Where are the cheapest countries to retire in Europe 

1 min readLast updated March 28, 2024by Unbiased team

Explore ten of the cheapest European countries to retire in that still offer an excellent quality of life.


  • Many European countries offer ideal retirement options for US retirees. 

  • When assessing a retirement country, be sure also to consider the quality of life it offers. 

  • The list of the cheapest countries to retire to includes the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria.  

  • Consult with a financial advisor if you're planning to emigrate for your retirement; doing so will help maximize your money, get the most out of it, and enjoy a comfortable retirement. 

What should you look for when searching for the most affordable retirement places?  

When researching cheap places to retire, it is wise to consider all factors that will affect your quality of life and how much money you’ll have.  

While the list of factors is extensive, the following key elements should be at the top of your checklist: 

  • Cost of living: Look for countries with favorable exchange rates and low living expenses. 

  • Quality and accessibility of healthcare: Determine how accessible the local healthcare system is to expatriates. 

  • How easy it is to relocate to the country: Review visa regulations and residency requirements. 

Countries like those listed below are often cited as the best places for US citizens to retire, given their affordability, amenities, and other favorable qualities.  

Our top ten cheapest retirement countries consider the cost of living index (CLI) and the equally important quality of life index (QLI), contributing to a budget-friendly and fulfilling retirement.  

In the CLI, cities are ranked from high to low based on their overall cost of living score. This means that cities with higher costs of living have lower numbers.  

However, in the QLI, an empirical formula is used to determine the overall quality of life. In this case, the higher the index number, the better the quality of life.  

1. Netherlands 

First on our list of most affordable places to retire is the Netherlands.  

The Netherlands is an excellent place for retirees due to the favorable ratio between a high quality of life and its moderate cost of living.  

The country has a well-developed healthcare system, beautiful landscapes, and a strong emphasis on outdoor activities. For instance, cycling is a popular mode of transport, making it easier to maintain a healthier lifestyle. 

The cost of living in the Netherlands is favorable, and the public services and amenities are excellent, which makes for a comfortable and stress-free retirement. Moreover, the Netherlands' progressive and inclusive culture further enhances its appeal as a retirement destination. 

  • CLI: 68.6 

  • QLI: 198.5 

2. Finland 

Finland is an excellent retirement option due to its high standard of living and efficient public services.  

The country also boasts unspoiled natural beauty, a robust healthcare system, and a secure environment, which add to its appeal. 

Finland's cost of living is moderate, but the country’s quality of life is the major draw – especially the low crime rates and strong social support networks.  

Furthermore, Finland's cultural richness and dedication to environmental sustainability add to its overall retirement appeal. 

  • CLI: 67.5 

  • QLI: 190.4 

3. Austria 

Austria is an ideal destination for retirees who enjoy stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a high standard of living.  

Its cost of living is balanced by its excellent public services, healthcare, and social safety net. 

The country's charming cities, outdoor activities, and cultural events create a fulfilling retirement experience. Austria's focus on environmental sustainability and overall well-being makes it even more appealing for those looking for the best places to retire on a budget. 

  • CLI: 66.0 

  • QLI: 181.5 

4. Estonia 

Estonia is another excellent choice for retirement because of its affordable cost of living, vibrant culture, and high-quality public services.  

The country's innovative e-governance, efficient healthcare system, and engaging recreational opportunities make it an enjoyable retirement option. 

The cost of living in Estonia is moderate, but the quality of life is excellent, thanks to the digital infrastructure and bureaucratic transparency. Moreover, the picturesque (and relatively flat) landscapes add to a comfortable and enriching retirement experience. 

  • CLI: 98.0 

  • QLI: 180.1 

5. Spain 

Spain is a sought-after retirement destination due to its sunny weather, diverse culture, and affordable living costs.  

The country boasts a rich history and vibrant lifestyle, allowing retirees to enjoy a high quality of life. 

Spain's cost of living is low compared to many Western European countries. Its excellent healthcare system, delicious cuisine, and relaxed pace of life make it one of the more appealing, most affordable places to retire. 

  • CLI: 87.0 

  • QLI: 176.5 

6. Sweden 

Sweden is an outstanding place to spend your retirement.  

It offers a high quality of life, a social welfare system, and breathtaking natural landscapes. While the cost of living is relatively high, their healthcare system is comprehensive, and their public services are efficient. 

Sweden strongly emphasizes families, work-life balance, and sustainable living practices. Its economy is strong, and the crime rates are low, adding to the appeal for retirees looking for a safe, comfortable, and culturally rich environment. 

  • CLI: 111.0 

  • QLI: 175.0 

7. Slovenia 

Slovenia beckons retirees with its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and well-balanced lifestyle.  

While not one of the cheapest retirement countries, Slovenia's cost of living is still reasonable, making it affordable without compromising on quality.  

The country boasts a robust healthcare system, a safe environment, and a welcoming culture, all of which enhance retirement. 

  • CLI: 90.0 

  • QLI: 173.4 

8. Lithuania 

Lithuania emerges as an excellent retirement destination with its affordable living costs, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.  

The country's healthcare system, safety, and welcoming communities contribute to a desirable quality of life.  

The cost of living in Lithuania is typically lower than in other European countries. Yet, retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with diverse recreational opportunities and a robust sense of community. 

  • CLI: 85.0 

  • QLI: 165.0 


Portugal is a sought-after destination for retirees due to its pleasant climate, rich culture, and affordable living costs.  

The country on the Iberian Peninsula offers a high quality of life, excellent healthcare, and a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle. 

Portugal's lower cost of living makes it an attractive option as a cheap place to retire. Its diverse landscapes, historic charm, and friendly communities further enhance its appeal. 

  • CLI: 75.0 

  • QLI: 164.1 

10. Croatia 

Croatia stands out as an excellent retirement destination because of its stunning coastline, historic towns, and low cost of living.  

The country offers a high standard of living, a rich cultural scene, and a warm Mediterranean climate.  

Despite the moderate living costs, retirees can still enjoy comfortable living expenses without breaking the bank. Croatia's welcoming communities, diverse landscapes, and cultural heritage also make for a fulfilling retirement experience on the Adriatic shores. 

  • CLI: 77.0 

  • QLI: 164.1 

How do I retire abroad? 

Retiring abroad requires careful planning, where you must carefully consider the following:  

  • Obtaining the correct visa 

  • Understanding tax implications 

  • Accessing retirement savings and Social Security 

  • Ensuring sufficient healthcare coverage.

Part of the process requires researching visa requirements, planning for taxes, exploring international banking options, and investigating healthcare availability and costs.  

To this end, liaising with a regulated financial advisor to help you navigate these complexities, optimize tax strategies, and create an enduring financial plan tailored to your unique situation is strongly advisable.  

Get expert financial advice  

The most affordable places to retire outside the US all offer something special.  

Emigration involves complex financial decisions, so it's best to seek expert financial advice from a registered financial advisor.  

Let Unbiased match you with a professional who can help you choose the best places to retire on a budget based on your unique circumstances. 

Find a financial advisor.  


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.