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Spain or France?

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10/13/2017 18:12 EST

I'm a retired US person considering long-term retirement (non-lucrative visa and the like) in either France or Spain.
The cost of living (rent, food, etc.) is lower in Spain, according to cost of living websites, at least on or near the Rivera.
Question is - what about taxes, insurance and other fees? All income will come from outside of either country (SS and pension).


10/14/2017 08:29 EST

John -

We have been looking at the Costa del Sol area of Spain.

The problem with Spain is that they tax you on worldwide income and that includes your S S and pension income due to an agreement with the U.S.. We would pay more income taxes in Spain than we currently do in the U.S. - talk to a Spanish tax specialist on this for your personal liability.

On the other hand, we have had several trips to the area and, if the exchange rate stays below $1.25, it is very affordable.

Good rentals can be had for $350 and up. Food is very reasonably priced with good selection and alcohol is extremely inexpensive. Healthcare is very low cost.

We are not familiar with the situation in France.



10/14/2017 10:55 EST

Hi John,
I can not answer as to taxes etc, but I can tell you, that after visiting both France and Spain last month, we decided on a move to Spain, rather than to France, for a number of reasons.
One thing you might consider (unless you have a lot of money) is that living in the US you are probably used to living in a large home, no doubt. Houses in France are very small, even the newer builds - Spain in general, is much more spacious - just a thought.

10/16/2017 10:21 EST

Hi, are you fluent in either Spanish or French as that could have a bearing on your choice. I speak both well and deal extensively with French business clients. the Spanish never ask me about my accent whereas the French ask if I'm Belgian, Dutch,Italian, German, American, whatever.The Spanish have a much more relaxed attitude to life in general in my personal opinion and it would take a very lucrative offer to even get me to consider relocating to France (probably still wouldn't anyway). There is a lot to be said for maƱana and siestas as the years roll on. Have fun whichever way you go.

10/16/2017 11:56 EST

Very good point - I have a colleague who speaks fluent French; he is a French Canadian - once in France, he was asked to speak in English rather than French; and the French person pretended not to understand, when really they were just being impolite - I guess it takes all kinds!

And, after visiting both France and Spain last month, I have to agree, the Spanish are much more relaxed and helpful when it comes to speaking their language.

10/17/2017 11:16 EST

HI, John. My husband and I are also considering living in Spain or France for a few years (probably not staying forever) and are retired. I have been researching both because we were pretty firm on Spain but the city we like (Girona) is in Catalonia and we are concerned about the unrest there right now, although we don't intend to move until next summer. Anyway, as you say, it seems that Spain is somewhat less expensive. I have looked into the tax situation in both and while France seems better, it might not make much difference. In Spain, any government pension you have (like from the military, as we both have) is not taxed. Obviously you still pay tax on that in the US. Private pensions and SS are taxed in Spain. You have to file returns in both countries and whatever tax you pay to Spain (or any other country) is credited against your US taxes. It is able to be applied to other years if there is excess credit. So if you will be liable for some US taxes each year, you will always be able to get credit for foreign taxes paid, even if not in the same year and potentially zero out your US taxes. In France, US SS and pensions that originate in the US are not taxed so you would just pay US taxes as normal. The wealth tax in France is deferred for the first five years except for assets in France and there is an exemption limit of 1.3M euro. In Spain, there is no deferral but there is an exemption limit of 1-2M euro, less loans on assets. I'm not sure if any of this info helps but it is worth doing some tax research and maybe talking to a tax professional. You could probably try out life in both places to see what you really like--as long as you aren't in either country more than 183 days in a calendar year, you don't have to pay income tax there that year. That will help decide our moving date--after the beginning of July--so we don't have to deal with income taxes at least the first year. Anyway, we like the friendliness of Spain, the weather in Catalonia, the proximity to the beach, the mountains, and a major airport (Barcelona). Girona is a cycling training ground for professionals so the roads are good. There is great train service and a small airport there as well. And an expat community, although we haven't really explored that much. The food and wine are amazing and inexpensive--there seems to be a combination of Spanish, French, and Italian influences in the food. We had the best pizza we've ever eaten in Girona, and we are pizza connoisseurs! The language is a little different--although a lot of people speak Spanish, Catalan is the main language. It is kind of a combo of French and Spanish. I speak bad French and passable Italian but it doesn't seem that Catalan will be too hard to learn. Hope this mess of thoughts helps at least a little. Good luck!

10/17/2017 18:18 EST

Regarding the Spanish wealth tax, it is applied depending on where you live. In Barcelona you would pay 100% while in Madrid you would pay 0%. We have seriously considered moving to Madrid for that one reason. I don't know what percent of the wealth tax you have to pay in Girona. I tried to find information on line about other cities in Spain but no luck. And I agree with you Girona is wonderful and beautiful, and just an hour to Barcelona by high-speed train.

10/24/2017 06:08 EST


Well it is a difficult decision worse I would definitely go to Spain, depending on which area you go is much better than France. The subject of taxes if you have some good advisers there are laws in spain that can help you pay less taxes in spain by foreign, it is always good to have a good adviser as I tube. I would certainly choose Spain and by taxation would have no problems. I rely on Carbray, an English-speaking law firm. They can help you

10/24/2017 08:01 EST

After doing a reccie to France in the last two weeks I have the following feelings, we looked in charente area from Bordeaux up Poitiers and we were left with a feeling that the area was quite depressed and suffering the effects of depopulation as employment shrinks, even the larger towns had little in the way of services, shopping or nightlife.
I was left with a feeling that if one had a rudimentary grasp of the language you could feel quite isolated because expats were spread over large areas

11/2/2017 14:51 EST

After we arrive in Spain should we look into rentals. Or is there a website we could contact from Seattle . We are planning to be in Spain or france for 3 months in 2018
appreciate any help

11/3/2017 02:37 EST

We are now in Spain and used
to find 2 condos. It shows listings and you end up dealing with a realtor.


11/3/2017 06:35 EST

Check out the real estate websites and And of course you could see what airbnb has.

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