Rich in history, culture and romance, Europe has long had a strong appeal for Australian retirees. But many people who would love to retire to the Old World fret that it’s beyond their budget. And while Europe on the whole is more expensive than Asia or Latin America, that’s not to say that there aren’t countries here where a more affordable retirement can be found—without sacrificing the Old-World romance you crave.
The Brothers Grimm themselves could not have dreamed up a more exquisite fairytale town than Annecy. Set in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region in southeastern France, the small medieval town is all cobblestone streets, graceful bridges arching over flower-decked canals, and bustling food markets filled with woven basket-carrying locals. A stunning 15th-century turreted castle and snowcapped mountains sit majestically in the background.
“The Impressionists painted here for a reason,” says Ira Faro of his new home in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. “The feel of the place is very powerful… It’s as though the light is shining from everything. Every day there’s a different flower blooming, the sky looks different. You don’t have to fill yourself with external stimuli. You get involved with everything around you.”...
There I was, sipping a lovely white wine from grapes grown within 100 metres of where I stood at a community wine festival. You might think I’d gone off the beaten track to some remote corner of France where timeless traditions still hold sway… but I was in fact, right bang in the middle of one of Paris’ popular tourist areas—the bohemian quarter of Montmartre.
Countless people dream of retiring in France—and for good reason. France offers a seductive blend of old-world sensibilities and modern living, all wrapped up in one beautiful package. While it’s true that most people don’t retire to France to save money, life here can nonetheless be surprisingly affordable.