So, what country am I talking about? Well just click through my 40 page slideshow for the answer at the end. Just kidding, it’s Spain!
Before we get to Spain, let’s define what the “Greatest Country” means and who else are on the list. In this case it means countries that are:
“… world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations, according to a report published in the Lancet. Using the UN’s sustainable development goals as guideposts, which measure the obvious (poverty, clean water, education) and less obvious (societal inequality, industry innovation), more than 1,870 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health.”
This is from the Bloomberg article:
Is Spain number 1 on the list or are there even greater countries?
Spain is number 7 on the list but is unique out of the top 10 countries on the list. Here are the other countries and the reasons that they are not the best place to live in my opinion:
- Iceland: I have never been here and I’m sure it is a nice country, but it only has 330,000 people, has an average high temperature of less than 60 degrees in the summer. It is also is expensive, and has the word “Ice” in its name.
- Singapore: I have been here. It is a nice place but also very expensive.
- Sweden: I was just here along with the other Scandinavian countries. It is a nice place to visit and see, but it gets cold and is very expensive.
- Andorra: It only has about 85,000 people and is a tiny country between Spain and France. Not super expensive and decent weather, but no beaches.
- United Kingdom: Cold, rainy and expensive. That’s why so many Brits go to Spain to retire.
- Finland: Nice country, but also very expensive and cold.
- Spain: It seems to have the best quality of life for the least amount of money.
- Netherlands: Nice country, but expensive and cold.
- Canada: With a country actually slightly larger than the US, but with only about one tenth of the population, I don’t know how housing can be so expensive with all that empty land. Also, it is very cold.
- Australia: It’s like a warm Canada. It is about the size of the continental US but only has 23 million people. Again, with so much empty space, why is housing, along with everything else, so expensive there?
Now, you might be wondering what makes me an expert on these countries that I can just write them off with a few words like “expensive” or “cold”. Well, I’m not an expert. I have been to all of them except for Iceland, United Kingdom, and Andorra. Even though I’m not an expert, I know what I am looking for in a possible place to live. A place that is cold or expensive is a deal breaker for me.
So what’s so great about Spain and those 50,000 homes?
If you want to retire early and do not want to spend a large portion of your net worth on a home, there are literally thousands of inexpensive houses and apartments all over Spain for as low as $10K, $20K, $30K and up. No, you won’t get a $10K apartment in the middle of Barcelona, but there are a lot of really good prices in cities, suburbs and rural locations. There really are 50,000 homes for under $50,000 in Spain. These two property websites list a large majority of them:
(I have no affiliation or make any money from these websites)
Most people assume that if something is cheap it must not be good. They probably think that these homes must be in some place like Chernobyl or Mogadishu. Those are the same people that were tripping over themselves to buy these same homes for $150K when Spain had a real estate boom. Now that the $150K home is $50K, people think there must be something wrong with it.
This August I spent a month in Alicante Spain to see what the city was like. I also traveled to Torrevieja, and Benidorm as well as Valencia and Barcelona last summer. I wanted to see if Spain was a place I can live in or at least spend a few months a year. Here are my thoughts:
Beaches: Spain has about 5000 miles of coastline which includes hundreds of miles of beaches in both crowded cities and sparsely populated areas.
Weather: Warm weather especially on the southern coast.
Food: The quality of the food is excellent. The quality of the vegetables I got was much better than I get in the US.
Crime: Very safe walking around late at night. Has a ranking similar to that of Germany, China, and Netherlands.
Infrastructure: First world infrastructure, water, electricity, internet, roads, public transportation.
Culture: Very friendly and laid back. Also has a strong family culture of kids, parents, grandparents all out together playing, walking, and talking until late in the evening instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Costs: Many areas, excluding Madrid and Barcelona, have low housing costs. Food is extremely cheap but very good quality.
Healthcare: Ranked number 10 between Germany and Denmark
Jobs: The unemployment rate is still around 20% so if you want to live here you should have your own money or a business you can do online
Language: This is not bad; it’s just bad for me since I don’t speak Spanish yet. Not many people in Spain speak English except in tourist areas.
Residency: You cannot just move there unless you are an EU citizen or you get residency.
Conclusion: Many people in the US look to South or Central America as an inexpensive place to retire. From what I have seen of Spain, it is actually cheaper than places like Costa Rica, yet it still has all the first world amenities that you would expect in Europe. If I ever decide to move from the US, Spain will be at the top of my list. It’s no wonder so many people from the other 9 greatest countries go there to retire.