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Bansko, Bulgaria - One of the best places to live in Europe for expats

These Are the 15 Best Places to Live in Europe

Imagine stepping into a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and adventure. Picture yourself strolling through cobblestone streets, savoring the aroma of freshly baked pastries, and immersing yourself in centuries-old traditions.

Welcome to Europe – a continent that beckons with its breathtaking landscapes and captivating allure.

Bansko, Bulgaria town center - One of the best places to live in Europe for expats

But where should you plant your roots for an extraordinary European experience? Fear not, wanderer! We have curated a list of the 15 best places to live in Europe for you. Each destination offers unique charm and endless possibilities, from Spain’s sun-drenched beaches to Amsterdam’s enchanting canals.

In our quest to uncover these hidden gems, we considered factors like visa options, cost of living, healthcare, community spirit, and more.

Whether you yearn for the cosmopolitan buzz of Berlin or long for the romance of Parisian boulevards, we have meticulously crafted this guide to help you find your perfect European haven.

So pack your bags and prepare for a journey that promises unforgettable experiences at every turn. The wonders of Europe await – it’s time to embark on your extraordinary adventure!

Key Takeaways

  • Europe offers a wide range of destinations for expats, each with unique benefits and attractions.
  • Factors to consider before moving to Europe include visa options, cost of living, healthcare, language, community, weather, airport access, and transportation.
  • Popular destinations in Spain include Madrid and Malaga, which offer a vibrant social scene, mild climate, affordable healthcare, and easy access to regional getaways.
  • Portugal offers attractive options such as Lisbon and Porto, known for their low cost of living, digital nomad community, and viable visa options.

How We Decided on the Best Places to Live in Europe

When deciding on the best places to live in Europe, it’s important to consider your budget, weather, culture, language, and visa and residency situation.

You’ll need to determine how much you can afford for housing, transportation, and daily expenses in each potential destination. Additionally, consider whether you prefer a warmer or cooler climate and are willing to adapt to different cultural norms and languages.

Finally, research the visa requirements for each country to ensure that you can obtain long-term residency if needed.


One interesting statistic about living in Europe is that several cities have a lower cost of living compared to major European capitals, such as Porto in Portugal and Cork in Ireland.

  • Porto: This smaller city in Portugal offers a lower living cost than Lisbon, making it an attractive choice. It also has a growing international community and plenty of cultural activities.
  • Cork: Located in Ireland, Cork is known as the country’s food capital. It has a lower cost of living than Dublin and offers a charming riverside harbor, fresh food market, and colorful buildings.
  • Prague: This Czech Republic city is known for its low prices and low cost of living. With its rich history and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the best cities to live in Europe.

These destinations provide affordable options without compromising on quality of life.


European weather can be highly variable and dynamic, ranging from mild and temperate in the Mediterranean region to cold and harsh in the northern parts of the continent. Several factors greatly influence the climate, including the Gulf Stream, which brings warm air from the Atlantic Ocean to Western Europe, tempering the winters and creating a more moderate climate. However, the continent also experiences significant variations in weather patterns, with hot summers and cold winters in the continental regions and unpredictable weather in the mountainous areas.

Additionally, Europe is known for its frequent rain showers and cloudy days, particularly in the northwestern parts of the continent. Overall, the diversity of European weather adds to the charm and character of each region, making it a fascinating place to experience different climates and seasons.


Immerse yourself in Europe’s vibrant tapestry of art, music, and history. Regarding culture, Europe is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

This continent offers an abundance of cultural experiences. One advantage for expats is that English is widely spoken in many European destinations, making it easier to navigate daily life and connect with locals.

Whether you choose a bustling metropolis like Madrid or Berlin or a smaller city like Porto or Cork, you’ll find a rich cultural scene filled with museums, theaters, festivals, and historical landmarks.

With so many expats already calling Europe home, you can rest assured that great places await you to discover and embrace their unique cultures.


Discovering Europe’s diverse cultures is an extraordinary journey where you’ll be enchanted by the melodic languages that ignite an undeniable passion for learning and connecting with the locals.

While English is widely spoken in many European cities, some destinations cater specifically to English-speaking expats looking for a familiar language. The best countries for English-speaking expats include the UK, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, and the Netherlands.

These places offer vibrant cities, high quality of life, and opportunities for travelers to integrate into their new surroundings easily. Whether you’re finding the best place to live in terms of language or searching for an affordable place to live, Europe offers a plethora of options for expats.

Visa/Residency Situation

Europe offers many opportunities for expats to establish long-term residency through various visa options and favorable residency policies. If you’re considering a move to Europe, it’s essential to research the visa requirements and residency situation in your desired country.

