2024 Pension breakeven index: How does the UK state pension compare to the rest of Europe?

Retirement planning is a vital part of life, not only in later life but even those in their 20s should think about putting some pounds in the bank for later life. However, it can be an overwhelming experience.

Most of us will have begun paying into our pension as soon as we turn 22, without giving it a second thought. However, if you aren’t sure where to start, get in touch with a pension advisor to discuss your options.

For those approaching retirement age in the UK, most will benefit from a state pension, which we, our employers and the government will have contributed to over the course of our working life.

But thanks to the rising cost of living, pensions are being stretched in the UK as well as right across Europe and soon-to-be retirees are all seeking the same pension advice, such as ‘is my pension enough’ and ‘how comfortable will life be after work?’

Carrying on from last year’s index, for 2024 we looked at the pension systems in all of Europe’s 50 countries to establish which country offers the most to retirees in comparison to the country’s current cost of living data. We looked at Numbeo data that analyses the average cost of general living expenses like food shopping, the price of a meal at a restaurant, energy bills etc. and gives an estimated cost of living per month, excluding rent.

The data has been calculated on the basis that the majority of pensioners in these countries are mortgage-free. Almond Financial then ranked the top 30 countries in the annual Pension Breakeven Index from the most pension-friendly to the least.

Where in Europe offers the most to residents in terms of pension provision?

Luxembourg tops the European Pension Breakeven Index. The Luxembourg pension system pays out an average of €6,095.87 (£5,211.20) and thanks to the relatively low cost of living in comparison, pensioners can expect a comfortable retirement with a pension income at 538.47% over the breakeven point.

Spain came in second place, with the country’s pension system paying out a maximum of €3,175.00 ( £2,714.23) per month and coupled with the country’s low cost of living, pensioners can enjoy a comfortable retirement in the sun.

The UK moved up one place from last year’s report in the top 30, now coming in at number 15, continuing to linger just above the breakeven point for pension income. At just 18.28% above the breakeven point, the UK pays just £148.13 more in state pension than the average cost of living for a pensioner.

The maximum UK state pension will pay a total of £958.53  per month to retirees from 2024 and at the time of writing, recent data stated that the monthly cost of living for a single person (excluding rent) is £810.40.

Rank Country Pension paid out per month in £ Cost of Living Monthly Costs in £ % above/below the pension income breakeven point
1 Luxembourg £5,201.88 £816.20 637.33%
2 Spain £2,709.37 £599.40 452.01%
3 Belgium £2,698.28 £786.60 343.03%
4 Bulgaria £1,486.00 £489.10 303.82%
5 Liechtenstein £2,148.08 £908.99 236.31%
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina £1,022.23 £458.10 223.15%
7 Cyprus £1,507.12 £731.10 206.14%
8 France £1,564.18 £812.50 192.51%
9 Iceland £1,893.87 £1,016.10 186.39%
10 Denmark £1,651.18 £915.60 180.34%
11 Switzerland £2,148.06 £1,389.90 154.55%
12 Netherlands £1,245.48 £816.20 152.60%
13 Norway £1,412.74 £964.90 146.41%
14 Ukraine £482.03 £345.70 139.44%
15 United Kingdom £958.53 £810.40 118.28%
16 Sweden £886.76 £779.30 113.79%
17 Ireland £946.53 £840.10 112.67%
18 Czech Republic £696.31 £648.00 107.46%
19 Finland £661.94 £787.10 84.10%
20 Romania £411.64 £498.90 82.51%
21 Lithuania £490.67 £627.90 78.15%
22 Montenegro £384.01 £498.90 76.97%
23 Belarus £237.98 £353.00 67.42%
24 Albania £296.45 £491.70 60.29%
25 Croatia £353.29 £605.50 58.53%
26 Greece £327.68 £691.70 47.37%
27 Russia £165.36 £384.50 43.01%
28 Georgia £109.06 £474.40 22.99%
29 Moldova £103,36 £475.90 21.72%
30 Armenia £74.20 £505.80 14.67%

At the other end of the table, Armenia ranked bottom of the Pension Breakeven Index for the second year in a row. The Armenian state pension system pays the equivalent of £70.24 to those eligible, despite average monthly living costs of £505.80. Appearing second last in the index is Moldova with a monthly pension payment of £100.24 per month for retirees, despite average living costs of over £475.90.

Commenting on the results of the research, Principal Financial Adviser at Almond Financial, Sam Robinson, commented:

“The data is an interesting insight into just how well people can live when they retire right across Europe.

“For those approaching state pension age in Spain, retirement is a particularly enticing prospect with a healthy pension, low cost of living and not to mention the fantastic weather.”

“Closer to home, the UK has a system that is just above the breakeven point which means at present, there isn’t much room to manoeuvre for those battling the cost of living crisis. And while it is positive that the UK finds itself among the top half of countries, for how much longer is the question.

“Although the increase in the state pension was well intended, it works out at just £33 more per month compared to last year’s pension. It’s clear that those over 66 need to look at other options rather than just relying on the state pension.

“Planning for life after work is crucial and it’s important to seek advice from a pension advisor if you aren’t sure where to start.”

Five ways to maximise your retirement benefits:

  1. Use pay rises to increase pension contributions and pay more into a pension when loans and other commitments end.
  2. Maximise employer contributions.
  3. Ensure your investment approach is efficient and suitable to your financial situation.
  4. Maximise tax relief available.
  5. Avoid taking large lump sums of money from the pension when there isn’t a need – Taking the first 25% of your pension will be tax-free cash although any future withdrawals will be taxable.

Need Pension Advice and not sure where to start?

Our team of financial and pension advisors can help guide you through the process of investing in life after work. Get in touch today by visiting: https://www.almondfinancial.co.uk/contact/


Almond Financial collected state pension data from all 50 European countries, including state pension age, the monthly entitlement available and life expectancy.

In addition, Almond Financial then took cost of living data from Numbeo, and the state pension data to calculate the percentage above or below the pension income breakeven point and ranked the top 30 countries from the most pension-friendly countries to the least.