Europe is widely regarded as one of the most expensive parts of the world and there is plenty of truth to that. Cities like London, Paris, Dublin and just about any in Scandinavia are expensive places to live and while salaries are higher, they aren’t exactly great places to just rock up without a job already in place. Eastern Europe is considerably cheaper but you don’t exactly have to base yourself in a provincial town in Belarus to find good value and there are some fabulous cities across the continent that are both affordable and fun to live in. This post features five of the cheapest European cities to live in which also offer a high qualify of life.
The cost of living estimates were updated in September 2022. They are based on a budget-minded single person living in a shared flat whilst leading a relatively active social life. They will clearly vary a lot from person to person so don’t take the figures too literally!
5 of the Best & Cheapest European cities to live in
People looking for the best places to live in Europe, often head to Spain tend to flock to Barcelona or maybe Madrid or one of the more touristy coastal towns. However Valencia is an excellent alternative for those looking for a balance of big city living, great weather and affordability.
Spain’s third largest city is considerably cheaper to live in than Barcelona or Madrid with rental prices around 50% less. Like Barcelona, it boasts a coastal location with great beaches in the city and around and it also has the best climate of the three with average temperatures of 17°C even during the winter while the summer heat is more bearable than in the capital.
While there are visitors, Valencia is by no means the victim of the same kind of mass tourism which clogs Barcelona’s streets at the weekend and through the summer. It’s a great option for people looking for a slice of Spanish culture. The city that gave the world the paella, is at its best in March when the Falles celebrations illuminate the whole town and Valencia features in our rundown of the cheapest cities to live in Spain.
Cost of Renting a Room in a 3 Bedroom Flat – 300-400 Euros/Month
Estimated Total Living Costs in Valencia for 1 Person (including rent) – 1150 Euros/Month
Another major Western European city that is quite cheap to live in by the standards of the region is Lisbon. The Portuguese capital offers rustic charm and centuries of history across its central old barrios. While you may get sick of constantly walking up and down its steep hills, Lisbon is a unique place and has a very different vibe to neighbouring Spain.
The city hugs the Atlantic coastline and is well connected to the rest of Portugal with trains running to the sun-soaked Algarve and the main towns in the North in just a few hours ensuring weekend getaways are very easy to arrange. Closer to Lisbon, the nearby golden sands of the Costa da Caparica offers an easy escape from city life.
Lisbon also has some excellent options in terms of nightlife with the Bairro Alto full of fun-fuelled drinking options while those looking for a slightly more sedate experience should check out the moody Fado bars of Alfama.
Cost of Renting a Room in 3 Bedroom Flat – 400-600 Euros/Month
Estimated Total Living Costs in Lisbon for 1 Person (including rent) – 1250 Euros/Month
Poland is home to some of the cheapest places to live in Europe, at least the EU part of it, and it has started to attract more foreigners in recent years with plenty of English teaching opportunities to be found across the country. All of Poland is pretty affordable by most regional standards with cheap housing and affordable food and drink.
One of its most liveable cities is Wroclaw. Located in the Southwest of the country, it boasts a stunning old town with some wonderful Gothic architecture and one of the liveliest market squares in Europe. While its international reputation is starting to grow and it was named the 2016 European Capital of Culture, it is still to become a major tourist hotspot which has spared it the plight of nearby cities like Krakow and Prague which can become overrun with stag parties and boozed up weekend visitors from abroad.
Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth largest city so there is plenty going on and its large student population ensures that even during the week, you can find good places to go out. Its location not far from the Czech and German borders also means you can do plenty of trips away with the money you’ll save by living in Wroclaw. Our backpackers guide to Poland offers plenty of suggestions for trips within the country too.
Cost of Renting a Room in 3 Bedroom Flat – 250-300 Euros/Month
Estimated Total Living Costs in Wroclaw for 1 Person (including rent) – 900 Euros/Month
Budapest certainly falls more into the mould of a Prague or Krakow, in that it is a very popular destination for an affordable weekend break. However if you’re looking for a bigger city and more of an international vibe than Wroclaw, then it may suit you more and it has developed into one of the best cities to live in Europe for nomads and remote workers.
With the River Danube, numerous thermal baths and the enormous Margaret Island, it has plenty of spots to unwind and relax whilst also offering all the dining, drinking and shopping options you might expect from a European capital city. Rent prices are low so you will be able to afford to live in the very heart of the city and may even be able to afford your own place and still live on around 1000 Euros per month in total.
While Hungary doesn’t have a huge number of travel highlights outside of the city, Budapest is the hub of Wizz Air, one of the largest budget airlines in Europe and its central location in the continent ensures you will never be short on travel options with cities such as London, Istanbul and Barcelona all within a two and a half hour flight from Budapest and plenty of cheap air fares to be found.
Cost of Renting a Room in 3 Bedroom Flat – 200-300 Euros/Month
Estimated Total Living Costs in Budapest for 1 Person (including rent) – 900 Euros/Month
Greece is an interesting one in that while some living costs can be quite high and supermarket prices may surprise you, rent is dirt cheap in most locations. When it comes to accommodation, it is home to some of the cheapest cities to live in Europe.
While Athens has so much history, it can be quite a chaotic city to live in and many travellers find Greece’s second city Thessaloniki more to their liking. With over a million inhabitants in its metropolitan region, it is still a busy place but there is a far more relaxed atmosphere in Thessaloniki. It is also more affordable than the capital and some of the more glamorous Greek islands and offers perhaps a more authentic Greek experience.
There’s no shortage of culture or history either with large numbers of Byzantine churches, and a whole district of the city which has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. With a large student population, it has the feel of a young city and it’s a decent base for exploring the Balkans with Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey all bordering Northern Greece. Our Balkans backpacking route may offer a bit of inspiration for anyone looking to travel.
Cost of Renting a Room in 3 Bedroom Flat – 200-250 Euros/Month
Estimated Total Living Costs in Thessaloniki for 1 Person (including rent) – 1050 Euros/Month
This post on some of the cheapest European cities to live in was last updated in September 2022.