Personal Finance

9 best European retirement destinations

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If you've been yearning for a European adventure, retirement may be the perfect time to go — and stay.

Expat resource Live and Invest Overseas has identified the top European destinations for retirement. The report is based on 13 criteria including cost of living, environmental conditions, health care, recreation and how easily someone who only speaks English can get by.

From the bustling cities of Paris and Budapest to serene Grecian beaches, these nine locales may be worth adding to your retirement inspiration list:

Algarve region, Portugal

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal.
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Study author Kathleen Peddicord said the southwest region of Portugal "could be Europe's most famous secret." Algarve boasts more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe, she said — all the better to enjoy its abundance of land and water activities, like golfing and snorkeling.

It's affordable, too. The cost of living in Portugal is on average 30 percent lower than in any other country of the region, said Peddicord.

"If you're looking for sunshine and you like Europe, this would be our top pick for where to look," she said.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta.
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There's a lot of fun to be had in the tiny Maltese capital — wine tasting, fishing and touring museums and grand churches. Live and Invest Overseas also calls out the country for its warm climate and low cost of living compared with most other Western European countries.

Another draw is that expats can qualify for residency just by spending 16,000 euros per year (about 1,350 euros per month) on rent. In August, the area took second on Live and Invest Overseas' "2017 world's top retirement destinations" ranking.

Saint-Chinian, France

Vineyards near Saint Chinian, France.
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This "Beauty and the Beast"-like town of fewer than 2,000 residents offers way more than meets the eye: fresh food and wine, high-quality health care, good infrastructure and a low crime rate. The growing expat community also appreciates the area's art, history, slower pace of life and affordability.

"You can buy a little stone country house in or just outside Saint-Chinian for less than 100,000 euros [about $117,000]," said Peddicord.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
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This retirement hot spot showcases sunny weather, good health care, one of Europe's lowest crime rates and incredibly cheap prices.

"Americans think mostly of France, Italy, Ireland, and maybe Spain in Europe," Peddicord said. "They don't usually think of Portugal. For that reason, it's really undervalued."

She also points out the area's similarities to Paris — both share classic style architecture, with big squares and monuments and beautiful parks and gardens. Lisbon, however, is "much, much more affordable," she said.

Budapest, Hungary

Budpest, Hungary
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You'll never be bored in Budapest. This high-energy city has everything — thermal baths, an abundance of shopping areas and yummy cafes, plus tours of its grandiose opera houses and famed Hungarian Parliament building.

It's a "quirky, edgy" city, said Peddicord — perfect for a younger retiree or one who seeks "a little more of a cultural adventure."

Citta Sant'Angelo, Italy

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About an hour drive from Rome, this classic Italian village of about 15,000 people is perfect for seniors who dream of spending their golden years roaming historic churches and savoring fresh olive oil and delicious wine.

"It's Tuscany but at a much lower price," said Peddicord. "It's the same landscapes, the same architecture. It's all about long expansive fields and ochre-colored farmhouses."

Living in the scenic area does, however, come with some strings.

"You're going to have to learn Italian," she said — the vast majority of residents do not speak English.

Chania, Crete, Greece

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Settle down in this Grecian paradise if you're seeking to sunbathe on gorgeous beaches, chow down at waterfront restaurants and tour the Archaeological Museum of Chania and the Nautical Museum. Peddicord said English-only speakers can generally get by.

The downside to Greek islands is their seasonality. For that reason, Peddicord said, Crete may be a great choice for retirees looking to only spend part of their year abroad.

Bled, Slovenia

Bled Island, Slovenia
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First lady Melania Trump's home country, Slovenia, is chock full of activities for the adventurous retiree.

This resort town offers alpine climbing, golfing, horseback riding, kayaking, ziplining and much more. In the winter, get ready for alpine skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, sledding and snowshoeing.

The postcard-like setting is also surprisingly affordable. Peddicord estimates that the cost of living for a couple is about $1,475 per month. That's the cheapest of all the areas on the list.

Le Marais, Paris, France

Paris, France.
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The City of Lights is recognized for its lovely cafes, bakeries, boutiques and art galleries. The Marais district in particular is renowned for its unique medieval character.

This is "one of Paris' most trendy and desirable neighborhoods," Peddicord said — so don't expect cheap prices. It has the highest cost of living of all the cities on the list at about $3,050 per month for a couple.

Still, Peddicord thinks the U.S. dollar's strength and the area's recent tourism struggles are "a window of opportunity."

"Average prices are a little more affordable right now," she said.