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When you think of Europe, you think of London, Paris, Madrid but there is so much more to life in Europe. There are hidden gems scattered across the continent some of which we have never even heard of before.
The best cities in Europe are in alphabetical order by country, then by city. I have also inputted the cost of living rankings from Numbeo. This compares each city’s cost of living to that of New York which is 100. Therefore, any place with less is cheaper, a higher figure means more expensive.
Here are some fun facts about Europe as well as experiences from those living in different cities.
- Europe is the 2nd smallest continent, 10.2 million km squared
- There are 50 countries in Europe
- The population is around 750 million people (2021)
- The most visited attraction in Europe: The Louvre, France
- Europe’s tallest building is the Lakhta Center, Russia at 462 meters tall
- Russia is also the largest country
- There are over 200 spoken languages
- The smallest country in Europe, and even in the world, is Vatican City
- The most widely used currency is the Euro (€); and another is the pound sterling (£) used in the United Kingdom (except Ireland)
Related: Best Cities in Canada
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1. Albania – Tirana
Cost of living: 38.68
One of the best cities in Europe is Tirana, Albania. Not only is it one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe, but it’s also the most inexpensive place I’ve called home.
Most things, like food and entertainment, are very inexpensive. For example, I paid US$3 / €2.60 for a movie ticket. I also took myself out to a fancy dinner at an Italian restaurant and paid US$12 / €10.70 including tip. That included a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and dessert.
I stayed in a one-bed apartment with modern furnishings, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and washer and dryer. This costed US$810 / €722 per month including all utilities. During my searches, I found less luxurious apartments around US$500-600 / €445-535.
21 Dhjetori is also a great area with a more local vibe and more budget-friendly accommodation options. I stayed in Blloku, which is the best neighbourhood for expats as it’s easy to walk to most places. This area is brimming with nightlife, restaurants, cafes, and more. It’s the heart of the city for expats and is a short walk to the city center.
If I needed to go further, I got around Tirana via bus or shared taxi. I paid an average of US$0.40 / €0.36 per bus ride and around US$4 / €3.58 per taxi ride.
Another perk about Tirana is the typical Mediterranean weather with warm and dry summers with highs of 31°C (88°F) and lows of 17°C (63°F). And mild and wet winters with highs of 12°C (54°F) and lows of 1°C (33°F).
My favourite part about living in Tirana is the locals. I’ve travelled the globe extensively and I can wholeheartedly say that Albanians are the kindest and most welcoming people.
The day I arrived, a random woman on the street gave me a basket of apples to welcome me. Another example was before getting into a taxi, I asked the driver for a price estimate. The ride ended up being less than he thought and he gave me my money back. This is rare in most places.
Contributed by Disha Discovers
2. Belgium – Antwerp
Cost of living: 71.33
Antwerp Belgium has been my home for the past few years. I moved to the city for work, having spent the previous 4 years living in Laos and China. Moving anywhere initially is a trepidatious move. From the moment I stepped foot in Antwerp’s Central Station, I was already in love.
Antwerp, one of the best cities in Europe, is a small port city that lies on the river Scheldt close to the Netherlands border. The city has an incredibly diverse population, with over 150 languages spoken. And unlike Brussels, you do not need to speak Flemish to get around. Flemish is essentially Dutch, but with a much softer accent and while it is nice to learn a few phrases, everyone in the city speaks remarkably excellent English.
Renting an apartment in Antwerp is very affordable compared to neighbouring countries. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can start from US$730 / €650 per month, bills not included.
A car is not needed when living in Antwerp as everything is within walking distance or cycling distance. Antwerp is a fantastic city to cycle around, thanks to excellent bicycle lanes and flat surfaces, there are no hills here!
Belgium is a notoriously grey-skied country, and in the winter months, it can feel quite oppressive and never-ending gloom with highs of 6°C (42°F) and lows of 1°C (33°F). But Antwerp comes alive in the summer months when the ‘Zomerbars’ (summer bars) open up across the city, and the temperatures can get warmer with highs of 23°C (73°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F).
But with so much to do in the city, from excellent museums to out-of-this-world fashion scenes, the rain and grey skies don’t make it so bad after all.
Antwerp is not high on most people’s lists when visiting Belgium, so whilst Brussels and Bruges receive the most visitors, Antwerp remains a hidden gem that only a select few know about. Don’t tell too many people, but Antwerp is one of the best cities in Europe that you’ve never visited.
Contributed by Missy from Travels with Missy
3. Belgium – Brussels
Cost of living: 74.39
Brussels wears the joint crown of the capital of both Europe and Belgium, as such, it is always brimming with activity. Many expats flock to Brussels to work at one of the European institutions. Most of them end up living in the area of Ixelles (Elsene in Dutch) – incidentally my favourite area to live.
While Ixelles might not be the cheapest area to live – a 2-bedroom apartment will set you back US$1,570 / €1,400. Although, it is still affordable, especially when comparing it to London, Amsterdam, and Paris. The area is filled with bars and restaurants from every country. For someone with a perpetual craving for good ramen and pizza (like myself) is absolute bliss.
Getting around Brussels is easy, simply hop on the train (Brussels North, Central or Midi), tram or bus. Although personally, having a bicycle a much more fun – although at times dangerous – way to get around the city.
The only downside is the high chance of getting soaked. I’d suggest investing in good rain gear is an absolute must if you move to Brussels. The temperatures are similar to Antwerp with winters having highs of 6°C (42°F) and lows of 1°C (33°F). And summers with highs of 23°C (73°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F).
It took a bit of time for the city to grow on me, it’s hectic and a lot of tourists come to spend a weekend in Brussels, adding to the already busy area. During weekends I would advise staying away from the Grand Place and its surroundings!
