Retire in Spain: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Dream Retirement Destination

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Dreaming of spending retirement somewhere near a beach on the Spanish Mediterranean? Or perhaps you’re hoping to spend your days exploring the rich food culture of San Sebastian?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a traditional flamenco class or watch a traditional bull fight!

Whatever your reason, Spain is a popular retirement destination for many.

Many people flock to Spain from the United States, other parts of Europe, and beyond.

If you’re thinking of retiring to this stunning country, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on what you need to do to make it a reality.

We’ll explore need-to-know items such as visas, financials, city options, and more!

First Step on How to Retire in Spain – Visa Types

If you’re thinking of retiring in Spain, the first item of note is that any non-European Union (EU) citizen who wishes to retire in Spain must obtain a visa to live in the country.

Spain does not have a specific “retiree visa” – it does have what is known as a non-lucrative residence visa (NLV).

This visa type allows retirees to live in Spain without having to work.

Spain also has what is known as the golden visa or the investor visa.

This visa type differs from the NLV in that a Golden Visa allows for retirees to both live and work while in Spain.

However, to obtain this visa, retirees must significantly invest in areas such as real estate or Spanish companies while living in Spain.

Retirees may also deposit a certain threshold amount, usually €1 million, into the Spanish banking system to be eligible for this visa type.

To apply for a Spain retirement visa, you’ll need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must not be an EU citizen
  • Provide a clear criminal record check
  • Provide confirmation of private health insurance
  • Provide proof of financial means

Already a member of the European Union? Great, no visa or residence permit will be needed!

For those who aren’t EU citizens, let’s take a look at what the financial aspect of retiring in Spain might look like.

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Retire in Spain Proof of Finances

One of the number one factors to take into consideration when planning your retirement is the financial cost.

This remains true for the visa process as well.

In order to be eligible for the Non-Lucrative Visa, you must be able to provide proof of sufficient financial means.

The amount will be equal to 400% of the Indicador Público de Renta de Efectos Múltiples (IPREM).

While this number may fluctuate slightly, that percentage is equal to about €2,300 per month.

Figured out to a year, that number is about €28,000.

This is the amount you need to have in passive income each year in order to be approved for a visa to live in Spain.

Cost of Living in Spain

Luckily, Spain has a fairly low cost of living depending on which part of the country you’re headed toward.

While major cities like Madrid and Barcelona likely have higher rent prices than smaller towns like Granada or Seville, the cost does even out.

Public transportation is abundant anywhere you go, and food prices are relatively low.

For example, for public transportation, senior citizens in Barcelona can use what’s called a T-4 card.

This is a public transportation card that allows those using public transport to pay €2 for ten journeys!

This card is good for either the bus or metro network.

Utilities will vary in Spain but tend to be reasonable compared to other countries like the US.

Your budget might range anywhere from €150 to €300 per month on utilities like water, power, gas, and internet.

A breakdown of budget items you’ll want to account for when gathering your finances includes:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Utilities
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation
  • Food and dining

Add everything together, and a modest estimate for living in Spain might run you €2,000 a month.

You can get a financial estimate with our cost of living in Spain calculator.

Documentation and Where to Apply

Documentation for retiring in Spain will include items that help you apply for your visa, while also applying for things like a residence card and a place to live.

Common document items necessary for many of these processes include:

  • Copy of current passport
  • Bank statements and financials
  • Confirmation of health insurance coverage
  • Visa application form
  • Confirmed background check

The documentation necessary to apply for an NLV specifically will be submitted in person.

This step is completed at your local Consular Office.

For example, for those in the US, the Spanish Embassy website includes all the necessary consular services information you’d need for applying.

For a more in-depth look at the NLV process, check out one of our previous posts on the process.

retire in Spain

Benefits to Retiring in Spain

The benefits to retiring in Spain are numerous.

The fabulous beaches and sunny weather are notable draws, but Spain is made up of so much more than that.

To begin, Spain is known for having a strong, affordable healthcare system, as well as a healthy way of life.

Spanish living treasures a healthy work-life balance and a culture of community that is difficult to rival in many countries.

Spain is also known for adhering to the wonderful concept of siesta hours.

Generally between 2 PM to 5 PM, some businesses may close for a 2 hour (sometimes 3!) hour “nap” period.

While siesta time doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping, it allows workers, shop owners, and others a chance to “rest” before getting on with the rest of their day.

While closing during siesta hours isn’t true for every business, it’s a common occurrence that allows people to slow down a bit and take a break from the hustle and bustle of life.

Where to Retire in Spain

Spain is a friendly, laid-back, corner of the world with a rich tapestry of history and culture.

It’s made up of a wide mix of energetic cities and quaint seaside towns.

From sunny Seville, to the small town of Santillana del Mar, the choices of where to retire in Spain might seem overwhelming.

We recommend doing a quick inventory of what you’re hoping to get out of your retirement in Spain.

Prefer a more laid-back atmosphere? Galicia, Mojácar, or Almería might be perfect for you.

Looking to spend more time closer to busy city centers? Barcelona, Madrid, or Valencia might check those boxes.

Start your journey by taking stock of what matters most to you for your new home away from home.

Quick Refresh

Let’s go over a quick refresh on how to retire in Spain!

The requirements are fairly simple.

For non-EU citizens, the following steps will need to be met:

  • Provide confirmation of private health insurance coverage
  • Provide proof of financial requirements
  • Apple for either a non-lucrative visa or a golden visa

For either visa type, golden or NLV, you’ll need to apply for a temporary residence permit which will be good for one year.

At the end of year one, you’ll be able to renew that permit for two additional years.

This process can then be repeated.

One you’ve hit the five-year mark in Spain, you’ll be able to request a permanent resident permit!

It’s also good idea to brush up on your Spanish before you spend your retirement in Spain.

Not fluent yet? That’s okay!

The best way to learn is to immerse yourself in the culture around you.

Say hi to your neighbors, chat with the grocery store attendant, and get out of your comfort zone whenever you can.

Remember, Spain will be your new home! It’ll start to feel that way in no time.

retire in Spain

Ready to Start Your Retirement in Spain?

Go! Go! España is here to help guide you on your way toward making your retire in Spain dreams a reality.

Whether you’d like to use our visa services, or whether you’ve got general questions on what to do upon arrival, we’ve got you covered!

We work directly with a Spanish immigration lawyer that can help ensure you’ve covered all your bases prior to moving abroad.

We can even help with finding accommodation, direct you to Spanish classes, and more.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at any time.


I’m not a citizen of the European Union. Can I retire in Spain?

Yes! You’ll simply need to apply for the appropriate visa. This will either be a Golden Visa or a Non-Lucrative Visa. There is no specific Retirement Visa for Spain.

How much money should I save before I retire in Spain?

Financial circumstances can vary greatly from person to person. However, to apply for a Non-Lucrative Visa, retirees must provide proof of sufficient financial means. This amount will be equal to 400% of the IPREM (or roughly €2,300 per month).

What is the IPREM?

The IPREM is short for the Indicador Público de Renta de Efectos Múltiples. It is an economic indicator used by the Spanish government, similar to a minimum wage.

Which city in Spain should I retire to?

The best city for retirement will depend entirely on your own tastes and what you’re looking for in this next stage of life. We recommend doing a bit of in-depth research before choosing your new home. What are your likes and dislikes in your current city? Do you prefer a vibrant atmosphere or a quiet seaside escape? Take all of these characteristics into account when researching the city you’ll retire in.

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