How to Retire in Spain from Canada: Your Essential Guide (2024)

Dreaming of retiring in Spain from Canada? You’re not alone. Spain’s warm climate, rich culture, and affordable cost of living make it an enticing destination for retirees.

Before you start packing your bags, it’s essential to have a solid plan. First, investigate visa options, ensuring that you can legally reside in Spain without working.

Next, figure out your budget and familiarize yourself with the Spanish healthcare system.

Lastly, decide where you’d like to live and learn a bit of Spanish to make the transition smoother. With some preparation, your dream of retiring in Spain can become a reality!

Why Retire in Spain

When considering retirement options, Spain should be high on your list due to its exceptional lifestyle and quality of life. One of the main attractions is the country’s affordable cost of living.

Enjoying a beer for around €2 or a nice meal out for €15 is a great way to make the most of your retirement budget. In fact, you can comfortably retire in Spain on $35,000 to $40,000 CAD a year.

Spain also boasts a warm and sunny climate, making it a prime destination for those seeking to escape the harsh Canadian winters.

You’ll find plenty of sunshine-filled days and mild temperatures throughout the year, encouraging outdoor activities and social functions with your fellow expats and locals.

Another reason to retire in Spain is the country’s excellent healthcare options. Spain’s public healthcare system is highly regarded and accessible to retirees.

As a Canadian retiree, you’ll also have the option of purchasing private health insurance, which can give you access to a wider range of services and shorter waiting times.

The diverse culture and history of Spain is another aspect that draws many retirees to the country. With a rich collection of world-famous landmarks, museums, and events, there’s always something to engage your senses and spark intellectual curiosity.

The Spanish people are known for their warm, friendly nature, and as a Canadian retiree, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in this welcoming environment.

Residency and Visa Requirements

Residency and Visa Requirements

Spain offers several visa options for those looking to retire from Canada. Here, you will find some popular options, such as the Non-Lucrative Visa, Spain Retirement Visa, and Spain Golden Visa.

By reviewing the requirements and choosing the right one for your needs, retiring in Spain can become a reality.

Non-Lucrative Visa

The Non-Lucrative Visa is ideal if you don’t plan to work or engage in any business activities in Spain. To apply, you will need to:

  • Provide proof of sufficient income to support yourself without working in Spain, which is roughly €25,000 per year
  • Show evidence of health insurance that covers you in Spain
  • Not have a criminal record in the past five years
  • Complete a medical certificate stating that you don’t have any contagious diseases

Once approved, the Non-Lucrative Visa allows you to reside in Spain for one year, with the possibility of renewing every two years.

Spain Retirement Visa

The Spain Retirement Visa, also known as the Spanish Non-Lucrative Residence Visa, has similar requirements to the Non-Lucrative Visa mentioned above.

However, there are some key differences in the income requirement for the Retirement Visa. You must provide proof of a stable income without including any profit-seeking activities, such as:

  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • Rental income

You will also need to follow the same application process for this visa, including applying at your nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate in Canada.

Spain Golden Visa

The Spain Golden Visa is an investment-based visa, granting residency in exchange for a substantial investment in the Spanish economy. This option might be suitable if you are planning to make a significant financial commitment in Spain. The minimum investment requirements are:

  • Real estate purchase worth €500,000 or more
  • Investment in Spanish business or public debt of at least €1,000,000
  • Bank deposit or investment in a Spanish corporate entity of at least €2,000,000

This visa grants you and your family the right to live, work, and retire in Spain as long as the investment is maintained. It also offers a pathway to Spanish permanent residency after five years.

By understanding the various visa options and their requirements, you can plan your dream retirement in Spain from Canada.

Research each visa type thoroughly and ensure you meet all necessary requirements to increase your chances of a successful application.

Cost of Living and Housing

Cost of Living and Housing

As you plan your retirement in Spain, it’s essential to be aware of the cost of living and housing expenses. The good news is that the cost of living in Spain is generally lower compared to Canada or other Western European countries.

When it comes to day-to-day expenses, a budget of around €25,000 per year (approximately $2,083 per month) should cover your living costs quite comfortably.

Although the capitals such as Madrid and Barcelona may be slightly more expensive, you can still find affordable options for dining out, like a nice meal at a restaurant for around €10.

Housing costs will vary depending on the location and the type of property you choose. For example, the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid ranges from €660 to €880, whereas in Barcelona, it’s slightly higher, between €710 and €890.

