Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations

Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations in Europe Advice, Iberian Property Guide

Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations in Europe

27 Apr 2020

Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations in Europe, say expats

Spain and Portugal, with their relaxed culture, warm weather, and beautiful beaches continue to be the top two destinations in Europe for those looking to retire, according to a recent report.

Using the experiences of every expatriate who has contributed to International Living magazine 41 years ago, the organization produces an annual report on which countries around the world offer the most for retirees called the Annual Global Retirement Index. And for those who want to live in Europe, the best countries to live a healthier and happier life where you can get more for your money are Spain and Portugal.

Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations in Europe
image courtesy of Florian Wehde, unsplash


Spain has long been a favorite destination for Europeans looking for a beach holiday, and with one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe and some of the best weather, it continues to be a popular choice for retirement.

With its stable climate and fertile soil, Spain produces many of the fruits and vegetables sold across the continent and as many such foods are cheaper in Spain than elsewhere. While ingredients are often cheap, the quality of cuisine is some of the highest in the world, with Spain home to many of the world’s top restaurants over the last decade from El Bulli to El Celler de Can Roca.

The country’s healthcare system is also well regarded around the world, with an extensive network of state hospitals and health care centers alongside a separate private healthcare system to which a substantial minority of Spaniards subscribe. Under EU regulations, British expats have been able to access the same free healthcare as Spanish pensioners, but whether such reciprocal arrangements will continue after Brexit remains unknown.

Spain also offers good transports links, with regular rail services connecting all medium and large cities, and a low-cost bus system that covers all the country. And housing is affordable too, with southeastern regions of Malaga, Almeria, Murcia, and Alicante particularly popular with expats according to a recent report by Virto Property on the Spanish market.


Recent years have seen Portugal become a global startup hub, but it also currently tops the list of countries for retirees according to the Annual Global Retirement Index.

Steeped in history and culture, Portugal offers sunshine and beaches from north to south. However, it is the friendly people that often tops the list of reasons that people choose the country as their home in their later years. And for those looking to play some tennis or a round of golf, there is no better country on Earth.

The country also boasts one of the highest standards of living in Europe, with its position as the third safest country in the world according to the most recent Global Peace Index and the cost of living the second-lowest in Europe, just behind Bulgaria.

As International Living says: If you’re looking for a safe, friendly European haven, with cosmopolitan cities and many beach towns, internationally acclaimed (and affordable) healthcare, and the lowest cost of living in Western Europe, you’ll find all that and more in Portugal.”

Comments on this guide to Spain and Portugal top retirement destinations in Europe article are welcome.

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