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The best place to retire in Spain 2024


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Spain is one of the best countries in the world to retire to. Retirement, the so called ‘golden age‘; you leave the world of work behind and retire after years of paying contributions and your pension comes along that allows you to enjoy a relaxed and leisurely life. Nowadays, many countries are going through a severe pension crisis, not to mention the minor complications as a result of Brexit. In spite of this, Spain is still one of the best places to retire in 2024.

We have put together a list of the best places to retire in Spain in 2024, taking into account the cost of living, safety, pensions, healthcare and visas amongst other factors, and Spain turns out to be one of the best countries to retire to – let’s have a look at which regions are best for retirement in Spain, and other important questions about retiring in Spain. From the best places to retire in Spain by the sea, to retirement villages and cities, there is somewhere for everyone. 

Best places to retire in Spain for expats

The Costa del Sol: Retire by the sea

The Costa del Sol is one of the most important tourist areas in Spain, especially for people flying in from the U.K. and one of the best places to retire in Spain by the sea. The Costa del Sol has more than 1.3 million inhabitants, a large community of expats and English speakers that are spread throughout the area which is located in the Malaga region, from the luxurious Puerto Banús in Marbella, to the bustling beaches of Nerja, Benalmadena and Fuengirola.

The Costa del Sol is perfect for pensioners who want a lively and active lifestyle – especially for those who enjoy a round of golf, given the province’s fame as home to some of the top golf courses in Spain and Europe. The region also has a range of smaller towns and villages which are great for pensioners and some of the best retirement villages in Spain.

The Costa de Azahar: Enjoy retirement in Mediterranean

Moving up the coast, the lesser known Costa del Azahar, also known as the Orange Blossom Coast, is in the province of Castellón and is made up of 120 kilometres of stunning sandy beaches and coves. Another great option for those who wish to retire in Spain by the sea, and located just over one hour’s drive from Valencia, this golden coast gets some of the best weather in Spain and is a welcoming area for English speaking expats, as well as being an affordable option for pensioners.

The population in the Costa del Azahar is more scarce than in the Costa del Sol, meaning that even in the capital you’ll be in peace. The main cities of interest include Benicarló, Peñíscola, Torreblanca, La Llosa, Benicasim and Oropesa. And if you prefer life in a bigger city, you can also opt to retire in Valencia Spain just a short distance away. 

The Spanish city of Bilbao, located in the Basque Country in Northern Spain, also makes our list of the best places to retire in Spain. This is perhaps a more surprising addition for some, as expats moving to Spain to retire tend to gravitate towards the southern coast. However, due to the high quality of life and low crime rate, it’s an ideal destination to those who don’t want to just spend their retirement on the beach, as well as a spot for enjoying mild summers without the intensity of the heat of the South and Mediterranean coasts. Bilbao is also known for having one of the best healthcare systems in Spain and also has a growing English speaking community, making it a worthy choice for your hard-earned retirement in Spain.

Madrid: the best quality of life for pensioners

According to a study by the British real estate company, Audley Village, Madrid is one of the best places to retire in Spain because of its high quality of life. Once again, Madrid is for those who want to stay clear of the coast, but with excellent transport links, a buzzing cultural scene and lots of English speakers, you’re sure to find plenty to do! Madrid also has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the country at almost 84, while in Spain’s capital, retirement is also the second longest in Europe averaging at 22 years. Madrid also has a great safety record, pushing to close to the top of the ranking of the best cities to retire in Spain. 

The best coastal towns in Spain to retire

Spain boasts several charming coastal towns that offer an idyllic setting for retirement:

  • Sitges, along the Costa Dorada, provides a vibrant cultural scene and proximity to Barcelona.
  • Nerja on the Costa del Sol charms with its beautiful beaches and mountain backdrop.
  • Cadaqués, nestled on the Costa Brava, appeals with its artistic heritage and picturesque streets.
  • Rota on the Costa de la Luz offers a tranquil lifestyle with sandy beaches and historic sites.
  • Altea on the Costa Blanca features whitewashed houses and a mild climate perfect for retirees.
  • San Sebastián, while not traditionally a retirement destination, offers Michelin-starred dining and cultural richness on the Bay of Biscay.
  • Puerto de Mogán in the Canary Islands charms with its canals and year-round warm climate.

These coastal towns provide a mix of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and amenities, making them enticing options for retirees seeking a peaceful life by the sea in Spain.

Where is the cheapest place to retire in Spain?

Several regions in Spain are known for their affordability and appeal to retirees seeking a cheaper cost of living. Andalusia, particularly cities like Seville and Granada, offers a lower cost of living, while rural areas within the region are even more budget-friendly. Extremadura in western Spain and Murcia in the southeast are also recognised for their affordability, with cities like Badajoz and Cartagena providing attractive options for retirees. Additionally, Valencia and Galicia offer relatively affordable living costs compared to major cities, making them appealing destinations for retirees. Factors such as access to healthcare, amenities, and community services should be considered alongside cost when evaluating potential retirement destinations in Spain.

How much do you need to retire comfortably in Spain?

The amount you’d need to retire comfortably in Spain depends on several factors:

  • Lifestyle: Big cities tend to be more expensive. In major areas, expect a monthly budget of around €2,000-€2,200, whereas smaller towns could be manageable with €1,500-€2,000 monthly.
  • Accommodation: Owning your property eliminates rent, significantly reducing your monthly spending.

Here’s a general estimate:

  • Comfortable lifestyle in major cities: €2,000 – €2,200 monthly (€24,000 – €26,400 annually)
  • Comfortable lifestyle outside major cities: €1,500 – €2,000 monthly (€18,000 – €24,000 annually)

Additional points to consider:

  • Non-EU citizens: To acquire a Spanish retirement visa, you’ll need to prove a minimum passive income of €27,793 annually.
  • Healthcare: While Spain has a public healthcare system, expats might need private health insurance, adding to the monthly costs.

For a more personalised idea, consider consulting resources like:

  • Cost of Living comparisons: Websites like Numbeo allow you to compare the cost of living in Spain with your current location.
  • Financial advisers: Consulting a professional familiar with Spanish regulations can provide tailored advice based on your specific situation.

What about pensions if you’re thinking of retiring to Spain?

First and foremost, as a British citizen, you have the obligation to notify the UK government offices that deal with your pension and tax if you are retiring abroad.

Retiring in Spain as a Brit does however mean you have various options regarding pensions: You are entitled to one of the following options:

  • your UK State Pension 
  • your Spanish and UK State Pension from the “Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social” if you worked in Spain
  • pensions from working in other EU countries if applicable

Retiring to Spain after Brexit

Can I Retire in Spain after Brexit? Now that the dreaded Brexit is here, one of the biggest questions comes from British citizens who have retired overseas or are planning to do so. The UK government has stated that it will continue to pay a State Pension to those eligible in the European Union after Brexit.

In spite of Brexit, things shouldn’t change too dramatically, and the necessary agreements have been reached so that British pensioners in Spain won’t be left out of pocket. Take note that if you intend to stay longer than three months, you will need to apply for residency in Spain. Find out more about what Brexit means for expats living in Spain, including new residency documents.

Is retiring to Spain a good idea?

So, to round things up, is retiring to Spain a good idea? Most definitely! Retiring to Spain has a lot of benefits for expats, including a lower cost of living compared to other countries and an excellent healthcare system, all of which leads to a higher quality of life

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