If you’re considering a three-bedroom apartment, expect to pay between €1,055 and €1,530 in Madrid and €1,105 to €1,540 in Barcelona. Keep in mind that these prices are likely to be lower in smaller towns and more rural areas.

Here’s a brief breakdown of some common monthly expenses you might encounter:

  • Rent: €660 – €1,540 (depending on location and size)
  • Utilities: Approximately €100 – €200
  • Groceries: €250 – €300
  • Eating out: €80 – €150
  • Transportation: €60 – €100
  • Healthcare: €51.75 – €111.13

It’s worth noting that private healthcare in Spain can be relatively affordable. For example, the rate for a healthy person in their early 60s is €111.13 per month, while it’s just €51.75 per month for someone aged 55.

In conclusion, retiring in Spain from Canada can be a great option for those looking for an affordable and enjoyable lifestyle.

To make the most of your retirement, it’s essential to research the cost of living and housing options thoroughly and choose a location that suits your preferences and budget.

Healthcare in Spain

Healthcare in Spain

When planning your retirement in Spain, it’s important to consider your healthcare options. In this section, we’ll discuss both the public and private healthcare systems available in Spain to ensure you can make an informed decision based on your needs.

Public Healthcare System

Spain has a highly-rated National Healthcare System (Sistema Nacional de Salud, SNS) that provides most basic healthcare services for free to Spanish citizens and residents. As a retiree from Canada, you can also access this public healthcare system through the “Convenio Especial” programme.

To qualify for the Convenio Especial, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Reside legally in Spain for at least one year.
  • Not be eligible for healthcare through employment or other means.
  • Not be receiving healthcare benefits from your home country.

The Convenio Especial requires a monthly payment that varies depending on your age:

  • Under 65 years old: €60 (~£52) per month.
  • Over 65 years old: €157 (~£135) per month.

Private Healthcare Options

If you prefer to have more options or access to specialists without long waiting times, you may opt for private healthcare insurance. Private healthcare providers offer a variety of plans and prices, giving you the flexibility to choose the coverage that fits your needs and budget.

In Spain, many private healthcare providers are tailored to the needs of expatriates, offering English-speaking doctors and assistance with coordinating appointments.

Before choosing a private healthcare provider, it’s essential to:

  • Compare several plans and providers, considering their coverage, benefits, and cost.
  • Ensure the provider has a good network of hospitals and specialists in the area where you plan to retire.

Overall, the healthcare system in Spain offers both public and private options to suit your preferences and needs. Take the time to research and evaluate these options so you can feel confident in your decision when you retire in Spain.

Financial planning

Developing a retirement budget

In order to create a realistic retirement budget, you must first estimate your monthly expenses in Spain. These will likely include:

  • Housing costs (rent, utilities, property taxes)
  • Groceries
  • Health care (private insurance, if applicable)
  • Transportation
  • Leisure activities

By comparing these estimated expenses to your retirement savings and projected pension income, you can determine how well-suited Spain is for your retirement plans.

Understanding tax implications for Canadian retirees

As a Canadian retiree living in Spain, you will still need to file a Canadian tax return each year, reporting your global income. However, thanks to the Canada-Spain tax treaty, you won’t be double-taxed on your income.

Furthermore, you will also be subject to Spain’s wealth tax, which ranges from 0.2% to 2.5%, depending on the region you live in (source). It’s crucial to account for these tax implications when planning your retirement budget.

Accessing Canadian pension and retirement funds

To access your Canadian pension and retirement funds while living in Spain, you must first ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for both the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits.

You can apply for these payments through the Government of Canada’s pension portal, and they will be directly deposited into your bank account.

Setting up a bank account in Spain

Opening a bank account in Spain is relatively simple. You’ll need identification (passport or residence permit), your Canadian tax identification number (TIN), and proof of address in Spain.

Additionally, some banks may require a minimum initial deposit. It’s recommended to research and compare different banks and their fees before making a decision.

Keep in mind that having a local bank account will make it easier for you to manage your finances, avoid foreign transaction fees, and possibly receive pension and social security payments from both Spain and Canada.

Remember that financial planning is key to ensuring a successful retirement in Spain. Take your time to budget, understand tax implications, and set up your banking needs so that you can focus on enjoying your retirement in the beautiful country of Spain.

Taxes and Pensions

When retiring in Spain from Canada, it’s important to understand how taxes and pensions work. As a Canadian retiree, you need to consider taxes on your income sources, including pensions, while planning your retirement in Spain.

In Spain, pensions are taxed at progressive rates between 8-40%. However, you will be able to deduct the amount of taxes paid abroad on your pensions in Spain, which can significantly reduce your tax liability in the country.

