Money Minder UK

The best European cities to retire in 2023

Choosing where to settle down in your later years can be a tough decision. People don’t just pick where to retire based on desirability and proximity to friends and family anymore, but also consider other things like the level of well-being a city provides, and where they can be most financially stable. 

There are currently between 200,000 and 250,000 British retirees living in Europe. But which city is the most desirable for pensioners and people approaching retirement age in 2023? And how does London and the UK compare? 

Financial experts Money Minder looked at the 50 largest cities in Europe, and analysed eight different data points, including the available state pension allowance against the safety rate, cost of local transport and life expectancy to determine which cities offer the best experience for people who want to spend their leisure years overseas. 

What methodology have we used? 

Some of the data has been collated using Numbeo, a worldwide cost repository that compiles cost-of-living, crime and safety data.

To fully understand the desirability of cities across Europe, we looked at the below points, to ensure the study reflected the needs and desires of retirees: 

  • House price in Euros (per square metre) 
  • Crime rate (out of 100) 
  • Safety rate (out of 100)
  • Cost of local transport in Euros
  • Cost of basic groceries in Euros (including bread, milk, cheese and eggs) 
  • Number of leisure centres 
  • The minimum state pension allowance in Euros
  • Life expectancy at 65 

Lower costs are important for retirees who are trying to make their money work harder for them, and the cost of living is now a factor for many. Ensuring you have enough funds to fit your lifestyle and last throughout your retirement is imperative. A pension drawdown calculator can help you assess the risk of running down your pension funds too soon and to consider the pros and cons of putting in place a guaranteed income for life. 

On top of this, other retirees will want to prioritise safety, leisure opportunities and having a long, enjoyable life. 

Top 10 best European cities for people to retire

10 - Stuttgart, Germany 

Filled with green spaces it is already a popular city for people moving abroad with 20,000 newcomers arriving each year, and it was previously named as the world’s least stressful city. 

Despite being one of the more expensive cities to purchase a house in our index, the state pension in Stuttgart is one of the highest, and life expectancy at age 65 is 19.7 years. 

9 - Helsinki, Finland

With its stunning natural beauty and good public healthcare, Helsinki comes in ninth place. 

It is especially good for low crime rates, as Finland is often considered one of the safest countries in the world. There’s also a number of leisure options available in the city - along with public saunas dotted around.

8 - Valencia, Spain

Valencia is one of  many Spanish cities in the top 10. With a history that spans over 2,000 years, it’s been voted the best city to live in twice - not surprising for the birthplace of paella. 

Valencia sits in eighth place due to its low cost for groceries, high safety levels and the fact it’s one of the more affordable cities to purchase a house in.  

7 - Warsaw, Poland 

Poland’s capital city and its largest city is brimming with parks and nature reserves, and is even home to 88 parks. 

Warsaw boasts high safety figures for retirees, plus an average grocery basket costing less than €25. The cheaper cost of living is reflected in its state pension, which is one of the lowest, equating to just under €250 per month. 

6 - Zagreb, Croatia 

Zagreb,the largest city in Croatia, is also the most populated. The city has a rich and mesmerising history, and is also home to a large general hospital, Sveti Duh. 

It’s sixth  place in the index is due to relatively low house prices, good safety rates, and cheap transport - the average cost of a one-way ticket is €0.57. 

5 - Dresden, Germany 

Nicknamed the ‘jewel box’ of Germany  this is a hidden gem, home to an abundance of elegant cultural and architectural treasures. 

Dresden comes in fifth due to its low house prices and the best state pension - up to €2,100 per month. 

4 - Seville, Spain 

The largest city in Andalusia, Seville is the birthplace of tapas, and enjoys sunshine all year long, with just 80 days of rainfall a year. 

Seville also has low property prices in comparison to other cities on the index, and a high life expectancy rate at 20.5 years after the age of 65. 

3 - Malaga, Spain

Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, and also has the warmest winters of all large European cities - the minimum temperature ever recorded is - 4°C!

