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The Top 20 Retirement Cities in Europe


For many people, retirement is the opportunity to live the lifestyle they have always dreamed of and worked towards. At this stage in their life, they have no work commitments and fewer personal responsibilities. This can often mean they are not tied to a specific geographical location. For this reason, they may decide to seek a more relaxed way of life by moving to another country. Europe has many fantastic cities that have a lot to offer to all groups of people. However, there are some cities that are particularly appealing to those of retirement age. Here are 20 of the top European cities to retire to and what they have to offer for those who choose to live in these locations.

20. Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is a pretty city in which to live that allows you to enjoy both the hustle and bustle of city life alongside relaxation and quieter moments in the city’s many outdoor spaces. In comparison to many other cities in the United Kingdom, Glasgow has a low cost of living. It is approximately 20% cheaper than London to live in and 10% cheaper than other areas. It is an amazing city in which to live if you are a music lover. It is home to the Scottish Ballet, the Scottish Opera, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. If your preference is for rock or pop, there is live entertainment nightly in many venues across the city. Golf lovers are also drawn to Glasgow as some of the top Scottish golf courses are within easy traveling distance.

19. Dublin, Ireland

The charm of Dublin has made it one of the most appealing places in Europe to live in retirement. This historic capital city has spread over the years to incorporate surrounding villages, so this city offers both urban and country living. It is by the coast so you can spend time at the beach admiring the sea views. Dublin is famous for its food and Ireland has some of the best produce in the world. Therefore, this is an amazing city for foodies. If you are looking for somewhere with a vibrant atmosphere and evening entertainment, then this is a fantastic choice. Dublin is well-known for its pubs and comedy bars. Compared to many other cities, Dublin is very green with many wonderful outdoor spaces, such as parks and gardens, to enjoy. It is also a good place to live for people who are interested in arts and culture as there are many events and festivals that take place throughout the year.

18. Pescara, Italy

Pescara is the biggest city in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Abruzzo is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy to live and this is just one reason why people retire to this area. Pescara is a coastal city, so if you dream of living by the sea, then it is certainly a city to consider. The cost of living in this region is generally affordable to people who are emigrating from the United States or the UK as it is cheaper than these countries. It has a pleasant climate and in the winter months, it is possible to ski on the mountain ranges and then relax on the beach.

17. Saint-Chinian, France

Living in southern France is a lifelong dream for many people and Saint-Chinian is a fantastic location to choose. It is ideally located on the shores of the Mediterranean to enjoy an outdoor life in the stunning surrounding countryside and take advantage of the fantastic climate for which southern France is well-known. The local produce is outstanding and France is famous for its delicious cuisine and top-quality wines. Therefore, this is a great place to live if you want to enjoy exquisite food at home and fine dining in local restaurants. Activities relating to art, history, and culture are in abundance in the surrounding area.

16. Lisbon, Portugal

One of the major reasons why people choose to retire to Lisbon is its accessibility. It is the closest of the European cities to the United States and many other cities in Europe, such as Paris and London, can be reached within two hours. Lisbon is a thriving city that always has something going on while retaining its unique cultural heritage. The wonderful climate and low crime rates are also attractive to people who are retiring. The property in Lisbon is cheap and there haven’t been house price rises in this city for years due to the economic instability of Portugal. There are many ways to enjoy your leisure time in this diverse and interesting capital city.

15. Budapest, Hungary

You can have the best of both worlds in Budapest as it is both historical and modern at the same time. It has retained its unique architecture and interesting history but has all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable lifestyle. The city was formed from two cities; Buda and Pest. Buda was built on the hills and Pest was built on the Danube river. This means that no matter where you are in this city, you can enjoy lovely views. The traditional Hungarian food is amazing and Hungary has also seen many modern developments in its cuisine. There are restaurants serving both types of cuisine across the city. A further benefit of living in Budapest when you retire is that the cost of living is significantly lower than many other European countries.