When it comes to the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, you can still receive it while living in Spain. If you qualify for the OAS pension and have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18, you will be eligible for the full amount. If not, you will receive a partial amount based on the number of years you resided in Canada.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • You will need a residence visa (sometimes referred to as a ‘non-lucrative’ visa) if you’re a non-EU citizen.
  • To maintain your retirement residence permit, you must stay in Spain for at least 183 days per year. This duration may have an impact on your taxes.
  • If your total income, including pension and any other sources (such as rental income), exceeds €12,000 per year and the income from the smaller source is more than €1,500 per year, you will need to file an income tax return in Spain.

Best Places to Retire in Spain

Best Places to Retire in Spain


As the capital city, Madrid offers a vibrant lifestyle with plenty of attractions and activities. Residing in this bustling metropolis, you’ll find a mix of history, culture and modernity.

Enjoy world-class museums, such as the Prado and Reina Sofia, along with lively tapas bars and beautiful parks like Retiro Park. The excellent public transport system enables you to explore every corner of the city with ease.


Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, boasts a rich cultural scene, stunning architecture and an enviable location by the Mediterranean Sea.

This cosmopolitan city offers endless experiences, from exploring Antoni Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, like the Sagrada Familia, to spending sunny days soaking up the atmosphere at the city beaches.

The diverse dining scene caters to all tastes, with traditional Catalan dishes, tapas bars and international cuisine available throughout the city.


Located on the sunny Costa del Sol, Malaga is a preferred destination for retirees seeking a warm climate and a charming atmosphere.

You’ll enjoy the perfect weather conditions throughout the year, allowing you to explore the historic centre, relax on the sandy beaches or hike through nearby verdant hills.

Living in Malaga, you’ll also benefit from an affordable cost of living, making it ideal for retirees on a budget.

Costa Del Sol

The Costa del Sol stretches along the southern coast, offering an array of charming towns and resorts. This sun-kissed coastline boasts gorgeous beaches, warm weather, and vibrant expat communities.

Among the popular retirement destinations in the Costa del Sol are Marbella, Mijas and Estepona, which offer a pleasant blend of Spanish and international cultures. The high-quality golf courses scattered across the region make it a perfect choice for golf enthusiasts.


Valencia brings together the best of both worlds: a modern city with a rich history and stunning beaches. As Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia offers a unique mix of architecture, from Roman ruins to futuristic buildings like the City of Arts and Sciences.

The city is famous for its Levantine cuisine, with paella as its signature dish. Enjoy the vibrant city life, relax on the sandy shores, or try your hand at sailing in its marina.


Seville, the capital of the Andalusia region, is known for its rich history, flamenco music and dance, and its thrilling annual fair, La Feria de Abril. This enchanting city offers a laid-back lifestyle, where you can spend your days meandering through winding, narrow streets and savouring tapas at local bars.

The cost of living in Seville is also lower than in the larger cities of Madrid and Barcelona, making it an attractive option for retirees seeking a more peaceful and authentic Spanish experience.

Preparing for Your Move

Before you embark on your journey to retire in Spain from Canada, it’s essential to have a solid plan in place. This will ensure a smooth transition and a stress-free retirement in your new home country. To help you prepare, let’s break down some crucial aspects of the moving process.

First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate visa for your situation. As a Canadian citizen, if you plan to work, stay, or study in Spain for more than 90 days, you’ll have to apply for a visa from the Spanish consulate in Canada.

Two popular options for retirees are the non-lucrative visa and the Golden visa. The non-lucrative visa requires sufficient income to support yourself without working, while the Golden visa entails investing in Spanish property.

Once your visa is sorted, you need to consider your living arrangements. Spain offers excellent value for money, allowing you to have a comfortable lifestyle even on a limited budget.

For a single person retiring in Spain, you’ll need a monthly budget of around €2,200-2,400 to live comfortably in a big city. Take the time to research various cities and regions to find one that suits your preferences and needs.

Of course, healthcare is an essential aspect when preparing for retirement. The quality of healthcare in Spain is generally high, and many chronic health conditions can be managed with good care.

As a Canadian retiree, you’ll need to ensure you have appropriate health insurance to access the Spanish healthcare system, as your Canadian coverage will not extend to Spain.

Lastly, gather all essential documents and paperwork before heading to Spain. This includes your visa, medical records, financial statements, and any other relevant documentation to support your stay in the country.

Remember that Spain is part of the Schengen Area, which means it shares borders and immigration policies with 26 other European countries.

