The 5 Best and Cheapest Places to Retire in Eastern Europe

It might sound crazy to have an episode about retirement in Eastern Europe as a foreigner. Because the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Eastern Europe often are:

  • Communist blocks
  • Cold weather
  • The imminent threat of war
  • Short life spans

But… what if I told you that this is Eastern Europe:

and this is Eastern Europe:

and this is Eastern Europe too?

And even better: what if I told you that living in this place for a year would cost you just a little fraction of what you pay to live in Florida or Brighton?

Get ready to discover the most interesting, stunning, and unbelievably cheap places to live in Eastern Europe as an expat retiree or even as a remote worker.

What is Eastern Europe?

But first, we need to define what is Eastern Europe. Czechs, Poles, and Slovakians say that they don’t live in Eastern Europe, but in Central Europe. Greeks also often reject the label of Eastern Europe. But to simplify, we will call Eastern Europe everything that is to the east of the Meridian 15.

Please, Czechs and Poles, don’t insult me in the comment section, I know you are Central Europe, but I just want to make it simple.

All the countries you will hear about today offer special visas to cater to retirees, pensioners, and remote workers. So even if you are not a European Union citizen, you can apply to live there on a pension. We will list them in alphabetical order, and…

The first one on the list of affordable destinations to retire in Europe is… Albania! 

This small and exotic country in the Balkan peninsula offers a retirement visa for non-EU citizens designed for those who demonstrate they have sufficient income to support themselves.

Nowadays, that means an income or pension of 120,000 Albanian Lek per month. That is less than 1300 dollars, making it an affordable European option. So if you earn more than that, you are eligible for this visa. Another good thing is that you can apply for this visa online, and it is a very straightforward process.

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But… why would you want to live and retire in Albania in the first place? I will give you some reasons:

  • They have a surprisingly nice coastline and some beautiful beaches.
  • The weather is also quite pleasant, similar to Croatia.
  • It is VERY, VERY cheap to live there. You can rent an apartment in one of the most beautiful cities in the country, Durres, with a splendid sea view, for only $500 euros per month! The cost of living there is pretty much half of the cost of living in Tampa, Florida.
  • The people there are very friendly, which adds to the appeal of this destination in Europe. In a matter of a few days, we made new friends.

The next country on our list was recently the subject of our episode about the nations with the fastest shrinking populations.

I am talking about…

The next destination for retirees in Europe is Bulgaria

Yes, the population of Bulgaria is shrinking very fast. People there don’t have a lot of babies and a lot of Bulgarians moved to other countries in the EU.

However, the country has a beautiful coast in the Black Sea. I went there a few times during the summer. It is lovely and pleasant. And if you prefer to live in the mountains, they also have a fantastic ski region around Bansko. In fact, Bansko attracts so many expats that when I went there, it looked like there were as many foreigners as Bulgarians. There are British pubs everywhere, and honestly, I don’t know if this is a pro or a con of the city.

But anyway, Bulgaria offers a visa specific for pensioners, called a D Visa. You need to provide some documents like medical insurance, proof of income abroad, etc., but it is not that difficult. Bulgaria is very attractive for those looking to live in the European Union but paying VERY low prices. It is probably the CHEAPEST country in the European Union.

Their main beach city is Burgas. And if we compare it to Florida, it is ridiculously cheaper. Fort Lauderdale, for example, is 3 times more expensive. So what you need to live for 4 months in Florida, there you will live for an entire year.

In Burgas, you can buy a nice beer in a pub for 2.5 Lev.

This is 1.4 dollars. 

In the US, you probably would buy only a Pabst Blue Ribbon at Walmart for this price, if you are lucky.

If we talk about housing, in the region of Burgas, you can rent an apartment with access to a large swimming pool in front of the beach and even with their own bowling alley for only 380 dollars per month! This is the price of the monthly rent of a parking lot in the US.

Studio in Bulgaria

The next country on our list, since we are going by alphabetical order, is…


This is one of my favorite islands in the Mediterranean, and it’s considered one of the best places to retire. It has wide, sandy beaches everywhere, with pleasant waters, great infrastructure, and good restaurants with magnificent Cypriot-Greek cuisine.

Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. And it is not expensive at all!

They also have a visa scheme useful for expat retirees willing to move there. It is the Cyprus F visa. The income required for this visa is one of the lowest in Europe, less than 10,000 euros per year. This income can come from a pension, but also from overseas rentals, dividends, royalties, or investments.

And after living in Cyprus for 7 years you can become a citizen!

The island has a very high quality of life. It is not a surprise that it has one of the highest life expectancies in entire Europe. People in Cyprus live longer than in much richer countries like Germany or England.