14. Pula, Croatia

Croatia was once a country that nobody would consider for their vacation but the tourist industry in this country has grown and people have begun to realize what an amazing country Croatia is to both visit and live. There are many amazing locations to live but the province of Istria is a particularly good place for people moving from abroad. There are some great cities in this region and Pula is one with a lot to offer. Its coastal location means that there are scenic views over the Adriatic Sea and the city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years. Pula is a good choice for people who want to live in a warm rather than hot climate and there are plenty of things in the city and the surrounding area to enjoy throughout the year. Pula is known as the ‘City of Tolerance’, so you will be accepted no matter where you are form or what your background.

13. Lagos, The Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve in Portugal has always been a popular tourist destination and it is now also a popular choice for people choosing to retire abroad. It is predominantly the climate that attracts people to choose this area but there are many other attractions. It is a beautiful place to live and the lifestyle is relaxed. The cost of living is low and there is a wide range of activities to enjoy to suit all tastes. Lagos is one of the best cities to choose in this part of Portugal.

12. Florence, Italy

Florence is the capital of Tuscany which is a central region in Italy. Tuscany is well-known for its beauty, the cuisine and the production of wine, and these are just some of the benefits of choosing this region to retire. Florence is especially well-suited for those who want to live in a historically and culturally rich city with access to many interesting attractions and landmarks. This city is home to some of the most important and famous structures in the country.

11. Bordeaux, France

Located in the south-west of France, Bordeaux is a city that is the epitome of French. If you have always dreamed of enjoying the French lifestyle, then this is the place to do so. It is possibly most famous for its wine production and enjoying a glass or two with your meal is all part of enjoying a relaxed retirement. Getting around Bordeaux and the surrounding area is easy as a lot of money has been spent on the city’s infrastructure. This city is not far from either the sea or the mountains so you can enjoy a change of scenery regularly. Both these settings offer an extended range of activities you can enjoy.

10. Samos, Greece

Greece has many islands on which you can retire but Samos offers something special. Life on this island is about relaxing and enjoying the simple things in life. For anyone who is looking to get away from the hustle and bustle in their retirement, the Samos is well worth considering. The islands capital, also called Samos, gives you easy access to all the amenities you need in a great coastal location while still not being as busy as many of the cities in mainland Greece. The economic crisis in Greece means that properties here are cheap and the cost of living is low. Combine these factors with the amazing climate and Samos becomes a feasible option for retirement.

9. Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Funchal is a small city on the mountainous island of Madeira in Portugal. Funchal has all the charm of the historic parts of Portugal but is also a city with a slower pace of life than many other cities. Getting around is easy as you can go to most places from Funchal on foot. However, there is a good road system and the bus service goes all over the island. For anyone who is interested in nature and wildlife, this is a good place to live as you can spend your days exploring the beautiful surrounding areas. Madeira has a pleasant climate but you may find that there are different weather conditions depending on where you are on the island due to the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

8. Split, Dalmatia, Croatia

Dalmatia is another region of Croatia that has become increasingly popular both with tourists and those buying property abroad. If the area appeals to you, then Split is a city worth taking into consideration. Split is the second largest city in the country has many of Croatia’s most interesting attractions and landmarks. While this was once simply the launchpad to Dalmatia’s island, people have now realized what a wonderful relaxed vibe this city has and have taken the time to find out what this city offers. There are many interesting features to Split, such as the high street which is located inside a Roman Palace and the shingle beaches lined with mysterious coves. Split has a vibrant nightlife and island-hopping is a good pastime.

7. Gijon, Asturias, Spain

While many areas along the coast of southern Spain very much cater to tourists, Asturia in northern Spain is largely unspoilt. Those who want to live in a warmer climate but want to keep the way of life to which they are accustomed are naturally drawn to southern Spain. However, if you want to enjoy a true Spanish lifestyle in an area that is more traditional and not geared towards tourists, then Asturias is the region for you. Gijon is a coastal city and the largest in Asturias. Although it has an urban vibe, it is surrounded by stunning countryside. It is modern and at the same time traditional. The perfect example of this is the food as you can enjoy both rustic traditional cooking and contemporary fine dining in this city. There is a mountainous backdrop to admire and experience.

