Europe’s retirement options for foreign citizens
Warm weather, no stress and a good standard of living are all any of us could want in our golden years.
But relocating to another country takes some research and planning. Especially as many visa options are aimed at working age people.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t choices available for those looking to move abroad later in life, however.
Here are some of the best European visa options for retirees ranked by how much income you’ll need to apply.
Italy's Elective Residence visa
Italy is a popular place for people to spend their golden years and there are visa options designed to help you do just that.
The requirements for Italy’s Elective Residence Visa are a bit harder to meet than others so far on this list. You’ll need a passive income of €31,000 a year minimum in order to apply. You can’t work while a resident in the country with this visa - not even remotely for a company overseas.
An Elective Residence Visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for up to four years. After you’ve been in the country for five years, you can apply for permanent residence.
It is one of the most strictly regulated types of visas which means it is likely to take a minimum 3-6 months to process your application.
Spain's Non-lucrative visa
Spain’s Non-Lucrative visa is an option for people who would like to retire to the country.
Not quite as accessible as Portugal’s D7 visa, Spain requires you to have a monthly income of just over €2,150 or €25,816 a year. You can’t apply for a Non-Lucrative visa using income from remote work.
Applicants will also need to prove that they have comprehensive healthcare cover that is equal to or superior to the country’s public health service.
You’ll be allowed to stay in Spain for one year after entering and must spend at least 183 days in the country in order to renew your visa. It can be extended for four years and after five years you’ll be able to request a permanent residency permit.
This is valid for 10 years and will grant you access to the Spanish state healthcare system and other benefits available to citizens and permanent residents.
Greece's Residence Permit for Financially Independent Persons
Retiring to Greece could mean applying for a visa that is officially known as the “Residence Permit for Financially Independent Persons”.
It requires you to have a minimum passive income of €24,000/year but you can’t have any economic or investment activities within the country. Accepted sources of income include pensions, rental properties and investments.
If you want to bring your spouse you’ll need an additional €400 per month and €200 for any dependent family members.
You’ll also need a rental agreement for a property for one year. The applicant will need to provide proof of private medical cover during their stay in Greece.
This visa is issued for two years and can be renewed at the end of this period. To keep your residency status you’ll need to stay in Greece for at least half of the year.
Cyprus's Category F visa
Spending your retirement walking along the sandy beaches of Cyprus sounds like an appealing choice.
The country’s Category F visa is probably one of the best options for spending your golden years there.
Cyprus has one of the lowest income requirements on this list at just €9,568 a year. It can come from your pension, overseas rental properties, investments, royalties or dividends but needs to be enough for you and any dependents to live a decent and comfortable life.
You’ll also need to rent or purchase a property in the country.
The Maltese Retirement Programme
With good weather all year round and a high standard of living, Malta is a great place for retirement.
The country has a dedicated scheme called the Maltese Retirement Programme which is a bit different from the other options on this list. You’ll need to own a property in Malta worth at least €220,000 or rent one that costs €8,750 a year. Note that these amounts could vary depending on the area you choose. Applicants will also need health insurance issued in Malta.
If you decide to retire with a partner, you’ll need to prove you have a stable relationship.
It also has some age requirements. If you were born on or after 1 January 1962, you have to be retired at age 65. If you were born after this, you can be a bit younger and retired at 61.
The visa requires you not to spend less than 90 days a year or more than six months in any other Schengen country besides Malta.
Portugal's D7 visa
The D7 visa - or passive income visa - makes retiring to Portugal an appealing option for many non-EU nationals.
To qualify, you need to have a minimum monthly income of €705. This is based on the current national wage in the country. But that income can be from a variety of different sources including pensions, rental properties or investments.
You’ll also need to be able to prove you have a place to live and are able to spend at least 16 months in Portugal during your first two years in the country.
The D7 visa has lower application fees than a lot of other temporary residence visas and the application process typically takes around six months.
D7 visa holders benefit from the same healthcare benefits as Portuguese residents and citizens, too.