Retire in Europe

Now is one of the best times for Australians to pack up and move to Europe. The great attraction is real estate. In France, Spain, Greece and Portugal the real estate markets have collapsed. And combined with the current strength of the Australian dollar, this means that it has become affordable to live what is the European dream of many.

At the moment, you can buy the classic chateau in France for A$750,000 or the ubiquitous and gorgeous stone country cottage for less than A$120,000 – but with the old, stone pretty ones, beware of reconstruction/renovation costs and upkeep.

In Spain, apartments and luxury homes are up for grabs—cheap. Prices have fallen by almost half in many areas. You can buy a four-bedroom apartment in a hilltop town in southern Spain, with expansive rural views and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and beaches ten minutes away, for about A$400,000. Or you can buy a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Barcelona for around A$150,000.

And, of course, there is the whole European lifestyle thing: the food and wine, the people, the culture, the proximity to so many wonderful countries, the landscape, including great skiing, and even the politics.

But the fact is, Europe is not as cheap as Asia. Europe is not fundamentally cheaper, as is Asia.

If you want a luxurious lifestyle in Europe, you will pay for it. Perhaps, right now, not as much as you would in Australia, but certainly more than in Asia. And, unlike most countries in Asia, Australia is not a mere six to eight hours away on a direct flight.

As well, there are issues with long stay visas for the non-EU passport holder.

Even so, for the well off Eurocentric retiree, Europe provides a real opportunity for a new life after retirement, whether for a few months, a year of forever.


Visas for Europe 

The VISA stumbling block.

There is, however, one massive problem in ‘packing up and taking off’ to Europe. And that is the difficulty of obtaining a long-stay visa. 

The Schengen Convention limits non-EU or non-UK citizens to just three months stay in any one six month period in the Schengen area. (See Visa Box)

All is not lost though. Long-term visas are available. But they are not easy to obtain.

Visa rules relating to long-term periods - mostly for study, work and business visits - are determined by each individual EU country. 

A Window – Long Stay Visas.

 Australian citizens who wish to stay in a Schengen country, like France or Spain, for more than 90 days must get a visa.

Applications must be made to the Schengen member country directly. The rules/requirements can vary between countries. France (see visa box) may have different requirements than say Portugal or Spain (see visa box).

It is achievable, but it takes time, energy and it is never a sure thing until you get your visa.