Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, Seville, Spain
Updated: 22 August 2023 13 minute read

Retirement in Spain: The Ultimate Guide

Dreaming of a serene retirement under the Spanish sun? 

Spain ranks as one of the top destinations for retirees, offering a unique blend of culture, climate, and affordability. This article will guide you through retiring in Spain, highlighting essential aspects such as healthcare, cost of living, and legal procedures. 

Whether you’re drawn by the tranquil coastal towns or vibrant city life, understanding the intricacies of retiring in Spain will make your transition smoother. Dive in to explore a new chapter of life filled with relaxation and adventure, uniquely tailored to your desires.

Advantages of Retiring in Spain

🌞 Pleasant Climate: Enjoy over 300 days of sunshine, mild winters, and balmy summers.

🎨 Rich Culture: Immerse yourself in Spain’s world-famous art, music, and culinary traditions.

💸 Affordable Living: Benefit from a lower cost of living compared to many Western European countries.

🌊 Beautiful Scenery: Choose from picturesque coastal towns, historic cities, or tranquil countryside.

🧘 Healthy Lifestyle: Embrace a Mediterranean diet, outdoor activities, and a more relaxed pace of life.

🏡 Diverse Real Estate: Find a variety of housing options, from beachfront villas to charming village homes.

🤝 Welcoming Community: Join thriving expat communities and connect with friendly locals.

📃 Straightforward Residency: Experience a relatively simple process for obtaining residency for retirees..

🍽️ Culinary Delights: Savor the renowned Mediterranean cuisine, including tapas and fresh seafood.

🚄 Efficient Transportation: Utilize well-connected public transport for easy travel within the country.

Recreational Activities: Engage in hobbies like golf, hiking, and sailing all year round.

👩‍⚕️ Accessible Healthcare for Seniors: Avail specialized care tailored for the needs of retirees.

🐕 Pet-friendly: Bring along furry friends as Spain offers a welcoming environment for pets.

🏖️ Beach Accessibility: With extensive coastlines, the beach is never too far away.

🧳 Easy Travel within EU: Being an EU member, Spain offers convenient travel to neighboring countries.

🌿 Eco-friendly Cities: Embrace sustainability with recycling programs and green urban spaces.


Who Can Retire in Spain?

EU Citizens

Being part of the European Union since 1985 and a member of the Schengen Zone since 1995, Spain offers a smooth path for EU nationals wishing to retire within its borders. If you hail from an EU member state, the process is virtually hassle-free; there’s no need for special visas or residency permits to live, work, study, or retire in Spain.

Non-EU Citizens

For individuals from outside the European Union, Spain provides two main pathways to retire in the country:

  1. Long-Stay Visa (Visado Nacional): Suitable for an extended stay beyond the usual tourist period.

  2. Residence Visa (Visado Residencia): Tailored for those who wish to establish permanent residence.

The Non Lucrative Visa: Ideal for Retirement

Among the options for non-EU nationals, the Non Lucrative Visa stands out as an attractive choice for retirees. This specific visa allows individuals to live in Spain without engaging in employment or professional activity. It serves as an ideal permit for those who want to enjoy their retirement years in Spain’s enchanting landscapes and rich cultural ambiance.

The Spanish Golden Visa

The Spanish Golden Visa offers a unique pathway for non-EU nationals who invest in real estate or other significant financial assets in Spain. By purchasing property worth at least €500,000 or investing in Spanish businesses, applicants can secure this visa, allowing residency with the potential for eventual citizenship. It’s an attractive option for those who wish to combine investment opportunities with the allure of Spanish living.

Long-Stay Visa Spain (Visado Nacional)

The Long-Stay Visa in Spain, known as Visado Nacional, is designed for non-EU residents planning to stay longer than three months but not necessarily seeking permanent residency. Whether for studying, family reunion, or other long-term purposes, this visa provides the necessary legal framework for extended stays.

Highly Qualified Work Permit

For professionals with unique expertise, Spain offers the Highly Qualified Work Permit. This caters to non-EU individuals possessing specialized skills or qualifications that are in demand within the Spanish labor market. It opens doors for working in specific sectors and provides a structured pathway for integration into Spanish professional life.

Spanish Digital Nomad Visa

Embracing the growing trend of remote work, Spain has introduced the Digital Nomad Visa, allowing non-EU citizens to live and work remotely from Spain for up to a year. It’s tailored for those who earn their income online and want to enjoy the Spanish lifestyle without committing to long-term residency. This flexible visa combines work freedom with the cultural richness of Spain.

Best Places to Retire in Spain


Spain’s vibrant capital, Madrid, offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with a touch of traditional Spanish charm. For retirees, the city’s world-renowned museums, historic architecture, and gourmet dining are just a few appealing features. Madrid boasts excellent healthcare facilities and accessible public transportation, making it convenient for older residents. The mix of bustling city life and relaxing green spaces like Retiro Park provides both excitement and tranquility, catering to diverse retirement preferences.

The Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol is synonymous with sun-kissed beaches, luxurious resorts, and a laid-back lifestyle. Retirees flock here for the pleasant Mediterranean climate, with over 320 sunny days a year. Golf enthusiasts find paradise in the region’s numerous top-rated courses. From the glamorous Marbella to the quaint white-washed villages of Mijas, the Costa del Sol offers varied living options, appealing to both those seeking a vibrant community and those desiring peaceful coastal living. Health and wellness centers catering to seniors add to the region’s allure for retirees.

The Costa de Azahar

Known as the “Orange Blossom Coast,” the Costa de Azahar is an unspoiled gem along Spain’s eastern seaboard. It’s a perfect destination for retirees seeking a more tranquil and authentic Spanish experience. Rich in natural beauty, from pristine beaches to lush citrus groves, this region offers affordable living without sacrificing quality. Cultural festivals, local markets, and traditional cuisine enrich the experience. Its balanced climate and less crowded ambiance make the Costa de Azahar a delightful option for a serene retirement.


Bilbao, a thriving city in Spain’s Basque Country, offers a unique blend of industrial innovation and cultural heritage. Retirees who appreciate art and architecture will be drawn to the Guggenheim Museum’s modern brilliance and the city’s historic old town. Bilbao’s culinary scene, renowned for its pintxos (tapas), provides gastronomic delight. The city’s efficient public transportation and commitment to environmental sustainability add to its livability. For retirees seeking a dynamic urban experience with a rich cultural backdrop, Bilbao presents an enticing choice.

The Canary Islands

An idyllic destination for retirees, the Canary Islands boast a near-perfect climate, with mild temperatures year-round and abundant sunshine. Comprising seven main islands, each with its unique charm, the archipelago offers diverse living options, from the bustling resorts of Tenerife to the tranquil landscapes of La Gomera. For retirees interested in outdoor activities, the Canary Islands provide opportunities for hiking, sailing, and beachside relaxation. The blend of Spanish and African influences results in a rich cultural tapestry and a delectable culinary scene. With excellent healthcare facilities and a lower cost of living compared to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands present an enticing option for retirees seeking a paradise-like setting with all the comforts of modern living.

Tips for Retiring in Spain

🏠 Explore Housing Options: Consider renting before buying to find the perfect location. Research local property laws if buying.

📃 Understand Legal Requirements: Consult with an immigration lawyer to navigate visas and residency permits smoothly.

💰 Plan Your Finances: Investigate taxation, explore local banking options, and consider currency exchange rates.

🏥 Arrange Healthcare: Sign up for public healthcare or consider private insurance, depending on eligibility and needs.

🗣️ Learn Basic Spanish: Even in expat communities, knowing basic Spanish phrases can enhance daily interactions.

🚗 Consider Transportation Needs: Investigate public transport or the practicality of owning a vehicle in your chosen area.

🌐 Connect with Local Expats: Join expat groups or forums for support, friendship, and valuable insider tips.

🍽️ Embrace the Culture: Try local cuisines, participate in traditions, and explore historical sites for a richer experience.

🧳 Pack Appropriately: Spain’s climate varies by region, so pack clothing and necessities accordingly.

🐶 Pet Considerations: If bringing pets, ensure compliance with vaccination and quarantine regulations.

📞 Set Up Communication: Investigate local mobile and internet providers to stay connected with loved ones.

⛑️ Prioritize Safety: Familiarize yourself with local safety norms, emergency numbers, and personal security measures.

📅 Stay Informed about Local Events: Engage with the community by attending local festivals, markets, and gatherings.

🧩 Be Patient and Flexible: Expect some bureaucracy and cultural differences; patience and flexibility will ease the transition.


Cost of Living in Spain

The cost of living in Spain offers both affordability and a range of options to suit various budgets. A single person’s estimated monthly costs, excluding rent, are approximately €1670.

Utilities: Basic utilities such as electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for an 85m2 apartment typically range from €85 to €220, with an average cost of €129.

Communication Costs: Mobile phone plans with calls and 10GB+ data may range from €10 to €20. High-speed internet (60 Mbps or more) is generally priced around €33.

Rent Per Month: The rent varies based on location and size of the apartment:

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre can cost between €500 to €1,200.

  • Outside of the centre, a similar apartment may range from €400 to €900.

  • For larger families, a three-bedroom apartment in the city centre ranges from €800 to €2,000, while outside the city centre it ranges from €700 to €1,600.

The diverse pricing allows retirees to find suitable living arrangements according to their preferences and financial capabilities, whether seeking city vibrancy or suburban tranquility.

To learn more, check out our article on the Cost of Living in Spain.

Healthcare in Spain

Spain’s healthcare system is known for its quality and accessibility, ranking among the top in Europe. Retirees can choose between public and private healthcare. Public healthcare is widely accessible, providing comprehensive coverage with little to no out-of-pocket expenses for EU citizens. 

Non-EU retirees may opt for private health insurance, which offers faster access to specialists and private hospitals. Various insurance plans cater to different needs and budgets. Health centers and hospitals are well-equipped, and many healthcare professionals are proficient in English, ensuring comfortable and effective care for retirees.

