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JanesAdventure Nov 27th, 2007 11:19 AM

Retirement travel in Europe
As a retiree with a steady income and no desire to work, can I travel throughout Europe for an extended period of time? I would want to be able to rent an apartment for 1-3 months per country, then pick up and go on to the next. What documentation would be needed to make it legal? Where do I go in the US to set this up beforehand?

hetismij Nov 27th, 2007 11:54 AM tells you about visas and how to retire to Spain. Once you have residency in an EU land you can visit the others without a visa.
The same rules apply more or less to each Schengen country.
Easier still is if you have an Irish parent or Grandparent and can get an Irish passport. I believe the Italians also so something similar for decendants of emigrants.

PalenQ Nov 27th, 2007 12:26 PM

Call the appropriate Embassies or Consulates in the U.S. or go online to their sites for most definitive answers IMO

LarryJ Nov 27th, 2007 01:34 PM

You will need a residency in one of the countries to stay longer than 90 days combined throughout the EU countries or more specifically the Schengen Treaty countries. In France it is called a "Carte De Sejour".

Get ready for the hassle of your life.

Good luck,
Larry J

Underhill Nov 27th, 2007 01:37 PM

Keep in mind that Medicare does not cover medical treatment outside the U.S. You may have coverage through a secondary health plan; if not, be sure to purchase insurance.

PalenQ Nov 27th, 2007 01:39 PM

and isn't the 90 days 90 days in an overall time frame

IOW you can't go out of Schengen zone for a day or week, etc. and then be entitled to another 90 days in Schengen without waiting a good period?

not sure but think so

cheryllj Nov 27th, 2007 01:42 PM

I thought it was a max of 90 days in any 180-day period.

In any event, I agree that this will be a huuuge hassle. Good luck with that.

PalenQ Nov 27th, 2007 01:49 PM

I wonder if anyone knows what happens to the average tourist if they overstay the 90 days and are discovered when leaving (by passport stamps from date of entry)

maybe just can't come back in

but entering often i just see some bored clerk robot-like stamp my passport without scanning it, etc.

and sometimes it wasn't even stamped.

ira Nov 27th, 2007 01:51 PM

Hi J,

Welcome to the club. You will enjoy it.

If you wish to visit the Schengen countries, you are limited to 90 days every 6 mos. See

Will you be maintaining a US residence?

Would you mind visiting Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas for 3 months?


PalenQ Nov 27th, 2007 02:00 PM

and there are European countries not in the Schengen such as Croatia and former Eastern Europe where life is also much cheaper

swandav2000 Nov 27th, 2007 02:01 PM

Hi JanesAdventure,

What a great plan! I think you'll have a blast!

As others have said above, having your pension is a good first step for your plan to travel for long periods of time. When you register for your residence visa, you'll have to have that proof of income.

Another step is having medical coverage. You'll need to prove that you're covered while staying there.

And finally, you have to get legal for your stay. I guess, as others have said, you could pick one country and use that as a base for your trip.

I've been investigating a long stay in Germany. I've learned from the German consulate in Atlanta that all I have to do is register with the police and at the town hall after I've secured a permanent place to stay. Of course, I also have to show proof of income and medical coverage.

Good luck!


shoefly Nov 27th, 2007 04:27 PM

This is an interesting thread, as we were just discussing our post retirement plans.

We'd like to "move" to Europe for about a year, and rent a different apartment each month in a different country.

It sounds like it's a tad more complicated than i thought!! Has anybody on here stayed in Europe that long?

Zerlina Nov 27th, 2007 04:37 PM

There's a thread called "Taking a 'Gap Year' and traveling" in the "Everything about Travel" forum at in which people who have lived in Europe for a year address some of the questions posed here.

hopscotch Nov 27th, 2007 05:00 PM


If you follow all the Chicken Little advice here you won't have much fun now, will you?

It is true that all the "Fodors legal advisors" are legally correct. Then again, when was the last time you did 75 in a 70? Did you turn yourself in? Hey, "I surrender for grevious crimes against the speed law."

As for Shengen and previous rules, I have gone over the 90 several times and have read about others who have gone over 180 and far more. Some on Fodors have reported 300. I think I did 200 once.

A passport policeman at AMS told me "You'll never have to worry about that."

Someone in history or literature said "The law is an ass." I wish someone on this forum would tell me who that genius was.

To rent an apartment you do not need to prove that you are "legal." You will not be asked. The owner wants a paying customer. Slap your cash on the table. If you think that apartment owners have any sympathy with the hellish laws against making money in Europe, put it away. They are actually trying to stay under radar and avoid paying hellish European taxes.

