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Retirement for Expats in Spain

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2013

Retiring to Spain  

Spain is on the top list of countries people all over the world wish to retire to, although the rank is declining in recent years because of its financial turmoil. However, in 2013, an article from The Telegraph still named Spain as the No. 4 in the world, if we don’t need to consider a visa.  
If you have retired in another country but want to move to Spain you should consider a visa, unless you are a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

If you are a family member of a citizen, of an EEA country or Switzerland, you can normally get the visa though an easier route. For more Spanish visas and immigration information, please see here:  https://www.interior.gob.es/modelos-de-solicitud-37/extranjeria-342 or here https://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/index.html.

If you are still a Spanish citizen and retired in another country, there is no restriction on you living in Spain.  Normally, you will not receive a state pension unless you had paid pension contributions in Spain.

You can apply for a Non-Lucrative Residence Permit if you are not a citizen, or a family member of a citizen, of an EEA country or Switzerland. To apply, you need to meet certain requirements. For example; you need to prove you have an annual income of no less than EUR25,560.04 and EUR6390.12 for each additional applicant. Some articles on several immigration forums suggest that it will increase the success rate of your initial application if you can provide the evidence of pre-existing liquid capital to boost your annual manageable capital to EUR75,000 for the main applicant and EUR15,000 for each additional applicant. The initial visa lasts one year and a renewal visa is valid for two years. The General Secretary of Immigration and Emigration (Secretaría General de Inmigración y Emigración) gives details about this route on its website here: https://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja011/.

Health care is another major consideration. If you are not a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, you will be required to have adequate medical insurance when you apply for a visa. Citizens of an EEA country or Switzerland should make sure to obtain a valid European Health Insurance Card before entering Spain. This will enable you to have the health services in the Spanish National Health System (Sistema Nacional de Salud, SNS) at a reduced costs or sometimes even free.  For more information about Spanish healthcare, please see National Health Service for expats in Spain.


Retiring in Spain

When to retire

The current official retirement age in Spain is 65. This will be increased by one month annually between 2013 and 2018 and by two months annually between 2019 and 2026. From 2027, the retirement age will be 67. Furthermore, to get a state pension, you should have paid social security contribution for at least 33 years.
There is also an early retirement age at 61. However, you will receive a reduced state pension.  You can qualify if you are in the category of forced early retirement, which means:

You  can also apply for a Voluntary early retirement if you have reach 61 years old and have made a social security contribution for at least 35 years.
For more information about pension in Spain, please see here: https://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Trabajadores/index.htm.


Life of Retirement

Popular retirement places

The Costa del Sol, the Coast of the Sun in English, is the coastal region in south Spain and the most popular retirement place.  The beautiful scenery, slow pace of life and low living costs attract thousands of Europeans every year. Famous cities and towns includes Málaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, San Pedro de Alcántara, Estepona, Manilva, Casares, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Nerja, Frigiliana and Torrox.

Financial planning

Most people would like to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. However it’s not news now to see that many foreign residents, having been retired to Spain, have decided to move back to their original countries. This is mainly due to their struggling financial conditions in the past few years. It is therefore recommended to have a detailed financial plan for retirement as early as possible and as sufficient as possible.



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