Contributed byCaroline from Veggie Way Farer
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4. France Aix-en-Provence
Cost of living: 71.05 (closest Marseille)
While the South of France isn’t among the most affordable places to live as an expat in Europe, it certainly makes up for this shortfall in other ways. Aix-en-Provence is widely regarded as a bit of a cultural hub, and it’s a popular place for expats to live, especially those that appreciate the arts, outdoor adventures, and a family-friendly atmosphere.
There is a myriad of things to do in Aix, including the widely renowned markets, museums, and eateries. The climate is also a major drawcard. It’s typically Mediterranean, with mild winters with highs of 10°C to 15°C (50-59°F) and lows of 1°C (33°F). But there is an ever-present blue sky.
While summers can get hot, many houses here are equipped with a pool. Also, the seaside isn’t far away for an afternoon dip. Although the average temperature is 32°C (90°F), it can get as hot as 38°C (100°F) and lows of 17°C (63°F).
As there are several international schools in the vicinity of Aix-en-Provence, housing is in high demand. Especially larger properties with 3+ bedrooms and a garden. For a property of this size, just outside the city, you could expect to pay around US$3,400 / €3000 per month (on a temporary contract). If living central is more your style, center city costs around US$897 / €800 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment.
If you live in central, getting around on foot or by bus is the preferred method of transport. But having a car is somewhat essential if you like to explore further than the city limits. And exploring is one of the best parts of living in this beautiful city. It’s so close to many of the best Provence attractions, such as the villages of the Luberon, the seaside village of Cassis, the stunning Calanques National Park, Les Alpilles, the Camargue to name but a few!
Contributed by Nadine at Le Long Weekend
5. France – Paris
Cost of living: 84.35
Paris is one of the best cities for expats in Europe, and even the world! I love living here because not only is the city beautiful, but there are also a lot of cultural activities. And the food scene is terrific!
Living in Paris is not cheap, so you will have to take that into account in your budget. But I can tell you it’s worth it! Count on average €2,400 for a 70 m² with 3-bedrooms furnished apartment and €2,100 if the place isn’t furnished. And it would be around €1,800 for a 50 m² with 2-bedrooms furnished apartment and €1550 if the place is not furnished.
Paris is organized in arrondissements. The central arrondissements between the 1st and
9th are ideal because of their location. They are also the most expensive. I recommend the 11th: very dynamic with lots of new restaurants and cafes. The 14th is quite lively. The 17th is also pleasant. Montmartre in the 18th is full of charm.
Paris has a great network of public transport. You can use the metro, the RER train, the tramway, or the bus to move around. If you like to bike you will find plenty of options of docked bikes like the Vélibs. And there are a lot of electric scooters available as well.
If you prefer to travel by car, you can take a taxi or an Uber (or any other competitors). Be aware that the traffic can be quite dense at rush hour. Last but not least, it’s very pleasant to walk around!
We experience the 4 seasons in Paris so better to dress accordingly! Fortunately not too extreme with summer highs of 26°C (79°F) and lows of 16°C (61°F) and winters 8°C (46°F) and lows of 3°C (37°F).
Contributed by Ophelie from Limitless Secrets
6. France – Strasbourg
Cost of living: 72.67 (closest Lyon)
At the heart of central Europe lies one of the best cities to be an expat, Strasbourg. And while this Alsatian fairytale town might not be the first on your list, I can assure you that it’s one you should consider.
First, it’s one of the capitals of Europe, making it a very international city. I found it easy to acclimate because so many other expats were already in Strasbourg. Additionally, English is widely spoken so, there is almost no language barrier.
It’s also a very easy city to access from anywhere in Europe, which makes international travel a breeze. And for expats, this is key. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I love Strasbourg so much.
Transportation within Strasbourg is also very efficient. Buses and trams run regularly, but most people bike. There are over 600 kilometers of biking paths, so to say it’s biker friendly would be an understatement.
Just make sure to always have a rain jacket. While the weather, in general, is pleasant with four distinct seasons, when it rains, it pours! Winters can get fairly cold with highs of 5°C (41°F) and lows of -1°C (30°F). And the summers have highs of 26°C (79°F) and lows of 14°C (57°F).
Finally, the cost of living is low, especially compared to Paris. On average the rent for a one-bedroom fully furnished apartment is US$840 / €750. And while there are several good neighbourhoods, Krutenau is the best.
Krutenau is well located with restaurants and groceries within walking distance. But if you want an apartment here, be prepared to wait or start looking before you arrive.
Contributed by Dabbling in Jet Lag
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7. Georgia – Tbilisi
Cost of living: 30.95
For one of the best cities in Europe that is also not very popular, consider living in Tbilisi, the capital of the country Georgia.
Nestled under the Caucasus Mountain Range and bordering with the Black Sea, the country offers spectacular landscapes and is an all-year-round destination.
Tbilisi is an eclectic city featuring a perfect combination of old and new, atmospheric cafes, and a vibrant atmosphere. With its low prices and affordable cost of living, Tbilisi strives to become an expat destination.
A one-bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from US$300 to $1000 / €268 to €893. This depends on the size, neighbourhood, and how fancy it is. Prices are lower in the outer districts. Sololaki, Vera, Vake, and Saburtalo are the most preferred areas.
Tbilisi has well-connected public transport with a metro, bus, and a minibus (marshrutkas) to take you anywhere in the city. However, since Tbilisi is slightly overcrowded, the level of traffic is relatively high, especially during rush hour and rainy days. Also, I find the air quality in super central areas is horrible.
The city has a warm climate; it gets pretty warm in early spring, warm in autumn, scorching during summer. The summer highs are 32°C (90°F) with lows of 20°C (68°F). It rarely snows here during winter (7°C / 44°F high; -1°C / 30°F low), and when it does, it usually melts by the following day. Heavy rains are also quite rare.
I love it here for its unique character, proximity to Europe, diverse local food, and a perfect blend of Asian and European cultures that are perfectly shown in traditions, lifestyle, and architecture.
