Retirement Rankings

Overall Ranking

Quality of Life

Integration and Acceptance

Economics

1st

100 pts

1st

100 pts

7th

75.06 pts

9th

77.27 pts

Category Rankings

Weather

5th


Healthcare
2nd


Flight Distance
6th

Security

7th


Migrant's Acceptance

4th


English Proficiency

12th

Cost of Living

9th


Tax Optimization

2nd

Country Population: 47,482,823

Weather

Spain’s climate varies widely, with the northern regions experiencing cooler temperatures and more rainfall, while the southern and eastern parts enjoy a Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hot summers. Central Spain has a continental climate with more extreme temperature variations. Madrid’s continental climate leads to significant temperature variations, with hot summers and cool winters, showing an average annual temperature around 60°F. In contrast, Barcelona and Valencia, with their Mediterranean climates, exhibit milder temperature fluctuations, providing a more consistent year-round environment, with Barcelona averaging 17°C (62°F) and Valencia slightly warmer at 18°C (64°F). Málaga and other cities in Andalusia enjoy a subtropical Mediterranean climate, resulting in the warmest average annual temperature among the Spanish cities at 66°F, indicative of its southern coastal location.

The Balearic Islands typically enjoy average annual temperatures around 18°C (64°F), ideal for those who appreciate mild winters and warm, enjoyable summers. Conversely, the Canary Islands offer a more consistent climate, with average annual temperatures hovering around 20°C (68°F), rarely facing extreme weather changes. This consistency in mild weather throughout the year makes both island groups particularly attractive for people considering relocation, providing a comfortable and stable environment conducive to a high quality of life.

Healthcare

In Spain, expats have access to both public and private healthcare systems. If employed or self-employed, contributing to the Spanish social security grants access to the public healthcare. Expats can also opt for private health insurance, which offers quicker access to specialists and more hospital choices. It’s important for expats to register with the local health center and obtain a health card. While healthcare standards are high nationwide, availability of services may vary between regions due to the decentralized system managed by autonomous communities.

In Spain, several healthcare providers cater to the needs of retired expats with various insurance options. These plans may include services like hospitalization, outpatient care, specialist consultations, and even international coverage. The cost of these insurance plans is influenced by factors such as the individual’s age, desired level of coverage, pre-existing health conditions, and the geographical area of residence in Spain. Each company provides different levels of customization for their plans, ensuring that retirees can find a policy that best matches their healthcare needs and financial considerations.

The cost of private health insurance in Spain for individuals over 60 varies, with a general range from around U$55 to U$325 per month depending on the coverage (medical and dental coverage). For minimal coverage focusing on emergency care and basic medical services, prices can range from around U$55 to U$110 per month. Plans that offer a good balance of coverage, including specialist visits, some preventive care, and hospitalization, might range from U$110 to U$220 per month. Premium plans offering extensive coverage, lower deductibles, and possibly international coverage can exceed U$220 and reach upwards of U$325 or more per month.

There’s also a public insurance option called Convenio Especial, costing around U$170 monthly for those over 65, providing a way for expats ineligible for free SNS coverage to access public healthcare​.

Flight Duration

There are multiple daily flights from Madrid to New York, operated by various airlines. For instance, Delta offers flights every day at 10:15 AM, and Iberia also has daily flights, with departures at 12:30 PM and an additional flight at 16:10 PM on most days. These flights connect Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) to John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and other New York area airports, with flight times averaging around 8 hours for direct flights. There is also a direct flight from Madrid to San Francisco and other main cities in the US daily available and the duration of the flight is around 13 hours. There are also direct flights from Barcelona to New York, San Francisco and other main cities in the US on a daily basis. The duration of the flights ranges from 9 to 14 hours.

Flight prices from the US to Spain are subject to significant variations influenced by seasonality, airline choice, locations and other factors. In the low season, spanning late fall to winter (excluding holidays), economy round-trip fares may range from $300 to $600 on budget airlines and $600 to $1,000 on major carriers. During the high season, encompassing summer and holiday periods, prices can surge, with budget airlines offering fares between $500 and $800 and major airlines pricing tickets from $1,000 to over $2,000, particularly for last-minute or direct flights. These indicative prices are prone to fluctuations depending on the departure city, airline policies, and the timing of the booking.

Security

spain migrant acceptance

Living in Spain is generally considered safe, especially when compared to many other countries around the world. Spain’s overall crime rate is one of the lowest in Europe, particularly concerning violent crimes. Of the countries that registered some violent crime in 2023, Spain is the 8th safest in Europe. Although violent crime is uncommon, petty crimes like pickpocketing and theft, especially in tourist areas and large cities like Barcelona and Madrid, are more prevalent.

The US Department of State’s travel advisory for Spain currently places the country at Level 2, advising travelers to exercise increased caution due to terrorism. While terrorist attacks have occurred in the past, such incidents are sporadic. The Spanish government maintains a high alert level for terrorism, but these events are unpredictable and should not deter you from visiting or living in Spain​. Living in Spain offers a secure environment, thanks to effective law enforcement, a stable political climate, and comprehensive healthcare.

