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Where should I retire? – Spain, one of the top 10 places to retire

Where should I retire? – Spain, one of the top 10 places to retire

Spain, one of the top 10 places to retire. International Living ranking offers a growing selection of outstanding destinations where to live a healthier and happier life, and spend a lot less money.

According to the International Living portal (*) Spain has been selected as one of the Top 10 World Best places to Retire in this year. In Europe only Portugal ranked highly, and Spain is over France, Ireland or Italy

This selection has been done using the Annual Global Retirement Index, an in-depth survey, done by experts who have moved overseas and learn by experience, that offers the best way to know the wealth of opportunity the world offers, and helps select the best destination, examining the following 10 categories:

  • Housing: Value of real estate and how easy it is to buy or rent a home overseas. How well renters are protected by the law, how easy is to get a mortgage locally as expat, opportunities to invest in property as a means of earning a rental or capital return.
  • Benefits & Discounts: as a retiree, from to electricity to public transport.
  • Visas & Residence: how easy it is to get permanent residence, special residence options for retirees.
  • Cost of Living: How affordable are living cost as a retirement spot: food, drinks, haircut, fancy meal out, dental services, surgery costs… 
  • Fitting in and Entertainment:  How easily is to have your favorite native country comforts, how easy is it to adapt to the local culture. Are there outdoor activities, or museums, exhibitions to visit, etc. 
  • Healthcare:  Healthcare standards you’re used to? How easy is to get an English-speaking doctor. How easy is to get medicine prescriptions. Possibility for expats to enroll in local low-cost (or even free) national health programs. 
  • Development: You want to live in a place where the water is clean, the healthcare system is well funded, where people have decent standard of living, where parks aren´t vandalized, with great sanitation systems, with good quality roads and well-maintained public areas. 
  • Climate:  How is the weather and how fits your needs: like rainfall, temperature, and humidity. How varied the climate is.
  • Governance:  Personal freedom, minimum bureaucracy, stable and safe environment in which to enjoy retirement, efficient banking system.
  • Opportunity:  How well the local authorities support small business, freelancing work, whether it’s easy to work remotely, to develop business projects to supplement income, and if the country has a strong economy.

Spain: A Great Value Retirement Haven in Europe 

Spain is the most popular country for Europeans seeking a home overseas. Beaches… mountains… fabulous cities… colorful festivals, culture, and sunshine almost everyplace all year around.

You can dream to have a sun-drenched, white-washed house with a shady courtyard, perched on a cliff-top, with the deep blue sea beyond, and an olive grove nearby.

Spain offers fantastic variety in terrain, culture, and lifestyle. Has nearly 3,100 miles of coastline, and much of it is beach. In Northwest Spain, the hills are green, the climate is humid and mild. Spain´s Eastern coast and part of the south border have warm waters of the Mediterranean. All the coastal areas have relatively temperate climates…cooler in the north, hotter in the south, and milder in the Mediterranean coast and islands. 

The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs all settled in Spain and left a very rich history, language, and customs. From walking the steps of sultans at Granada’s Alhambra, to walk on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, or gaze at 2,000 years old Segovia’s mighty Roman aqueduct.  There are plenty of cities in Spain, large and small, which merit exploration.

High-speed and suburban train lines connect many cities, and bus routes crisscross the country. From Madrid to destinations on the southern coast in three to four hours, to Valencia in two, and up to Barcelona in about three. Madrid and Barcelona are the larger airports, and there are smaller airports around the country and Islands —served by discount airlines as well as the major carriers—that connect Spain with the rest of Europe.

Spain has modern services, efficient transport, and excellent healthcare system, Also a lively, outgoing lifestyle with the best food and wine. Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe that makes a dreamed of a romantic, affordable European lifestyle.

Spain has something for everyone. You can choose beaches, islands, mountains, deserts, rural farms, quaint pueblos, or intensely urban cities. 