Contributed by Red Fedora Diary
8. Germany – Berlin
Cost of living: 68.94
I’ve been living in Berlin since 2015, and I think it’s a wonderful European city for expats. While German is, of course, the official language, it’s such an international city that it’s usually easy to find people who speak English. In the expat community especially, English is the default. This makes it easy to get help with you don’t know how something works.
Berlin is one of the cheaper cities in Western Europe, but it is definitely getting more expensive. Popular districts to live in are Prenzlauer Berg (which is actually part of Pankow), Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Mitte, though plenty of expats live in other parts of the city.
Your rent will depend on a lot of factors, like furnished vs unfurnished, district, size of the apartment, if you live alone or with others, etc. Paying US$893 / €1000 a month for a 70 square meter two-bedroom apartment in a central area is reasonable, but it’s definitely possible to pay more or less. The rental market is fierce in Berlin.
Lots of people use public transport to get around in Berlin. The system is easy to use and covers just about anywhere you want to go.
While certainly there are plenty of people with cars, I think it’s unnecessary here. Tickets are affordable whether you use the system a lot and get a month pass or you simply buy singles or a discounted pack of 4 singles.
The weather in Berlin varies greatly from one season to the next. Summer, late spring, and early fall are fantastic. Mostly warm days around 24°C (75°F) and lows of 15°C (59°F) but occasionally some really hot days. Fortunately, with lots of sunshine bringing the city to life. It’s really a great time to be here.
Winter can be harsh with short, dark, gloomy days and cold weather often dipping below freezing temperatures (high of 3°C / 37°F and lows of -2°C / 28°F).
Despite the winter weather, I still can’t see myself living anywhere else. The variety of international restaurants here is wonderful. It’s a laid-back city where you can be whoever you want to be. And even with my not-so-great German, I can still manage comfortably here. There’s no place like Berlin.
Contributed by Ali from Berlin Travel Tips
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9. Germany -Munich
Munich is considered the top German city for quality of life but it’s an expensive place to live. Fortunately, higher salaries offset this.
Rent for my 29 m2 unfurnished apartment with one bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, costs US$1,035 / €950 including utilities in Milbertshofen. This is expensive as I live close to the city center and Olympia Park.
The same apartment two minutes walking from my place will cost US$220 / €200 more just because it’s the Schwabing neighborhood. A bit further away from the city center, a 50-60 m2 one-bedroom apartment can cost €950.
Munich is the traffic-jam capital of Germany especially if you have to drive through the city center.
However, Munich has a highly developed urban transport system. I really love how well-connected Munich is with subway lines, city trains, trams and buses.
Most importantly, Munich is a bicycle-friendly city. There are lanes for bikes, and the drivers are very respectful towards bikers. Commuting by bike is definitely the best option in Munich.
The climate in Munich is generally amazing. You can enjoy real winters and real summers. In winter the coldest it can get is around – 4°C / 25°F and the summers are really pleasant, not warmer than 32°C / 90°F.
What I love about living in Munich is that it is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, fairy tale castles and medieval towns. Most of the places you can reach in less than two hours.
In the mountains, in winter, you can ski, snowboard, sled and hike in the Alps. It’s easy with public transport. You can take your skis, buy a daily ski ticket at the train station which includes a train ride and a ski pass.
Munich might be expensive but it is worth every penny.
Contributed by Diana from Globetrotting Detective
10. Greece – Athens
Cost of living: 58.97
Over the years Athens has become a popular European destination for expats. This vibrant city enjoys fantastic weather almost all year around, close proximity to other European cities and a much more affordable cost of living.
Following the years of crisis Athens emerged as a creative city, transforming the capital into a vibrant hub open to new ideas and exciting projects. The Greeks are hospitable people and have this tremendous zest for life, they find beauty in the simplest things like meeting friends for coffee the coffee culture in Greece is definitely a highlight.
The many neighbourhoods of Athens offer a great choice of accommodation options for all tastes and budgets. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre can cost somewhere between US$392 to US$728 / €350 to €650.
The south of Athens, known as the Athenian Riviera, is a popular destination among the expats and especially families with children since many of the private schools are located at a close proximity and of course the numerous beaches that dot the coast make it a fantastic destination for a quality lifestyle.
The warm summers have highs of 32°C (90°F) and lows of 23°C (73°F). And the winters are not too drastic with highs 13°C (55°F) and lows of 7°C (45°F).
The city center is well connected to the surrounding areas by a state-of-the-art metro that looks like a museum. A car is rarely needed for those who choose to live in the city center as parking can be a challenge and moving around on foot is highly preferential.
The areas in the south like Glyfada and Voula can also be reached by tram. The cost of taxis is relatively less compared to other European cities. And best of all, Athens is the gateway to the amazing Greek islands making it a perfect base to explore the rest of Greece at your own pace.
Contributed by Athenian Riviera
11. Italy Bergamo
Cost of living: 72.64
I’m an American (now Italian dual citizen) living in Bergamo, Italy, a hidden gem for expats seeking complete cultural immersion, beauty, and convenience!
Located in Lombardy in northern Italy, Bergamo’s setting is stunning: the Alps are the backdrop to the historic Upper City (Città Alta), surrounded by 16th-century Venetian Walls, while the Lower City (Città Bassa) is modern and bustling.
The cost of living in Bergamo is moderate. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranges from US$ 448 to $784 / €400 to €700 per month: the closer to the center (and historic Upper City), the higher the rent. Good areas to live include Via Pignolo for its charm and Borgo Palazzo for cheaper rent.
The bus is the cheapest and most convenient way to get around. Driving can be hectic at times of peak traffic (8 am and 6 pm), but a car would come in handy to explore places beyond Bergamo.
