Retire in Spain from the USA

You’ve reached the end of your working days and it’s time for a new venture in life – here’s some advice to help you on your way to starting your Spanish retirement as a US citizen.

How to retire in Spain if you’re from the USA / Gtres
How to retire in Spain if you’re from the USA / Gtres
6 February 2020, Emma Donaldson

You’ve reached the end of your working days and your hard-earned retirement is on the horizon. But like many others, perhaps there’s nothing specific keeping you in the U.S. and you fancy a new adventure. Retiring abroad is an attractive option for an increasing number of American pensioners and amongst top destinations is Spain, a country which has something for everyone. But before you start packing your suitcase, let’s have a look at 3 of the best destinations for US pensioners, as well as some advice on how to retire in Spain, including costs and residency requirements.

Forbes has released a list of the top places to spend this golden-age of your life, taking into account features such as cost of living, safety, pensions, healthcare and visas and Spain appears to be one of the best countries to retire to in Europe, let alone in the world - which Spanish regions have come out on top?

The Costa de Azahar: an affordable option for US pensioners

The Costa de Azahar is a great option for US pensioners / Wikipedia, Espencat
The Costa de Azahar is a great option for US pensioners / Wikipedia, Espencat

The lesser known but equally beautiful Costa de Azahar, also known as the Orange Blossom Coast, is in the province of Castellón and is made up of 120 kilometers of spectacular coastline. About a one hour’s drive from Valencia, this coast which is full of sandy beaches gets some of Spain’s best weather and is once again an area which is welcoming and used to English speaking expats, as well as being a very affordable option for pensioners due to the fact that the area attracts less tourists and has a lower population. The main cities in this area include Benicarló, Peñíscola, Torreblanca, La Llosa, Benicasim and Oropesa.

The Costa del Sol: spend your retirement on the beach

Marbella is one of the most prestigious retirement destinations in Spain / Wikipedia
Marbella is one of the most prestigious retirement destinations in Spain / Wikipedia

The Costa del Sol is one of the most important areas in Spain for tourism and is undoubtedly one of the best places to retire to if you’re seeking beautiful coastline and warm weather. This area of southern Spain has a population of around 1.3 million inhabitants which includes a large English-speaking community found in the various towns and cities on the coast such as Marbella and the bustling beaches of Nerja, Benalmadena and Fuengirola. The Costa del Sol is perfect for American pensioners who want a lively and active lifestyle - especially for those who would like to take up golf given the abundance of world famous gold courses found on the Costa del Sol.

Bilbao: one of the best healthcare systems in Spain

The city of Bilbao has a thriving English speaking community / Gtres
The city of Bilbao has a thriving English speaking community / Gtres

The Spanish city of Bilbao found in the North of the country in the Basque Country region also appears on Forbes’ list. This area is one of the best cities to retire due to the high quality of life and low crime rate and is also a perfect choice for those who don’t want to spend their retirement on the beach on in a hot climate, like the South and Mediterranean coasts. The city of Bilbao is also said to have one of the best healthcare systems in Spain and has a growing English speaking and expat community, making it another great option for your long-awaited retirement in Spain.

How much does it cost to retire in Spain for US citizens?

According to the article released by Forbes, "Spain is cheaper than much of Europe". It’s possible to retire in Spain with a budget of 25,000 dollars per year, just over 2,000 dollars per month with house prices a lot less than other countries. It is of course possible to live in Spain for even less if you decide to live in less common areas and adopt a simpler lifestyle. And there’s more good news for American pensioners - Spain also has low property taxes. It’s worth noting that US citizens living in Spain do also have to file a US tax return but there are certain tax agreements between Spain and the USA meaning you will avoid double taxation.

Visas and Residency

If you choose to spend your retirement in sunny Spain, you can apply for a residence visa. This visa doesn’t permit you to work in Spain as an American citizen but in order to be eligible for this visa, you need to prove that you have the means to support yourself without having a job to provide an income. You can do this by providing evidence of minimum monthly income such as pensions and investment statements. In general, the authorities will be looking for an income of 2,500 dollars per month. To get the ball rolling in this visa process, the best idea is to ask in your local Spanish embassy or consulate and find out more about applying for a Spanish pension for expats here.

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