The Old World Can’t Be Beat…
I am vacationing in Barcelona for the first time in about 15 years… and far from disappointing after the hiatus, this city is better than ever. I am falling in love with Spain and Spanish culture all over again.
My husband and I are tossing around the idea of buying a place here—they are affordable enough!
Or maybe taking a month or two to come and spend some winter weeks here while Paris is gray and cold…
The incredible food, the friendly people, the easygoing culture, the fact that Spanish is such an easy language to pick up…
Anyone who has read this newsletter knows I’m a Francophile—I love France, and Paris (my adopted home) is the greatest city in the world in my humble opinion… but, even I have to admit… Barna (Barcelona) really gives it a run for its money.
I look forward to writing up a full report on Barcelona in the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, let’s take a step back…
I’m all about Europe… I love this part of the world and can’t imagine living long term on any other continent anymore…
For me, one of the keys is the attitude to life.
The European lifestyle values leisure, with people typically getting five weeks of vacation per year—compared to the standard two in North America.
It’s a cliché, but it’s hard to put it any other way: Europeans work to live, whereas Americans live to work. Here, business hours are much shorter, lunch hours still taken, and Sundays still held sacred.
That perspective in addition to the history, the food, the art… it just can’t be beat for me.
So let’s look at some of Europe’s other top choices…
Portugal—the world’s top retirement haven for years running—is home to Europe’s best beaches, 1,115 miles of coastline, and 300 days a year (3,300 hours) of sunny skies… but to think of this special place as merely a beach getaway is a mistake…
Portugal’s borders date back to 1139 B.C., officially making it the oldest country in the Old World. To state the obvious, that’s thousands of years—more history has happened here than most places in the world. The upside of all of this history is that you’ll never run out of ancient places to discover…
The entire country is a cross between a national park, a museum, and a coastal resort—all with the constant, ever-present charm of the Old World.
Plus, this is one of the few countries in Europe where you can enjoy a round of golf.
You can indulge in any interest you could imagine here, from boating, diving, and hiking to regular nights out at the theater and museum and gallery afternoons.
And all this comes at a bargain price. One couple we know is living in a villa close to the beach with a charming town for about US$1,600 a month.
Fresh fish is always available, Wi-Fi is fast and everywhere, the people are friendly and most important for them… it’s safe.
In fact, Portugal is one of the most peaceful nations on Earth… Portugal came in as the #4 safest country in the world in the 2022 Global Peace Index.
An estimated 50,000 of Portugal’s more than 100,000 resident foreigners are reportedly British. The fact that a near majority of expats are Anglophones means meeting people is easy—and also means that most Portuguese speak English pretty well. No matter where in the country you settle, you’re sure to be able to plug into a strong network of English-speaking expats.
Plus, the Portuguese are extremely welcoming to expats. If you get lost, they’ll point you in the right direction. If you are about to spend 6 euros on a glass of wine, they’ll tell you where to get it for half the price.
And the language? They know it’s tough for outsiders, so the government made it a rule that every child must take English classes for nine years.
The infrastructure is top-notch. The health care is world-class… and a fraction of the cost of care in North America. Become a resident, and health care is free (no kidding).
And property can be an absolute bargain, both to buy and to rent…
France arguably offers the world’s most sought-after lifestyle. It’s the good life defined. The food, the wine, the art, the shopping, the history… This country boasts the most beautiful and romantic city on Earth plus the best of country living and dramatic Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. It’s a country steeped in culture, history, and that ineffable joie de vivre.
From Paris to the vine-covered countryside to the beaches on its multiple coastlines, the lifestyle options on offer here are many and varied, but all your choices mean Old World living at its best.
Foodies and wine lovers know that to live in France is to be at the center of the universe. Whether it’s paté de campagne and a rustic Beaujolais, grilled salmon with a rosé d’Anjou, or caviar and a fine champagne, the French are masters at pairing wine with food. After all, they’ve been doing this since the Middle Ages.
France’s long and fascinating history can be explored in every corner of the country. Dating back to the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, through the Roman and Frankish invasions, the royal house of the Bourbons, the reign of Napoleon, and up to the present, each era has left its mark—on cuisine, architecture, the arts, fashion, and so much more.