To help you get started, here is a comparison table showcasing some popular destinations for expats:

CountryVisa OptionsResidency Policies
SpainStudent visa, work visa, retirement visaRelatively easy to obtain residency
PortugalD7 visa (passive income), Golden VisaFavorable residency policies
GermanyJob seeker visa, freelance visaWelcomes skilled professionals

These are just a few examples, but many more European countries offer attractive options for expats and digital nomads looking for a place to live and work. Europe’s best city or country will ultimately depend on your preferences, interests, and financial situation.

The 15 Best Places to Live in Europe

If you’re considering moving to Europe, one of the best places is Lisbon, Portugal. It has a low cost of living and viable visa options.

Another great option is Bansko, Bulgaria. It is known for its affordable lifestyle and beautiful mountain scenery.

Dublin, Ireland, is also a top choice. It offers a vibrant cultural scene and lower living costs than its capital city.

Amsterdam in The Netherlands is another welcoming and progressive city despite being expensive.

Lastly, Berlin, Germany, is an excellent option with its booming startup scene and various visa options for long-term living.

Whether you’re looking for affordability, cultural immersion, or career opportunities, these cities offer a range of benefits for expats. So buy one of the best travel backpacks for Europe and start your adventure!

Lisbon, Portugal

When considering where to live in Europe, you should definitely check out Lisbon, Portugal. This vibrant city offers a unique blend of history, culture, and affordability. While it may not be as large as some other European capitals, Lisbon has much to offer. It is known for its lively music scene and vibrant nightlife. Its location in Western Europe makes exploring nearby countries like Spain or France easy.

Regarding safety, Lisbon is considered one of the safest cities in Europe. Expats tend to live here because of the lower cost of living compared to other major European cities. Additionally, Lisbon consistently ranks as one of the happiest cities in the world.

Affordable cost of livingFewer job opportunities compared to larger cities
Lively music sceneIt can be crowded with tourists during peak seasons
Easy access to other European countriesLimited public transportation options
One of the safest cities in EuropeSummers can get very hot

Bansko, Bulgaria

Now that we’ve explored Lisbon, Portugal, let’s move on to Bansko, Bulgaria. If you’re looking for a city in Europe that offers the best value for your money, Bansko is definitely worth considering.

It may not be as well-known as some of the more expensive cities in Europe, but it is one of the best cities in Europe for expats seeking affordability and quality of life.

Best Places to live Europe - Bansko Bulgaria

Here are four reasons why Bansko is a great city to live in:

  • Affordable cost of living: With lower rent prices and cheaper everyday expenses compared to other European cities, Bansko provides an excellent opportunity to stretch your budget.
  • Stunning natural beauty: Surrounded by breathtaking mountains and scenic landscapes, Bansko offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring.
  • Rich history and culture: Immerse yourself in Bulgarian traditions while enjoying historical sites such as the old town and ancient fortresses.
  • Thriving expat community: Connect with like-minded individuals from around the world who have chosen Bansko as their home.

If you’re looking for one of the best places in Europe that combines affordability, stunning scenery, and a welcoming expat community, Bansko should be at the top of your list.

Dublin, Ireland

Despite its reputation as a vibrant and culturally rich city, Dublin can be quite challenging for expats due to its higher cost of living than other European cities. However, if you are willing to navigate the higher expenses, Dublin offers many advantages. It consistently ranks as one of the best cities in the world for quality of life and is a fantastic place to live for expats who work in industries like technology and finance.

Dublin, Ireland river and bridge

Dublin also boasts some of the best internet connections for remote workers and has a strong international community. Additionally, Ireland is one of the most important countries in Europe, with a rich history and culture. Dublin is also an ideal destination for expats with or without children, offering excellent education options. Despite being the capital city, Dublin has one of the lowest population densities in Europe, making it feel more spacious than other major cities. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Ireland offers retirement visas for retirees who wish to live there.

Vibrant cultural sceneHigher cost of living
Great quality of life Everyone drinks heavily
Strong job market Isolated from the European mainland
Excellent education system The weather is not great
Low population density

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

International Theater in Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a welcoming and progressive city in Europe, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, should be at the top of your list. Here’s why:

  1. Cultural Diversity: Amsterdam is known for its multicultural environment, where people worldwide live and work together harmoniously.
  2. Bike-Friendly City: With an extensive network of bike paths and bike-friendly infrastructure, Amsterdam is the perfect place to explore on two wheels.
  3. Museums and Art Scene: Amsterdam offers a vibrant arts and culture scene, from the famous Van Gogh Museum to the contemporary art at Stedelijk Museum.
  4. Canals and Architecture: The picturesque canals lined with beautiful historic buildings give Amsterdam its unique charm.

