Where can my parents retire in southern Europe?
May 25, 2007 4:40 AM   Subscribe

Where should my parents retire to? Criteria: Europe, warm, sunny, cheap rent, no car necessary.

My retired parents have decided they're tired of English life and with my dad's various ailments, they want to go somewhere warm and cheap and live off of their life savings (about three hundred thousand euro).

They want somewhere they can rent a small but clean property with good access to basic amenities (they'd rather not own a car), somewhere that's warm, and ideally near the sea (but not strictly necessary). They expect the rent to be reasonable, perhaps up to several hundred euro per month (so Provence is totally out). They are not culture vultures, so a slow moving, backwater type place is fine.

I am not that familiar with southern Europe, but the obvious choices of Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, SW France and the less popular Costas have all come up.. (Greece?) but without doing oodles of research they have no immediate places to go and recce. So.. I'm wondering if any MeFiers have any less vague suggestions? :) No suggestion too crazy.
posted by wackybrit to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
1. Canary Islands
2. Falklands

If they really don't mind going further than europe:
1. Goa
2. South Africa
posted by gadha at 4:46 AM on May 25, 2007

Tenerife is great. North side is proper villages and nice stuff. Buses work great. Two airports with cheap flights to the UK. Big expat British and German scene in the bigger places but proper Spanish stuff in the smaller.
posted by handee at 4:59 AM on May 25, 2007

gadha wrote:
2. Falklands

Really? From Wikipedia:
"...the Falkland Islands have a cold maritime climate with a narrow temperature range of about 19° C (66° F) in summer and 2° C (36° F) in winter. Rainfall is relatively low at about 24 inches. Humidity and winds, however, are constantly high. Snow is rare, but can occur at almost any time of year."

Greece is a good choice, as is Croatia and Bulgaria (good skiing in the winter).
posted by mooders at 5:00 AM on May 25, 2007

More Tenerife details - very reliable climate. Puerto De La Cruz is a resort town on the north side, which is fairly big and a good base for looking around. La Laguna is the old capital, not by the coast, but lovely historic Spanish stuff and a university town.
posted by handee at 5:01 AM on May 25, 2007

Portugal is lovely. My folks are retired and spend about 3 months of the year down there in the algarve. I've been out a couple of times and it's really nice nice and warm. Bonus points if they play golf; some of the best courses in Europe are there. Food is great too.
posted by ReiToei at 5:10 AM on May 25, 2007

My parents are Irish, by the way. I don't know what the British expat community is like out there (though, if they're getting away from Britain, I can't imagine they'd want to eat fish and chips and drink Stella abroad with their fellow countrymen).
posted by ReiToei at 5:13 AM on May 25, 2007

South Eastern Spain. Hot, near the sea, cheap, plenty other ex-pats so it isn't entirely alien. Plenty of home comforts as well as major population centres (Valencia, Barcelona) within driving distance for major shopping/culture if needed. There are some very nice towns and villages, it isn't all like Benidorm. Southern Portugal is also very nice but is slightly more expected.
posted by fire&wings at 5:18 AM on May 25, 2007

Isn't Slovenia the hot location now? Cut-price Switzerland I hear.
posted by Abiezer at 5:25 AM on May 25, 2007

IANAEuropean, so the feasibility of this is unknown, but what about Turkey? Cheapish, warmish most of the time, great food, good connections to the outside world, lots of space to get away from the other expats. I imagine that outside the cities, a car would probably be necessary. It's probably more difficult than being in the EU though, especially if they might want to earn a little side income to supplement their savings.

Also springing to mind as possibly cheaper than a major city or a resort-type development and possessing enough urban services to enable your folks to go without a car while still being laid-back (though perhaps kind of big) might be what we'd call "college towns" here in the States. Possible examples could include Aveiro and Coimbra, in central Portugal, or Montpellier in southern (non-Provence) France.
posted by mdonley at 5:32 AM on May 25, 2007

My parents moved out to Spain (small town called Ayora, just outside Almansa). if they are after slow moving and a backwater type place this is perfect. You woud probably need a car though. Rent in the village my Parents are at is about 400 euro a month for a good sized quiet apartment.

About an hour and a halfs drive from the sea. Not my cup of tea but my Parents love it - cheap, warm, soothes their aches and pains and a small elderly type Ex Pat community (not a bunch of lager louts)
posted by twistedonion at 5:39 AM on May 25, 2007

Greece is not really all that cheap anymore. But, if you are taking a look, check out Iannina. One positive of Greece is that it is manageable without a car.

