World’s best quality of life…
World’s best health care…
World’s most beautiful cities…
Healthiest food… finest wine…
The good life defined.
But here’s what you may not realize about life in the Old World… It can be far more affordable than you might ever imagine.
The sweetest pleasures of life, there for the taking… Picnics in the world’s most beautiful gardens… long walks along the world’s most romantic rivers… afternoons lost among the cobblestones…
This Continent is a never-ending feast for your heart, your mind, your body, and your soul.
Café afternoons and Michelin-starred nights… gallery openings and museum exhibitions… seasonal celebrations and centuries-old festivals… bookstores and antique shops… luxury brands and farmers markets… fashion weeks and dance clubs… conversation groups and cooking classes… live theater… live music… movie cinemas showing first-run and foreign flicks (in English)… an active artist community… specialty food shops… spas and salons…
All in a setting of architectural delights and historic landmarks… shady squares and well-tended parks…
Hands down, no contest, in so many ways, Europe is the best place in the world to seek out what qualifies no question as a rich and full life.
Everywhere you turn you find something new to explore and discover… somewhere lovely to wander and linger…
This is a region of superlatives… so it’s no surprise that, for many, life in Europe really is as good as life gets.
Perhaps the most surprising part is that so much of all this glorious region of the world has to offer is available for far less cost than you might imagine…
Some of the best of it is even free (including, in some cases, health care).
How about a three-course meal for US$20 or less?
Or a lazy Sunday afternoon in a café, enjoying the passing show, for the price of but a single café au lait…
Those conversation groups, book clubs, and cooking classes I mentioned? You can typically join those for very little cost… again, even no cost.
Of course, walks among centuries-old rues and gallery openings don’t substitute for dinner on the table or wi-fi access.
That’s OK, because, in Europe, even in Paris, for example, which many might dismiss as absolutely out of reach, the more practical necessities of life also can be a steal… if you know your way around and where to go for the best deals.
Years ago, when we were preparing for our move from Paris to Panama City, Lief presented me with a budget showing that it would cost slightly more for our family to be in Panama City, Panama, than it had been costing us to live in Paris, France.
I suggested my husband the accountant double-check his math.
He assured me his figures were correct, and, indeed, Lief’s projections have played out.
Our day-to-day cost of living in Panama City is a little higher than it was in Paris.
How can this be?
Paris is the most beautiful, most romantic city in the world.
It’s also a place where your cost of living can be hugely variable and highly controllable.
And the same is true across France… and, indeed, across the Continent.
That is to say, you don’t need a royal’s budget to be able to enjoy life in the greatest cities on Earth.
In Paris, Lisbon, and beyond, you can live happily car-free, walking nearly anywhere you’d want to go. In central Paris, for example, the butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop, a half-dozen busy cafes, and as many lovely parks and gardens are all less than 15 minutes’ walk from almost any point.
And, when you want to venture beyond your quartier, the Metro will transport you from restaurant to nightclub, from museum to café for around US$2.
France and Portugal boast perhaps the world’s best infrastructure, and the cable TV, internet, telephone, and public transportation in these countries are all likely less costly than comparable services where you’re living now.
Our phone plan in Paris costs less than 40 euros per month and allows unlimited free calls anytime to anywhere in the United States and anywhere throughout Europe.
Take that, AT&T.
My point is that you shouldn’t deny or delay your dreams of a new life in the Old World because you’re worried you can’t afford them.
I lived seven years in Ireland then four years in Paris. Today, Lief and I divide our time between Panama and France… and we’ve traveled to every country on the Continent.
I’m here to tell you that… Europe?
Well, it can be a downright bargain.
Not Everyone Is Cut Out For Life In The Tropics Or The Developing World… And That’s OK!
In the more than 35 years I’ve been covering this beat, I’ve had the chance to meet and speak with untold numbers of expats and readers.
Each one has his or her own ideas about what, for them, would constitute the ideal quality of life in their new homes overseas.
Many love the proximity, the regular sunshine, and the affordability of the Americas…
While some prefer the exotic, adventure lifestyle and drop-dead low costs of living in Asia…
But, for some, nothing but Europe will do.
If you agree, I have exceedingly good news for you today…
You could be living your Continental dream in as few as 40 days from right now.
No kidding. I’ve broken it down and done the math.
