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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Salamanca, Spain

Sep 12, 2016

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This report on retiring to Salamanca in Spain offers a great deal of advice for expats who might consider moving to this university city later in life. Find out about some of the the specifics to living in Salamanca and also what motivated this retiree to pick this ancient Celtic city in Northwestern Spain.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Why did you choose to retire abroad?

My retirement pension was not enough to afford my husband and I the kind of life we wanted. Living in California is very expensive, and with my pension we could not afford many adventures. We also wanted to lead a more social outdoor life.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

All year

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

My husband speaks Spanish and what's not to love about Spain: friendly people, great culture, terrific food and wine, and a rich variety of landscapes to visit.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?


How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

One year.

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?


What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Not speaking the language. Also adjusting to the meal hours and realizing that most stores are closed between 1:00 to 4:30. You may have trouble buying clothes if you are tall or overweight; the Spaniards tend to be smaller and thinner than many Americans.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

Making new friends, walking everywhere, feeling like a part of the community. The cost of living is cheaper, so we can travel. The culture of tapas is not bad either.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Learn the language. If my husband didn't speak Spanish, this entire process would have been significantly more difficult. I'm still learning.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

We love Salamanca. It is a university city, so there are lot's of young people. We don't own a car, so it's nice to live where we can walk everywhere. There's always something going on, plus the city is a Unesco World Heritage site so it's quite beautiful. The weather can be difficult in the summer though: high temps and no air-conditioning. There are cultural events and a vibrant night life. I am not aware of any expat community here.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

We obtained a Non-Lucrative Visa from the consulate in San Francisco. I have to say that the process was difficult. Since the necessary documents are only good for 90 days, any time there's a delay, you have to start all over: new originals, new translations and new apostiles.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We rented an apartment. It was not difficult. We went to a rental agency, they showed us apartments and we chose the one we wanted. The agent gets a commission but that's the only way I know of to rent an apartment here in Salamanca.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

It has exceeded our expectations.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

It helps to have euros in a Spanish bank; Sabadell will let you open an account without being physically present. Many expenses like utilities, cell phone, etc, are automatically deducted from your Spanish bank account so it helps to have one in place before you arrive.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

I can only attest to the cost of living in my city. For Salamanca, you can live very comfortably for 1500 euros (or around $1650).

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

Yes. When we were applying for our visa we purchased insurance with Sanitas Health. It costs 150 euros ($165) a month. We have only used our insurance to refill our American prescriptions.

Retiring in Spain? Choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Sponsored by CIGNA.

Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

There is very little crime. I feel much safer here than I did in California. Walking my dogs at midnight doesn't worry me at all.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

We do not need a car. Everything is within walking distance. Salamanca's "walkability" score should be 100. We take a taxi if the distance seems too far or if we're loaded with packages. Very inexpensive. There are also public buses, though we haven't used them yet. Importantly there is a train station here; we can get to Madrid on the rapid train in just over an hour.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes. We ended up getting internet and cable through Vodaphone. In our apartment, we shared the router with other tenants, so it was very slow sometimes.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

Spain is a wonderful country. No matter how trying the visa process is, don't give up!

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Comments about this Report

Sep 27, 2016 11:41

Very clear and detailed report ! I would like to know if the report writer does use AIR CONDITIONING ; if so, how much does it cost in the summer ?

Oct 6, 2016 20:36

Can you describe what proof of documentation are required / or you provided to attain a long term visa to live full time in Spain ? How is the healthcare system in Salamanca ? Your reply is much appreciated.

Feb 18, 2018 03:36

I couldn't agree more all the way down to the health insurance (We also have (Sanitas). While it's true that the Spanish, generally, are not as punctual as other nationalities this is happily offset by much better food, wine, siestas, social life, beaches and, need I go on? I congratulate my fellow americans on choosing Salamanca! We live in Santander, also north Spain, with easy access to France, England (ferry, driving or airplane) and are fortunate to be 15 minutes from almost anything we need. Health services are excellent! I can't express how different a person feels when you go for an x ray or some other medical thing and become instant friends with the technician or medical professional that is attending you. Spain is a paradise and if the unemployment percentage were low and capital opportunites were high it would turn into Chicago or some other high intensity stressful place.

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