasures of Mellieħa, or exploring the rustic allure of Gozo, Malta presents a retirement backdrop that’s as sunlit as it is steeped in history.

Retiring to Cyprus

Cyprus offers retirees a high standard of living at a reasonable cost. With its beautiful beaches, warm climate, and friendly locals, Cyprus is a paradise for retirees. Furthermore, Cyprus boasts an excellent healthcare system and a safe, secure environment.

Climate: Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate characterised by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The coastal areas are particularly attractive for their gentle sea breezes, while the Troodos Mountains offer cooler summer retreats and occasional winter snow, making it suitable for skiing.

Cost of Living: Cyprus generally presents a more affordable living than many other European countries. While cities like Nicosia and Limassol might be slightly more expensive due to their urban status, there are numerous towns and villages where the cost of living is quite reasonable, ensuring retirees get value for their money.

An annual amount of €20,000 to €35,000 could afford a couple a comfortable lifestyle in Cyprus, though this can vary depending on lifestyle choices.

Healthcare: The healthcare system in Cyprus is of a high standard, encompassing both public and private sectors. With modern facilities and well-trained medical professionals, many of whom speak English, retirees can be assured of good medical care. EU citizens can access public healthcare services through reciprocal arrangements, while non-EU retirees often take up private health insurance.

Culture and Activities: Cyprus has a rich tapestry of history that spans thousands of years. From ancient ruins such as the Tombs of the Kings and Kourion to Byzantine monasteries and churches, the island offers endless exploration for history enthusiasts. Traditional Cypriot cuisine blends Greek and Middle Eastern influences and is a delight for food lovers. Festivals, music, and dance events are abundant, reflecting the island’s vibrant culture.

Natural Beauty: Cyprus boasts a diverse natural landscape. The azure waters of the Mediterranean provide beautiful beaches, such as those in Ayia Napa and Paphos. Inland, the verdant landscapes of the Troodos Mountains and the unique rock formations of Akamas Peninsula offer hiking, nature walks, and sightseeing opportunities.

Connectivity: Cyprus has a robust infrastructure, with well-maintained roads and highways connecting major towns and tourist areas. Two main international airports in Larnaca and Paphos ensure easy connectivity to Europe, the Middle East, and other destinations.

Language: Greek is the predominant language in the Republic of Cyprus, with Turkish being spoken in the northern part. However, English is widely spoken due to the island’s British colonial past, especially in tourist areas and amongst the younger population. Picking up some basic Greek can enhance the overall experience and foster connections with locals.

In conclusion, Cyprus offers retirees a delightful blend of Mediterranean allure, historical richness, and modern comforts. Whether it’s the coastal serenity of Larnaca, the historical charm of Paphos, or the bustling urban life of Nicosia, Cyprus provides a picturesque and enriching backdrop for a fulfilling retirement.

Retiring to Ireland

Senior couple walking on the beach.

With its stunning landscapes, friendly locals, and rich cultural heritage, Ireland is a top pick for retirees. Despite its relatively higher cost of living, Ireland’s excellent healthcare, safety, and social integration opportunities make it one of Europe’s best places to retire.

Climate: Ireland boasts a temperate maritime climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year. Winters are relatively cool without being harsh, and summers are moderate without extreme heat. The country receives frequent rainfall, lending to its renowned green landscapes and fostering a cosy culture of indoor fireside gatherings.

Cost of Living: While Dublin, the capital, can be on the pricier side, many parts of Ireland, especially the rural areas and smaller towns, offer a more affordable cost of living. Retirees can find picturesque locations without the hefty price tags of larger European cities.

Living costs in Ireland, especially in Dublin, can be high. For a comfortable retirement, consider €30,000 to €50,000 per year for a couple.

Healthcare: Ireland has a reputable healthcare system that provides services through both public and private sectors. Those who reside in the country, including retirees, can access a range of medical services. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders from EU countries can avail of necessary healthcare services during their stay.

Culture and Activities: Rich in folklore, music, and literature, Ireland has a deep-rooted cultural heritage. From the lively traditional music sessions in local pubs to ancient castles and stone circles, there’s a wealth of cultural experiences awaiting retirees. The Irish are also known for their warm hospitality and penchant for storytelling, ensuring a rich social life.

