Venice Italy Expat Advice

Cheapest European countries for expats

Is Europe calling you this year? We’ve pulled together some of the cheapest places to live in Europe.

This varied continent has long been popular for travellers and expats alike. However, not all European countries once popular with expats offer the same experiences today. Don’t get us wrong – they’re still great places. But if you’re after somewhere to live, you might like somewhere more local – and affordable.

Before you dive into our list, remember that the cost of living shouldn’t be your sole guiding factor. All places have their own unique flavour. It’s important to know what kind of experience you want before unpacking your suitcase.


Braga Gardens Portugal

This country is famous for good food, beautiful beaches, a relaxed lifestyle, and affordable living. The capital city Lisbon is one of the top relaxation destinations for travellers to Europe.

On average, a meal at a standard restaurant will cost €7.50. Kitchen staples like milk and bread are a low €0.60 and €1.10 respectively. A one-bedroom apartment is an average €430, with combined utilities sitting at around €92 a month. While the average salary is a bit lower than some other countries in the region at €798, it’s still affordable living. And what a location!

While you could pitch your tent in Lisbon, we recommend Braga. One of the oldest cities in Portugal, it’s particularly rich in history and culture. It also has a university, giving the town a lively buzz year-round. In saying this, there are fewer tourists and living is a little cheaper – you could pay as little as €290 a month for rent.


Lake Bled Slovenia

This Central European country became an independent country in 1999. It boats a stunning and pristine natural landscape of forests, mountains, and lakes. It also has 29 miles of Mediterranean coastline.

An average meal out is €7. Staples like milk (€0.87) and bread (€1.04) are cheap. Rent will cost €335 a month for a one-bedroom place. The average salary is €1,041.

Bled is the ultimate for nature lovers and those with a taste for adventure. It’s only hitting the tourist radar now, despite being right in the heart of this country’s beauty. Bled is famous for its lake. It also has wildlife like bears, wolves, and lynx. It might cost you as little as €100 a month to find a place to live. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a view of Bled Castle on its cliff edge.

Just 45 minutes away is Ljubljana, the capital city. Don’t let its difficult-to-pronounce name put you off. Olive groves, ski resorts, and the beach are all nearby. While it’s slightly above average cost, it’s still completely affordable. And you’ll be right in the heart of the Slovenian action!


Cadiz Apain

Spain has long been a popular expat destination, and for good reason. This large country has a lot of history and culture. Whether you want a big city, a beach, or a walk in the mountains, you’ll be able to find it in Spain.

Eating out will cost you an average €10 per meal, and milk and bread will be less than €1. Average rent is €460 for a one-bedroom place out of the city centre, with monthly utilities averaging €116. If you earn the average salary of €1,243 after tax, that’s certainly doable!

Granada is a vibrant city with plenty of action. It’s popular with ERASMUS exchange students around Europe because it’s cheap. The international student population is also part of its liveliness. In Granada, monthly rent will be about €368 and you might enjoy an above-average salary of €1,288.

For expats particularly conscious of your wallet, have a look into Cádiz. This is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, with archaeological remains that date back 3,100 years. In Cádiz you’ll pay average €300 for a one-bedroom place out of the centre. Though the salary is a little less than the country’s average, so is the cost of food.


Plitvice Lake Croatia

Croatia is becoming a popular tourist destination, and as such it caters well to people from all over the world. The Dalmatian coast stretches along its borders. Inland there are stunning forests and lakes. You’ll also find the locals friendly and the prices affordable.

A meal out in Croatia will cost you an average 50 kuna (kn). Milk and bread are just under 6 kn. For a one-bedroom apartment out of the centre, you might pay 1,823 kn. The average salary is 5,545 kn. €1 will buy you approximately 7.41 Croatian kuna.

One place for expats to head is Zagreb. This buzzing, inland city is the perfect base for exploring Croatia’s major tourist destinations and the surrounding countries. It also sits a little below average living cost.


Stone Forest Varna Bulgaria

Another Balkan country, Bulgaria is even less known but just as beautiful. With as little as €1,000 you can enjoy a very high standard of living. Some say it’s even better than more expensive countries famous for good living, including Sweden and Switzerland.

Varna and Sofia are two of the best cities for expats. With good food, outdoor activities galore, and friendly people, it can be a great place for expats to set up base.

The currency they use is the Bulgarian lev, which is approximately 1.96 lev to €1. With meals at an average 10 lev, an apartment out of the city at 361 lev, and an average salary of 975 lev, you’ll have plenty left to spend on exploring.


Abruzzo Italy

Not all of Italy is going to be cheap! But this beautiful country, rich in culture, history and romance, does have affordable places.

On average, milk costs €1.12 a litre, and bread costs €1.52. For an average size one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre, you’ll pay €449 a month with basic utilities coming in around €144. With an average monthly salary of €1,398, that’s not bad.

The region of Abruzzo is also a great choice. If you’re after the Tuscan lifestyle at an affordable price, this is the area for you. You’ll have access to the Adriatic coastline as well as mountainous regions. You’ll be near Florence, but without the hordes of tourists. With a one-bedroom apartment in the city of Pescara averaging at €416, it’s worth checking out.

Tips for moving to Europe

Now that you’ve got some affordable destinations, here are some tips for moving to Europe.

  • Many countries have both expensive and inexpensive cities. Sometimes you need to find a balance. Everything costs more in tourist areas, while cheap places might be a bit too off the path. Ultimately, the place you decide to live should be influenced by your priorities.
  • Do some background research about the country you want to move to. This includes aspects like housing, jobs, public transport, environment, and local culture.
  • Many countries in the EU will have similar entry requirements, but there are some differences. Factors that will determine your entry requirements include the country you’re from, where you’ve travelled recently, how long you want to stay, and what you plan to do while there.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport and any of the paperwork or documents needed to get in!
  • Make your move easier by researching how to move! We’ve put together some useful moving and packing tips to help you, as well as expat guides. You should also check out our tips on ways to save money when moving.
  • Consider using a relocation consultant, especially if you’re moving a long way or plan to ship a lot. Consultants can advise you on the cheapest options and give you relocation tips.
  • If you want to compare the cost of living in different cities, head over to Numbeo. That’s where we’ve got all our figures from.

Keen on moving to Europe? We can help you make your move with our relocation services.