In addition to these attractions, Amsterdam also boasts excellent healthcare facilities and a high standard of living. While it may be an expensive city to live in, the affordable healthcare system helps offset some costs. So if you’re seeking a diverse and dynamic city with a thriving cultural scene, consider making Amsterdam your new home in The Netherlands.

Berlin, Germany

Amsterdam’s vibrant arts and culture scene is complemented by Berlin, Germany’s creative and historically rich city. Known for its bohemian atmosphere, Berlin offers a unique blend of history, art, and innovation.

The city’s booming startup scene attracts entrepreneurs from around the world, making it a hub for creativity and entrepreneurship. With various visa options for long-term living, Berlin welcomes expats with open arms.

The cost of living in Berlin is relatively affordable compared to other major capitals, providing opportunities to enjoy the city’s diverse food scene, thriving nightlife, and cultural events.

Berlin graffiti

From exploring iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate to immersing yourself in the underground music scene, Berlin offers endless possibilities for adventure and inspiration. Experience the energy of this dynamic city as you make it your home away from home.

Las Palmas, Canary Islands

Embrace the irony of trading in bustling urban life for the laid-back island vibes of Las Palmas, Canary Islands, as you soak up the sun and enjoy a slower pace of living. Located off the northwest coast of Africa, Las Palmas offers a unique blend of Spanish and African cultures.

Here are four reasons why Las Palmas is a fantastic place to live:

  1. Beautiful beaches: With its warm climate, Las Palmas boasts stunning sandy beaches where you can relax and unwind.
  2. Outdoor activities: From hiking in volcanic landscapes to surfing on world-class waves, plenty of outdoor activities keep you active and entertained.
  3. Vibrant culture: Explore the historic district of Vegueta with its charming colonial architecture and lively local markets.
  4. Affordable cost of living: Las Palmas offers a more affordable cost of living, making it an attractive option for expats looking to stretch their budgets while enjoying a high quality of life.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, CN, Spain

In Las Palmas, you’ll immerse yourself in a vibrant community with breathtaking natural beauty.

Budapest, Hungary

Now, let’s take a journey to Budapest, Hungary. This vibrant and captivating city is a hidden gem in Europe, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning architecture.

Danube river Budapest Hungary

Budapest is divided by the Danube River into two parts: Buda and Pest. On the Buda side, you can explore the historic Castle Hill with its medieval streets and breathtaking views from Fisherman’s Bastion. Cross over to Pest to experience the lively atmosphere of the city center with its bustling markets, trendy cafes, and impressive Parliament building.

Budapest also boasts an extensive thermal bath culture where you can relax and rejuvenate in natural hot springs. Take a moment to imagine yourself strolling along the charming streets or enjoying a delicious Hungarian meal at one of the many cozy restaurants.

Stockholm, Sweden

Imagine walking through the picturesque streets of Stockholm, Sweden, as you soak in the city’s captivating blend of modernity and historic charm.

Estocolmo, Provincia de Estocolmo, Suecia, Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is a beautiful city and one of the best destinations in Europe. With its vibrant culture, high quality of life, and strong economy, it attracts young expats from all over the world. As one of the largest cities in Scandinavia, Stockholm offers countless opportunities for expats who work in international industries. Additionally, it consistently ranks as one of the happiest cities in the world.

Stockholm has something for everyone, from its stunning architecture to its pristine waterfronts and lush green spaces. Stockholm should definitely be at the top of your list when considering relocating to Europe if you’re looking for a place that combines natural beauty with a thriving urban scene.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona might be the perfect city for you if you can handle the lively crowds, high cost of living, and constant construction noise. This lively city in Spain offers a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning architecture.

Barcelona - Construction of The Sagrada Familia

Here are a few reasons why Barcelona is one of the best European cities for digital nomads and why it should be on your radar:

  • Beaches: Barcelona is known for its beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. Spend your days soaking up the sun and enjoying water activities.
  • Gaudi’s masterpieces: Explore the iconic works of architect Antoni Gaudí, including the breathtaking Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
  • Food scene: Indulge in delicious Catalan cuisine at local markets or trendy restaurants. Don’t forget to try tapas and paella!
  • Nightlife: Barcelona comes alive after dark with its buzzing nightlife scene. Experience vibrant bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Barcelona truly has something for everyone, whether you’re seeking art and culture or want to relax on the beach.

Prague, Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, Prague offers a charming blend of history, culture, and affordability that transports you to a fairytale-like city. It has cobblestone streets, stunning architecture, and lively market squares. As you wander through the streets of Prague, you’ll be captivated by its rich history and well-preserved medieval buildings.

The city’s iconic landmarks, such as Prague Castle and Charles Bridge, add to its magical atmosphere. Beyond its historical charm, Prague boasts a vibrant cultural scene with world-class museums, theaters, and music festivals. Additionally, the cost of living in Prague is relatively low compared to other European cities. You can enjoy affordable dining options at local restaurants and explore the city’s numerous parks and gardens without breaking the bank.

