Best Places to Retire to in Spain: Expert Recommendations for a Dream Life

Spain has long been a popular retirement destination for expats, offering a sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. As a retiree, finding the perfect location for your golden years can make all the difference in your quality of life. In this article, we will explore some of the best places to retire in Spain, taking into consideration factors such as affordability, healthcare, local amenities, and lifestyle.  Unlike our best states to retire to list, Spain has a handful of amazing options that offer great access to the entire country.

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With its diverse regions, Spain offers a range of choices catering to different preferences and priorities. From the sun-soaked beaches of the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca to the artistic and cultural hubs of Catalunya, there’s a little something here for everyone. Additionally, Spain boasts a high-quality public healthcare system, accessible to residents and ensuring that you will receive the care you need as you enjoy your retirement.

Whether you prefer a bustling city, a tranquil coastal town, or a traditional village that still holds onto its Spanish charm, you’ll find a range of options to suit your preferences. In the following sections, we will delve into the top retirement destinations in Spain, providing you with the necessary information to make an informed choice about where to spend your retirement years.

Understanding Retirement in Spain

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As we explore the concept of retirement, Spain stands out as an ideal destination for many retirees, thanks to its warm climate, affordable cost of living, and excellent healthcare system. With our knowledge and the provided search results, let us take a closer look at what makes Spain an attractive retirement destination.

Residency Visa and Pensions: Retiring to Spain requires obtaining a residency visa, which usually involves providing proof of a stable income source from your home country, like a pension, to ensure financial stability during your retirement in Spain. It is essential to understand the pension rules and how they apply within Spain. Additionally, make sure to keep yourself updated on any tax implications that may arise when transferring your pension abroad.

Healthcare: Spain offers a public healthcare system that is available to residents and is generally of high quality. As a retiree, it is crucial to consider whether you are eligible for Spain’s public healthcare or if you need to arrange private health insurance.

Cost of Living: One of the appealing aspects of retiring in Spain is the low cost of living. Living expenses in Spain are about 34% lower compared to the United States, with the exception of rent. Rent in Spain can also be much lower compared to the United States, which is a significant factor for retirees on a budget.

Popular Retirement Destinations: Spain has numerous locations that attract retirees, including:

  • Coastal areas such as the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, known for their beautiful beaches and vibrant expat communities.
  • Catalunya, flaunting its rich history, culture, and architecture.
  • The Canary Islands, providing spectacular landscapes and more tropical climate options.

Safety: Spain generally has lower crime rates than the UK, especially in terms of serious crimes like robbery with violence or using an offensive weapon. This aspect contributes to retirees’ sense of security and well-being while enjoying their golden years in Spain.

Taking all these factors into account, it is apparent that Spain offers a captivating retirement experience, with various locations and lifestyle options to suit each retiree’s preferences.

Cost of Retiring in Spain

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When considering retiring in Spain, it’s important to take into account the cost of living to ensure that your retirement funds will be sufficient. Overall, Spain is known for its affordable cost of living compared to other European countries, such as the UK or France. In this section, we will provide insights on the cost of living in Spain and highlight some factors to consider when planning your retirement.

Firstly, let’s discuss the currency: Spain uses the euro (€) as its official currency. Currently, the exchange rate fluctuates, but as an example, in 2023, you might receive €1.08 for every British pound. It’s essential to monitor the exchange rate, especially if you’re bringing an outside income or UK pension to Spain, as this will affect your overall budget.

The cost of living in Spain can vary depending on the region, city, and type of lifestyle you prefer. Generally, living in smaller towns and rural areas will be more affordable compared to larger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona. The cost of living will also directly depend on your housing choices, whether you plan to rent or purchase a property and the location of your new home.

To provide a clearer picture, here’s a breakdown of some average costs for various categories:

  • Housing: Renting a one-bedroom apartment, for example, in a city center could cost €700 per month, while the same apartment can be found for €400 per month in smaller towns. Keep in mind that popular expat destinations like the Costa del Sol or the Costa Blanca may have higher property costs due to the demand.
  • Utilities: The monthly bill for basic utilities such as electricity, heating, and water can range from €100 to €150. Internet service typically adds an additional €30-€60 a month.
  • Groceries: On average, groceries are cheaper in Spain than in many other European countries. Basic necessities such as bread, milk, and fruits can be purchased for a few euros each, while local products like wine and olive oil are also quite affordable.
  • Transportation: Public transportation is a cost-effective way to get around in Spain. A monthly pass for public transportation in major cities generally costs around €50.
  • Healthcare: Spain offers a public healthcare system that is accessible to residents and generally of good quality. If you are eligible, the costs of healthcare might be minimal or negligible. However, if you’re not eligible or prefer private care, expect to pay for private health insurance and any associated costs.

