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Retire in Ghent Guide

If Ghent is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Ghent Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.
|-Retire in Ghent Guide

Ghent is a charming city that has become a popular destination for international retirees. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and high quality of life, Ghent offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. However, like any place, retiring in Ghent comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.

Cost of Living

One of the biggest draws for retirees in Ghent is the relatively low cost of living. While it’s not the cheapest city in Europe, it’s certainly more affordable than many other popular retirement destinations. Housing, groceries, and healthcare are all reasonably priced, making it possible to live comfortably on a modest retirement income. However, it’s worth noting that taxes can be high, so it’s important to factor this into your budget.


Ghent has a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers and cool winters. Rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year, so there’s no real dry season. However, the city’s beautiful architecture and scenic canals make even the rainiest days feel charming and atmospheric.


Belgium is known for its excellent healthcare system, and Ghent is no exception. The city is home to several top-notch hospitals and clinics, and English-speaking doctors are not hard to find. Many retirees also appreciate the fact that healthcare costs are significantly lower than in countries like the U.S.

Public Healthcare System

Belgium’s public healthcare system is accessible to all residents, including international retirees. However, it’s worth noting that while the system provides high-quality care, it doesn’t cover everything. Many retirees choose to supplement their coverage with private insurance.

Residency Options for Retirees

Belgium offers several residency options for retirees, including long-term visas and permanent residency. The process can be complex, so it’s worth seeking professional advice before making any decisions.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Ghent is a city that loves its green spaces. From the sprawling Citadelpark to the tranquil Japanese Garden, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy nature. The city is also home to a number of museums, art galleries, and theaters, offering a wide range of cultural activities.


Foodies will feel right at home in Ghent. The city boasts a diverse culinary scene, with everything from traditional Belgian fare to international cuisine. Some popular spots include ‘t Klaverblad, a cozy restaurant serving Belgian-French cuisine, and De Superette, a trendy bakery and cafĂ©.

Learning the Language

While many people in Ghent speak English, learning Dutch can greatly enhance your experience. The University of Ghent offers Dutch language courses specifically designed for foreigners, making it a great place to start.

Local Culture

The locals in Ghent are known for their friendliness and hospitality. The city has a relaxed, laid-back vibe, and it’s common to see people of all ages socializing in the city’s many cafes and bars. Ghent also has a vibrant arts scene, with numerous festivals and events throughout the year.

Meeting People and Volunteering

Meeting new people is easy in Ghent, thanks to the city’s active expat community. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities, from helping out at local charities to getting involved in community events. The city’s Volunteer Center is a great place to start looking for opportunities.


Most retirees in Ghent choose to live in apartments or condos in the city center, where they can be close to shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. However, there are also plenty of options for those who prefer a quieter, more suburban lifestyle.


Ghent is a compact city with excellent public transportation, so there’s no need to own a car. The city is also very walkable, and many retirees enjoy exploring the city on foot or by bike.

Retiring in Ghent offers a unique blend of European charm, modern amenities, and a welcoming community. While it’s not without its challenges, many retirees find that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Joshua WoodJoshua 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.

Additional Information:

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