As such, make sure you’re aware of any additional travel requirements within the area, especially if you plan to visit neighbouring countries during your retirement.

Spanish Citizenship Process

Retiring in Spain from Canada can be an exciting adventure, and understanding the Spanish citizenship process will help you prepare for this life-changing move.

Firstly, it’s essential to know that Spain has a residency-based citizenship procedure. Before applying for citizenship, you’ll need to obtain and maintain legal residency in the country.

To retire in Spain, you’ll initially enter on a Spain Retirement Visa, which allows you to reside in Spain for a year. After that, you can renew the visa for additional two-year periods.

Once you have lived in Spain for at least 10 years, you become eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship. However, if you’re married to a Spanish citizen, the required residency duration is only one year.

The application process and conditions for Spanish citizenship are standard, regardless of your marital status. Keep in mind that once granted Spanish citizenship, you must surrender your existing citizenship, as Spain doesn’t generally allow dual citizenship.

During the citizenship process, you might experience complex legal requirements and procedures. It’s highly recommended to consult with immigration lawyers specializing in Spanish law, as they can guide you through the process, ensuring you meet all the necessary criteria.

When submitting your citizenship application, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Valid residence permit
  • Proof of legal residency in Spain (e.g. rental agreement or property title)
  • Criminal record check from your home country
  • Police clearance certificate from Spain
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of sufficient economic means to support yourself
  • Evidence of social integration in Spain (e.g. language proficiency, knowledge of Spanish culture, and involvement in local activities)

After submitting your application and requisite documentation, the Spanish authorities will review your case. The processing time can vary from a few months to a few years, so patience is key.

Once you have successfully obtained Spanish citizenship, you’ll automatically gain EU citizenship, allowing you to live, work, study, and retire in any of the EU and EEA member countries, as well as Switzerland.

Social and cultural integration

Building a social network in Spain

Joining local clubs, associations, and interest groups can be a great way to make new friends. Expat communities can also offer valuable support and connections as they understand the challenges of relocating to a foreign country.

Participating in local events and activities

To immerse yourself in Spanish culture, make sure you partake in local events and activities. Spain has a rich calendar of festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events.

Attending local events not only helps you increase your understanding of Spanish customs but also provides opportunities to interact with residents and expand your social network.

Tips for adjusting to Spanish customs and traditions

Adjusting to Spanish customs and traditions might take some time, but doing so will allow you to fully enjoy your retirement. Here are a few tips to help you adapt:

  • Learn the language: Though many people in Spain can speak English, learning Spanish will open more doors and make everyday interactions easier.
  • Be punctual but flexible: Spaniards are known for their relaxed attitude towards time. Although it’s important to be punctual, don’t be surprised if locals show up late for social engagements.
  • Siesta time: Many businesses close during siesta, typically between 2 pm and 5 pm. Be mindful of this when planning your daily activities.
  • Meal times: Dinner in Spain is usually served late, around 9 pm or even later. Adjusting to this schedule can help you adapt to the local lifestyle more easily.

Staying connected with family and friends in Canada

Keeping in touch with loved ones in Canada is vital during your retirement in Spain. Modern technology, like video calls and social media, makes it easy to stay connected. Additionally, consider planning regular visits, either in Spain or Canada, to maintain relationships and avoid feeling isolated.

Tips and Advice for Expats Retiring in Spain

As an expat considering retirement in Spain, you’ll be happy to know that the quality of life in this beautiful country is generally high and offers a warm climate, picturesque landscapes, and friendly people.

Here are a few tips and advice to ensure a smooth transition as you embark on this new chapter in your life.

Residency Application

When planning your move, ensure that you apply for residency before arrival. You can initially visit Spain as a tourist for 90 days, and if you choose to stay longer, you can extend your stay for another 90 days at the local foreigner’s office.

Securing residency ahead of time will help you avoid potential issues related to visa extensions or temporary stays.

Healthcare and Insurance

Your healthcare needs should be a top priority when moving abroad. In Spain, the public healthcare system is highly regarded, but as an expat retiree, you may not have access to it without private insurance.

Language Skills

Although you may find that many locals speak English, learning Spanish can greatly enhance your experience and help you interact with your new community more effectively. Consider enrolling in a Spanish language course or finding a language exchange partner to practice with.

Renting vs Buying Property

Bear in mind that renting a property in Spain is often more cost-effective than purchasing, especially when you first settle down. Rent a home for a while to ensure you’re happy with the location and your chosen community before committing to a property purchase.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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