Leisure opportunities are plentiful in Malaga, from its 14 leisure centres, 45 wineries and 40 museums, second only to Madrid, which conveniently comes in second place…

2 - Madrid, Spain 

The Spanish capital city features high on the list for its quality of life, with low  crime rates and lower transport and grocery costs than other citiesin our index. 

1 - Zaragoza, Spain

The city in the northeastern region of Spain has a rich history and is home to a number of museums, monuments and attractions. While its other Spanish counterparts, such as Madrid and Barcelona, are more commonly known for their cathedrals, Zaragoza’s lesser known Basilica del Pilar boasts stunning baroque architecture and rich cultural heritage. 

Where did the UK compare? 

When looking at London in comparison to the 50 largest cities in Europe, it actually came last in the index. Highlighting how much the UK government may need to do to improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of British retirees, London fell short in all categories, due to its high house prices, relatively high crime rate, high cost of living and a lower minimum state pension than other cities. 

The bottom ten included other capital cities including Paris, Athens and Rome, suggesting that pensioners will have a better retirement in cities with a quieter pace of life outside the hustle and bustle. 

If you find yourself contemplating a future retirement overseas, and you have a defined contribution pension in the UK, you can opt to retain your pension fund in the UK and withdraw funds abroad, or you can move your pension pot with you, or even combine these options. 

Should you decide to leave your pension pot in the UK and access your pension while abroad, you will still have access to the pension options available to UK residents.

However there also exists the potential to transfer your pension abroad with you, but you’ll need to ensure that you transfer the funds into a qualifying recognised overseas pensions scheme, or there’ll be a tax charge. 

For those that have lived abroad or worked in another country for years, you may be able to contribute towards that country’s state pension scheme, along with a UK state pension. 

However, while we’ve included the state pension allowance as part of this research, it varies between countries and between residents depending on how long they have lived and worked there. Therefore, we have based our index on the minimum state pension allowance an individual can receive in those countries.

No matter where you choose to retire, consider a pension drawdown calculator to understand how your pension fund can be used to provide you an income in retirement and allow your pension fund to grow while you take money out of it to enjoy your later years. 

The top 50 best cities in Europe to retire

1 - Zaragoza 

2 - Madrid 

3 - Malaga 

4 - Seville

5 - Dresden 

6 - Zagreb 

7 - Warsaw 

8 - Valencia

9 - Helsinki 

10 - Stuttgart 

11 - Wroclaw

12 - Krakow 

13 - Berlin 

14 - Lisbon 

15 - Poznan

16 - Bucharest 

17 - Leipzig 

18 - Munich 

19 - The Hague 

20 - Prague 

21 - Hanover

22 - Lodz

23 - Vienna 

24 - Vilnius 

25 - Copenhagen 

26 - Dusseldorf

27 - Frankfurt 

28 - Budapest 

29 - Dortmund 

30 - Sofia 

31 - Hamburg 

32 - Marseille

33 - Palermo

34 - Turin 

35 - Dublin 

36 - Bremen 

37 - Essen 

38 - Cologne 

39 - Rotterdam 

40 - Riga 

41 - Barcelona 

42 - Genoa 

43 - Amsterdam 

44 - Rome 

45 - Athens

46 - Milan 

47 - Stockholm 

48 - Naples 

49 - Gothernburg 

50 - Paris 



The best places to retire index was created using eight data points, and each city was measured on a weighted score out of 100 for each data set, to create an index score overall out of 800. 

Money Minder looked at: 

  • House price in Euros (per square metre) from Numbeo
  • Crime rate (out of 100) from Numbeo
  • Safety rate (out of 100) from Numbeo
  • Cost of local transport in Euros from Numbeo
  • Cost of basic groceries (including bread, milk, cheese and eggs) from Numbeo
  • Number of leisure centres using Google Maps
  • The minimum state pension allowance 
  • Life expectancy at 65 using Statista

Please be aware these articles are for general information purposes only and correct at time of printing. We will not accept responsibility for any errors made or actions taken by any readers that have acted on the information contained. Answers given are for guidance only and specific advice should be taken before acting on any of the suggestions made. All information is based on our understanding of current tax practices, which are subject to change. Always remember when investing, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance and the value of some investment units can fall as well as rise.