5 Places in Europe To Retire on $35,000 a Year

Black Couple on Yacht

It’s not hard to retire to Europe on $35,000 a year, or less. In welcoming, warm-weather, good-value escapes expat retirees find that their dollars stretch far.

“When Americans on a limited budget compare the quality of life they’re able to enjoy in Europe to what their dollars buy in the States, it’s often a shock,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living. “Outside the big metro areas, you’ll find all sorts of good-value options in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, and even Malta. These are communities where the weather is good so it’s easy to enjoy the outdoors, and where value is placed on good food, enjoying the arts, and on a relaxed pace of life—none of which costs very much.”

Basilicata, Italy

Castelmezzano basilicata ItalyThe Italians know how to enjoy life. In fact, they’re famous for it. The gorgeous scenery, the stellar food, the fabulous people and the fascinating history sum up the joys of Italian life— La dolce vita.

Italy is full of classic postcard landscapes that appeal to all the senses. Living in Italy can be as expensive or as low-cost as you want it to be—it all depends on location and lifestyle. The big cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence can be expensive. But get outside the metro areas and prices drop significantly.

Take Basilicata, a hidden gem tucked into the ankle of “the boot,” speckled with verdant valleys, deep forests, rolling hills, and alpine peaks. It offers a laidback, enjoyable lifestyle that can be affordable, where you’ll be welcomed and well-fed.

“The boot” garners top honors in cuisine; prosciutto, parmigiano, pizza, porcini, and pasta…they’re famous because they’re so delizioso.

Life here, as with so much of Italy, is relaxed, and there is a history of hospitality that will make you feel at home and help you adapt. A monthly budget for a couple in Basilicata comes to $1,600.

Alicante, Spain

Alicante SpainAlicante is a port city on Spain’s south-eastern Costa Blanca. Home to about 330,000 people, it offers an unbeatable combination of comfortable city living and relaxed country friendliness.

Alicante has two distinct rhythms. In the summer, the city transforms into a tourist’s playground where gelato shops spring up on almost every street, vendors walk the beaches selling ice-cold cans of beer, and a myriad of languages bubbles through the streets.

Things slow down as the weather grows colder and the tourists head home. Yet winter is entirely pleasant as the temperature rarely drops below 50 F. Most days, the sky remains a crystal clear blue and the wide beaches become yours alone to wander and explore.

With an international airport and train station offering high-speed connections to Madrid and beyond, Alicante is a great hub from which to experience Europe.
And living here is affordable. A couple can live well in Alicante on $2,390 per month.

Porto, Portugal

Photo by Jens Moser on Unsplash

Many European cities have been sought out by expats from the U.S. and Canada in recent years. But what Porto offers is an enchanting combination of Old World charm and First-World convenience wrapped in a consummately affordable and attractive package.

The second-largest metropolitan area in Portugal after Lisbon, Porto is located on the Douro River, where it flows into the Atlantic. The city center is home to less than 240,000 people and has a small city’s feel and friendliness. But it’s also a thriving business city with an international airport.

For all Porto’s natural and architectural beauty, fine food and wine, and pleasurable pastimes, it’s surprisingly affordable to live here—a monthly budget for a couple runs to $1,550.

A cup of coffee in a café is a dollar or less, fresh fruit goes for $1 per pound, and a three-course lunch for two including wine at a mid-range restaurant will cost you just $20. And senior discounts are offered in many museums and other sites of interest.

Aix-en-Provence, France

Aix-en-Provence-FranceProvence inspires retirement dreams with its rolling fields of lavender, sunbaked stone medieval villages tinged with the scent of orange blossoms, lines of stately cypress trees, and daily blue skies—it exudes the essence of beautiful living.

Provence is a sweeping area at the center of the Alps-Provence-Cote d’Azur region of south-eastern France, bordering Italy and the glittering waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

France’s second largest city, Marseille, is its capital, but visitors tend to gravitate to popular smaller towns, such as Aix-en-Provence—a wildly romantic little city of fountains and medieval streets that was once the Provençal capital.

Most visitors are drawn to experience sophisticated pleasures like the opera, ballet, art galleries, and high-class restaurants. But, with a population of 142,000, Aix doesn’t concentrate solely on highbrow culture; it’s also a lively university city.

Here, a couple can enjoy a great retirement on $2,695 per month.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta-maltaFrom countryside farmhouses to ancient walled cities and breath-taking coastal pathways to quirky, hidden-gem restaurants, the tiny island nation of Malta has a little something for everyone.

At only 122 square miles, making it one of the smallest nations in the European Union, Malta packs a real punch—it’s home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and over 155 miles of coastline. And, thanks to its far southern location, the islands benefit from warm weather year-round.

Here, the English-speaking population—a legacy of British colonization—makes it easy for North Americans to adjust to life.

Malta has been a coveted destination for centuries and Valletta, Malta’s capital city, is an especially desirable location—the European Capital of Culture 2018. With rolling hills reminiscent of San Francisco, Valletta offers incredible views of ships entering and leaving its harbors.

Built after The Great Siege of 1565, when the Ottoman Empire tried to capture Malta from the Knights of Saint John, Valetta was chiseled by the knights out of a barren rocky peninsula and lined with steep walls and imposing towers.

Dollars can go surprisingly far here, with couples living comfortably on $2,600 per month.


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