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Zubizuri Bridge in Bilbao, Spain

Retire in Spain

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 05, 2023

Summary: Retirees are attracted to Spain for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. Spain also offers a relaxed lifestyle and a lower cost of living than many other European countries. The weather in Spain varies depending on the region, but generally the summers are hot and dry with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit. Winters are mild with temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit.

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What is it like to retire in Spain?

"Retiring in Spain can be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for retirees. The mild climate, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant cultures make Spain an appealing destination for retirees. Life in Spain is relaxed and offers a variety of outdoor activities and sights to explore. The educational opportunities are also ample with a vast selection of courses and classes to meet almost any interest. Spain also provides comforting access to the modern medical care, with top-notch medical facilities and an ever-growing network of medical professionals specializing in geriatric medicine. Retirement communities in Spain also offer an array of amenities and services to residents, such as social activities, catering, housekeeping, and communal entertainment. The cost of living in Spain is relatively low and many people find that their retirement income can stretch further when spent in Spain. This makes it easier for retirees to enjoy their golden years in comfort and financial stability," explained a retiree in Spain.

"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," explained one retiree living in Salamanca.

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What advice do overseas retirees have for others considering retiring abroad?

"Spain is a wonderful country. No matter how trying the visa process is, don't give up," said another retiree in living in Salamanca, Spain.

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What are the most challenging aspects of retiring in Spain?

"Finding affordable housing, learning the language, getting used to the slower pace and lifestyle, tax implications, obtaining healthcare, navigating the bureaucratic process and dealing with the paper work, understanding insurance, and adapting to the cultural norms of a different country," commented one retiree living in Spain.

"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," explained one retiree living in Salamanca.

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What are the most rewarding aspects of retiring in Spain?

"• Enjoying a relaxed lifestyle in the Mediterranean climate • Experiencing the local Spanish culture and cuisine • Taking advantage of the affordable healthcare system • Being part of a welcoming and friendly expatriate community • Exploring vibrant cities and stunning beaches • Adopting more active and healthy habits • Enjoying world-class infrastructure and quality of life • Having access to great transport links and airports • Taking advantage of the perks of being a European Union citizen • Reaping the tax benefits of being a non-habitual resident," explained a retiree in Spain.

"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," explained one retiree living in Salamanca.

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What are healthcare services like in Spain?

We asked retirees if they have access to good medical care in Spain. They wrote:

"Healthcare services in Spain are provided through the Spanish healthcare system, which is based on the principle of supportive, egalitarian and universal access. Healthcare is primarily financed by public sources, with healthcare services provided by both public and private entities depending on the region. Most citizens of Spain are covered through public or workplace insurance. Spanish healthcare services focus on preventive care, and provide a range of services such as primary care, mental health services, and specialized care. Hospitals and clinics in Spain are modern and well-equipped and staffed by experts in their field who are trained in the latest techniques. Emergency medical services are available in all parts of the country. Healthcare services are provided free of charge for Spanish citizens who are connected to the social security system, and is subsidized for certain medical services for legal residents," said a retiree who moved to Spain.

"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," said another retiree in Salamanca.

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How do I meet people in Spain?

When we asked people living in Spain about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"The best way to meet people in Spain is to join social activities like sports teams, classes, or language exchange groups. You can also connect with locals through sites like Couchsurfing or Meetup.com. Attending local events such as concerts, festivals, or public markets can also be a great way to meet new people in Spain. Lastly, don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone wherever you go! People in Spain are generally friendly and open to chatting, so all it takes is a smile to start a conversation," remarked another retiree in Spain.

"Marbella is a great place to meet new people with so many cultural activities, sports and clubs to join. The area of Marbella even has it's own social networking website called www.yourmarbella.com where residents and vistors can meet people, find out places to go, clubs to join and much more. There are clubs in the area which meet regularly based around expats, i.e. The American Society and hobbies i.e. Golf Societies," said a retiree who moved to Marbella, Spain.

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What is life like in Spain?

When we asked people living in Spain what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in the UAE can be very enjoyable due to the overall high quality of life that can be found in the country. The UAE has a great cultural and social scene, with many activities and cultural events to enjoy. Expats have access to world-class healthcare, high-end shopping, modern infrastructure, and excellent safety standards. There is a large expat community in the UAE, which makes for diverse and often vibrant social opportunities. In addition, expats may take advantage of the tax-free salaries and the low cost of living. Finally, the UAE is known for its diverse outdoor activities, and expats have the opportunity to explore its beautiful deserts, sandy beaches, and lush green oases," commented one retiree living in Spain.

"Lifestyle in Valencia is about family, friends and enjoying the Mediterranean lifestyle," explained one retiree living in Valencia.

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What do I need to know before retiring in Spain?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Spain, they said:

"Retiring abroad is becoming increasingly more popular, and many people are looking at Spain as an exotic and affordable place to retire. If you're considering retiring in Spain, there are a few important things you should be aware of first. Spanish bureaucracy and paperwork can be complex and time consuming, so it is important to research your entitlements and what processes you will need to go through before you move. Applying for a visa, residence permit, healthcare and social security can be complicated, so you may want to consider hiring a legal representative to help you with the process. Once you have the right paperwork in order, you should look into opening a bank account and organizing a tax reference number. This can help you manage your finances and ensure you pay your tax liabilities accurately. It is also important to understand the different cultural norms and customs in Spain, so you can make yourself at home. Whilst the social and economic systems may differ greatly to what you have experienced in your own country, there are lots of opportunities to get involved in your local community and make the most of retirement in Spain," said another retiree in living in Spain.

"The following applies to anywhere bt applies to my wife and living on the Costa Tropical. 1. Establish Goals for how you want to live your life 2. Choose a location wisely based not only on geography, weather and climate but also based on the local cultural opportunities and transportation infrastructure. 3. Try out the place, visit the place and give it a dry run 4. Consider health care, it doesn’t matter how old you are 5. Figure out the local housing market to establish your new home 6. Check out the cost of living to know if your budget plan and goals work 7. Understand the Visa requirements 8. Get a grasp of the local culture 9. Be aware of local opportunities for sports, leisure, entertainment and cultural activities 10. Become familiar with issues relating to taxes and banking 11. Work out issues relating to communication technology. I have written a short book called "Renaissance in The Sun" Its virtually FREE. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle. Its about life and Spain," explained a retiree in Spain.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Zubizuri Bridge in Bilbao, Spain

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