Prague Castle at night

In Prague, you’ll truly experience the enchantment of Eastern Europe while getting the best value for money in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Krakow, Poland

When you stroll through the enchanting streets of Krakow, Poland, you’ll be transported back in time as you admire its picturesque architecture and charming cobblestone alleys.

Church in Krakow, Poland

This exciting city offers a unique blend of history and modernity, making it a popular choice for young expats seeking an active lifestyle.

Compared to other major cities in Western Europe, Krakow has a lower cost of living, with expenses ranging from $800 to $1,200 per month to live comfortably.

With a growing international community and plenty of job opportunities, Krakow may be the best place for young travelers to immerse themselves in a diverse culture while enjoying affordable living.

Don’t overlook Krakow’s charm and affordability when deciding where to live in Europe.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal, stands out as a smaller and more manageable city in Europe with a growing international community and a lower cost of living than other major European cities. If you’re a young expat looking for an active lifestyle, Porto is the place to be.

Porto river at sunset

Here are four reasons why Porto should be at the top of your list:

  1. Young expats with or without families tend to live on average 32% cheaper in Porto than in other major cities in Europe.
  2. Forget other great cities, Porto offers a vibrant social scene with plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants to explore.
  3. Like Malaga, Porto also attracts gay expats who appreciate the city’s inclusive atmosphere and thriving LGBTQ+ community.
  4. With its close proximity to stunning beaches and scenic landscapes, Porto provides endless opportunities for weekend getaways and outdoor adventures.

So if you’re seeking an affordable yet exciting city to move to, consider making Porto your new home.

Rome, Italy

If you’re craving a bustling city with ancient ruins, art, and delicious pasta, Rome, Italy should be on your radar. This captivating city offers a lower cost of living than other major European capital cities while still providing abundant history and culture. Imagine strolling through the streets lined with colorful buildings, indulging in mouthwatering cuisine at local trattorias, and exploring iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City.

Collesseum in Rome, Italy

Take a moment to picture yourself sipping espresso in charming piazzas or admiring masterpieces in world-renowned museums such as the Galleria Borghese. With its rich heritage and vibrant atmosphere, Rome is truly a feast for the senses.

Reasons to Consider RomeDescription
Historical LandmarksExplore ancient ruins like the Colosseum and Roman Forum
Artistic TreasuresVisit world-renowned museums such as the Vatican Museums
Culinary DelightsIndulge in mouthwatering Italian cuisine at local trattorias
Vibrant PiazzasExperience the lively atmosphere of charming public squares
Cultural ImmersionImmerse yourself in the rich heritage and traditions of Italy

Zurich, Switzerland

Imagine being surrounded by stunning alpine scenery and enjoying an awesome quality of life. Experience the charm of a vibrant international city – Zurich, Switzerland offers all this and more. As the largest city in Switzerland, Zurich is known for its cleanliness, efficiency, and exceptional public transportation system.

A canal in Zurich, Switzerland

The city boasts a thriving economy with numerous job opportunities for expats in sectors like finance and pharmaceuticals. While living in Zurich can be expensive, it’s worth it for the excellent healthcare system and top-notch education options.

Additionally, Zurich’s central location provides easy access to other European destinations. Whether you’re strolling along Lake Zurich or exploring the historic old town, you’ll be captivated by this city’s beauty and culture.

Brighton, UK

When you step foot in Brighton, UK, you’ll immediately be enchanted by its vibrant energy and diverse culture. This seaside city offers a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere.

Brighton Palace Pier

Here are three reasons why Brighton should be on your list:

  1. Beach vibes: With its stunning pebble beach and iconic pier, Brighton is the perfect place for those who love the ocean. You can spend your days lounging on the beach, enjoying water sports, or simply strolling along the promenade.
  2. Creative hub: Brighton has a thriving arts scene with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. Something exciting always happens in this creative city, whether you’re into street art or experimental theater.
  3. Lively atmosphere: Brighton’s vibrant atmosphere keeps you entertained day and night, from bustling markets to lively pubs and restaurants. The city hosts various festivals throughout the year, including the famous Brighton Pride parade.

Brighton is worth considering if you’re looking for a city that combines beach life, cultural experiences, and a lively atmosphere.

Further Reading

If you didn’t see a place that appeals, you might like to look at our article Top 9 Best Cities For Digital Nomads To Reside in 2023 for some more inspiration.

Matt Francis
Matt Francis

Hi, I'm Matt Francis. A digital nomad, blogger, web developer and all-around good egg! I am the brains (and brawn) behind Everyday Ape. My website features a wide range of topics, with a focus on travelling and working online.