Natural Beauty: Ireland is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes. The rugged Wild Atlantic Way, the serene lakes of Killarney, the Cliffs of Moher, and the unique limestone plateau of The Burren are just a few of the natural wonders that retirees can explore. Whether it’s walking, hiking, fishing, or simply soaking in the views, Ireland’s natural beauty is a feast for the senses.

Connectivity: Ireland has a well-maintained network of roads and public transportation, including buses and trains, that connect urban centres and rural areas. International airports in Dublin, Cork, and Shannon provide excellent connectivity to the UK, Europe, the US, and other destinations.

Language: English is the predominant language spoken in Ireland. However, Irish (or Gaelic) is also an official language and is spoken in specific areas known as the Gaeltacht regions. While it’s not necessary for day-to-day living, learning a few phrases in Irish can be a delightful way to engage with the country’s cultural heritage.

In conclusion, Ireland offers retirees a harmonious blend of idyllic landscapes, a rich tapestry of culture, and the warmth of its people. Whether it’s the bustling creativity of Dublin, the traditional rhythms of Galway, or the serene shores of Donegal, the Emerald Isle promises a retirement backdrop that’s both enchanting and invigorating.

Retiring to Austria

Senior couple in Austria.

Austria offers a high standard of living, excellent healthcare, and stunning landscapes. From the historic city of Vienna to the serene beauty of the Alps, Austria offers a diverse range of locales for retirees. With its rich culture, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals, Austria is a top pick for retirees.

Climate: Austria exhibits a central European climate with distinct seasons. Winters can be cold, especially in the Alpine regions, offering perfect conditions for winter sports. Summers, on the other hand, are warm and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking, biking, and enjoying outdoor festivities.

Cost of Living: While cities like Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck might be relatively pricier, several smaller towns and rural areas offer a cost-effective yet quality lifestyle. These regions allow retirees to experience the Austrian charm without the metropolitan expenses.

Living in Austria, particularly in cities like Vienna, can be relatively expensive. A couple might need €30,000 to €50,000 annually.

Healthcare: Austria’s healthcare system is among the best in the world. Comprehensive, efficient, and modern, it provides services through a mix of public and private facilities. Residents, including retirees, can access a vast range of medical services, ensuring peace of mind in their golden years.

Culture and Activities: Austria has a profound cultural heritage, with contributions to art, music, and literature that are globally revered. As the land of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, it offers a rich musical legacy, evident in its concert halls and annual festivals. Historical landmarks, art museums, and theatres are abundant, especially in cities like Vienna and Salzburg.

Natural Beauty: Beyond its cultural offerings, Austria is a haven for nature enthusiasts. The Austrian Alps are a majestic backdrop for countless activities, from winter skiing to summer hiking. Lakes, such as those in the Salzkammergut region, offer pristine waters amidst lush, rolling hills, making them perfect retreats for relaxation and recreation.

Connectivity: Austria boasts an efficient transportation system. Its train network, operated mainly by ÖBB, is punctual and comprehensive, connecting not just major cities but also smaller towns. Furthermore, international airports in Vienna, Graz, and Salzburg ensure easy access to other European destinations and the world beyond.

Language: The official language of Austria is German. While many Austrians in urban centres and popular tourist areas speak English, learning basic German phrases can be highly beneficial. Engaging in language classes or local meetups can also be a fulfilling way to integrate more deeply into Austrian society.

In summary, Austria promises retirees a refined and enriching experience. Whether it’s the imperial allure of Vienna, the musical heritage of Salzburg, the tranquil lakes of Carinthia, or the alpine beauty of Tyrol, Austria offers a retirement experience that’s both luxurious and filled with natural splendour.

Retiring to Slovenia

Senior couple with man pulling his wife on sled and smiling at camera

Slovenia, often overlooked, is a hidden gem among European retirement destinations. With its affordable cost of living, excellent healthcare, and stunning natural beauty, Slovenia offers a peaceful and rewarding retirement. The locals are friendly, the culture is rich, and the landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful.

Climate: Slovenia boasts a varied climate. In the northwest, the Alpine climate prevails, with chilly winters ideal for skiing and cool summers perfect for hiking. Towards the coast, a more Mediterranean climate takes over, with warm summers and milder winters, making it suitable for year-round seaside relaxation.