Migrants’ Acceptance

Gallup’s research sheds light on the varying degrees of acceptance for migrants across the European Union and worldwide, presenting an intricate tapestry of attitudes and policies. The EU’s overall score of 5.92 in migrant acceptance is marginally higher than the global average of 5.67, indicating a generally welcoming stance towards migrants within its member states.

Spain emerges as a notable example of migrant acceptance within the European context, ranking 7th among European countries and 17th globally. This position underscores Spain’s relatively open and welcoming attitude towards migrants and expatriates, a characteristic that is increasingly defining its socio-political identity. Spain’s ranking reflects its policies, societal attitudes, and historical experiences with migration, distinguishing it as a country that not only accommodates but also appreciates the value and contributions of migrants. Particularly for expats, Spain offers a conducive environment, marked by a blend of cultural richness, economic opportunities, and social acceptance, making it an attractive destination for individuals seeking new beginnings in a foreign land.

English Proficiency

While Spanish is the primary language for over 92% of the population, English is introduced as a second language in schools from an early age. However, despite these efforts, the proficiency and confidence in English among Spaniards vary, with many still feeling more comfortable using their native language.

Spain is ranked 35th out of 113 countries in English proficiency, with a score of 535, indicating moderate language knowledge and slightly above the global average of 493. In Europe, Spain ranks 25th out of 34 countries, showing room for improvement in the rankings. Notably, younger Spaniards, especially those under 30, show higher proficiency levels, nearing 550, suggesting an improvement in English skills in recent years.

While a significant portion of the population, particularly those aged 26-40, have a decent command of English, nearly 60% of Spaniards surveyed in 2013 admitted to lacking the ability to communicate effectively in English. This linguistic landscape indicates a modest but growing English proficiency across the country, with younger generations showing a trend towards improvement in English skills over the years.

Cost of Living

The cost of living index is a crucial tool for comparing the relative prices of consumer goods and services across different locations. It encompasses categories like groceries, dining out, transportation, utilities, and rent, offering insights into the affordability of various life essentials.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, offers a unique blend of cultural richness, historical heritage, and modern amenities, making it an attractive destination for residents and expatriates alike.

Housing is a pivotal element of living expenses in Madrid. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately $1,322.50, while in less central areas, it’s around $968.05. Larger families looking at three-bedroom apartments would find the city center options averaging $2,321.49 per month and $1,655.28 in the suburbs. The purchase price per square foot reflects a similar urban-rural divide, costing about $446.54 in the city center and $258.77 on the outskirts.

Eating out in Madrid caters to all budgets. A simple meal in an affordable restaurant is priced at about $15.19, while a mid-range restaurant offers a three-course meal for two at around $65.12, excluding drinks. A typical fast-food meal costs about $9.77. Groceries offer good value, with milk, bread, and eggs priced at $4.41, $1.47, and $3.00 respectively.

For utilities and other expenses, the monthly cost for a standard 915 sq ft apartment averages $147.27, encompassing essentials like electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage. Internet services are available at $32.02 for a 60 Mbps connection with unlimited data. Gym enthusiasts would spend about $47.81 for a monthly membership, while private preschool childcare averages around $530.12 monthly.

When compared to cities like New York, Madrid offers a more affordable living experience. The overall cost of living in Madrid is 47.7% less expensive than in New York, with rent being approximately 67.7% lower. Such statistics highlight Madrid’s appeal as a cost-effective European capital, offering a high quality of life without the exorbitant price tag associated with many other major cities.

For smaller cities like Valencia, the cost of living contrast with New York, NY, is stark. In New York, consumer prices without rent are 112.6% higher than Valencia, and including rent, the difference jumps to 171.4%. Housing costs show a dramatic disparity, with New York’s rent prices 293.1% higher than Valencia’s. Eating out and groceries are notably pricier in New York, costing 126.0% and 126.7% more, respectively. Although New York’s local purchasing power is 10.3% higher, it may not offset the substantial cost differences in housing and food, essential factors in the cost of living comparison between a smaller city like Valencia and a metropolis like New York.

Tax Optimization

tax optimization

Spain has a double taxation agreement with the US and offers a relatively favorable tax treatment for pensions. However, taxes on worldwide income apply, so planning and advice are essential. Spain taxes residents on their worldwide income, but it also offers a special regime for expatriates established by the Royal Decree 687/2005 (Beckham Law). Under the Beckham Law, expatriates in Spain could elect to be taxed as non-residents for their first six years in the country, paying a flat income tax rate of 24% on their earnings up to €600,000 instead of the higher rates that apply to residents. This was significantly advantageous, considering that Spain’s tax rates for residents can go up to 50% or higher depending on the autonomous community of residence.