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Spain Becoming An Obvious Choice For USA Retirees

Americans moving to Spain

Growing numbers of Americans have been coming to Spain to live and, perhaps especially, to retire.

We’ve definitely noticed an increase in the number of Americans looking to buy homes on the Costa del Sol. And it’s not isolated only to us. The phenomenon of Americans moving here, or wanting to move here, has caught the eye of American and European news publications in recent months. There was a lengthy article in Bloomberg near the end of July and another in Forbes Magazine around the same time.

The immediate impetus in this case was the striking down of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court near the end of June. As you can see in the graph below that charts the search term “move to Spain” on Google, interest spiked dramatically around this time.

Moving to Spain search Amerida


But, while the current rash of articles were driven by another of the increasingly frequent political crises faced by the USA, there is no doubt that this is part of a longer-term trend. As a result, Spain has seen the number of American-born resident grow from 17,413 in 1998 to 57,140 in 2021.

In many ways, the attraction of Spain for retiring Americans is a bit of a no-brainer

The weather is one obvious attraction. No harsh winters and 300+ days of sun down here on the Costa del Sol. Tell that to a retiree from Buffalo, New York and they’re already packing their bags.

But there’s more.

According to, a site that compares data from different countries, regions and cities, consumer prices (including rent) are 97.25% higher in Seattle, Washington than in Marbella. If we compare capital cities, we find that consumer prices, including rent, are almost 44% lower in Madrid than in Washington, DC.

The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Marbella is 900€, while the average cost for the same one-bedroom apartment in Seattle is 2,270€. And purchase price per square foot for a downtown apartment is 61.42% higher in Seattle.

Childcare in Seattle costs three times what it costs in Marbella!

Spain is a safer place to live than America

Of course, cost of living isn’t the only determining factor as to whether people are attracted to a country or not. There’s many places in the world that are much cheaper than Spain but they aren’t magnets for retirees or so-called digital nomads.

One of those factors is levels of crime and violence.

Looking at the big picture, there is the 2022 Global Peace Index, which measures the peacefulness of 163 different countries. The annual study focuses on three “domains”: societal safety & security, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. Afghanistan, for instance, comes in at 163 out of 163. It is a very violent place.

Spain comes in at number 29, whereas the USA comes in at 129. But America is not just less peaceful according to broad social measures. It also has much higher rates of crime, including violent crime, than does Spain. Spain comes in at number 26 for murders in the world, with 0.6 per 100,000 people, whereas the United States sits at number 137, with 6.3 murders per 100,000. That’s a murder rate that is ten times higher!

In terms of robberies, the USA has 314 per 100,000 people, while Spain has 129 per 100,000. Just from these few examples it is obvious that Spain is a much safer country.

Health Costs are much cheaper in Spain than America

For seniors looking to retire, healthcare is also obviously a very big deal. Of course, it’s important for families who want to move to Spain as well. You don’t want to have to mortgage your home because your toddler put a button up their nose, requiring a visit to the emergency room.

Spain has both private and public health systems but the public system is very well funded and popular. Those on a state pension over sixty-five have free access to the healthcare system, as do pregnant women. Anyone else who pays into the social security system as a resident also has access to the system, which even includes subsidized prescription drugs based on income. Emergency services are free and legally a right for all in Spain.

Even if you have to purchase private insurance, it is much, much cheaper in Spain. The average cost of family coverage in the USA is over 1000€, whereas the average for a family of four in Spain is 130€. There is even a sort of public, for-pay health insurance scheme that was set up for non-residents who wanted to access the public healthcare system. This system is calledConvenio Especial, and for people over 65 years of age, it costs 157€ per month and covers pre-existing conditions.

For those under 65 it costs only 60€ though, in fact, a single person in their 30s can get private health coverage for as low as 35€/month. For this reason, Spain is renowned for its high quality, public healthcare system.

Numbeo ranks Spain at number 6 on its health care quality index, while the United States come in at 33. Not surprisingly, Spain is one of the healthiest countries in the world with the highest life expectancy. In 2022, the Spanish life expectancy is almost 84 years of age, which is in the USA it has fallen to 76 years, an eight year difference.

So, Spain has great weather, great healthcare, it’s safe and has a relaxed and healthy lifestyle. Sure, Spain also has its share of political crises but compared to the USA, it feels like a sea of tranquility most of the time.

Is it really any surprise that more and more people from the USA are choosing Spain to live?

If you are looking to relocate to Spain from the United States we can help, please contact us.

By Adam Neale | Property News | September 17th, 2022

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