Wow! Retire in Heidelberg, Germany, if only for a season? See what we’ve found and why so many have done just that! This well preserved, very popular town in south west Germany is home to a huge castle and an amazing old town. On the river Neckar, Heidelberg sits in a steep valley not far from the border with France. The area enjoys a mild climate where you will find vineyards, fig trees and almonds and spectacular gardens, flower markets, and warm sunshine all summer long. The temperatures run from a high in January of 38F to a high in July of 77F with just 30 inches of rain a year.
A town of about 150,000, Heidelberg has a charming town square with flower boxes in the windows, brightly colored umbrellas shade the outdoor cafes, and is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and just people watch. It is estimated that nearly 4 million tourists pass through every year and no wonder. Regular festivals throughout the year have boosted tourism and include the Old Town Autumn Festival, a Medieval market with entertainment, crafts, food, souvenirs, and many hand made gifts. The famous Vampire Ball in February is held at the Heidelberg Castle – be prepared to dress up! We’ve heard rumor about a massive (chocolate) Easter egg hunt in April. (How did I miss that one?) You don’t want to miss one of the city’s ‘castle lighting’ festivals where the castle is lit so bright, it looks like it might be on fire! This is followed by an impressive fireworks show – residents camp out on the river to get the best seats.
Heidelberg is a ‘romantic town’ with a history of poetry, music, art, philosophy and literature. There are several interesting (unusual) museums in town including a German Packing Museum , a Pharmacy Museum, tours of the castle and walking tours of the town. The University of Heidelberg founded in 1386 (really!) is one of Europe’s oldest colleges. Among the other colleges is the Schiller International University, a private American university offering undergraduate and graduate programs in Business and International Relations and Diplomacy.
As for housing, there is everything from renting a room in someone’s home, renting their guest cottage, apartments, condo’s, hotel’s, villa’s and magnificent homes available. We found a one bedroom, one bath ‘over-the-garage’ apartment, completely furnished (right down to the coffeemaker) for $44 per night – on the outskirts of town. Another property is 2 bedroom/2 bathroom (take friends!) that sleeps 6 in Neckargemund (a short train ride to Heidelberg) for $74 a night right on the river! Buying property in Germany will set you back at least $500,000 US.
Germany is one of our favorite spots in Europe. The Germans are welcoming and friendly and are happy to help you with their language. Learning several conversational phrases and key words will get you a long way. But Heidelberg sees so many tourists, English is not uncommon. While Germany is not one of the cheapest places on earth to retire, you can certainly try it out for a summer!