Retirement Activities in Spain

Spain’s diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage offer retirees an array of engaging activities. Those interested in outdoor pursuits can explore the scenic hiking trails, pristine beaches, and world-class golf courses, whereas cultural enthusiasts will find delight in the country’s museums, art galleries, and historic sites. 

Culinary adventures await in local markets and restaurants, offering the chance to savor traditional Spanish delicacies. 

Community centers and expat clubs provide opportunities to socialize and participate in group activities, fostering a sense of belonging. Whether seeking relaxation or exploration, retirees in Spain can indulge in a fulfilling and vibrant lifestyle tailored to their interests and hobbies.

Legal Procedures and Documentation

Retiring in Spain involves several legal steps and required documentation. This process begins with selecting the appropriate visa or residence permit, followed by submitting the necessary paperwork, such as proof of income, health insurance, and other relevant documents. 

Each step is essential in ensuring a smooth transition to Spanish residency, from applying for a visa to registering with local authorities upon arrival. 

Engaging a local immigration lawyer or consulting with Spanish consulates can aid in understanding the unique requirements and timeline. It’s recommended to keep all documents up-to-date and carefully follow the guidelines to avoid delays or complications.

Understanding Taxes and Financial Planning

Navigating taxes and financial planning in Spain requires a clear comprehension of the local taxation system, especially for retirees. Spain has specific tax regulations for both residents and non-residents, affecting income, pensions, and investments. 

Understanding double taxation agreements between Spain and your home country, considering wealth tax, and planning for inheritance taxes are essential aspects of financial preparation. Working with a financial advisor who specializes in Spanish tax law can provide personalized guidance. 

Proper financial planning not only ensures compliance with local laws but also allows retirees to manage their finances optimally, ensuring a comfortable and secure lifestyle.

Real Estate and Housing Options

Finding the ideal accommodation for retirement in Spain presents several options, whether buying or renting. The country offers a wide variety of housing choices, from coastal villas to city apartments. 

When purchasing property, having a grasp of the legal requirements, including contracts, property registration, and potential restrictions, is vital. Renting offers flexibility and may be a suitable option for those wishing to explore different regions before settling. 

Consulting with local real estate agents who understand the preferences and needs of retirees can assist in locating the right accommodation. Whether seeking the lively ambiance of a city or the tranquility of a coastal town, Spain’s diverse housing options cater to various tastes and budgets, making it a prime destination for retirees.

Check out our article on Buying Real Estate in Spain.

Retirement in Spain: Conclusion

Retiring in Spain opens up a world of possibilities, offering an attractive blend of culture, climate, and cost-effectiveness. 

With numeous great locations to choose from, Spain caters to diverse lifestyles and preferences. The legal procedures can be navigated with careful planning and professional guidance, despite being a little annoying at times. 

To learn more about the Spanish lifestyle, read our article on Living in Spain.

Related Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary visa to retire in Spain for non-EU citizens?

Non-EU citizens looking to retire in Spain typically apply for a non-lucrative visa. This allows them to reside in Spain without working, and it's a popular choice for retirees. After five years, one can apply for permanent residency.

Can I apply for a Spanish retirement visa at my local Spanish embassy? 

Yes, you can initiate the process for a Spanish retirement visa at your local Spanish embassy. They will guide you through the requirements and application procedure for retiring in Spain.

What is the difference between the Spain non-lucrative visa and the Spain Golden Visa? 

The non-lucrative visa is suitable for those who wish to retire in Spain without working, whereas the Spain golden visa is an investment visa that grants residency to those investing a significant amount in Spanish real estate or businesses. The golden visa is a faster pathway to permanent residency.

Do I need private health insurance to retire in Spain?

If you are a non-EU citizen applying for a non-lucrative visa to retire in Spain, having private health insurance is a mandatory requirement. This ensures you have access to healthcare services during your stay in Spain.

How does the Spain Golden Visa program work? 

The Spain Golden Visa program is designed to attract foreign investors. By investing in real estate or other qualified investments, you are granted a residence visa in Spain. The Golden Visa provides flexibility and can eventually lead to permanent residency.

Is it easy for EU citizens to retire in Spain? 

Yes, since Spain is a part of the European Union, EU citizens find it relatively straightforward to retire in Spain. They don't need a residence visa or non-lucrative visa for their stay and have the right to live, work, and retire in Spain under European Union agreements.

What are the financial requirements to retire in Spain with a non-lucrative visa? 

To retire in Spain with a non-lucrative visa, applicants must demonstrate sufficient financial means to support themselves without working. The requirements may vary, so consulting with your local Spanish embassy is advisable to understand the specific financial criteria for your situation.

Can the Golden Visa lead to citizenship in Spain? 

Yes, the Golden Visa can be a pathway to Spanish citizenship. After maintaining residency through the Golden Visa Program, applicants may be eligible to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship, adhering to certain conditions and legal requirements.

Get in touch
Terms of Use