I've heard very good things about Portugal and Slovenia, but I haven't been. Supposedly Portugal is still a bit cheaper than most of Europe so I would give it a good look.

You need to give some consideration to language. If they don't pick up languages quickly, find out where the expatriate centers are. As fire&wings mentions, Spain has a good sized community.
posted by BigSky at 5:42 AM on May 25, 2007

2. Falklands

Also the Falklands are off the east coast of Argentina in the southern hemisphere. Hardly Europe.
posted by TrashyRambo at 5:43 AM on May 25, 2007

Spain is getting too expensive but Portugal still has reasonably priced properties. I think if they are interested they should start looking right away. As the years pass, prices jump up. But if they have that much money they are better off buying instead of renting. Granted they are retired but it is still a good investment and even for €200k they should still be able to find a decent house or apartment in Portugal. Check out Lisbon.
posted by JJ86 at 5:54 AM on May 25, 2007

posted by chuckdarwin at 6:11 AM on May 25, 2007

If they're in it for the long haul, they need to consider the quality of the health-care system the country they're moving to has. The French system is excellent, better than the NHS for sure, and I believe that as EU citizens they'd be entitled to health benefits. So I recommend France. There are still some undiscovered places where they could buy a property for, say, 75K euros. They might not be too close to the sea at that price. I really think they should buy, rather than rent, because at their age their income isn't going to be increasing so they have to avoid the instability of rent. Otherwise, maybe Spain, but I don't know much about the healthcare system there.

Regardless, they should try to find a place where there are a fair number of English expats already. Don't underestimate the loneliness people can feel moving abroad to a culture that isn't their own, and where they can't speak the language. It's really, really difficult. They should be somewhere that contains potential friends for them to make, rather than someplace with farmers who speak no English and resent the Brits for driving up property prices, making the young native villagers unable to afford to stay near home. I'm sorry to say it, but this attitude does exist in some places, so your parents should be prepared for it.
posted by hazyjane at 6:29 AM on May 25, 2007

Gibraltar maybe? (not because I know about the rents there... but must be worth a look)
posted by pompomtom at 6:47 AM on May 25, 2007

hazyjane mentioned: Otherwise, maybe Spain, but I don't know much about the healthcare system there.

As a foreigner a few years ago I had health insurance with Sanitas for about 40 euros a month which covered just about everything you would expect. I went to the doctor once for knee problems and had much better experiences than anything here in the US.
posted by JJ86 at 6:52 AM on May 25, 2007

Sicily, meets these criteria -look at where the train lines radiate to as they leave Palermo and you can work out a few promising places.
posted by rongorongo at 7:04 AM on May 25, 2007

My parents are about to move to Spain as my dad's retiring. They've already bought a house near Valencia which seems nice (I haven't seen it yet.) They're close to a major city and within walking distance of amenities and they're close to the sea. The Valencia region is cheaper than the Barcelona region, and it's not as touristy or ex-pat as the south coast of Spain. I should say that their situation is made easier by the fact that my mother is Spanish so they speak the language and they have lots of family very close to their new place.
posted by ob at 9:16 AM on May 25, 2007

The sun?

Oh wait, is that too crazy?
posted by humannaire at 12:26 PM on May 25, 2007

Perhaps they could retire on a Mediterranean Cruise?
posted by zonkout at 12:28 PM on May 25, 2007

I live in Cyprus so I can only talk about that. I hope the hive mind can help with the rest.

There are a lot of retired British and other Europeans living in Cyprus near the sea. There is a lot of new construction which is being quickly bought up and plenty of rentable apartments available too. The prices I am going to quote are in Cyprus pounds so convert accordingly. We are moving to the Euro next year so the prices are not guaranteed for too long.

You can rent a decent place near the sea for about 300 CYP or so. A little higher if it comes furnished. A little lower if your definition of decent differs from mine. A car is not necessary to live in Cyprus but you would need to rent a cab for the ride back from the supermarket. Although I don't see why they don't bring their existing car over (if they have one). We do drive on the correct (not right) side of the road. Groceries are cheap here, eating out can get to be expensive.

They will probably want to live in Paralimni or Paphos where there is a larger British population. Limassol has a higher concetration of Eastern Europeans. Paphos is a more happening place, a larger town, with more bars, restaurants, and the like. Paralimni is more of a retiree town. If you visit, you will need a car for the drive to Ayia Napa which is about 10 km away.

Hope that helps. Also check out this forum.

I am going to bed now but if you have any questions, I will answer them when I wake up.
posted by hariya at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2007

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