The only thing you need to do is stay under radar. As long as you are not criminals on the run you have carte blance for all of Europe. That is true except Russia but I plan to sneak in the next time. I think I have that plan figured out, but if you Ruskies are reading this be assured that I only want to try some of your fine vodka and fresh fish eggs.

Underhill Nov 27th, 2007 08:04 PM

It was Charles Dickens who wrote "The law is a[sic] ass."

LarryJ Nov 27th, 2007 11:07 PM

You can not leave the Schengen Treaty countries for a day or any time period less than 90 days and then return.

The current Schengen countries are EU-members Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden and non-EU members Iceland and Norway.
Switzerland, which remains outside the EU bloc, is also set to join Schengen next year.

Your passport can now be scanned by immigration officers. I am not sure if they can as yet track your movements but in this day of terrorist threats I would not want to be caught in violation.

I went through the process in France to get residency with success but it was a really big hassle including the need to get fingerprinted in the USA and investigated by the FBI to get criminal record history (or lack of one) and you will need several documents pertaining to marital status, income, health insurance etc in English and in certified French. The certified French translations are expensive to get from the translation services. The FBI criminal record search is a requirement started in 2005. You will have to go to one interview at your closest French Consulante in the USA which for me was 500 miles away and you will have two interviews in France and finally a physical exam in France that cost me over $250 with chest x-ray.

I don't mean to scare anyone off but it is a hassle. All in all to me it was worth it as I now live 6 months each year in France and I love it.

Good luck,
Larry J

WTnow Nov 28th, 2007 12:07 AM

YES, you CAN travel throughout Europe for an extended time! We have been doing this for the last 15 months and loving it!

We have a young child and retired early, so that adds to the fun for us. We have lots of info about this on our blog:

Yep, we went through the fingerpriting,translating, expense and pain for long stay and got it for Spain.

BUT I also know people who have done this for up to 2 years without that without any problems what so ever.

You can legally do it, if you plan your trip carefully.People do it all the time.

You can spend a fortune doing extensive travel like this, or you can do it for very cheaply.We preferred the budget way and actually live MUCH cheaper traveling the world, than living at home.

We are a family of 3 and lived quite luxuriously on 25K this year. We travel by motorhome, but also have stayed at some fine hotels and rentals. Here is a good link about this style:

A year goes by very quickly. It takes time to set it up and prepare, but once you do, it is very easy.

Carpe Diem!

hetismij Nov 28th, 2007 12:29 AM

Why risk doing it illegally? Your passport is scanned and you are followed and they do know when you enter and leave Shengen. Should you want to re-enter Schengen too quickly you MAY get stopped. And then what? SHould you be flying the airline you travel on will ban you as they have to pay a huge fine for carrying you - you will go onto a blacklist which will make it harder to get tickets on other airlines. If you are checked at a border in a train you will have to get off. Your car will not be allowed to enter, if you are driving, the number will be in a computer. You will have difficulty re-entering Schengen ever.
It is not that difficult to get a visa. No more so than for a European wishing to do something similar in the US. It makes me mad that some forummers think it is fine for US (or Canadian) citizens to flout the immigration laws in Europe, when they live in countries with even stricter immigration rules as for Europeans.

WTnow Nov 28th, 2007 02:47 AM

But hetismiji, you CAN travel in Europe without a long stay visa and still be legal.

These are friends of mine who are retired who did just that for 6 months:

We had a nice get together in Cappadocia where we both stayed in luxurious cave hotels for very cheap.

All they did was plan there trip in a way that kept them always legal. They just went home and are coming back in the spring for another 6 month tour.

I know others that have done similar trips. The visa can be hard to get, so there are other ways around it legally.

Actually I have known RV traveling Europeans who have done a similar thing in north America to get around the hassles. They do Canada, Mexico ( and sometimes other latin american countries) while doing the US, in order to stay longer.

I know a couple who lived and worked in Europe ( via computers with their companies in the States) and stayed in different apartments for 3 months each. They also worked it out in a way that was perfectly legal without a long stay visa and they even brought their dog.

You just have to use your noggin. ;)

If there is a will, there is a way.

flanneruk Nov 28th, 2007 03:59 AM

WTNow's itinerary might have been legal this year.

But it won't be from January 2008.

The extension of Schengen to virtually all the EU except Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria makes visa-free long stays increasingly difficult. And if getting a visa de jubilados in Spain is as easy as hetismij's site implies, it's really hard to see why any grown up would want to be illegal.

It's not our irritation: it's rank incomprehension at why anyone over 65 would expose themselves to the risks of being an illigal alien when there's no need for it.