6. Porto, Portugal

The wonderful climate, the cheap property prices, and the low cost of living have already been covered by the other suggested cities in Portugal. So, what makes Porto stand out as a city in which you can retire? The beautiful Duoro River runs through this city and a lot of the main activities and restaurants center along the banks of the river. There are many museums and galleries to enjoy in your free time. The food and drink in this city is amazing, so it is ideal for foodies. As this is a port town, the fish and seafood dishes served in restaurants close to the port are a particular treat. Porto is a pedestrian-friendly city where you can access most things on foot. However, there is also a great transportation system in place.

5. Monaco, France

If living somewhere with a low cost of living is not important to you in your retirement and you want to live a more luxurious lifestyle, then Monaco is a fantastic place to live. The properties don’t come cheap but there are some stunning properties with outstanding views to choose between in this city. The beauty of this principality is another huge attraction. It is nestled between the French Riviera and the Italian Riviera, so there is something to admire whichever way you turn. The climate is amazing and the food is superb. For wealthier people, this is a good option as it is a tax haven. Monaco is an interesting place to live for both culture lovers and sports fanatics as there is always something to satisfy both tastes. It has an award-winning cultural center and its own Philharmonic orchestra. IN terms of sport, it is home to eh Association of Athletics Federation, it has its own football team and one of the most exciting Formula One events takes place here each year

4. Valencia, Spain

Located on the southeast coast of Spain is the port city of Valencia. The year-round warm weather is a huge attraction to moving to Spain to retire. The fact that there is a large community of English-speaking residents is another appealing factor. This is also one of the best places to live if you are looking for a modern, urban lifestyle in your retirement. It has a similar vibe to Barcelona and Madrid but is much cheaper to live in, both in terms of property prices and the cost of living. Valencia has a diverse culture owing to the mix of people living in this exciting city. There are plenty of things to see and do throughout the year, including many events, exhibitions, and festivals. Its location by the Mediterranean means you can spend your days relaxing on the beach or taking a swim and then enjoy excellent cuisine in the evenings followed by spending the night taking in the buzz of the city.

3. Pau, France

Pau is also known as the ‘Garden City’ of France due to its floral beauty and stunning outdoor spaces. This is an inland city in southwestern France within the wine region. Although property prices and the cost of living cannot be described as low, you will not pay much more than the average. This surprises many people as they feel the beauty of the area and what it has to offer warrants paying premium prices. The Pyrenees mountain range is a spectacular backdrop to the green of this city and is also a geographical feature that provides a whole range of leisure activities that is within easy traveling distance. Many exciting sporting events take place in this city at various points in the year, including car racing, golf, horse racing, and cycling.

2. Genoa, Italy

Italian port city of Genoa regularly appears on lists of the best places to live in Europe. This city is in the Liguria region in the northwest of Italy. It is close to the Italian Riviera and within traveling distance of Milan, San Remo, Rome and the French Coast. Genoa is close to both the mountains and the coast, so you can take advantage of what both of these areas have to offer. The city itself is fantastic for shopping and has many museums to explore and some wonderful architecture to admire. As it is such a popular city in which to live, the cost of living is a little higher than some other Italian cities.

1. Valletta, Malta

Malta has become one of the most popular places to retire not just in Europe, but in the whole world. The reasons retirees are drawn to this island is that it is English speaking, there is a large ex-pat community, and it has a fantastic climate. Malta is also an affordable place to live, both in terms of property prices and the cost of living. The crime rates in Malta are low and it is a pretty island. The best city to live on the island for those who are retiring is Valletta which is the capital of Malta. Valletta is located in the South-Eastern region of the island, close to Marsamxett Harbor and Grand Harbor. The metropolitan area has all the shops and amenities you could need. This historical city is full of culture, history and interesting architecture. Some of the top attractions in the city are the National War Museum, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Upper Barrakka Gardens, and Fort St. Elmo. There are many bars, restaurants, and cafes in Valletta where you can relax and sample the local cuisine.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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