In summary, the affordable cost of living in Spain is one of the reasons many expats choose to retire there. By carefully assessing your retirement budget, desired lifestyle, and exchange rate fluctuations, you can plan a comfortable retirement in Spain while still enjoying the country’s rich culture and warm weather.

Healthcare for Retirees

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When considering retiring in Spain, it’s essential to understand the healthcare system and the options available for retirees. Spain offers a high-quality public healthcare system, which is accessible to residents and has a good reputation. Additionally, private healthcare facilities are available, ensuring that retirees can access the best possible care.

As retirees, it’s important to know that if you receive a state pension from an EU or EEA country, you’re entitled to public healthcare in Spain. To access this benefit, you need to obtain an S1 form from your home country’s healthcare authority. This form demonstrates that you’re a pensioner and therefore eligible for healthcare services in Spain. Once you have gotten the S1 form, you’ll need to register it with the Spanish Social Security system.

For those not eligible for public healthcare through the S1 form, there is an alternative: the Convenio Especial. This is a public health insurance scheme that you can access once you’ve lived in Spain and been registered with the padrón at your town hall for at least one year. With the Convenio Especial, you’ll pay a basic monthly fee of €60 (if under 65 years old) or €157 (if over 65 years old). This insurance covers most healthcare services, except for prescriptions, which you’ll need to pay for separately.

Another option for retirees is private health insurance. Many companies offer comprehensive policies tailored to expats, often including additional benefits such as dental coverage or faster access to specialists. It’s worth comparing different providers to find a plan that fits your needs and budget. Keep in mind that some private insurance plans may exclude pre-existing conditions or have age limitations.

In summary, retirees in Spain have several healthcare options at their disposal:

  • Public healthcare through the S1 form for state pension recipients
  • Convenio Especial for those who have lived in Spain for at least one year and are not eligible through the S1 form
  • Private health insurance for those looking for additional coverage or not eligible for public healthcare

The availability of high-quality healthcare in Spain is just one of the many reasons why it is a popular destination for retirees. With several options to choose from, you can have peace of mind knowing that your healthcare needs will be well taken care of during your retirement in this beautiful country.

Popular Cities for Retirees


In recent years, Spain has become an increasingly popular destination for retirees. When looking for the best places to retire in Spain, several cities stand out for their warm climate, healthcare options, and relaxed lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some of these popular cities for retirees:

Valencia is a vibrant city on Spain’s east coast, boasting a perfect mix of urban life, beautiful beaches, and rich historic culture. With a lower cost of living compared to other major Spanish cities, Valencia provides a comfortable lifestyle for retirees.

Alicante is another popular choice for many retired expats, particularly in the lovely coastal city of Jávea. Located on the Costa Blanca, the picturesque town is known for its cool climate and stunning natural attractions such as the Montgó Massif Mountain.

In the southern region of Andalusia lies the charming city of Malaga. Offering a combination of sunshine, beautiful beaches, and rich history, Malaga provides an ideal setting for retirees. Nearby, the towns of Mijas, Nerja, and Estepona also offer excellent retirement options along the popular Costa del Sol.

Seville, also located in the Andalusian region, is known for its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere rich in flamenco and local cuisine. Retirees can enjoy a city life steeped in culture while still being within easy reach of other Andalusian gems like Granada and Cádiz. Speaking of Cádiz, this ancient coastal city with its warm climate and relaxed pace is another noteworthy choice for retirees, as is the nearby coastal town of Rota.

Heading north, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city that offers retirees a unique blend of modernism with a Mediterranean pace of life. Rich in architecture, arts, and a culinary scene, Barcelona is an attractive option for those wanting a more urban retirement experience.

Lastly, the cities of Madrid, Bilbao, and Granada should not be overlooked when considering retirement in Spain. While Madrid offers a bustling city-life, Bilbao is known for its culture and arts scene. Granada, on the other hand, has a warmer climate and is rich in history, boasting a unique blend of Moorish and Christian architecture.

Retirees have numerous fantastic options to consider when selecting the perfect Spanish city to call home. These cities offer a diverse range of climates, cultures, and lifestyles, ensuring that your retirement in Spain will be a truly memorable experience.

Best Coastal Areas to Retire

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As we consider the retirement options along Spain’s beautiful coastlines, several areas stand out as exceptional choices for their climate, amenities, and vibrant communities. Let’s explore some of the top coastal destinations to spend your golden years.

Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca in Andalusia are two of the most popular locations for retirees. With their charming coastal towns, breathtaking beaches, and beautiful landscapes, it’s no wonder these areas attract expats seeking a relaxed and warm environment. Of particular note is Marbella, a vibrant coastal city known for its stunning beaches and luxury resorts.

In the Valencian Community, the destinations of Altea and Calpe are excellent choices. These towns boast wonderful weather, a delightful atmosphere, and great healthcare facilities. Their close proximity to major cities like Valencia and Alicante allows for convenient access to high-speed rail connections while maintaining a tranquil, seaside lifestyle.

Off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands offer a unique retirement experience. If you’re looking to enjoy a subtropical climate and a diverse landscape, from beautiful beaches to striking volcanic mountains, this archipelago is an option worth considering.

Some lesser-known but equally appealing coastal regions include Costa Brava, Costa del Azahar, Costa de la Luz, Costa Dorada, and Costa Tropical. Each of these destinations offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that can make your retirement truly special.

Here’s a brief overview of these coastal areas:

Area Highlights
Costa del Sol Marbella, luxury resorts, stunning beaches
Costa Blanca Altea, Calpe, Valencia and Alicante access
Canary Islands Subtropical climate, diverse landscapes
Costa Brava Charming towns, beautiful beaches
Costa del Azahar Historical cities, peñíscola
Costa de la Luz Pristine beaches, cultural events
Costa Dorada Golden sand beaches, picturesque fishing villages
Costa Tropical Thriving agricultural area, mild subtropical climate
Valencian Community Quaint coastal towns, strong healthcare infrastructure

In conclusion, retiring in these charming coastal regions of Spain offers not only the opportunity to enjoy a tranquil lifestyle but also the ability to explore a wealth of culture, history, and natural beauty.

Expat Community in Spain

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Spain has long been a popular destination for expats, particularly those from the United Kingdom and other European countries. The warm climate, beautiful beaches, rich history, and friendly locals make it an ideal place for those looking to retire and start a new chapter in their lives. In this section, we will take a closer look at the thriving expat community in Spain and why it is such an attractive destination for retiring abroad.

One of the key factors that make Spain a popular destination for expats is the affordability of living. The cost of living in Spain is generally lower than in many other European countries, which means retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. The healthcare system in Spain is also highly regarded, providing expats with access to quality healthcare services.

Another aspect that attracts expats to Spain is the social connections they can establish within the expat community. In many popular expat destinations such as Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol, there are thriving expat communities with clubs, events, and support networks that make it easy for newcomers to meet fellow expats and settle in. Some of the top places to retire in Spain for expats, according to the search results, include Javea, Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville.

Britons, in particular, have established a strong presence in Spain. Estimates suggest that more than 10% of the Spanish population consists of British expats. The British community in Spain often comes together for social events, sports, and charity work, providing a familiar environment for those seeking a sense of home away from home.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Spain has plenty to offer, from picturesque beaches and charming coastal towns to stunning mountain landscapes and a variety of recreational activities. Many expats take advantage of the pleasant climate and abundant natural beauty to enjoy a more active lifestyle in their retirement, with activities such as golf, sailing, and hiking high on the list.

In conclusion, the expat community in Spain offers a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere for people looking to retire abroad. With affordable living, quality healthcare, an active lifestyle, and the opportunity to make lifelong connections within the expat community, it is no surprise that Spain continues to be an attractive destination for retirees from around the world.

Real Estate and Housing

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When it comes to finding an ideal location to retire in Spain, the real estate and housing options play a crucial role. We have uncovered some excellent places considering the housing market and the overall quality of life they offer.

Javea is a popular choice among expats, known as the Pearl of the Region. Located in the Costa Blanca region, Javea offers a cool climate, thanks to the Montgo Massif Mountain. The real estate market in Javea is quite diverse, with a range of properties from traditional villas to modern apartments, catering to various budgets and preferences.

Moving over to Torrevieja, this coastal city located on the Costa Blanca is known for its beautiful beaches and salt lakes. Real estate options here include apartments with stunning sea views, townhouses, and spacious villas. Prices in Torrevieja are generally more affordable compared to other coastal areas, making it an attractive option for retirees.

Orihuela, situated in the province of Alicante, boasts a rich history, spectacular landscapes, and lovely beaches. The real estate market offers a mix of traditional townhouses, country homes, and modern apartments. With affordable housing prices and various amenities, Orihuela is an excellent location for retirees to consider.

In Rojales, a charming village in the province of Alicante, retirees can find excellent value for their money. The real estate market offers properties ranging from traditional Spanish homes to modern villas and apartments. With its relaxed atmosphere, Rojales is an excellent choice for those looking to retire in a peaceful, welcoming environment.