The seasons in Bergamo are textbook! Winter is cold (highs of 7°C / 45°F and lows of -1°C / 30°F), but only a few days of snow. Spring and Fall are breezy but rainy. Summer is hot but dry (highs of 29°C / 84°F and lows of 18°C / 64°F).
Piece of advice: start learning Italian. Living in Bergamo is much more of an immersive experience. While people know some English, you’ll benefit by knowing some Italian.
My favorite part about living here is the history and location. You are near many other beautiful places to visit in Italy and surrounding countries, but there are also many things to do and places to explore at home in Bergamo.
Contributed by She Goes The Distance
12. Lithuania – Vilnius
Cost of living: 46.94
Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania. Vilnius offers something that not many places have today. It’s not a city that is as vibrant as Paris, London, or Copenhagen. It’s a city for expats who are looking for a home that is relaxing yet have everything you need available.
You won’t have to worry about crazy noises at night or the big number of tourists on the streets. Due to its location, it’s also easy to travel to East Europe or other parts of this region for an affordable plane ticket or hop on a train.
If you are living alone, studio apartment prices near downtown range from US$390 / €350-€400 a month, while a 1-bedroom will cost between US$504 / €450-€600 a month. During my time in Vilnius, I was sharing a 1-bedroom apartment with my partner, and we were spending about US$1,680 / €1,500-€2,000 a month. That includes rent, bills, and groceries. We mostly cooked at home, that’s why we were able to spend very little, we also got push bikes which means we didn’t have to spend much on transportation.
There are city buses running all day and night for a very affordable price, while the airport is only 15-minutes away from the city centre, a bus will cost about €1 while a taxi or Uber is about €3-€6 ride. The traffic is very minimal unless it’s summer and there are more tourists on the road.
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When it comes to the weather, summer in Vilnius is fantastic, it’s not too hot nor humid (highs of 23°C / 73°F and lows of 13°C / 55°F). There’s a manmade lake just 20-minutes by bus from Vilnius. However, in winter (highs of -2°C / 28°F and lows of -7°C / 19°F), it can be very harsh and requires proper winter gear.
I personally lived in the Naujamiestis area, it’s sandwiched between the city centre and the big Vingio Parkas. This park is massive, it has great trails for biking, running, or simply picnicking in the weekend. There are big groceries around the city and a small convince store near downtown.
Contributed by Elizabeth of Three Week Traveller
13. Luxemburg – Luxemburg City
Cost of living: 82.99
Life in Luxembourg City can be completely different from what the international visitors might be expecting. However, it can be great living there as it offers lots of cultures and a high quality of life.
For where to stay in Luxembourg, Merl, Belair, Limpertsberg, and Hollerich are a few districts suitable in every aspect. I lived around the Merl district, and the area is elegant, quiet, and well connected to other parts of the city. The buses are easily accessible in these districts. They are suitable for both a family and an individual relocating to Luxembourg.
The total cost of living in Luxembourg city depends on the rented flat, and the number of family members. The general living cost of a family of four members can be approximately US$3,840 / €3430 without rent, whereas a single person can expect up to US$1,1066 / €982 living costs per month without rent.
Expats can rent a 2-bedroom flat at US$2,150 / €1920 per month with an additional US$230 / €205 for utilities.
The general mode of transport is public buses and trains. Moreover, public transport within Luxembourg is free. The road traffic is generally minimal, it can be a bit rushed on weekends. The weather in the city is moderate.
Summers are cool (highs of 23°C / 73°F and lows of 13°C / 55°F) and winters rarely get too severe (high of 3°C / 37°F and lows of -2°C / 28°F). The extreme southwest might be rainy, so it is better to carry an umbrella with you always.
Tip: Shopping daily for household items can be expensive locally. You can take a train to Belgium on weekends and shop for necessities for the whole month.
Contributed by Paulina on the Road
14. Netherlands – Maastricht
Cost of living: 73.56
The best place to live as an expat in the Netherlands is staying and having fun in Maastricht. This gorgeous city in the South of the country is the perfect place for internationals. The city has a bit of everything, from good local jobs (where English is required) and everything you can think of for a comfortable location.
The main form of transport is walking or cycling, since the city is pretty small if you find yourself in the city centre. But on the outskirts of the city, cars or buses are mostly used. There is also a great public train transportation in the whole country for commuting elsewhere.
The cost of living for the Netherlands is pretty affordable. You can rent a decently sized 1-bedroom apartment for US$893 / €1000-1200 per month in the city centre, or cheaper in the local neighbourhoods of Maastricht. You can also find more parking spaces in the neighbourhoods and apartments or houses with gardens.
The weather in general is the same as the Netherlands, as we get some gorgeous springs and summers with good temperatures (high of 24°C / 75°F and low of 14°C / 57°F). However, we also get rough, cold winters (high of 7°C / 44°F and low of 1°C / 33°F).
So, it’s suitable for those that don’t mind a bit of rain or wind combined with sunshine throughout the year.
I personally love here due to the international vibe. I have lived in Rotterdam and Eindhoven, but since Maastricht is close to the borders of Belgium and Germany, there is a much nicer vibe of people and atmosphere.
Everyone is very welcoming to expats and there are often lots of local events to meet people and having fun.
Contributed by Zoe from Together in Transit
15. Netherlands – Utrecht
Cost of living: 79.76
Utrecht is the 4th biggest city in the Netherlands and a great place to live for expats in Europe. While it’s not a cheap city to live regarding rent, Utrecht more than makes up for that due to its central location, historic city center, excellent restaurants and extensive public transport system.
That being said, the best way to get around Utrecht is by bike. Dutch people cycle everywhere, and I mean everywhere. When living in Utrecht, you’ll see moms with kids in ‘bakfietsen’, students on wobbly bicycles that are almost falling apart and retirees zipping by on their e-bikes.
There are bike lanes throughout the entire city and having your own set of wheels makes it super easy (and cheap) to get around town.
