Retiring abroad is nothing new — but it’s certainly surging in popularity.
According to the Social Security Administration, in 2022, just over 443,000 retired Americans received benefits while living in another country. That number, USA Today explained, is more than double that of retired workers who received benefits abroad in 1999. As more and more Americans retire abroad, the experts at Moving to Spain, a company devoted to helping Americans relocate, have compiled a list of the best European countries for retirement.
The company analyzed a number of factors, including national population, life expectancy data via The World Bank, each nation’s cost of living, challenges in obtaining visas, health care, how many beaches a country has, annual hours of sunshine, and its ranking on the Global Peace Index. Then, it gave each nation a score of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest). Portugal came out on top.
Full disclosure, I am not what you’d call impartial to this result. I moved to Portugal two years ago to pursue my PhD at Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon. Though I am not yet retired, I can vouch for just how welcoming this country is to expats — and how reasonable the cost of living is compared to my former life in Los Angeles.
Moving to Spain gave Portugal a winning score of 7.83, noting in its findings that “Portugal is a safe country, with a high percentage of its population aged 65 and above. It offers plenty of sunshine, good-quality beaches, as well as a reasonably low cost of living. One of the many things Portugal is famous for is its wine and port. Add spectacular golf courses and wonderful scenery, and it is the complete package.”
While I agree with everything above, “good quality” doesn’t quite describe how gorgeous the nation’s beaches are along its more than 500 miles of coastline. In Portugal, visitors can enjoy the serene waters in the Algarve, the gin-clear waters of Arrábida, and even witness the 100-foot-high waves in Nazare.
As for where else the study recommends retirees consider moving in Europe, Spain came in at No. 2 with a score of 7.31 thanks to its high life expectancy and good health care. Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria rounded out the top five, and France, Slovenia, Croatia, Malta (which ranked highest for most sunny days), and Ireland made the top 10. See the full breakdown by Moving to Spain here, and start dreaming about your golden years abroad now.