Spain is the land of sunshine. How much sunshine depends on where you settle. On the Costa del Sol on the Mediterranean sea and Islands, the sun shines an average of 320 days a year, with hot summers and milder winters. Spain’s northern coast can be cool and rainy, like Oregon in the US or England, most of the year, but it’s delightfully perfect in July and August. Madrid averages in the 20-25ºC , it can soar above 35ºC in the peak of the summer, almost everyone leaves and goes to the beach, but frosts during the winter nights. Seaside Mediterranean coast and Islands offers hot summers and milder winters. Beaches can be windy. In Andalusia and some interior areas summer is hot.

Cost of living

Even in Madrid and Barcelona, the most expensive locations in Spain, one can live (modestly) on 2,000€ a month. Rent is cheaper than in U.S or UK., all depens on what part of Spain you choose. Every time you go out to eat, you can save up to 20%, since in restaurants tip is optional. A glass of wine is about 2.50€, and a beer is even less. At midday, you can get a three-course meal “menu” including wine or beer for 10€ to 14€.  One cost to watch out is using air conditioning day and night during the summer is quite expensive.

Safety and Security

Walking in the streets any time of the day or night save. Crime rates are very low. Ownership of guns has so many restrictions that very few people have them.There are a few pickpockets. Like anywhere in the world you have to be vigilant and watch your purse or bag on crowded cities, mainly in metros or in most touristic places, and don’t leave valuables unguarded inside the car or on the beach when you swim.

Medical Care

It’s among one of the best in the world. According to World Health Organization Spain ranks seventh, much over Canada that ranks 30, or the U.S. that trails at number 37. There is an average of four doctors for every 1,000 people, and in most of the locations you are never more than 15 minutes from a hospital. Life expectancy is around 82 years.

Spain’s public health system is free to those paying into Spain’s social security system, as an expat, you will have to buy private insurance till you get permanent residency after five years, and decide or not to switch to the public system.


In the coast, main cities and touristic areas you can be understood speaking in English. People 30 years of age or younger speaks quite well, it not the case for over that age. On those areas you can handle all the basic transactions of life in English, except for the immigration office where you will have to get someone to translate you.  The recommendation is that you should learn some basic Spanish, this will help you integrate into the culture, and be able to have conversations on politics or art.

Activities and recreation

Spain has more than 5,000 miles of coastline, with plenty of beaches where you can swim, take the sun, surf, windsurf, take a boat, snorkel, fishing…. Also you can mountain hike and in winter you can go skying and snowboarding. Also you can enjoy golf, tennis, padel, and wine tasting. There are plenty of gyms, also places to practice Yoga and Pilates. You can also watch sports, especially football with world class teams as Real Madrid and Barcelona among others. And if you like it, it’s still possible to see bullfights.  There are outdoor concerts, and plenty of cultural activities in the streets.


From Europe you can easily travel to many cities with low cost fares.

From the US, airfares are a lot less expensive than they used to be. One way on Norwegian airlines, to Madrid, Barcelona or Malaga from New York City can be as low as 180€ – And 200€ flying from Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Quality of live

Spain’s infrastructure is all first-world level. And the standards of roads, bridges, public transportation, electricity, and waste management are all equal to North American or most developed European countries. You can drink water from the tap, take a hot shower, or charge your phone any time of the day or night. 

Spain also offers great diversity of cultures, since the population has immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, with a variety of cuisine, music, and customs. Spain remains politically stable. Spaniards have great love for life, they know how to enjoy it, they like to be out, enjoy conversations, this makes a unique life-style that most people are attracted to.

  1. Ibiza (Mediterranean islands)
  2. Sotogrande (Andalusian coast)
  3. Costa del Sol – Marbella area (Andalusian coast)
  4. Costa Brava – North Catalonia – Girona city
  5. From Sitges and Tarragona – South Catalonia
  6. Valencia Coast (from Castellon to Alicante) 
  7. Costa de la luz  – Andalusia Atlantic coast, from Gibraltar to Portugal


Spain one of the top 10 places to retire. By Xavi Nova, Managing Director and Partner at Del Canto Chambers Spain


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