Living in Andorra: Pros and Cons

Andorra is a beautiful mountainous region located between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains. It has everything you’d want from the place that you call home — from panoramic views and opportunities for adventure to an excellent tax system and exceptional safety. People from all over the world have been flocking to this small country for a reason.

It’s fair to say that the country isn’t going to be for everyone. It has its own quirks and features that some will appreciate, while others won’t. A balanced view of the pros and cons of living in Andorra is something every prospective resident must consider.

We understand that moving to a new country is a tough decision. Particularly when you’re moving to a unique place like Andorra. Below, we’ll try to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the principality; what you will like, what you might not, and more.

The Pros of Living in Andorra

If you know where to look, Andorra has a lot to offer. Apart from the picturesque landscape, there are many other things to look forward to when living in Andorra. Whether you’d like to live in the capital of Andorra la Vella or perhaps a small village tucked away in the Pyrenees, basic necessities, entertainment, and essential services will remain easily accessible.

Here are some of the top advantages of living in this small country:

Safety and Security

Andorra is a very safe place. Residents have a sense of ease throughout the country. Many are of the opinion that even if you mistakenly leave your wallet or cellphone somewhere, chances are it will either be handed in by a ‘good Samaritan’ or you’ll find it where you left it.

It is by far one of the safest countries in Europe. Violent crime and assaults are nearly unheard of, even in the most urban and populated areas. Since there are limited entry points into the country, illegal activity is quite rare.

The roads in and out of the country both contain patrolled borders. There is also no airport. People feel safe enough to leave their car running and unlocked while performing routine errands. Simply put, it’s pretty safe. A very low unemployment rate also means low-scale property crimes are unheard of, which is why retiring in Andorra is so idyllic.

Low Cost of Living

One thing that can be off-putting about many regions in Europe is the cost of living. That's not the case in Andorra. In fact, it compares to very affordable cities like Madrid or Barcelona. All in all, the cost of living in Andorra tends to be 30% lower than comparable major world cities.

Let’s take a look at some common costs of living in Andorra:

Modern upscale 2 bed/2 bath apartment with car parking: €1000/month

Utilities: €100/month

300MBPS wifi: €39/month

Standard lunch menu: €15

Coffee: €1.25

Glass of beer: €1.50

Gym membership with pool, sauna, classes included: €50/month

Resident ski pass: €250 (different deals are available above and below this, however)

Outdoor Recreation

It’s hard to talk about living and retiring in Andorra without mentioning outdoor recreation. One look at the Andorran mountain ranges and its ski-friendly slopes and trails is enough to make any adventurer smile. Certainly, one of the major pros of living in here is access to outdoor recreational activities. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, or skiing, there’s something for everyone.

Given the amazing mountain scenery, Andorra is a top-tier ski destination. Living in the principality means you get to have a lot of fun on the slopes. This is made even easier given that the year-round ski passes and bike parks cost less than €200 in some scenarios. Grandvalira, Vallnord – Pal Arinsal, and Ordino Arcalis operate cable cars and chairlifts for winter skiing and biking or sightseeing in the summer.

Additionally, marked hiking trails, maintained via ferratas, and signed road routes for cyclists are featured throughout the country. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or professional athlete, Andorra is the perfect place to train and play.

Overall, if outdoor recreation is important to your life, Andorra should tick all the boxes.

Reasonable Taxation

Andorra is often considered to be a tax haven. While that’s not exactly true, reasonable taxation is a big advantage of living in Andorra. Compared to other countries, the tax system in Andorra is simple. You might even consider the country a quaint duty-free shop nestled in the endless mountains.

Let’s take a look at some tax situations in Andorra:

Personal income tax is between 0-10%

Individuals can earn €24,000 at a tax rate of 0%. €24,000-40,000 is taxed at 5%. Over €40,000 is taxed at 10%

Married couples are only taxed over €40,000 at 10%

There is no sales tax, but the VAT is 4.5%

Company profits tax is 10%

No wealth, gift, or inheritance taxes

Capital gains tax on real estate is 0-15%

Despite the relatively low tax rates, the quality of life in Andorra is quite comfortable. The government delivers great services and programs without imposing a high tax rate on citizens. The result is a happy, healthy population that feels they are not unfairly taxed, which makes for a very progressive citizenry.