Cost of Living: Compared to many Western European countries, Slovenia offers a relatively affordable cost of living. While the capital, Ljubljana, might be slightly pricier due to its urban appeal, smaller towns and rural areas provide the charm of the Slovenian lifestyle without the higher costs.

Slovenia offers a high quality of life at a more moderate cost. A couple might live comfortably on €18,000 to €30,000 per year.

Healthcare: The healthcare system in Slovenia is well-organised and efficient. Public healthcare is available to all residents, including retirees. Many healthcare professionals in urban areas and major hospitals speak English, ensuring easy communication for non-Slovenian speakers.

Culture and Activities: Steeped in history, Slovenia presents a mosaic of cultural influences. Its towns, like the picturesque Piran and the historical Ptuj, reflect centuries of diverse architectural and cultural influences. Slovenian cuisine, a mix of Central European and Mediterranean flavours, offers retirees a delightful culinary journey. Traditional festivals, music, and dances further enrich the cultural experience.

Natural Beauty: One of Slovenia’s standout features is its pristine natural beauty. From the mesmerising Lake Bled to the Škocjan Caves and the expansive Triglav National Park, nature lovers will find a paradise of forests, lakes, rivers, and caves. The short but enchanting Adriatic coastline provides a touch of the Mediterranean.

Connectivity: Slovenia’s compact size ensures that travelling across the country is quick and convenient. The well-maintained road network and efficient public transportation system connect major cities and picturesque villages, including buses and trains. Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport serves as the primary international gateway, offering connections to numerous European destinations.

Language: Slovene is the official language of Slovenia. While the younger population and those in the service industry often speak English, especially in tourist-centric locations, understanding basic Slovene phrases can greatly enhance day-to-day interactions and deepen connections with locals.

In conclusion, Slovenia offers retirees a harmonious blend of natural wonders, historical charm, and contemporary comfort. Whether it’s the vibrant streets of Ljubljana, the serene shores of Lake Bled, or the vineyards of the Vipava Valley, Slovenia promises a retirement setting that’s both tranquil and stimulating.

Cost of Living in Best Places to Retire in Europe

Happy smiling group of seniors.

Here’s a rough monthly estimate for each of the countries mentioned as of the last available data up to August 2023. Please note these are general averages and can vary based on city vs countryside, individual preferences, and lifestyle: (Rent for a one-bedroom apartment, groceries, monthly transport pass, petrol per litre, dining out and utilities)


  • Housing: City centre: €600 – €900; Outside: €400 – €700.
  • Food€200 – €300 per person.
  • Transportation€40 – €60; Petrol: €1.58 – €1.68.
  • Dining out€10 – €20 per meal.
  • Utilities€100 – €200.


  • Housing: City centre: €600 – €800; Outside: €450 – €650.
  • Food€150 – €250 per person.
  • Transportation€35 – €55; Petrol: €1.70 – €1.85.
  • Dining out€10 – €20 per meal.
  • Utilities€90 – €180.


  • Housing: City centre: €700 – €1,100; Outside: €500 – €800.
  • Food€200 – €350 per person.
  • Transportation€35 – €70; Petrol: €1.73 – €1.95.
  • Dining out€15 – €35 per meal.
  • Utilities€150 – €250.


  • Housing: City centre: €800 – €1,200; Outside: €600 – €900.
  • Food€250 – €400 per person.
  • Transportation€50 – €80; Petrol: €1.83 – €1.89.
  • Dining out€20 – €40 per meal.
  • Utilities€150 – €250.


  • Housing: City centre: €400 – €650; Outside: €300 – €550.
  • Food€150 – €300 per person.
  • Transportation€30 – €50; Petrol: €1.73 – €1.95.
  • Dining out€15 – €30 per meal.
  • Utilities€130 – €220.


  • Housing: City centre: €700 – €1,000; Outside: €500 – €800.
  • Food€200 – €350 per person.
  • Transportation€40 – €60; Petrol: €1.30 – €1.55.
  • Dining out€20 – €40 per meal.
  • Utilities€80 – €150.