It's one thing to hassle with authorities in a country you're not coming back to anyway when you're 30: it's something altogether different to be refused boarding in a foreign country or to discover at 70 your medical insurance is invalid.

ira Nov 28th, 2007 05:38 AM

>Someone in history or literature said "The law is an ass." I wish someone on this forum would tell me who that genius was.<

Mr Bumble in "Oliver Twist" by Dickens.

>The only thing you need to do is stay under radar.

After 30 some years of the professor business, I still don't understand why some people prefer to cheat, when it is just as easy to earn a grade.


WTnow Nov 28th, 2007 07:31 AM

You forgot two great places that my friends traveled in... Croatia and Turkey.

FABULOUS places with unending places to stay for cheap in pristine gorgeous landscapes, friendliest people, great prices....& not joining the EU anytime soon.

It would be very easy to stay in either place for 3 months.

I think my friend is planning UK and Russia this year to add to his time in the UK.

There really are LOTS of options on how to do it legally, although it is true it has just gotten harder.

South Africa and Morocco are places that some people like to add or Egypt etc. Many ways still to do it and stay legal for those that can not get the long stay visa.

People from the US as well as Oz and NZ do this all the time legally, as the flight is one of the highest cost items.

We got a long stay visa in Spain and I can tell you that it is NOT an easy process at all.

LarryJ Nov 28th, 2007 08:48 AM

I guess the question is do you want to spend more than 90 days at a time in a great Schengen country where the quality of life is great or do you want to spend considerable time and expense somewhere depressing. If I were not going to go through the residency process I would rather just go back home after 90 days. Also there are two issues here; one being a traveler and the other being a resident.

Larry J

Vicky Nov 28th, 2007 09:20 AM

I have Italian grandparents (from italy). Deceased now of course. Would it be worth the hassle to get Italian citizenship (dual citizenship) for the very reason the poster proposes? so that I can retire/live in Italy and the EU for longer than 3 months?

flanneruk Nov 28th, 2007 09:20 AM

"You forgot two great places that my friends traveled in... Croatia and Turkey. "

Of course I bloody well didn't. Do my posts sound like someone who can't read? Or count to 90?

Go back to the itinerary you're boasting about. Then tell me how they can do that legally, without a long-stay visa, next year.

trvlgirlmq Nov 28th, 2007 09:40 AM

Vicky -

The law only works patriarchally (through the male line). You can become a citizen of Italy if your father or grandfather was Italian and never gave up citizenship. By emigrating the the US (even if he was a child with his parents) your grandfather gave up his Italian citizenship so you would not be eligible for automatic citizenship yourself. You can get citizenship through a long process that takes something like 3 years of living/working in Italy. I can't rememeber what website I found this on but I think I Googled for Italian citizenship or some such thing when I was looking into the same thing.

Vicky Nov 28th, 2007 09:49 AM

Thanks for the clarification. I had read some procedures but didn't realize it would not apply if my grandfather had become a US citizen, which he did.

WTnow Nov 28th, 2007 11:02 AM

Gee flanner, you have such a way with words. ;) No wonder you are so well liked. LOL.

First off, I was not boasting, only giving it as an example of some retired folks that have done a wonderful extended stay....absolutely legal, without the long stay visa.

I was not recommending anyone to do their exact itinerary, it was an example of taking the time to make a plan that would work. It is easier and more rewarding than most realize.

There are MANY ways to do this legally and people, like my example ,have been doing it for a long time and will continue to.

Not a have-to for anyone, just another possibility as not everyone can or want to get the long term visas which are a major hassle and for the high end visitor.

I actually have found some countries outside schengen MUCH better and less depressing than some of them inside. I think many people who have done extensive travel would agree.

Turkey, Croatia and Morocco have been are favorite places so far & we stayed in some gorgeous, world class places there. Croatia and western Turkey are more pristine with every advantage of the best in Europe.

There is nothing wrong with 90 day visits or less, but some people like the OP want to do more. Going slow saves money and allows one to immerse in the culture in deeper ways, yet is much different than the expat experience.

Some think of longer stays as travelers and short stays as tourists. I do not know, but if you really like to travel, there is nothing better than open ended travel.

It may not be for everyone, but it is a fantasy for many people. We have found the reality of open ended travel even better than the fantasy.

Vicky, I would go to Slow Travel or the Italy-expat board and ask your question there. You will find many people who are experts in that area who can help. Christina is the resident expert hero on both.

PalenQ Nov 28th, 2007 12:55 PM

I think flanneur can indeed read in spite of lacking a 'proper' education in his rather poor educational background.

JanesAdventure Dec 1st, 2007 10:28 PM

Wow! Thanks for all the great advice and links to more. If I maintain a residence in the US, can I still qualify for a long term visa and residence in another country, like Spain? It sounds like that is the safest way to go.

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