Cyprus is also famous for its favorable tax schemes. Foreign pension income is taxed at a flat rate of 5%, with an annual exemption of €3,420, which can result in significant savings compared to other European countries. Another good point is that even if you don’t speak Greek, you can live normally since many people speak English.

In the region of Famagusta, you can find some of the most beautiful beaches of the entire EUROPE. There, in Paralimi, you can rent an apartment with a sea view for only 650 euros per month. 650 euros per month… and still, people pay 3 times this value to live in New Jersey.

Since we are talking about real estate, this is another pro of Cyprus.

The country allows foreigners to purchase property with relative ease. The legal system is based on British common law, which provides a clear framework for property transactions, ensuring security and transparency for buyers.

HOWEVER… watch out for buyers trying to lure foreigners into buying property in Northern Cyprus.

Northern Cyprus is a region under dispute between the country of Cyprus and Turkey, and property there is not recognized in many countries, since the owners before the occupation might still claim ownership. If you plan to buy property, check if it is in Cyprus property, not Northern Cyprus, and it will be fine.

The next on our list of the best countries to live and retire in Eastern Europe is…


If you plan to retire there, you can apply for a Greek Financially Independent Person Visa. The requirements are a bit higher than the other countries we mentioned before. You must prove that you earn at least 24000 euros per year. If you want to bring your wife, 20% more than that.

I think probably you know all the pros of Greece. They have literally the best climate that exists for human life, which is the Mediterranean climate. You also probably know that their cuisine is one of the best and healthiest in the entire world. (On a side note: I love Tarasamolata and you should try it). But here are two things that you might not know!

  • Greece has some of the best private hospitals in the entire region. There is even a trend of medical tourism, where people go to Greece specifically for medical procedures.
  • Another positive side of Greece that people don’t talk about is the housing prices. For a European Union country, they are surprisingly affordable. The first rule is to forget Athens, Athens is expensive. In a city like Thessaloniki, which is not that large like Athens but large enough to have everything you need, and the cost of living is less than half of the cost of living in a large city in Florida. There you can find an apartment with a sea view for only 600 euros per month.

One of the most curious downsides of Greece, however, and that was told by Greeks themselves, is that for some reason the internet quality there is very bad, one of the worst in the entire European Union.

Now time for the last country on this list, which is also the most unusual one. It does not have the most pleasant climate, and is a very new country (technically speaking).

It is Latvia, one of the cheapest countries in the European Union.

Surely you are asking why I put this small Baltic nation among the best countries to retire in Eastern Europe.

So, before I talk about the impressively straightforward retirement Visa that the Latvian government offers, I want to talk about the advantages of this very unexpected country:

  • Latvia is inexpensive. And differently than Bulgaria, Latvia is also part of the Schengen zone, meaning that you are not only inside the European Union but also inside the very exclusive club of nations in the free transit area of the European Union. That gives you access to some of the best medical facilities on the planet, in close countries like Finland, Sweden, or Germany.
  • Latvia is also very well connected to other countries by air. They have their own airline, called Air Baltic, that offers affordable flights to multiple European destinations.
  • Their economy is very stable, personal income taxes are among the lowest in Europe. The World Bank even highlighted Latvia’s economic resilience and positive outlook.
  • If you enjoy spending time outside, the country has a beautiful nature. The Gauja National Park and the beaches along the Baltic Sea offer ample opportunities for outdoor activities and leisure.
  • People in Latvia are quite well-educated, and many residents in the capital speak English. In fact, the percentage of people that speak English in Latvia is higher than in very touristy countries like Spain or Portugal. That is impressive.
  • Life there is very affordable! Riga, their capital, has one of the lowest costs of living among all European Union capitals. The living costs there are less than HALF of the cost of living in Boston, for example. You can live in a stunning revitalized historic building in the center of Riga for only 380 euros per month.
Apartment in Riga

But if you are a retiree from outside the European Union, the biggest advantage is still to come…

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It is the ease of residency.

Latvia has streamlined procedures for obtaining residency permits for non-EU nationals. Their government offers a specific residence permit for retirees, making the process straightforward and accessible. Latvia has the lowest minimum income requirement among all of the European Union’s retirement visas.

It is literally the lowest. You’ll need just €8,160 to be eligible. And if you are tired of enjoying the cafes and parks of Riga, the Latvian retirement visa also allows you to work remotely for non-Latvian employers or clients during your residency period.

Now, there is ONE country that many people would expect me to mention in this article. But I didn’t.

It is Croatia.

And maybe they deserved a mention. To fix this, there is an entire article about retirement in Croatia here.

Levi Borba is the founder of expatriateconsultancy.comcreator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author.You can find him on X here.

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