More on this in a minute…
First, let’s look at the enviable lives of some of your fellow readers who have already realized their dreams of new lives in the Old World…
For Lucy And Patrick, Ed And Freya (And So Many Others)… Only The Old World Will Do
The Story Of Lucy And Patrick
After spending a year on the road, trying a series of places on for size, including several spots in the Americas, Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper and her family chose to settle in the “other” south of France. Not Provence (which, yes, is pricey), but southwest of there, in Aquitaine.
As Lucy explains, this other south of France is “colorful, eclectic, always changing, never following a formula, very open to retirees, and very affordable…”
Lucy has also spent a lot of time with her extended family at the other end of the Pyrenees, in the Languedoc region. This part of this country has a long history and a lot of heart. Today it’s building a reputation as well for its wine, producing world-ranking reds…
And, again, this part of this country is cheap. Lucy explains that a retired couple could live comfortably in the Languedoc region on a monthly budget of US$2,000, including rent.
The Story Of Ed And Freya
Ed and Freya Stanford are more than five years into their retirement in France, and they are more active and engaged in their new lives than they ever remember being in their old ones.
Ed and Freya travel regularly with their international expats club, take weekly French lessons, are members of both a walking/wine-tasting group and the local pétanque club, and have at least one lunch or dinner date with new friends each week.
Patrick Murphy, likewise, considered the whole world… and settled on the Continent…
“I love palm trees and hot sand underfoot on the beach,” Patrick says, “but I would find it hard to live without a change of seasons—crisp fall mornings, trees ablaze with color… the feeling of renewal that comes with the onset of spring.
“Moreover, some of us feel cultural connections with Europe and the Old World and like the idea of dividing our time between the beaches of Latin America and the cities and landscapes of ancient Europe.
“That’s why, when I was making my ‘retire-overseas’ plan,” Patrick explains, “I covered my bases. I bought a place where the palms grow (and where I might end up living one day).
“But my first retirement home is going to be in the heart of the Old City in a European capital.
“I first visited this part of Europe more than 25 years ago, again 10 years ago, and then I began visiting more often a couple of years ago. I’ve been living in Europe for 18 years, and, during that time, I’ve seen the usual tourist places as well as many that are off the beaten track. As I became more enamored with what this region has to offer, I began pricing real estate.
“Finally, after looking at many choices, I settled on a spacious apartment in a building dating from the Renaissance but remodeled over the years, with high ceilings, thick walls, and exposed wooden beams, overlooking a quiet courtyard and affording views of magnificent Baroque churches in the distance from its top floor…
“The cost was a fraction of what a similar place would be in a more developed and better-known European capital city.
“Leaving the apartment, I am just a few minutes’ walk from many restaurants, offering everything from hearty local fare to upscale gourmet cuisine, as well as French, Argentinian, Indian, Mexican, Scandinavian, Chinese, and many other choices, all at prices that are dirt cheap compared with Paris, London, or Moscow. The city also has museums with good exhibitions, fine offerings for music-lovers, classical and contemporary, and world-class basketball. Not really my thing, but making a move like this is all about being open to new ideas.
“This is a green city with parks and two rivers and good places for biking. I like to walk and can get to just about anything I need on foot. When I need to, I can get to the large, modern shopping mall using public transportation or one of the very cheap local taxis. It costs less than US$10 to take a taxi from the heart of Old Town to the modern, efficient airport (with many connections to other European destinations, on both major European carriers and the discount airlines).
“Because the city is so walkable, public transit is good, and taxis are cheap, I don’t need to own a car. I use the money I would have spent on keeping a car to pay for vacation expenses, such as renting a car for the few-hour drive to the beach.
“Did I mention the property taxes I have to pay on the spacious apartment in one of Europe’s loveliest Old Towns? Zero. Property taxes on residences were introduced only recently and apply only to the most expensive properties.
“In warm weather, Old Town buzzes with tourists from all over Europe and the world. Some have come to explore the place their ancestors hailed from. Others want to see one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved Old Towns, with world-class cathedrals and a castle on a hill, picturesque taverns in ivied courtyards serving good local beer, and lively night life.
“The city and this country have a rich and sometimes troubled history, located as they are on the fault line between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, between Eastern and Western Europe, in an area historically fought over and peopled by several nationalities, each of which contributed something to the fascinating blend of cultural influences to be savored here today…”
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter