You have probably never heard of Andorra but if you love France and Spain this could be the perfect place for you to live. This small country in between the Spain and French borders is close to many southern France and northern Spain tourist attractions.
Here are the Pros and Cons of retiring to Andorra:
- Friendly & Helpful People
- Vibrant Lifestyle
- Safe and Secure
- Affordable Cost of Living
- Very Safe And Secure
- Great Landscapes
- Good Health Care
- Outside the EU
- Language Barrier
- Limited Transportation
- Cold Weather
Scroll down for more information about the pros and cons of moving to Andorra!
Introduction To Andorra
Andorra is a landlocked country in western Europe that is nestled between the borders of France and Spain. Andorra is located in the Pyrenees Mountains where many significant mountain ranges converge. It is 1000 meters above sea level.
Andorra has the best ski slopes and resort facilities in the Pyrenees. Its 468 square kilometers of cascading valleys and sky-reaching peaks make it the perfect place for winter sports. Once the snow melts Andorra’s mountainous terrain provides excellent trekking opportunities. These can range from short strolls to strenuous day hikes where you can wander for hours in breathtaking scenery.
The bustling city of Andorra la Vella is always busy with duty-free day trippers coming from both France and Spain. This means you will meet many people from both countries and have plenty of time to practice both your French and Spanish. With a mix of the old buildings and new shop lined streets you get the best of both worlds.
What are the Pros of Living in Andorra?
Friendly & Helpful People
Andorrans are a welcoming community of people from many backgrounds. There are definitely Andorran natives, but there are also many people who moved from Europe, America, and other parts of the world.
With such a diverse community and so many events and activities to attend, you’ll probably find it a lot easier to socialize in Andorra than you did in your own country. This is the nature of both the mix of French and Spanish cultures that dominate the small country.
Like in most places where the economy thrives on tourism the local people are only too happy to help. People love living there and they have no excuse not to be with a robust economy, low crime, the world’s 2nd greatest life expectancy. This all set to the gorgeous Pyrenees as a backdrop.
Its closeness to France and Spain has affected much of its culture, and most residents know some of both languages in addition to their native Catalan. Catalan is a latin based language that over the years has borrowed many words from French and Spanish.
The Andorrans are extremely proud of their sovereignty. Avoid calling them “French” or “Spanish” when referring to them. It’s one thing that might put their spirit of hospitality to the test as they have tried to distinguish themselves from both countries for many years.
From the high-end bars, cafes, restaurants, advanced ski and bike resorts, high-end shopping and world-class events like the free Cirque du Soleil. In a country that blends the best of Spanish and French cultures you are bound to find things you like.
In Andorra you can go climbing one day, road biking the next, take a break at one of the many cafés and restaurants that surround the nation on the third day and then browse for a new outfit on the fourth.
Or you can simply sit at home and enjoy the breathtaking views from your couch — it is nearly impossible to find a home in Andorra that does not have at least one breathtaking view.
If you like driving there are plenty of cars to choose from or see in Andorra including antique classics, modified sports cars and supercars. As the tourists come from far and wide and with a great range collected by the locals.
There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or love fiestas or have a hard time finding somewhere that gives you the best balance of city and country then Andorra may be worth a visit for the best of both lifestyles.
Here are a few places you can visit on your day off in Andorra:
- Rec del Solà Trail
- Pont de la Tosca
- Mirador Roc Del Quer
- Llacs de Tristaina
- Església de Sant Corneli i Sant Cebrià d’Ordino
- Parc Natural Comunal de les Valls del Comapedrosa
TIP: Some of these websites are in Catalan. If you open the website in google chrome you can use the built in translation to change it to English.
Safe and Secure
Residing in Andorra has its advantages and disadvantages, but one of the most important advantages is safety. Andorra may have one murder in a whole year in a bad year, but the country has essentially no violent crime.
Because there’s only two possible ways in and out of Andorra, illegal firearms are exceedingly rare, and criminals are well aware that they will be apprehended before they get very far. Because of Andorra’s low unemployment rate (approximately 3.7 percent), property crime is also very uncommon. At night, it is safe to wander through the village streets. While in a cafe, cyclists do not generally secure their bikes as there is no issue with theft.
Affordable Cost of Living
Andorra’s cost of living is almost 30% lower than that of big cities across the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. It’s similar to what you’ll find in Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.
Keep in mind that you may be eligible for a tax return on products purchased outside of the border of Andorra. People often purchase goods while on trips to Barcelona and get the VAT or tax back so this is a nice way to get a discount of any major purchase you make.