While the Netherlands has a bit of a bad reputation for being very rainy, the weather is quite good most of the year. Though it’s always wise to carry an umbrella or raincoat through, in case you end up cycling through a downpour.
Summers have highs of 23°C (73°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F) while winters have highs of 6°C (43°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F)
Great areas to live are Utrecht city center, Lombok and Witte Vrouwen. Keep in mind these are also the most expensive areas. Families are better off looking for a house with a garden in Oog in Al, Tuinwijk, Tuindorp or a little bit further afield (Leidsche Rijn or Vleuterweide).
Expect to pay at least around US$1,455 / €1,300 for an apartment in one of the areas mentioned above. An entire house with two bedrooms (or more) will be around US$1,680 / €1,500 per month or more, depending on the location.
Contributed by Lotte from Gezond Weekmenu
16. Portugal – Cascais
Cost of living: 50.86
Many expats, like us, choose Cascais because of its relaxed atmosphere and proximity to the bustling city of Lisbon. An easy train ride along the coast gets you to Lisbon from Cascais in about 40 minutes.
You’ll find many beautiful parks for reading, relaxing, and concerts. Enjoy the coastline path of the Paredão de Cascais, an excellent place for walkers and bikers. It provides a flat surface that you don’t often find in Portugal.
Apartment rentals here are a bit pricier than most of Portugal. You can find 2 bedroom/2 baths from about US$1,800 / €1,600. Housing closer to the ocean and with views can be considerably higher. The further you go up the hills the lower the rental prices. With a little research terrific places can be found starting around US$1300 / €1,160 or less.
Because it’s along the coast, Cascais is more temperate than other parts of Portugal. It’s best to dress in layers or bring along a sweater as the temperatures can change quickly.
The highs of summer 26°C (79°F) and lows of 17°C (63°F). The winters are not too drastic with highs of 15°C (59°F) and lows of 7°C (45°F).
In Cascais, you’ll find traditional Portuguese food restaurants off the main tourist streets that have excellent food at reasonable prices. A complete lunch with a glass of wine will set you back about €8.
Cascais residents enjoy free bus service. A transportation card from Lisbon can get you just about anywhere in the Lisbon metropolitan (Cascais is in this area) for €40 a month or €20 for those 65+. You will be amazed at all you can explore with this card. Rideshare vehicles are also abundant and reasonably priced as well.
This ocean front city has sandy beaches, welcoming locals, delicious food, and a pleasant climate. Come and visit, you just might decide to stay in Cascais.
Contributed by by Food Travelist
17. Portugal – Lagos, Algarve
Cost of living: 50.86 (closest Cascais)
Lagos is a beautiful beach town in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. It attracts expats and digital nomads from all over the world. We moved to Lagos a year ago and absolutely love living here. Great weather and perfect beaches are some of the main reasons expats choose Lagos.
The average daily temperature in Lagos in the summer is between 25°C and 33°C (77-91°F), in the winter between 15°C and 20°C (59-68°F). There are around 300 sunny days a year. Even in November, the rainiest month of the year, the skies are often clear during the day with most rainfalls happening at night.
Lagos is a small place. It’s easy to get around by public buses, Uber, cycling, or just walking. Despite its small size, the town has good infrastructure for expats; a lot of rental accommodation, co-working spaces, international schools and pre-schools, sports complexes, supermarkets and shops that offer foreign products, English is widely spoken in Lagos.
It’s easy to get by, even if you don’t speak any Portuguese. What we really like about the town is that it has a truly international community. We have friends and acquaintances from all over the world. Locals are very welcoming and helpful which creates a very comfortable atmosphere for expats.
Many expats choose Lagos for its relatively low cost of living compared to Northern European countries, the UK, or the US. The price for a one-bedroom apartment close to Praia Dona Ana, Praia Porto de Mós, or Meia Praia, some of the best beaches in Lagos, is between US$535 / €600 and €700 per month.
Lunch at a local restaurant is around €7 for a full menu. Eating out at a tourist place is about €15 per person, €20 with drinks. Shopping at the supermarket can cost US$224 / €200-€250 per person per month.
If you decide to move to Lagos, it’s better to do so in the off-season, between October and March. During that time, it’s easier to find well-priced accommodation and more owners are willing to rent their places long-term.
Contributed by Alya of the Algarve Family
18. Portugal – Lisbon
Cost of living: 51.70
Although Portugal’s capital has been a popular destination for holidays, Lisbon has been an up-and-coming location for expats in recent years. For starters, compared to neighbouring Spain, there isn’t such a language barrier. Yes, they do speak Portuguese, but a large proportion also speaks very good English, which makes settling into expat life much easier.
Like anywhere in the world, rental prices in central Lisbon can be expensive in comparison to smaller villages and towns within commuting distance, rental prices, expect to pay around US$560 / €500 a month for a small apartment.
If you do want to be in the city centre, then popular neighbourhoods for expats are Chiado and Baixa. Although prices are much more expensive, expect to pay about US$950 / €850-€900 for an apartment, if you compare it to the likes of Paris, Amsterdam and London are much more affordable.
If you’re basing yourself in the city centre, then you’ll find little need for a car. There are lots of places to explore in Lisbon, which also has very good public transport services which are regular and affordable.
If you live outside the city, then you might want a car or a bike, however, Lisbon roads (especially in the centre) can sometimes be challenging for cycling a mix of slippery cobbled roads, traffic and hills.
The weather in Lisbon, like most of Europe, is divided into four seasons. Summers are warm and dry with bright blue skies (highs of 28°C / 82°F and lows of 18°C / 64°F). The winters can get cold and wet, so wear layers and carry an umbrella (highs of 15°C / 59°F and lows of 8°C / 46°F).
