Moving to Spain

Am I too old (80) to move to Spain? I Am  an independent woman in excellent health and love the more relaxed style of living in Europe.


You should do what you want to. But it would be easier for you to live in an area with expats, rather than inland, if you don't speak Spanish & near private medical facilities & shops that speak English.

Or another option is moving to Gibraltar.


Welcome to the forum and good luck with your potential move to Spain.

Spain is a delightful country no matter what age you are!

There is a specific residence visa (the No Lucrativa Visa or NLV) for financially independent (often retired) foreigners. Americans usually have quite generous pensions and savings, so it should not be a problem. (The current savings amount - with no monthly income - to demonstrate your financial independence is about 30k euros.)

The official immigration page is here:

All residence applications need you to get proof of health insurance too, typically a Spanish private health insurance policy. Like USA, they get more expensive with age and pre-existing conditions. But it's usually substantially cheaper than a comparable USA policy. Spain has good public and private healthcare, so I don't think that should be a concern.

However, I believe that USA has free health cover (Medicare) for its pensioners, and I don't think this applies abroad. This may or not be an issue for you, depending on whether you already rely on it, or have continuing private health insurance. In any case, I believe it's possible, once you are resident in Spain, to enroll in their public health system in order to enjoy free healthcare there... but I don't know the rules applying to this.

Age, at times, is just a number.  My dad was very active right up till he passed, at 90.  So I would not let that stop me.

You may also find that European life style is actually more health inducing than US.  Many people walk much more here than in US and that has a lot of health benefits. 

I've found myself frequently, now, asking myself  "if not now, when would I do this?"  And the answer is always "now is always the best time to do something". 

Good luck and regards


You're right, of course, "now" is "the best time to do something". Unfortunately, I always feel that tomorrow is the easiest time to do something. :-)

I also agree that you often see a much more healthful lifestyle here. After all, the "Mediterranean diet" is a European invention. :-) I think it depends a lot where you move to, but I find it's especially nice if you pick a seaside town with a nice promenade - and there are many in Spain. This means you get the motivation of joining in with others, and getting into a regular (daily, hopefully) routine.

I used to live in Limassol, Cyprus (not Spain, but Mediterranean), and it has great beachfront area, with a lovely shaded promenade, and about 7km of seaside path. It was always busy. Mornings more exercise-y, evening more like a family stroll or a digestion walk after dinner. I swam nearly every day, and was always impressed to see the retirees all gathered on the beach at 6 or 7 am and having a morning swim (or morning walk) before it got too hot. Many were in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s.

For Americans, I think many are shocked by how great public health treatment is, and how inexpensive. The USA has the highest cost of medical treatment in the world... and so private insurance is similarly expensive. And most folks have to have private health insurance. They then come to Europe and discover most people here rely on their public health system, and a very small percentage have private insurance. And, despite some carping, the standard of care provided by the state systems across Europe is typically very good.

mscarolyn030, I moved from the US to Spain in July '22. I turned 65 a couple of weeks after the move. In the seven months since my move I am more physically and mentally fit than I've been in for years. You mentioned lifestyle as a reason to move. I decided not to buy a car as I'm living in the city and use public transportation for all my needs. So I'm walking a lot more than I did when in the US. I also have been traveling a lot as I explore the local area and other parts of Europe. Last fall when friends were in Italy I met them there for a wonderful visit.

I choose to move as a single person and am now in a town where I don't have friends. I have met some wonderful people and I know I'll have friends eventually but it has been lonely at times.

Regarding, can you move at your age? Rather than ask if you can move to Spain, perhaps make the question something you may know more about. Ask yourself if you can move to another State in another part of the US. If you feel you have the capability to do that, I'd say you could move to Spain. Yes, it will be more complicated and more complex - but it is doable with good planning and careful preparation. If you are physically and mentally adept then you can do it with good planning and preparation.

I made my move as simple as possible. I sold or gave away all my possessions but some clothes, mementos, and electronics. I brought three large suitcases and two mid-sized ones here with all my possessions in them. I'm renting as I explore the area so I can move to a different community or back to the US very easily.