Progressive Healthcare

Healthcare is often a hot-button issue in nearly every country in the world. Not so much in Andorra. In fact, the principality boasts a world-class healthcare system with nearly four physicians for every 1000 residents. Those who call Andorra home can enjoy top-level services locally or by visiting neighboring systems in France and Spain.

Similar to respected countries like Switzerland and Norway, Andorra boasts a very progressive healthcare system. In fact, according to a 2017 Lancet publication, Andorra ranked higher in quality and access than these health-conscious nations. The Lancet also notes that Andorra is one of the top 5 healthiest countries in the world.

So what makes Andorra’s healthcare so great? Known as CASS (Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social), the system covers the bulk of every individual’s healthcare costs. Additionally, should you find yourself in nearby France, Spain, or Portugal with an unexpected medical cost, these are typically also covered. All you have to do is notify CASS of your travels.

Coverage typically includes:

100% coverage for the cost of giving birth

90% coverage for all hospital visits

75% for medical and dental appointments

A Thriving Community

Aside from the basic necessities, having a community that’s welcoming and lively makes transitioning to a new home a lot easier. Andorra is a vibrant place to both live and work. A large number of expats and immigrants from the neighbouring European countries makes the principality a rather multi-cultural place to be. The capital, Andorra la Vella, is a testament to Andorra’s broad diversity.

Festa Majors tend to bring multi-day parties to nearly every village in the country. For a small country, it seems as if there is always some kind of community event or gathering to attend.

Once you get past the language barrier, you’ll find a truly inclusive community waiting to welcome you with open arms.

The Cons of Living in Andorra

Obviously, living in Andorra has both pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at the things about Andorra that probably won’t excite you. Remember, it is important to weigh both up before exploring and arranging residency. We know what a big decision moving to a new country can be.

Andorra’s Language Barrier

One of the biggest cons many expats face when relocating is the language barrier. Catalan — Andorra's official language — is the native tongue of a mere 10 million individuals worldwide, so chances are you won't be familiar with it. That said, the government does offer free classes to help newcomers learn the language.

While Catalan is the official language, many residents in Andorra also speak French and Spanish. With the rise of expats, English is also becoming more common in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors. Two international schools teach the majority of the curriculum in English, while many private tuition centres also offer English classes.

Still, the language barrier can be an issue for new residents who need to understand government services and access information for things like banking and so on.

Limited Access to Transportation

Andorra is not exactly an international travel hub. Even though most European countries are very well connected to one another with cheap flights and train rides, Andorra is still quite limited in access to transportation. The country does not have its own airport or a link to the European rail system.

If you decide to move here, you’ll find that the closest major travel hubs will be Barcelona (2.5 hours away) and Toulouse (3 hours).

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the nearest train station is located at L’Hospitalet-pres-l’Andorre, which is 3km from the border of France. Here you’ll have access to a direct night train to Paris Austerlitz. Once you get into Toulouse, you’ll find many other connections for travel.

A Simpler Way of Life

Some people want a fast-paced way of life where the world is at their fingertips — others crave simplicity and leisure. Andorra really serves the latter. Having to live a simple lifestyle is not necessarily a con, but if you’re used to the city life where you can order anything and everything on your phone, it might be an inconvenience. Additionally, many online retailers do not ship to Andorra at all, which may be another drawback for many.

While these things aren’t necessarily major deal breakers, they can be quite annoying. This is especially true for individuals moving from the United Kingdom and the United States. While there are ways to get around the hassles of getting packages, they often involve sending shipments to a collection point in La Seu d’Urgell. To serve this gap in the market, businesses that accept international packages on your behalf and deliver them to your doorstep (for a fee, of course) are becoming more prevalent.

Ready to Make the Move?

While there are plenty of positives and some negatives to living in Andorra, we feel the pros far outweigh the cons. After all, a population of more than 77,000 residents lives here with good reason. People come from all walks of life. There are Andorran-born locals and others who have only lived here for one or two generations. There are also plenty of expats and world travelers. Historically, people have emigrated to Andorra from France, Spain, and Portugal. Nowadays, people are migrating from Britain, America, Eastern Europe, and beyond.

Many folks come seeking lower tax rates, others want a lifestyle change that supports outdoor recreation. Some are choosing to retire in Andorra despite the language barrier, others just want a simpler way of life. Andorra is home to all types of people. Becoming one of them is easier than you might imagine!

If you’re not sure how to weigh up the pros and cons of living in Andorra, contact us today. We can help guide you along the path to making the decision and calling this beautiful nation home.

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