Some factors to consider when choosing a location to retire in Spain include:

  • Property types: villas, townhouses, apartments, etc.
  • Affordability of the real estate market
  • Proximity to amenities such as healthcare, transportation, and leisure activities
  • Climate and surrounding landscape
  • Local community and expat presence

By considering these factors and exploring the cities mentioned above, retirees can find the ideal location that suits their real estate needs, budget, and personal preferences.

Weather and Climate

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Spain enjoys a Mediterranean climate, characterized by warm summers and mild winters. The coastal areas, particularly along the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol, offer pleasant temperatures year-round, making them ideal destinations for retirees seeking a comfortable climate.

We find that the Costa Blanca experiences hot summers, with temperatures averaging between 26°C to 32°C, while winters remain mild, often ranging from 10°C to 16°C. This region is also known for its low humidity levels, ensuring a comfortable atmosphere throughout the year.

In the Costa del Sol, temperatures are slightly higher, with summer averages between 28°C to 35°C. Winters are still mild, typically ranging from 12°C to 18°C. The region is known for over 320 days of sunshine each year, making it an attractive destination for sun-seekers.

Spain’s interior regions have more extreme temperature fluctuations, with colder winters and hotter summers. However, cities like Valencia and Sevilla still offer a relatively mild climate overall, thanks to their proximity to the coast. Retirees seeking cooler climates could consider Javea, located near the Montgo Massif Mountain, which provides relief from the heat.

Here’s a brief overview of the average temperature ranges in popular retirement destinations:

Location Summer (°C) Winter (°C)
Costa Blanca 26 – 32 10 – 16
Costa del Sol 28 – 35 12 – 18
Valencia 24 – 30 10 – 15
Sevilla 27 – 34 8 – 16
Javea 22 – 28 8 – 14

In conclusion, Spain’s Mediterranean climate offers a range of options for retirees, from the consistently warm coastal regions to cooler inland areas. Regardless of the location, expect plenty of sunshine and mild weather throughout the year, providing an enjoyable and comfortable retirement experience.

Lifestyle and Culture

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Spain offers a diverse range of lifestyles and cultural experiences, making it an ideal place to retire. The warm, sunny climate coupled with a rich history and vibrant local traditions creates an inviting atmosphere for those seeking a fulfilling retirement.

Lifestyle: With our many leisure activities, from outdoor pursuits like golf and hiking, to relaxing on the beach or exploring historic sites, Spain offers something for everyone. The Mediterranean lifestyle emphasizes a slower pace, placing importance on spending time with family and friends, enjoying long meals, and savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Nightlife: Spain is known for its lively nightlife. From Barcelona’s energetic clubs to Seville’s flamenco shows, there’s always something exciting happening after the sun goes down. While some retirees may prefer quieter evenings, those who enjoy music, dancing, and late-night dining will surely appreciate Spain’s vibrant night scene.

Culture: The diverse regions of Spain offer a unique cultural experience. Whether it’s the Basque Country, with its distinct language and traditions, or Andalusia’s passionate flamenco and bullfighting culture, there is always something new to explore and learn. Spain’s appreciation for art, architecture, and fine cuisine truly adds to its allure.

Leisure Activities: Spain offers a wide range of leisure activities to suit any interest. Outdoor enthusiasts can delight in the many hiking trails, golf courses, and water sports available. Those interested in art and history can explore Spain’s numerous museums and historic sites.

Here’s a brief list of popular activities among retirees:

  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • Water sports
  • Exploring art galleries
  • Attending cultural events
  • Wine tasting

Spain is truly a magnificent place to retire, with its various lifestyles and rich cultural tapestry. As we’ve discussed, the country offers a wealth of enjoyable activities and experiences that cater to every retiree’s tastes. We hope you’re as excited about the prospect of retiring in this beautiful country as we are.

Safety and Quality of Life

When considering the best places to retire in Spain, safety and quality of life play a significant role in the decision-making process. In general, Spain is known for its exceptional quality of services, including efficient transport systems, a robust healthcare system, and a rich and diverse cultural heritage. This contributes greatly to the overall satisfaction of expats who choose to call this beautiful country home.

Spain’s safety is reassuring, with relatively low crime rates in most areas, particularly in smaller towns and cities. The welcoming nature of the local population also adds to the sense of security and well-being. Furthermore, Spain’s public healthcare system is available to residents and generally provides good quality care, ensuring retirees can access medical services when needed.

