Andalusia is known for its Mediterranean climate, over 70 miles of sandy beaches, and romantic Moorish architecture. In addition, plenty of sunshine, fresh seafood, wine, flamenco, and a generally healthy lifestyle are just a few reasons why Andalusia is not only a popular tourist destination but also a desirable retirement location.
Add accessible healthcare and affordable housing, and you have a recipe for a successful retirement plan.
I will officially reach retirement age in a few years, though I don’t plan to retire. Still, I’m thinking about all of the things one considers at this phase of life. As a travel writer, I can continue to work well past retirement age, and I will, but I don’t plan to travel as often as I do now. I’m not looking for a quiet retirement — I’m looking for an idyllic place with lots to keep me busy. After a recent visit to Andalusia, I concluded that it has everything I need and most of the things that I want.
Beauty Of All Sorts
Let’s start with the manmade beauty in this region, like the ornate Alhambra in Granada and the immense Plaza de España in Seville. And with 600 miles of coastline from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, Andalusia claims the world-famous beaches of the Costa del Sol — and the coastal cities of Malaga and Marbella.
Andalusia is also known for the Pueblos Blancos, or “white villages,” hilltop villages of whitewashed buildings surrounded by forests and natural parks. Why not retire surrounded by beauty?
I have always lived in sunny places, and I can not imagine living in any other type of climate. Andalusia receives approximately 320 days of sunshine per year. In the western part of the region, you also get plenty of rain in the winter. When I visited in late April, it rained frequently and was quite chilly, too. Andalusia is a large region, so the weather may vary a lot depending on where you are.
Accessibility To Exciting Cities
I’m really a city girl at heart. As I’ve gotten older I enjoy smaller cities, but I still want to have access to an urban environment without having to travel too far. Andalusia claims Seville, one of the world’s truly great cities and the capital city of the region. Seville is a major cultural center and has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Seville Cathedral, the largest medieval cathedral in the world. Who knows, maybe I’ll choose to live in Seville.
Proximity To The Rest Of Europe
After decades of flying from the U.S., having the rest of Europe so close will be a dream. No more jet lag. No more long, uncomfortable flights. A flight from Seville to Paris is just 2.5 hours. I foresee a lot of weekend getaways.
History And Culture
Andalusia is a treasure when it comes to culture and history; the list of cities with ancient ruins, UNESCO sites, and incredible architecture is long. There’s Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, and so much more. I could focus only on visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and probably be busy for the rest of my life. As a writer with a focus on travel, I couldn’t ask for more.
This city is best known for the beautiful Islamic fortress built in its hills. When the Catholics took over Granada in 1492, the Moors had been in power for over 600 years. Gratefully, the Catholics did not destroy the Alhambra or build a cathedral on top of it. In 1984, the Alhambra became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to exploring the Alhambra, Granada is a wonderful place to simply enjoy life — to drink wine and eat tapas or visit the Sacromonte to see a flamenco performance.
Pro Tip: Granada is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills; therefore, it is one of the best places to take in panoramic vistas and Instagramable sunsets. TravelAwaits’ own Inka Piegsa Quischotte has more on beautiful Granada.
“Siesta” is Spanish for a nap or a short respite. Siestas are a lovely tradition, and I don’t understand why the entire world does not adopt this lifestyle. In the summer, when it’s extremely hot in the afternoon, it just makes sense to take a break and relax for a few hours before resuming work and the chores of the day. Most shops close for 2–3 hours for lunch and a siesta. The Spanish tend to stay up later in the evening, too, so taking a siesta is really a must.
Spanish people are generally warm and welcoming, and there is also a large community of expats in Andalusia. There are many festivals year round, and people gather outside in the plazas and cafes — it’s a huge part of Spanish culture ,and I feel it makes it a little easier to meet new people.
I’m not fluent in Spanish, so I’d need to take lessons ASAP. That should provide opportunities to meet new people as well.
Jamon, churros, seafood, olives, and wine… the food of Andalusia is delicious!
I especially love eating tapas. Tapa means small plate or appetizer, and it’s typical in Andalusia to eat several tapas instead of one large meal, as we do in the U.S. In fact, it’s common to go from tapas bar to tapas bar, eating a little in each place and drinking something like a beer or glass of sherry wine. It’s a fun way to try many different foods. Everything I ate in my tapas adventure was fresh and made right on the spot. I don’t think we have anything in the U.S. that compares to the culture of tapas bars. Overall, I feel that this way of eating is healthier.
I love the idea of being without a car and taking the trains in Europe. Because the public transportation is so reliable and well connected in Spain, I think it would be possible to live comfortably in Andalusia without a car; and if you need a car, you can always rent one. Bonus: In Spain, the trains tend to run on schedule.
Andalusia is well connected by public transportation to the rest of the country. I’ve traveled from Barcelona to Granada by train and bus (approximately 530 miles), and recently took the train from El Puerto de Santa Maria to Madrid. Public transportation in Spain is safe, affordable, and comfortable.
Within Andalusia there are several small airports and two international airports — one in Seville and one in Malaga. Malaga is the busiest. Depending on your final destination in Andalusia, you could fly to Madrid or Barcelona and take a train to Seville, then connect to some of the smaller cities in the region.
More To Learn About Andalusia
I don’t yet know all the ins and outs of healthcare for an expat in Spain, but I’ve heard positive reports. I did have to go to the ER in El Puerto for an ear infection and paid €150. Not bad when you compare that to the cost of an ER visit in the USA.
I’m planning another trip to continue my research of Andalusia. I’m looking for a place with access to things like affordable housing, good food, lots of sunshine, reliable public transportation, accessible healthcare, and nice people. So far, Andalusia looks like a winner.
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