In the European Union (EU), there are few barriers to the movement of citizens between its member states, and it’s not commonly perceived that this was one of the founding principles of the union – the right to roam, work and live in any of the member states. A single directive brings together the many measures that governed the matter to date.
This directive was designed, among other things, to encourage Union citizens to exercise their right to move and reside freely within Member States, to cut back on administration, to limit the scope for refusing entry or terminating the right of residence, and to introduce a new right of permanent residence. Union citizens acquire the right of permanent residence in a member state after a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence, and this right of permanent residence is no longer subject to any conditions. The right of permanent residence is lost only in the event of more than two successive years’ absence from the host state.
Discussion of house prices and house buying/selling systems for the whole of Europe is probably too extensive a topic for a short article such as this, and it’s recommended that you consult real estate agents working in your chosen country or countries for guidance on this, and on the buying procedures specific to their country, as there can be significant administrative and legal differences; for example, in the UK, there are very few ‘buyer’s agents’, with the vast majority of real estate agents acting for sellers only.
With its long Mediterranean coastline and fabulous climate, Spain must be one of, if not the, most popular retirement destination in Europe. With borders to several other European countries, including France, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar, and easy cross-border travel within the EU, this gives the retiree many travel options to other countries from their new home. Spain has myriad offshore territories to explore, among them the Canary Islands including Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and the Balearic Islands such as Ibiza and Majorca. As well as multiple international airports, Spain also has excellent trans-Europe rail links. Spain is a culturally-rich nation, famed for its music, arts and architectural heritage, with castles, monasteries and abbeys, where you can look forward to fabulous weather, a relatively cheap cost of living and many gorgeous places to choose from. Property prices have been depressed by the housing market crisis which has affected many territories in Europe, and this is good news for retirees looking to purchase property. The prospective retiree is spoilt for choice: from the laid-back and idyllic region of Andalucia in the south, to the Costa Brava and Costa Blanca on the country’s east coast offering many, many options.
Whether it’s the fantastic weather which generally graces most of the country, or the glorious fresh food, Italy is yet another popular retirement choice. Due to its geographical structure, a large and long peninsula, there are literally thousands of miles worth of coastline, along with many historic and quaint settlements further inland. Italian cities may also prove to be popular with retirees, and they rarely come any better than Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan. In the far north of the country, a perfect location for anyone looking to enjoy some excellent scenery and clean living in their retirement is the Dolomite Mountains. Some of the popular attractions to catch in the capital, Rome, include The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, The Vatican (which is a tiny separate country in its own right located in the heart of Rome), The Pantheon and, of course, The world-famous Coliseum. Rome and other main cities will generally involve a higher cost of living than other parts of the country.
Greece & Cyprus
Greece has something to offer for anyone looking for a glorious EU retirement option. With hundreds of islands to consider, along with an extensive mainland, it’s possible to simply relax and bask in as laid-back a retirement environment as you could find anywhere, with the islands such as Crete, Rhodes, or Corfu being ideal for this. The healthy Greek cuisine is a real winner, too! If you would like to be on the Greek mainland, the area known as Halkidiki is ideal for retirees; in and around Athens may prove to be too hectic, though!
Cyprus is already popular with British retirees, in part due to beneficial taxes on pension income, and also due to the amazing lifestyle on offer. Cyprus bridges the gap between being an affordable tourist spot and a world-class place to live, with a high standard of living. It has international schools and hospitals, excellent healthcare standards, and great infrastructure including two international airports. The climate is perfect for barbeques and parties, and the international retirement community is very well established.
France is the largest country in the EU in terms of land mass, and this gives the prospective retiree a wide choice in terms of climate and landscape. To the north, you have the delightful and popular regions of Brittany and Normandy with fantastic towns and resorts along the English Channel. The Loire Valley and Ile de France (where you will find Paris, the capital) are exceptionally pretty and picturesque parts of the country. Down in the south you have the regions of Languedoc Roussillon and Provence Cote d’Azur where you will find the warmest weather in France, unsurprisingly due to their coastlines being along the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhones Alpes and Midi-Pyrenees are beautiful, mountainous regions in the east and south-west of the country respectively.
The countries above are by far the most popular tourist destinations in the European Union (along with Portugal), and are also becoming increasingly popular with retirees to relocate to from other member states. Once you learn just how easy it is for EU citizens to retire to other countries in the Union, you could well find yourself making plans to join them, too.