I enrolled in a Spanish school the month after I got here and have continued to work on my Spanish online and with a local language exchange buddy.

To make a move from the US to Spain easier, here are my suggestions:

Start learning Spanish before you come and practice every day for at least an hour. If you decide to live in a larger city or in a place with a lot of expats you will not need much Spanish but you should know some. I decided to live in a mid-sized town that doesn't have many expats and it has been challenging. Most difficult for me is understanding people on the phone. I attribute this to a combination of them talking fast, the quality of sound on the phone, and not being able to see their mouth.

It will be easier to transition if you choose to move to city or area that has a lot of expats. I didn't do this and find the lack of people with experience and lack of resources to be frustrating. When I went to get my covid booster and flu shot the local health service didn't know how to register me in their system. I had to call the national office and handed my cell phone to the local provider who was then told what needed to be done. Apparently I was the first immigrant this office had dealt with. Additionally, while the person on the phone spoke some English, no one at the local health office spoke English. They were kind and helpful but it was a struggle. Please realize that vaccinations are not provided by your health insurance but by the national health service. Thinking back over what I've written you may wonder why I would struggle and if you would. I want to re-iterate, the challenges I've faced are due to being in a smaller community that has few expats. I live in the north of Spain along the Bay of Biscay in a town of less than 200,000 people. Frequently I find people who speak English and I can always use my phone's translation app for essential things. It is a matter of being frustrated by the language difficulty. Again, moving to an area with a larger population of expats will mean you'll have resources and people who have blazed the trail for you.

I'm very glad I had visited Spain for many years prior to moving here as it gave me perspective on where I wanted to live. I then made a two month visit here in March and April prior to making the decision to move. If this is possible for you, the benefit will be incredible. I was able to secure a short-term rental for the first month of my move in July when I was visiting in March/April. I knew the area of the city I wanted to move into from exploring and visiting it at different times of the day. Emotionally it was empowering as I envisioned myself living there so it wasn't a vague dream but had some concrete experiences associated with it. I arrived in March with some clothes and other items that I wouldn't need until I returned in July. My landlord allowed me to leave a suitcase full of things there until I returned in July and didn't charge me anything.

That brings me to the need to know the requirements of getting the visa. Others have mentioned this so I will not review it other than to say that this is why I say you need to plan and plan well. I knew I needed to submit a contract with my application and that I needed to include the address on the application. So my landlord provided me a contract for the first month. But I also knew I'd want to rent and not live long-term at the place I rented for the first month. So my two weeks were spent in finding my year-long rental. Once I got that address, I went to the local registrar and to the national office for foreigners and registered my visa using my permanent address and not the address on my application. Your situation may require other decisions. This is the one critical difference in your move from the US to Spain as to that of moving within the US. You must plan it out well. You must think through all the steps from the beginning to end. It isn't as complex as filing US taxes but there are several steps. If you can do this you'll be able to move to Spain at 80 or even 90.

Finally, you must know why you moving. I strongly believe you should not be moving away from something but  TO something. With that said, I don't want to live in the US and was moving away from there. But I chose to live in Spain for personal reasons. You need to be clear on why you are choosing Spain. You've said "lifestyle of Europe" and that is a good start. Add some meat to those bones of a reason. I also say that the reason I chose Spain was the lifestyle. But once I dig down my personal reasons are likely very different than yours. We both may enjoy living without a car and find pleasure in using public transportation and walking to/from the grocery store. You may not share my desire to explore and travel the continent, which is a significant reason for me to be here. Hiking is critical for me and so I wanted a place with ample options in my backyard. Nature photography is another one for me. These are what give me joy from living in Spain. And when I share photos or the story of a hike with family and friends it helps me know that I made the right decision to move to Spain. And it is why I say that I'd go through all the struggles and challenges again in order to have the life I am building here in Spain.

@tomwins Just read your reply to the senior woman wondering if she's too old to move to Spain. Where along the Bay of Biscay do you live?

My husband and I retired to Spain from the US 2 years ago. We started out in Granada but recently moved to the north coast of Spain- Castro Urdiales. If you're anywhere near there and would like to meet for coffee let me know.