  • Housing: City centre: €500 – €800; Outside: €400 – €700.
  • Food€200 – €350 per person.
  • Transportation€40 – €60; Petrol: €1.53 – €1.66.
  • Dining out€15 – €30 per meal.
  • Utilities€120 – €210.


  • Housing: City centre: €1,200 – €1,800; Outside: €900 – €1,400.
  • Food€250 – €400 per person.
  • Transportation€60 – €90; Petrol: €1.55 – €1.75.
  • Dining out€20 – €40 per meal.
  • Utilities€140 – €230.


  • Housing: City centre: €800 – €1,200; Outside: €600 – €900.
  • Food€200 – €350 per person.
  • Transportation€45 – €75; Petrol: €1.66 – €1.96.
  • Dining out€15 – €30 per meal.
  • Utilities€150 – €250.


  • Housing: City centre: €500 – €800; Outside: €400 – €650.
  • Food€150 – €300 per person.
  • Transportation€30 – €50; Petrol: €1.50 – €1.70.
  • Dining out€10 – €25 per meal.
  • Utilities€150 – €230.

These are general estimates and might not represent specific circumstances or lifestyle choices. Moreover, costs are subject to change over time due to inflation, local economic conditions, and other factors. For the most current and detailed information, always refer to local sources or consult with experts familiar with the region.

Picking the Best Places to Retire in Europe 

Best Places to Retire in Europe four seniors smiling at the camera.

Choosing the best place to retire in Europe ultimately depends on personal preferences and priorities. Whether you’re drawn to Spain’s sun-soaked beaches, Italy’s historic charm, or Slovenia’s tranquil beauty, each of these European countries offers unique advantages that can make your retirement years truly golden. 

Often hailed for its sun-drenched landscapes, Spain offers a spirited blend of historical cities and tranquil coastal towns. Its warmth, both climatic and cultural, beckons retirees to its shores. Meanwhile, with its Atlantic charm and historic cities like Lisbon and Porto, Portugal offers a delightful combination of seaside beauty and cultural heritage. The affordability of Portugal, coupled with its world-famous wines and friendly locals, makes it hard to resist.

Italy, a nexus of art, history, and cuisine, invites retirees to immerse themselves in a lifestyle that has influenced the world. From Tuscany’s rolling hills to Venice’s canals, Italy promises more than a place to live; it offers a way of life. Similarly, France’s diverse landscapes, ranging from Paris’s romantic streets to Provence’s lavender fields, remain a perennial favourite. Its culinary dominance and deep-rooted culture make it a retirement paradise.

The allure of Greece is timeless. It promises retirees the chance to walk in the footsteps of ancient civilisations while enjoying modern comforts. The Greek islands, each with a distinct character, provide many choices for those looking for beachfront relaxation or historical exploration. Just south, Malta, though small, punches above its weight. With its unique history influenced by various Mediterranean civilisations and its enticing coastline, it offers a compact yet enriching retirement experience.

Cyprus embodies the allure of the Mediterranean with its mix of beaches, mountains, and ancient ruins. Its strategic location has birthed a rich history and culture, making it an enticing blend of Greek and Middle Eastern influences. A bit further north, Ireland, the Emerald Isle, woos with its pastoral landscapes, historic landmarks, and renowned warmth of its people. Its cultural richness, from music to literature, ensures a retirement filled with stories and songs.

On the other hand, Austria offers Alpine splendour paired with urban sophistication. It’s a country where the melodies of Mozart and Strauss echo amidst the mountains, and historical cities like Vienna serve as gateways to art, music, and gourmet experiences. Last but certainly not least, Slovenia stands as a testament to Central Europe’s charm. Its picturesque landscapes, ranging from Alpine peaks to Mediterranean coasts, combined with its Slavic heart and historic towns, make it an emerging favourite among retirees.

These ten European destinations present a kaleidoscope of experiences for potential retirees. Each nation, with its unique allure, provides distinct advantages, whether it’s the cost of living, healthcare, natural beauty, or cultural offerings. Yet, what binds them is a shared commitment to a high quality of life, deep historical roots, and the promise of enriching golden years. While the decision on where to retire is deeply personal, one thing is sure: Europe, with its myriad options, ensures that the decision, no matter where it leads, will be a rewarding one.

Have you considered retiring in any European countries? Which one is at the top of your list and why?

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