For the culturally minded, life in France is rich indeed. In Paris alone you can find over 130 museums. The number of galleries showcasing fresh, new works is truly astounding, and since the days of the Renaissance, French philosophers, authors, and playwrights have enriched all our lives.
The expat community in France is strong, and a huge proportion of it is English speaking. It’s an active and engaging community, eager to welcome newcomers, so no matter where you end up in France, make sure to plug into the local expat network—it will be invaluable.
On top of all this, France is home to the world’s best health care, excellent infrastructure, top international schools, and, in some regions, zero crime and a wonderfully relaxed way of life…
And, in many parts of the country, the lifestyle is affordable.
Plus, France offers an enviable choice of diverse geography, which translate into a variety of climate types and lifestyle choices. From chic beachside towns to charming rural villages, from Alpine Mountain ranges to sophisticated urban centers, there’s a little bit of everything in France.
State-of-the-art public transportation, including trains, metros, buses, and more, is available throughout France and beyond. The respective systems are easy to navigate, affordable, and fast.
And in France, you’re also in the heart of Europe, with easy, quick access to some of the world’s greatest artistic, archeological, and historical treasures.
From the romance of Paris to the rustic lifestyle in the French countryside, this country has a lot to offer the expat…
If you’re looking for a quintessential Old World lifestyle, Italy deserves your attention. The old towns are charming, and the countryside between is pleasant. Even excluding the big cities like Rome, there is enough here to keep your interest and to support a fully appointed life on the Continent. What’s more, life here can be much more affordable than back home.
The food and wine, the ancient ruins and espresso, the great weather and street markets, the beautiful walled cities and art museums, the green hills covered with sunflowers and cypress trees… Italy is nothing short of a classic. Florence, Rome, Venice… these cities are museums unto themselves and home to some of the world’s most distinguished works of art.
The wonderful Italian people themselves are reason enough to come to Italy—friendly and sociable are understatements. The streets are always crowded with people strolling (passeggiata) before dinner, after dinner, in winter, and in summer. They stop for espresso, wine, gelato, outdoor music, or a street festival. People meet, chat, and go out for dinner or drinks. There’s always something happening and no one wants to stay at home. The locals are so warm and outgoing that it’s easy to make friends here.
An outdoorsman’s paradise, Italy’s natural endowments pack a punch for the country’s small size. Its diversity of geography and resulting climates mean the country can offer nearly every form of outdoor recreation you can think of. The mountains offer countless opportunities for climbing, trekking, skiing, and snowboarding. Thousands of small towns and villages cling to these slopes, settlements that have evolved over thousands of years of humans trekking their livestock through the region. Discover these mountains and all their secrets on foot, bike, horseback, or skiis.
Whether on the Mediterranean coast or the Adriatic, Italy offers just about any sea-related entertainment you can think of. The topography ranges from pebbled coves to dramatic cliffs to powdery sand, populated by lidos, restaurants, bathing and tanning areas… and just as many secluded, removed areas perfect for those who prefer some solitude.
And, of course, the food. Any mention of Italy would be incomplete without a mention of its delicious local wine and cuisine. Italian recipes are a cut above the rest of the world, but Italian recipes cooked by Italian chefs using fresh Italian ingredients simply cannot be beat. Paired with a glass of local wine (for just a few euros), you’ve got the perfect meal. No matter where in the country you settle, the food is extraordinary and, for the most part, it’s also cheap, whether you’re in a supermarket or a restaurant. There are outdoor markets all over the place, and you’ll find many varieties of wine and cheese that you’ve never heard of and are hard to get outside the country. Italy also has strict food purity laws, so you won’t find as many artificial colorings or preservatives.
Outside the bigger cities and tourist centers, most Italians don’t speak English, so you’ll need to learn Italian moving here. If you’re up for that small challenge, Italy offers a truly enviable lifestyle…
Next week I’ll continue with a brief introduction to the rest of our top picks in Europe, including Malta, Spain, Greece, and Cyprus…
Editor, LIOS Confidential