There are plenty of great places to eat in Lisbon, although lots of the places in the centre are aimed at tourists, you will find more affordable restaurants down little side lanes and slightly off the main tourist areas.
One of the best places is the Time Out Market where you’ll find tourists as well as locals, especially at weekends when it gets lively.
Contributed by Becki from Meet Me in Departures
19. Republic of Ireland – Ireland – Dublin
Cost of living: 79.05
While the cost of living falls on the pricier side compared to many other cities in Europe, Dublin is a wonderful city to experience as an expat. The city’s development as a global hub for the location of EMEA headquarters for many tech giants has attracted with it a whole host of international talent from all over the world.
In the past decade, the city has become a melting pot of cultures with a thriving food and cultural scene, and it is a great place to meet other people who are living the expat life in Dublin.
On the point of cost of living, within Dublin’s centre and some of its further afield, upmarket areas that offer good quality of life and amenities, you will struggle to find a one-bedroom apartment for less than US$2,015 / €1,800.
For a two-bedroomed apartment, you can expect to pay anywhere in the region of US$2,690 / €2,400 upwards.
I find that this is somewhat counteracted by lower transportation costs if you do live closer to the centre. For instance, in nearly a decade of working in Dublin, I’ve taken public transport to work a handful of times, as I’ve always been able to reach the office on foot or by bike.
Dublin city centre (and the location for most workplaces) is compact and neat in size and it won’t take you longer than 30 minutes to get from one end to the other on foot.
If you do need to take public transport you have three options, each running along different primary routes Dublin Bus, the Luas (a tram service) and the DART (Dublin’s train service). The most reliable of these is the Luas, although it’s prone to overcrowding at peak hours.
Ireland is an island and with that, comes plenty of wind along the coast! As Dublin is a coastal city, it does get its fair share of windy days and on windy days when rain falls too, umbrellas are rendered useless, if not dangerous. For that reason, I’d always suggest having a good rain jacket with a hood, or at least a hat to keep your head dry and your hair in place if it does rain.
Winters are not too intense with temperatures ranging from 8°C (46°F) to 2°C (36°F). And summers with highs of 20°C (68°F) and lows of 11°C (52°F).
Contributed by Issy’s Escapades
20. Spain – Barcelona
Cost of living: 61.15
I spent over four years living in Barcelona and loved it. Barcelona is a place that really does have something for everyone, whether that is delicious food, gorgeous beaches, stunning architecture or a taste of the Mediterranean lifestyle in a cosmopolitan city; Barcelona has it all. There are plenty of jobs for foreigners here, although they might not be the best-paid positions, at least you get to live in Barcelona!
The cost of living has increased in recent years due to the city’s popularity with tourists, but you can find a small one-bedroom flat for US$670 / €600-€700 a month, plus bills. You can expect to pay around US$1,120 / €1,000 or more a month for a prime location with a roof terrace, especially in popular areas like Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter or El Born. El Raval or Sant Antoni can be better value if you find a good place!
The public transport in Barcelona is excellent, with the metro, bus, tram and local trains running on the same ticket system. You can also get a Bicing subscription, a bicycle hire service only for residents. The weather is another huge plus of living in Barcelona, so expect mostly sunny days.
Summers have highs of 29°C / 84°F and lows of 23°C / 73°F) although it can get cool in the winter (high of 15°C / 59°F and lows of 8°C / 47°F).
The key thing to bear in mind is that Catalan and Spanish are both official languages here, and if you’re going to stay here for a while then I’d suggest taking some of the free Catalan classes offered by the local council to help you integrate better with the locals.
As for meeting other foreigners, I’d suggest joining local meet-up groups or Facebook communities – Barcelona has a huge expat community, so it won’t take you long to settle in.
Contributed by Claire Sturzaker, Why Visit Barcelona
21. Spain – Granada
Cost of living: 52.03
When you think of the perfect place to live as an expat, there are a few criteria that the ideal city needs to meet. It needs to be fairly cheap, have beautiful architecture, be full of history and exciting things to do, have good food and good opportunities for nights out. Granada, a stunning city in the south of Spain, checks all these boxes and more, making it one of the best cities in Europe.
The cost of living is very minimal compared to other cities in Europe, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averaging US$560 / €500 a month, with much cheaper options available if you consider having roommates.
An easy meal out will range from €12 to €20, but the amazing thing about Granada is that you will rarely pay for a meal. It is the only city in Spain that still honours the tradition of free tapas with the purchase of a drink, so three glasses of wine and three free appetizers later, you’re all set for the night!
Granada is a fairly small and easily navigable city, with regular buses and easy-to-navigate metro systems, but the best area to live is in El Centro, smack in the middle of all the action. You will be close to all the best parts of the city, just a short walk away from the awe-inspiring Alhambra, the Albaicín, all the best viewpoints, and the best nightlife.
The weather is perfect, warm and sunny in the spring, summer (high of 34°C / 93°F and lows of 19°C / 66°F), and fall, and rarely near freezing in the winter (ranging from 12°C / 54°F to 2°C / 36°F).
You’ll be an hour bus ride from the best skiing and snowboarding in Spain in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains, but also an hour bus ride from some of the best beaches and surfing along the Mediterranean.
Granada is the perfect city. Big enough that you’re never left wanting for things to do, but small enough that you’ll get to know every beautiful nook and cranny during your time there.
Contributed by Emma’s Daydream
22. Spain – Madrid
Cost of living: 59.01
Madrid is the perfect expat city with its diverse nightlife, cultural attractions and affordable prices.
A two to three bedroom apartment close to the city would cost around US$800-$1,200 / €735-€1,100 per month. These prices will be lower in the outskirts of Madrid which still has good public transport options.
Food and drinks are very affordable especially if you go to one of the many student bars or local pubs which serve delicious tapas with every drink.