Accomodation in Andorra has possibilities for all budgets whether you are buying or renting. Generally you will go through a realestate agent and get legal advice prior to purchase just like in most countries.
You can head to Facebook Marketplace if you are looking for shared accommodation or to buy directly from the homeowner to save commissions. Keep in mind you will still need to get legal advice when you do this to check title deeds and all the paperwork is in order.
To use facebook marketplace select your preferred city (Andorra la vella for an instance) as your filter, then click on Property Rentals or House Sales. Keep in mind that all prices will be in euro. To rent a studio apartment in the capital of andorra la vella will cost you about 755 USD a month whereas for 3 bedroom apartments in the same city will be about 900 USD a month.
Some Real Estates You Could Check If You’d Like To Buy Property In Andorra are:
Because of Andorra’s mountainous location, the natural environment delivers excellent 90 percent pure air quality. With more than 250 km of slopes, mountain and ski regions such as Grandvalira and Vallnord provide residents with a relaxing environment and a variety of sporting activities.
Sports associated with the mountains such as trekking and snowboarding are among the best leisure activities you can choose if you stay in Andorra. If you are a painter then you will never be short of inspiration as well. Taking a short hike into the mountains or a drive through the beautiful countryside with plenty of places to stop and have a picnic lunch or something you picked up at the many patisseries in town.
Good Health Care
Healthcare in Andorra is at an extremely high level with roughly 4 physicians per 1000 people. Andorra’s world-class healthcare system menas residents of Andorra can take advantage of top-notch services locally or by traveling to neighboring hospitals in France and Spain. It is only a 4 hour train ride direct to Barcelona or a 3 hour drive if you need extremely hard to find services.
Andorra’s healthcare system is quite advanced and similar to what you would find in Switzerland and Norway. In reality, Andorra placed higher in access and quality than these health-conscious countries according to a 2017 Lancet publication. Andorra is also one of the world’s top five healthiest countries according to the Lancet.
The local healthcare system known as CASS (Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social), covers the majority of each person’s healthcare bills. Furthermore, if you find yourself in neighboring France or Spain and even in Portugal experiencing unforeseen medical problems they are normally covered as well. You just need to notify the CASS where you’ll be going prior to your trip.
In most cases, 90 percent of all hospital visits are covered, and 75 percent of medical and dental visits are covered as well. Remember that a great healthcare system is what adds to Andorra’s average life expectancy of 83.5 years.
Outside the EU
One of the greatest things about Andorra is that the country is outside the EU and this is why you get duty free. This means when you need to do your 90 days out of the Schengen zone you can do those 90 days in Andorra if you wanted too and then slip back into the Schengen zone for another 90 days again.
Fantastic I know!
What are the Cons of Living in Andorra?
The language barrier in Andorra is one of the most significant disadvantages that many expats confront upon relocating. Andorra’s official language is Catalan. Because just roughly 10 million people around the globe speak this language as their first language, there’s a good possibility you’re not familiar with it. However, the government does provide free classes to assist newcomers in learning the language.
Many citizens also speak Spanish and French. English is becoming more frequent in the hospitality, retail, and tourism industries as the number of expats and English speaking tourists grows. So if in doubt ask your questions of tour operators or shop staff and you will likely find someone that speaks a little English.
Despite the fact that other European countries are well connected with budget airlines and train services there are not as many in Andorra. There is no airport in Andorra itself due to the mountainous location but a short distance away in Spain there is the Andorra–La Seu d’Urgell Airport which services the country.
There is a direct train to Barcelona that takes 4 hours or you can drive there in roughly 3 hours. Other than that you can use the Flixbus service that has a 3 hour bus to Barcelona as well. The other major travel hub for the region is Toulouse which is a 3 hour drive away as well. There is a heliport in town for emergencies as well should it be needed.
It’s also worth noting that the nearest station is in L’Hospitalet-pres-l’Andorre, which is 3 kilometers from the French border. You’ll be able to take a straight sleeper train to Paris Austerlitz from here. You’ll find a heap of alternative travel options once you arrive in Toulouse.
There are 6 good warm months a year with daytime temperatures around 20°C or 68°F maximum temperatures during the day and nice cool nights. The other 6 months are around 10°C or 50°F peak temperatures and can get down to 0°C or 32°F at night in February, the coldest month.
For some this is great as they love the indoor heating, log fires and being able to wear layers of fashionable clothing all year round. It also means there is a long time each year to take advantage of the snow and all the activities that go with it.
For most retirees though you may be wanting to go to somewhere warmer due where medical issues like arthritis and general aches and pains go away. This is up to you and worth visiting not just in the warm months but also in the cold to see if it is something you want to commit too.