Author Topic: How to pick where to retire early?  (Read 1125 times)


  • Stubble
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How to pick where to retire early?
« on: May 31, 2020, 02:55:17 AM »
We are seeing the end of the tunnel and are thinking about where to go retire in the next 4-5 years (we would be under 40 by then). We are dual citizens with an EU passport and currently live in Switzerland. Switzerland is beautiful, but it's too expensive to live in without working, so we can't stay here. We don't have kids, an still haven't decided for sure whether we want any.

We've narrowed it down to a few options:

- Spain
- France
- Portugal

We prefer being secluded, don't enjoy having neighbours, and are pretty self-sufficient in terms of companionship and entertainment so we're looking for someplace where we could buy a decently sized plot of land with the next dwelling 300+ meters away from us. We'd then own a car for buying food/going to the train station for traveling. We've never owned a car, and don't enjoy driving, but we'd do it for errands/necessities; just not for leisure/tourism. We have bicycles for that!

We want the climate to be warm all year long (we're so done with Canadian winters for the rest of our lives!!) and while we would love to live by the seaside, we don't think this is realistic: these areas are usually overcrowded, pricey, and what about the ice melting potentially raising sea levels a few meters in the next decades.

We love good food, but we don't eat animal products. So seafood/milk/meat/eggs are not really relevant for us, but fruits, vegetables, spices are. I think the three countries we're considering are pretty good at having local sources for all these, and they'd be picked ripe because they don't have long to travel. We would also plant a garden to get our own food during the season.

We're aiming for 24-36,000$ yearly spend (incl. housing costs). We'd prefer to buy a house over renting because we want to customize the place to our needs.

I think all three places have social security and free universal healthcare with a good medical infrastructure so that's not a concern.

Tax-wise, it looks like France is much cheaper (around 5-7% for incomes below 24,000 yearly IIRC) when Portugal wants almost 20% for the same income. Not a showstopper, but something to consider. We will of course consult with tax/estate planners in Switzerland before retiring to structure our assets so as to minimize our tax liability, so maybe this would help alleviate that.

I know this forum is more US-centric, but I'm hoping there are also Europeans asking themselves the same questions and would be curious to get any input/thoughts/advice on our reasoning.

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  • Walrus Stache
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Re: How to pick where to retire early?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2020, 03:28:37 AM »
Which EU countries are you citizens of, and have you ever lived and worked in the EU (Switzerland does not count)?  EU rights of residence are not necessarily unlimited, and benefits such as health care can depend on being a "worker" or a "retired worker", but "worker" means worked in the EU.  The ease of claiming residence and claiming equal rights with nationals of the EU country increases with 1) being a citizen of the EU country you are living in, 2) being a worker in the EU country you are living in, 3) being retired from working in the EU country you are living in, 4) being retired from working in an EU country other than the one you are living in, 5) being an EU citizen with no workers rights.

To some extent those distinctions have been elided over the years, but given strains on the EU and its finances, the direction things are taking on immigration and free movement, and that you will be relying on whatever rights you have accrued for maybe the next 40 years, it would be good to put yourselves on the firmest legal footing possible.

You needn't necessarily rule out being by or near the sea.  The expensive areas are the ones with big tourist trades and those are the areas with very good transport links, particularly airports.  If that isn't going to matter to you there should still be reasonably priced options in harder to reach areas and away from the bigger cities.  Obviously avoid anything near sea level or a coastline liable to erosion, and consider whether rising sea levels will affect vital nearby transport links such as road and rail, though.

It sounds as though growing a good garden will be you main interest.  Climate will be a vital concern in that, in particular access to water, and for the longer term the mediteranean coast might be best avoided.  There is no real cold, certainly not by Canadian standards, in northern Portugal or Spain or the Atlantic coast of France.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: How to pick where to retire early?
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2020, 01:55:17 PM »
I was thinking the same as the previous poster. Climate changes are already here. The mediterrainian countries will get hotter and dryer. Living off the land might become more difficult. But if you want to stay in Europe and wan't year round warm temperatures, you might need to live there. Have you looked into islands, like Malta, canary islands. Those are quite warm in winter and you would check the rainfall statistics. I think you can safely use the last three or four yearscas a mild projection of what is to come.

Please check out the concept of permaculture and how to make a productive, self maintaining piece of lands with good ways to preserve moisture.


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