The metro is equally as affordable, charging only €12 for a ticket with 10 unlimited rides. The metro system is extensive, and you can reach most places around Madrid by metro. There are also buses which will help with getting to locations outside of the city.
Madrid has a great climate with cool winters and hot summers. There are lots of sunny days and opportunities to explore the nearby countryside and enjoy the beautiful nature. There is no real need to carry a jacket or umbrella although winters are slightly rainier (ranging from 10°C/50°F to 3°C/37°F) than the hot summers where it barely rains (ranging from 32°C/90°F to 19°C/66°F).
The nightlife in Madrid is also highly recommended with some of Europe’s best clubs right at your doorstep. For a more relaxed evening head to Malasaña where you’ll find lively bars and live music venues.
Madrid is a highly underrated capital city and much more budget friendly than places like Rome, London or Paris.
Contributed by Guide Your Travel
23. United Kingdom – England – Brighton
Cost of living: 79.57
After 5 years of living in the southern part of the UK, I have to admit that Brighton is one of the best expat cities in the country. It is less than two hours’ drive from London which makes it an amazing location if you would like to explore the capital. Brighton is also nearby amazing beaches and dramatic cliffs in England which allow you to enjoy living by the coast.
The costs of living in Brighton are not the lowest, because of its location. If you would like to rent a 2-bedroom house, you will need to pay at least US$1,680 / £1,250 per month.
However, there are many job opportunities in this part of the country. For instance, you can find a flexible company in London that will allow you to work remotely or just look for a job in Brighton.
Related: Things to Do After Arriving Abroad
This coastal city is one of the top destinations during summer in the UK. In July and August, the average temperature is 17°C, however, you can easily expect much warmer days.
Summer weather is perfect for exploring Brighton by foot or with a bike. You can walk to the beautiful Brighton Marina or visit Brighton Palace Pier. Winter is not freezing ranging from 8°C/46°F to 3°C/37°F.
London Road train station is only a 30-minute walk from Brighton beach or St Ann’s Well Gardens. There is plenty to explore in this town like Royal Pavilion or British Airways i360. You can also visit a lot of music venues such as Brighton Music Hall or Concorde 2.
With a plethora of attractions, living in Brighton will be truly a magical experience.
Contributed by Paulina from ukeveryday
24. United Kingdom – England – Leeds
Cost of living: 67.57
Leeds, located in the beautiful county of Yorkshire in Northern England, is a great city for expats who want to study abroad or want to move somewhere cheaper than London.
I moved to Leeds to study over 5 years ago. The city has an international atmosphere because of the many students that come to study in the UK and the fact that Leeds is home to 3 universities with a good range of degrees and Masters.
Leeds is the perfect place to live in the UK if you love living in a city, but you don’t want an overwhelming and busy city.
Also, it’s an excellent choice to save some money on accommodation. Depending on the area and the type of house you want to live in, you can find a shared house for US$400 / £300 per month or a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre for approximately US$960 / £720.
The best area to live in Leeds for students is Headingley as it has a bit of everything supermarkets, restaurants and cafes, parks, etc. However, couples and families’ best choices to live are the area near the Leeds Dock and Roundhay Park.
Travelling around Leeds is very easy as there are regular buses and trains to some parts of the city. The city centre is very walkable as most museums, shopping centres and food establishments are close to each other.
One of the downsides of living in Leeds, and generally in the UK is the fact that the weather is very unpredictable so make sure to always carry an umbrella with you.
The cold temperatures and rainy days, especially in winter (ranging on average from 7°C/45°F to 2°C/36°F), are probably the two things I least like about Leeds. Summer weather has highs of 21°C/70°F and lows of 12°C/54°F.
Overall Leeds is a welcoming and friendly city, and I love all the beautiful green spaces you will find in the city and its surroundings, you can’t miss visiting the breath-taking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Contributed by My Little World of Travelling
25. United Kingdom – England – London
Cost of living: 85.62
One of the best expat cities in Europe is London. Yes, the cost of living is a bit high since a studio apartment can cost anywhere between US$670 and $1900 / £500 and £1,420 per month.
Although, when compared to the United States, food prices aren’t as steep, and you can find reasonably priced groceries at places like Sainsbury’s.
Additionally, London has an excellent public transportation system. Therefore, you could easily rent a studio outside the city center and use the tube/the underground to quickly and easily get around the city.
And while public buses are another great way to get around, traffic can sometimes be an issue, particularly in the heart of the city.
In terms of weather, London is usually fairly damp and chilly. That’s why most apartments just have fans and not air conditioning. Winter highs of around 9°C (48°F) and lows of 4°C (39°F). Summers can range from 23°C (73°F) to 13°C (55°F) although it can get higher.
So, my best advice would be to always carry an umbrella so that if it does rain, you won’t get soaked. Also, have plenty of sweatshirts handy to help keep you warm.
You’ll also want to be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially at night. It’s not that London is an unsafe city, but pickpockets can be an issue, so you just want to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, particularly in touristy areas and when riding the tube.
Other than that, just enjoy your time in this magical city. There are so many incredible things to do and such a diversity of people here that you’ll never run out of things to do and exciting people to meet.
You can also take advantage of the incredible food scene and try some of the best brunch places in London while you’re here.
Contributed by Kelly of Girl with the Passport
26. United Kingdom – Ireland – Belfast
Cost of living: 65.74
Immediately after my graduation in nursing, in 2013, I decided to leave my hometown in Italy to find better job opportunities abroad. I have moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with the intention of staying 8 months, but in the end, I was there for more than 7 years!
Belfast is an amazing city! It’s vibrant and multicultural, offers great working opportunities for people in the health field, and is very liveable. Also, the average pay for a job is quite high compared to other countries in Europe!
In the beginning, I might have been a bit scared knowing about its turbulent past, but nowadays Belfast is a welcoming place and I have never had one single problem with Northern Irish/Irish people. On the contrary, they have always been very helpful and willing to show us all the beauties this amazing country has to offer.
