5 great European countries for retirement: Spain, France, Malta, Portugal, Italy

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Dreaming of a retirement spent sunbathing in St. Tropez or snorkeling near the Maltese islands? It may not be such an outlandish idea.

These are all first-world countries with plenty of culture and amenities …

These days, $1 buys about 0.91 euros, pretty close to parity compared with recent years. For instance, last year $1 got you about 0.74 euros. In 2008, $1 bought as little as 0.64 euros. Said another way, 7 years ago 1 euro was worth nearly $1.60. Now it’s about $1.10.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for Americans right now. Americans had written off Europe, and probably rightly so, when the euro was $1.50. It was expensive. And now Europe is not out of reach,” says Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas.

A recent report by the website InternationalLiving.com found that France, Italy, Spain, Malta and Portugal all have highly affordable places in which American retirees can comfortably settle.

“These are all first-world countries with plenty of culture and amenities, including excellent infrastructure and rich histories. Cost of living and real estate in many areas are affordable by U.S. standards,” says Glynna Prentice, an editor for InternationalLiving.com.