Looking to Retire in Monaco? Here's How

Author: Matthew Harris

If you're well off and you've always dreamed of living on the Riviera, glamorous Monaco might be your ideal retirement destination, with world-renowned events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament and the Monaco Yacht Show and attractions like the Casino de Monte-Carlo. In this wealthy principality, you won't have to fear for your safety or wonder when the electricity will come back on, and the country's healthcare, rule of law, financial institutions and transportation networks are sound.

While Monaco is not part of the European Union, it's close to many desirable European destinations where you can vacation. Monaco's official language is French, but English is a close second, so you'll be able to get by if you're monolingual in English. The country has mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers, too. If all of this sounds appealing, here's a quick overview of what you need to know about retiring in the world's second-smallest independent state.

Visas and Residency

You don't have to become a resident to buy or rent property or to stay in Monaco for up to three months at a time. But if you want to live there year-round, you'll need to get a residence card, and – unless you're a citizen of the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland – that means getting a long-stay visa from France first.

Get this document from your nearest French consulate. You'll need to prove your identity, show that you have a place to live in Monaco, prove that you can support yourself financially and demonstrate that you don't have a criminal record. You'll have to renew your residence card repeatedly, first at one-year intervals, then at three-year intervals; eventually, you'll be eligible for a 10-year residence card. More than 60% of Monaco's population of just over 300,000 are immigrants so you'll be in good company.

Cost of Living

If you're coming from the United States, you'll be subject to the dollar's relationship to the euro: $1.00 was worth €0.90 as of June 2015. You won't need to own a car, though; the nation is so small – a mere 2 square kilometers, or about three times the size of the national mall in Washington, D.C. – that you could cover it all on foot. There are even elevators to take you up steep streets. There's an inexpensive bus system as well, and you can always take the tourist train or even hire a limo. Most groceries are reasonably priced, as are many restaurant meals.

Housing will be your biggest expense and give you the biggest sticker shock. Monaco has the most expensive luxury properties in the world, according to the 2015 Wealth Report from Knight Frank, a global, independent real estate consultancy for both residential and commercial property. $1 million will only buy you 17 square meters (approximately 183 sq. ft.) of luxury property in Monaco, compared with 34 square meters (approximately 366 sq. ft) in New York City and 57 (approximately 613 sq. ft.) in Los Angeles, the most expensive US cities on the list.

Indeed, you might feel out of place in Monaco if you aren't rich. While the United States has the greatest number of ultra high net worth individuals in the world, according to Knight Frank, Monaco has the highest concentration of them, with 574 ultra high net worth individuals per 100,000 residents, compared with 12.7 per 100,000 in the United States. (For more places that attract rich retirees, check out Top Countries Where The Wealthy Retire and, for U.S. locations, Top Retirement Spots For The Ultra Rich.)


Many very wealthy people choose to live in Monaco because it has no income tax (L1) and no capital gains tax. It also has a limited estate tax; you can leave your holdings to your spouse and direct heirs and pay no tax. Where you will get hit is when you buy things; Monaco has a value-added tax (VAT) of 20%. Depending on your residency status and s of retirement income, you might also pay taxes to your home country. U.S. citizens are required to pay U.S. taxes even if they live abroad. (For related reading, see How To Pay Taxes If You're Overseas and Can the government tax your capital gains from other countries?)

You might be wondering if a foreigner can become a citizen of Monaco, not just a resident. The requirements to become a naturalized citizen of Monaco are that you have lived in Monaco for at least 10 consecutive years, that you will renounce your citizenship to any other country (tax avoidance is a major reason why people renounce their U.S. citizenship) and that becoming a naturalized citizen of Monaco will relieve you of any military service obligation in your former country. A woman can become a citizen of Monaco by marrying a Monégasque man, and any foreigner can appeal directly to the Prince for citizenship without meeting the 10-year residency requirement. However, the Prince has the right to refuse any request for naturalization for any reason, even if you meet the basic requirements.

The Bottom Line

Monaco offers a pleasant climate, modern creature comforts, glamor and a great opportunity to brag to friends and family back home. It also has plenty of activities to keep you entertained, plus it's a short flight or drive to other exciting European destinations (the French Riviera is just down the hill).

If you can afford the high cost of housing and feel comfortable among the elite, Monaco might be the right retirement destination for you. (For related reading, see Things To Consider Before Retiring Abroad and Retirement: U.S. Vs. Abroad.)