Homes in Mid-Sized European Cities

When looking at Europe as a destination, many people focus on the “big names.” Paris, Rome, Madrid, and the rest are appealing, to be sure. And definitely worth a visit. But for long-term living, especially for a would-be expat on a retirement budget, it’s preferable to avoid the glitz and glamour, crowds, and high prices that go with being in a major metro area.

Europe’s mid-sized cities offer all the same benefits, such as modern infrastructure, arts, cultural traditions (which are often stronger in smaller, less cosmopolitan spots), tasty cuisine, and more. And you’ll enjoy being in a place with lower real estate prices and a more manageable lifestyle. An added benefit: You’ll likely be able to live more like a local and connect with your community.

Lyon, France—The Second City

Considered France’s second city, Lyon (also spelled Lyons) is what many (including the famed chef and author, the late Anthony Bourdain) deem the country’s culinary capital—some say the world’s. Beaujolais wine is produced around here, for one thing, and the Rhône Valley is nearby. More than a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants offer the best in classic French cuisine, but many people prefer the hearty food of the family-run bistros known as bouchons.

Lyon’s origins date to a Roman settlement founded in 43 BC. History, good wine and food (and plenty of markets to get it in), expansive parks, and a long riverfront to stroll (along both the Saône and Rhône rivers)…what more could you ask for? A two-bedroom apartment in the well-regarded 9th Arrondissement, with quick access to the metro, is available now for $168,286. Another two-bedroom apartment, in the mostly residential 9th Arrondissement, is available for $168,277. See: and

Bologna, Italy—Art, Food, and More

The capital of northern Italy’s Emilia- Romagna region, Bologna has a population of about 1 million and often ranks as having one of the best quality-of-life ratings in the country. The 340-acre historic city center, much of it pedestrian-only, is meticulously maintained. Walk on centuries-old piazzas, surrounded by churches, towers, and porticoes topped by terracotta tile roofs. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and attended by Dante and Boccaccio. But it’s not as though you’re living in a museum.

Bologna’s lively city center is full of trattorias, sidewalk cafés, markets, and museums, and its modern outskirts offer every comfort.

And its being in Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s premier food destinations, doesn’t hurt, either; try the mortadella and a piadina (a typical flatbread sandwich). For $173,971, you can secure a two-bedroom apartment close to the city center. A one-bedroom apartment in a residential area is available for $136,441. See:

Segovia, Spain—Historic Charm

Segovia is known for its aqueduct, 2,667 feet and 160 arches of ancient Roman architecture. It used to bring water to the city and today it cuts through Segovia’s sandstone and granite historical district—both are UNESCO World Heritage-protected. The hilltop Alcázar and its soaring towers overlooking the city inspired the design for Disneyland’s castle.

The city, about 30 minutes via highspeed train or one hour by car from Madrid, has even more to offer, including beloved meseta cuisine. A local specialty is roast suckling pig, crispy on the outside. For dessert, try ponche Segoviano—sponge cake layered with cream and wrapped in marzipan. A recently renovated three-bedroom apartment is listed at $88,691. A two-bedroom apartment is available for $102,222. See:

Krakow, Poland–Hip Eastern Europe

Krakow’s well-kept medieval Old Town has also earned UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, with narrow cobblestone streets interrupted by charming parks and plazas. Once Poland’s capital, it’s still considered an economic and cultural center. Hip coffee shops abound, and you can try a “milk bar” (originally created by the Communist Party to provide low-cost meals for the working class) for Polish classics like borscht at cheap prices.

It’s in southern Poland, near the border with the Czech Republic. Fitting for a place that in-the-know travelers have been calling the New Prague for years. A one-bedroom apartment in the heart of town, a few minutes’ walk from the famed Market Square, is on the market for $196,346. In a new development just outside Old Town is a two-bedroom apartment for $272,896. See:

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