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Europe’s Best Places for Australians to Retire to 2019—

January 30, 2019 Visit Europe No Comments Email Email

From the Old-World splendours, to the romantic atmospheres and storybook landscapes, it’s no wonder so many expats are drawn to Europe in retirement. A new report from the editors at International Living Australia explores the top five European destinations in the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Rankings for Aussies to retire to.


For a relatively small continent, Europe has a lot to offer retirees in terms of healthy living, beautiful scenery and, of course, low costs. It’s also home to fascinating history, captivating cultures and iconic landmarks.

It’s no wonder so many expats are drawn to the idea of retiring in Europe but can be thrown off by the high prices of its most famous destinations. While big cities such as Paris and Madrid may hit hard on the wallet, there are still many alternatives for those seeking the romance of Europe without the eye-watering price tag.

The top five places in 2019 for Australians to retire to in Europe are…

#1 Italy

Italy tops the list of European havens on International Living Australia’s 2019 Global Retirement Rankings—offering an alluring lifestyle and conjuring thoughts of balmy evenings, sipping chilled wine in moonlit palazzos. Even on a modest budget, that dream lifestyle can be achieved in the right places.

Having been seduced by the many charms of Italian life Brisbane native Debra Kolkka and her husband, Jim, live part-time in the Tuscan spa Town of Bagni di Lucca.

“Once Italy gets under your skin it’s difficult to ignore the call,” says Debra. “It’s enchanted me since I first visited in 1972, and in 2003—when life finally allowed—Jim and I bought a home here (a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with heavenly views up and down the valley that cost us €90,000 ($141,725). Now we spend part of every year savouring Italian life.

“Bagni di Lucca is in north-west Tuscany and offers easy access to so many things we love. Lucca is close, Florence is an east day trip, we can ski 40 minutes away, the gorgeous Versilia Coast is an hour away and Bagni di Lucca itself is delightful. Italy is also centrally placed in Europe making it simple to visit other countries. We have driven to France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Spain. Italy is a fabulous place to retire.”

#2 Portugal

Portugal, the westernmost country on mainland Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, is a rising star on Europe’s retirement map.

Boasting mellow port wines nurtured in northern vineyards, sun-kissed, sandy beaches with world-class surfing and a capital city whose cable cars clatter over hilly, cobblestoned streets sweeping down to a sheltered bay—it’s easy to see why.

Portugal also offers Western Europe’s lowest cost of living and foreign retirees can legally own real estate here too. All of these factors combine to make the country an increasingly popular choice for retirees looking for a place to call home in an Old World European retirement haven.
#3 Spain

Beaches, mountains, fabulous cities, colourful festivals and sunshine almost everyplace. It’s not surprising that Spain is a popular country for Europeans seeking a home overseas and now wandering Aussies are discovering the allure of Spain for laidback yet cultured life.

Rich in history, Western Europe’s second-largest countryjust slightly smaller than FranceSpain offers fantastic variety in terrain, culture and lifestyle.

And, thanks to rapid public transportation, it’s easy to get around here too. High-speed and suburban train lines connect many cities and bus routes crisscross the country. In addition to the large airports in Madrid and Barcelona, smaller airports around the country—served by discount airlines as well as the major carriers—connect Spain with the rest of Europe.

Even better, the country has great healthcare and it all comes at an affordable price: Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe.

Spain’s La Rioja province in the north, set in the Ebro river valley and at the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains is one destination where the value is hard to beat. Here, abottle of good wine can be had for around $4 and $625 rents a furnished, three-bedroom apartment.

#4 France

France, with its reputation for glamour and the finer things in life, leads many people to cross the country off their retirement destination list, mistakenly assuming that they could never afford to live there.

Whether you dream of a chic city pied-à-terre or a rambling farmhouse among the sunflowers or a village house wrapped in wisteria-hung memories of long ago, France is far more affordable than you might think.

It also offers retirees an excellent quality of life. Of course, Paris is expensive—as are many big cities. But a retired couple can live well in the South of France—Bordeaux,Montpellier and Pau—on a modest budget.

For example, in lovely medieval town of Pézenas in the South of France, near Montpellier, a beautiful two-bedroom apartment full of character and modern conveniences rents for a shade under $770 a month.

And, as well as the good value, life in France comes with excellent food and wine, sunny days, a culture that celebrates the arts and a wonderfully easy pace of living.

#5 Croatia

Life moves at a relaxed pace in Croatia, not only on the islands, but also on much of the mainland and it’s attracting retirees in greater numbers. Sailboats glide on the glittering Adriatic Sea and on palm tree-lined promenades, residents sip coffee as lavender and rosemary aromas fill the air.

A member of the European Union since 2013, Croatia lies in south-eastern Europe, across the Adriatic from Italy. Indeed, the country shares many similarities with its near neighbour.

Spend time in the city of Pula, on Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, as IL Contributor Tricia A. Mitchell and her husband Shawn recently did, and you might think you were you were somewhere else entirely.

“Istria’s scenic interior—dotted with cypress trees and crimson poppies—reminds me of the alluring landscape outside Florence,” says Tricia. “But Istria and Tuscany are pleasantly different.

“Istria is more affordable, allowing Shawn and I to live comfortably for about $1,700 a month. It’s also less densely populated than Tuscany. And it’s diverse. You can spend the morning exploring islands or relaxing at the beach and your evening dining on wild asparagus risotto in a hilltop town. You’re about 100 kilometres from Trieste and just a four-hour ferry ride from Venice across the Adriatic Sea.

“While Croatian is the official language, young Croatians often speak flawless English and are enthusiastic to practice it with visitors, renting is straightforward and you’ll find good-value, long-term rentals here, plus the region’s pleasant climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors all year.”

The complete International Living Australia 2019 Annual Global Retirement Rankings report, can be found at: The World’s Best Places for Australians to Retire to 2019

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