Posted by Natalia Buttery on August 30th, 2019.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the cost of retirement? Will you really be able to afford the lifestyle you crave? Will your pension and savings cover the rising cost of living, or will you find yourself short of that crucial disposable income right when you need it most?
With price hikes and political instability in the UK, now may be the perfect time to start thinking outside the box and consider a life less ordinary. The world really is your oyster and the life you desire (and deserve) could be just a short plane journey away.
But romance aside, is it really more cost effective to retire abroad? And where should you be looking?
Here is our quick guide to four of the most affordable mainland European destinations.
The westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, Portugal is a sleepy and exceptionally affordable Mediterranean country resting against the western shoulder of Spain. With almost half the country’s landmass bordering the sea, a coastal property and a seaside lifestyle are well within your reach!
What’s not to love about Portugal? With metropolitan cities and modern amenities comes an old-Europe aesthetic, a vast, beautiful and accessible coastline, sumptuous food, history in abundance and that all-important Mediterranean climate. Could Portugal be the perfect place to spend your post-retirement years?
While the capital city of Lisbon is typically expensive by Mediterranean standards, an expat from the UK will still find this ancient metropolis a great deal more affordable than most European urban sprawls and an entirely different ball park of affordability compared with cities like London, Paris and New York.
Beyond Lisbon, cities like Porto (birthplace of Port wine and winner of Best European Destination 2017) and Braga (seventh largest municipality in Portugal despite a tiny population of less than 200,000) offer two of the most affordable city-living locations on the continent.
So if sun, sand, sea and a laid back pace of life without the kind of wallet-crippling prices you’d expect to find elsewhere are part of your retirement dream, Portugal is a tempting option.
‘Czechia’ is a land of peace and the only former socialist state to boast an entirely non-violent breakaway during the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Today the republic is a popular tourist destination and a wallet-friendly option for expat retirees. This is literally Bohemia, a place to go if you crave something far from the madding crowd and the norms of modern society.
Rated at 87% on the European Safety Index, with a ‘low’ status on crime, scams, terrorism and natural disasters, you may be surprised to hear that Czechia is one of the safest and most peaceful countries on Earth.
Value for money comes in the form of the Czech koruna, or crown, a much weaker currency than the Euro. Even in the capital city, Prague, where tourism tends to inflate most prices, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the level of affordability and the comparably high standard of living.
Prague itself is a modern metropolis, bursting with classical European history and architecture, a friendly people, a plethora of things to do and places to see, all accessible via an exceptional public transport system. Being centrally placed, Prague also offers an ideal launch pad to the rest of the continent, with all the sights and delights of Austria, Germany and Italy just a drive away.
Prague is only one of many attractive Czech hotspots to consider for your retirement. Consider also the fairy tale castles and renaissance architecture of Český Krumlov, the silver mining UNESCO World Heritage site of Kutná Hora, or the jewel of Western Bohemia: Karlovy Vary, a spa town of eye-watering beauty and the second most visited tourist spots in the Czech Republic.
Colourful, cultural and stunning to behold, Czechia is a fantasy destination at prices your pension can afford!
Welcome to the famous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, one of the most affordable destinations in the south of Spain and one of the cheapest places to live in Europe. The Old Town of Seville, covering just 2 sq. mi, contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful medieval municipalities in Europe.
Seville offers a classic Mediterranean climate with very hot, dry summers and mild, partially wet winters. For sun-worshippers and those looking to spend their post-retirement years away from the inclemency of the great British weather, Seville is an attractive prospect. Here are all the benefits of a Spanish resort town but with a bargain price tag.
And being Spain, the locals are no strangers to British expats. English is routinely spoken and an extensive expat community exists to ease you into Spanish life. Picture the scene: sipping cold beer on an Andalusian terrace under a blazing sun, the white walls of haciendas, villas and ranchos glistening in the heat, the strumming of a Spanish guitar drifting through the air. This idyllic lifestyle could be yours for the taking and the good news? The financial cost is likely to be a lot less than you think.
If affordability is a top priority, the Republic of Estonia, bordering the Baltic Sea, may provide an out-of-the-box solution.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government of Estonia introduced a series of reforms that caused an increase in the gap between rich and poor. Though the country is still recovering from these policies and 1 in 5 people still live on the poverty line, Estonia has come a long way.
Today Estonia, located in north-east Europe and within touching distance of Finland, offers a potentially interesting option for retiring expats, though it is an option associated with a few caveats. Improvements in human rights, better distribution of wealth and progressions in education and employment are combining to turn Estonia into the ‘darling’ of the EU, but the country still has some way to go before establishing itself as a European jewel.
Tallinn is Estonia’s capital and one of the most affordable places to live within the European Union. Being close to Scandinavia, a property base in Tallinn will provide easy access to the north and a mere ferry journey to Helsinki. Russia stands just a border crossing away to the east, providing plenty of exciting options for the explorer.
Tallinn operates on a segregation basis, with wealthier residents situated in gated communities away from poorer districts. While this offers added security and guaranteed levels of comfort for the expat, travel into and through the rest of the city comes with a certain level of risk.
Despite this, crime rates in Tallinn are low, especially compared with statistics from previous decades, and considerable evidence suggests this situation will steadily improve as time goes by. The progressive government of Estonia are already engaged in numerous plans to ease segregation, introducing reforms to revitalize poorer districts and elevate quality of life for the city’s have-nots.
Beyond social and cultural considerations, Estonia is a truly sumptuous landscape of endless forests and sparkling lakes, breath-taking Baltic coastlines and vibrant cities and towns. Air quality is exceptional and the climate is temperate with warm summers and snowy winters. Scandinavian in all but name and politics, Estonia is undoubtedly the ideal under-rated alternative to Finland, Sweden and Norway.
If any of these destinations has taken your fancy and you want to move forward with plans to retire abroad, we’re here to help make your money go further. Get in touch with our team and find out how you can move your money abroad at excellent exchange rates, fee-free.
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