Spain boasts several attractive locations for retirees, some of which include:

  • Costa del Sol: A popular retirement destination with scenic beaches, golf courses, and a wide range of amenities to suit various lifestyles.
  • Costa Blanca: Known for its beautiful coastline, warm climate, and charming villages, Costa Blanca is also home to a thriving international community.
  • Catalunya: A diverse region consisting of a lively city scene, such as in Barcelona, as well as picturesque landscapes and a rich cultural heritage.
  • Canary Islands: Offering a pleasant climate all year round, the Canary Islands provide retirees with various leisure options, magnificent landscapes, and a laid-back lifestyle.

In summary, retiring in Spain offers a combination of safety and an unparalleled quality of life, making this European destination an ideal choice for many expats. With a variety of stunning locations and a high standard of living, it’s easy to see why Spain consistently ranks high on the list of best places to retire.

Brexit Impact

Brexit has undoubtedly affected various aspects of life for British citizens looking to retire in Spain. In this section, we will discuss some critical changes after Brexit concerning residency, income tax, and rental income taxes.

Since the UK’s departure from the European Union, British citizens are now treated as non-EU citizens, which has altered the requirements for obtaining residency in Spain. The non-lucrative visa is a popular option for retirees, as it allows individuals to live in Spain without working. To qualify, applicants must prove they have sufficient financial means to support themselves, which includes a monthly income of at least €2,130 and an additional €532 for each dependent.

Another issue that may affect British citizens retiring in Spain is the higher tax rate on rental income. Post-Brexit, British nationals are required to pay a non-resident rate of 24% on income tax, whereas the pre-Brexit rate was 19%. This increase may impact the affordability and attractiveness of rental properties for those looking to supplement their retirement income.

Despite these changes, many beloved locations in Spain remain popular amongst British retirees. Examples of sought-after destinations include:

  • Javea, in Costa Blanca, also known as the “Pearl of the Region”.
  • Marbella, on the Costa del Sol, which offers miles of beautiful beaches.
  • Málaga, a bustling city famous for its art, culture, and coastal scenery.
  • The Balearic and Canary Islands, both renowned for their year-round warm weather and stunning landscapes.

In conclusion, though Brexit has had an impact on British citizens looking to retire in Spain, it doesn’t hinder the numerous possibilities available in this beautiful country. Careful planning and consideration of the mentioned changes to tax rates and residency requirements can lead to a seamless transition and enjoyable retirement experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum income needed to retire comfortably in Spain?

In general, to retire comfortably in Spain, we recommend having a monthly income of around €2,000 to €2,500. However, this will vary depending on your lifestyle preferences and the area where you choose to live. Some rural or smaller towns may have lower living expenses, while bigger cities and tourist destinations may require a higher income.

How does retiring in Spain compare to Portugal?

Both Spain and Portugal are popular retirement destinations, offering a warm climate, beautiful landscapes, and rich cultural experiences. However, there are a few differences to consider. Spain tends to have a slightly higher cost of living compared to Portugal, but it also offers a larger variety of expat destinations, both coastal and inland. Healthcare in both countries is generally good, but Spain has a slightly higher rank in the World Health Organization’s healthcare rankings. Ultimately, the decision between the two countries will come down to personal preferences and priorities.

Which coastal towns in Spain are popular for retirement?

Some popular coastal towns in Spain for retirement include Javea, known as the Pearl of the Region in Costa Blanca, which offers a cool climate due to the Montgo Massif Mountain. Other popular coastal destinations include the Costa del Sol, with its warm Mediterranean climate, and the Costa Brava, known for its stunning coastline and charming small towns.

What are the most affordable locations for expats retiring in Spain?

To find the most affordable locations for expats retiring in Spain, it’s essential to research and compare living expenses in different regions. Generally, rural areas and smaller towns tend to be more affordable than large cities or tourist hubs. Inland locations like Granada, Murcia, and Lorca can offer lower living expenses and rent compared to coastal areas.

Where do most EU citizens choose to retire in Spain?

Many EU citizens looking to retire in Spain are attracted to coastal areas like the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, and the Balearic Islands. These regions offer beautiful surroundings, warm weather, and a relaxed lifestyle. However, preferences may vary between individuals, and some might prefer historical cities like Granada or Valencia or rural areas with lower costs of living.

Which Spanish cities are especially popular among American retirees?

Popular retirement destinations in Spain for American retirees include Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Valencia, and Malaga. These cities offer a rich cultural scene, iconic architecture, and high-quality healthcare facilities. Additionally, there is a growing expat community in these urban centers, which makes it easier for American retirees to transition and adapt to life in Spain.