Compared to the other UK cities, Belfast is cheaper and more affordable. For example, I have rented a semi-detached 3-bedrooms house for US$670 / £500 a month for the last 3 years in East Belfast, in my opinion, one of the best areas of the city!
It is about 10 minutes by bus from the city center and it is very well connected with public transport as for the majority of the city areas. You can get weekly tickets on your phone for any public transport for £15 and you can travel as many times as you want!
On the other side, as in most of the UK cities, the weather is not great! You can have 4 seasons in one day and it rains most of the days. You would not need an umbrella because it is not really heavy rain and also because the wind will blow it away, but I would definitely bring waterproof clothes (eg. a jacket) with me at all times. Anyway, the temperatures are always pretty much the same all year round, around 12-18°C (54-64°F). In winter it can go down to zero occasionally, rarely below it. And in summer the max would be 26-27°C (29°F).
I love its atmosphere, the best aspect for me is that there are many pedestrian paths that allow you to easily walk by the river or in one of the many parks scattered around the city. Belfast is for sure one of the best cities in Europe for an expat can live in!
Contributed by Francesca at Travel Heal Love
27. United Kingdom – Scotland – Edinburgh
Cost of living: 73.15
Almost every Aussie and Kiwi moves to London for two years for a working holiday. I wanted to do something different so moved to Edinburgh instead. I’d never been to Scotland before I moved there, but completely fell in love with it.
Edinburgh is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to. I will never forget my first day in Edinburgh – it felt like I was walking in a fairy tale. You walk around cobbled streets surrounded by medieval buildings and a castle perched on a hill on the main street.
It’s much cheaper to live in Edinburgh than London, but the salaries are also much less. I paid US$1,435 / £1,100 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Stockbridge, the nicest area in Edinburgh (the Notting Hill equivalent of London).
I love Stockbridge – it feels like a small village, but it’s only a 10-minute walk from the city centre. I’d also recommend Bruntsfield if you want more of a hipster East London vibe.
Edinburgh is a small city and so you can walk everywhere. I didn’t have a car, but wish I did for weekend trips to the Scottish Highlands. There’s good public transport in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but if you want to go to the countryside, you really need your own car.
If you’re looking for the best things to do while you’re living in Edinburgh, make sure you do a road trip around the Scottish Highlands. Make sure to add Dunnottar Castle, the whisky distilleries in Speyside, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, and the Isle of Harris to your itinerary.
The only downside of Edinburgh is the weather. It is constantly raining. You get used to it though – just make sure to always have a jacket or umbrella.
If you’re considering moving to the UK, I’d definitely recommend Edinburgh. If it wasn’t for my visa expiring, I’d still be there now.
Contributed by Ashleigh from Ashleigh’s Atlas
28. United Kingdom – Scotland – Glasgow
Cost of living: 68.76
Glasgow is an incredible city to live in Europe as an expat.
I lived in Glasgow while attending the university. Not only is it a great city to live in as a young adult, but it also has one of the best universities in the UK.
Cost of living is high in Glasgow. My rent was US$2,010 / £1,500 a month for a furnished studio apartment in a serviced flat beside Kelvin Park.
However, typically rents are closer to US$1,200 / £900 a month for a small one-bedroom in an old building near the university.
You should budget at least US$1,340 / £1,000 a month on top of rent to be able to afford pints at a local pub, takeaway, and groceries.
Be warned: Glasgow is not a fan of green vegetables so it can be hard to find non-wilted lettuce at a Tesco. You’ll need to go to a farmer’s market for better produce.
It’s a very walkable city, but if you need to get around on a rainy day, you can also catch a variety of buses. There’s also the “orange circle”, which is what locals call the underground subway. It only goes in a circle on the edge of the city centre, so it’s not massively helpful for getting around.
Glasgow is classic Scotland weather: horribly cold, dark, and rainy in the winter. Winters do get cold in Glasgow, more so than down in London. You’ll need a proper winter jacket to stand up to the cold.
That being said, April September is incredibly warm. They call it “tops off” weather, when every Glaswegian heads to the parks to sunbathe shirtless.
Contributed by Nina of Nina Out and About
29. United Kingdom – Scotland – Inverness
Cost of living: 68.76 (closest Glasgow)
Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Living in Inverness will provide you with a real insight into what it is like to live in the “real” Scotland.
The signs have Gaelic, the accent is soft, live music and ceilidh(dances) are easy to find and of course, there are friendly locals to invite you for a wee dram in the local pub.
Inverness is a fantastic place for expats to live as it is a great place to immerse yourself in the Scottish culture and way of life, there are plenty of job opportunities and it is also a great place to explore Scotland and not too far from Edinburgh which is a great hub for flying to other parts of Europe.
Living in Inverness is relatively affordable as a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back around US$795 / £593 per calendar month, if you would rather live a little further out of the city you will be looking at approximately US$640 / £480.
Culloden is a fantastic place to live as it is close to Tesco (one of the large supermarkets), it’s a little further out of town so not as expensive and the city centre is very easy to access by local bus.
Inverness is not very big and is easy to get around on foot in the city but if you are moving around from Inverness from just outside the easiest way to get around by bus. Due to the size of Inverness, traffic is very rarely an issue and is easy to get around by car.
As with most places in Scotland, the weather can be unpredictable and in winter be prepared for snow. Never leave the house without a jacket, even if the weather looks warm outside. Winters can range from 7°C (45°F) and lows of 1°C (33°F). Summers can range from 19°C (66°F) and lows of 11°C (52°F).
Contributed by Fiona from Travelling Thirties
I’m sure after learning about all these cities, there is still so much more about Europe to be discovered. The European continent is surely filled with secrets and a lot more differences than initially meets the eyes. Let me know in the comments which city you plan to include on your next European trip?