The Getaway
The Cheapest Places to Live in Europe

Whether you are an adventurous student, professional, or a family searching for a better life with less financial stress, your forever home could be waiting for you in Europe. Did you know the average monthly cost-of-living expenses for a person living in Bucharest is $960? Compare that to living in Los Angeles, CA ($3165) or Paris, France ($2230). Prepare to take a digital trip to 19 affordable European cities and learn more about their housing, job, transportation, and education opportunities.


01 Sofia, Bulgaria

Aerial view by drone, alexander nevsky russian orthodox cathedral, sofia, bulgaria, europe

Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, is located in the Vitosha Mountain foothills in western Bulgaria. It is known for its top-quality hospitals, universities, and accessible job market. Job opportunities abound in the tourism, finance, healthcare, and IT sectors.

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Sofia averages about 300 Euros ($278), with utilities costing 100 Euros ($93) per month.

Traveling around Sofia is inexpensive as well. You can purchase a metro ticket for one Euro or take a taxi or Uber for shorter trips. One of Sofia's most popular places to visit on the weekend is Vitosha Boulevard, where you will find an attractive variety of restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and shopping centers.


02 Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Third Century Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is an even more affordable Bulgarian city to live in than Sofia. Housing costs are, on average, up to 33% lower than those in Sofia. This city also has a "pedestrian zone" that allows residents to socialize and take slow walks without worrying about noisy traffic.

Plovdiv's healthcare system includes state-of-the-art medical clinics and several hospitals. The Medical University of Plovdiv and Plovdiv University attract students from all over Europe by providing superior educational opportunities and respected degrees.

You won't run out of things to see or do in Plovdiv. From browsing ancient Roman ruins to visiting Bulgarian revival houses to a weekend trip to the Rhodope Mountains, residents and tourists appreciate Plovdiv's fascinating diversity of natural and cultural destinations.


03 Varna, Bulgaria

Aerial view of the central beach of the bulgarian town Varna

Prospective expats can expect to pay only 250 Euros ($233) for a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Varna, Bulgaria. Utilities and Internet costs around 100 Euros ($93) per month. Buying groceries or eating at a restaurant is much more affordable than in many European cities.

Varna has a dependable transportation system consisting of buses or trams, with a bike-sharing system available for those pursuing an eco-friendly lifestyle.

The third largest city in Bulgaria, Varna is an important economic center and consistently has job openings in the manufacturing, tourism, IT, education, and healthcare sectors. The city is also a Black Sea coast seaport, with positions in port operations, shipping, and customs brokerage always plentiful.

In addition to Varna's traditional restaurants and shopping malls, residents love visiting archaeological museums, the Seaside Garden, and the Varna Dolphinarium, where dolphins perform live shows.


04 Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal, Lisbon, Belem, Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) with the 25th April Bridge behind Tuul & Bruno Morandi/ Getty Images

Lisbon offers affordable, high-quality living standards and boasts a comprehensive transportation system that lets you easily get by without owning a vehicle. Living outside the city's center is slightly cheaper when renting or owning a home. For example, renting a three-bedroom apartment in Lisbon can cost between 1200 Euros to 2500 Euros ($1115 to $2324) per month. Alternatively, renting a three-bedroom apartment in the Lisbon suburbs costs between 900 Euros and 1800 Euros.

The Lisbon Metro links the eastern and upper districts with the city's center and reaches the metropolitan area's suburbs. Lisbon also has a tramway and bus system for city travel only. Several commuter trains travel outside Lisbon and connect with other locations in Portugal.

Job opportunities are available in cybersecurity, software, finance, healthcare, and education. Since Lisbon is a popular tourist destination, there is never a shortage of positions open in the hospitality industry, such as restaurants, hotels, and tour companies.


05 Porto, Portugal

Picturesque, colorful view at old town Porto, Portugal with bridge Ponte Dom Luis over Douro river. Oporto, touristic mediterranean city of culture, architecture, wine, sport and gastronomy.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Portugal's second-largest city, Porto may be the most affordable place to live in Portugal. A one-bedroom apartment costs around 500 Euros ($465) monthly, and utilities and Internet generally cost no more than 100 Euros. The inexpensive public transportation system includes buses and a railway station on Porto's east side.

Employment opportunities exist in the IT, manufacturing, and tourism industries. Porto is situated near the mouth of the Douro River and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, so jobs involving port operations are also available.

Porto is famous for producing port wine and maintaining the historic architecture of city buildings, baroque-style churches, and narrow alleys used during Medieval times.


06 Faro, Portugal

Architecture of Faro in Portugal

Faro rent and property prices are just as affordable as those in Lisbon. One-bedroom city apartments rent for 800 Euros, while three-bedroom apartments rent for around 1000 Euros. Renting or buying outside the center of Faro is even cheaper, with rents going for 100 to 200 Euros less. You can also purchase a two-bedroom city apartment in Faro for 150,000-250,000 Euros.

Faro's public transportation system includes local bus lines, a railway station, and minibusses. The city also has top-notch medical facilities, a variety of international schools, and a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle with many outdoor options, such as golfing, hiking, and water sports.

The job scene in Faro offers a variety of opportunities ranging from airport services, tourism, education, healthcare, and IT. Recently, Faro has been attracting multiple IT companies involved in software and AI development.


07 Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary - The main tower of the famous Fisherman's Bastion (Halaszbastya) from above ZoltanGabor / Getty Images

Budapest is Hungary's largest city and its financial and governmental center. Although the cost of living in Budapest is higher than in other Hungarian towns, it is nearly 56% cheaper than in New York City. In addition, Budapest offers many more job opportunities, things to see and do, and extensive acres of green space within the city limits.

Public transportation consists of the Budapest Tram Network and the Budapest Metro subway system. The Metro, known colloquially as the Millennium Underground, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site over 120 years old that still operates daily, taking residents to various parts of Budapest.

Budapest provides dozens of beautiful municipal parks with boating and skating opportunities available during the appropriate season.


08 Debrecen, Hungary

Debrecen Hungary Sept.19. 2020: View of downtown Debrecen. Classical architecture and people on the street.

Debrecen is the second-largest and most developed city in Hungary. Famous for having the largest shopping center in Eastern Hungary, it is also the headquarters of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and National Instruments.

A one-bedroom apartment in Debrecen costs approximately 146,000 Hungarian Forints ($400), but renting outside the city center is typically cheaper.

Debrecen offers various job opportunities in IT, manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail, hospitality, finance, research and development (particularly in biotech and pharmaceuticals), and construction.

With the completion of the M35 highway, Budapest is now just a two-hour ride from Debrecen. The Debrecen Airport, the second biggest in Hungary, has been updated to handle more international flights.


09 Szeged, Hungary

Szeged, Hungary - Aerial view of the Votive Church and Cathedral of Our Lady of Hungary (Szeged Dom) on a sunny summer day with blue sky and clouds

The cost of living in Szeged is relatively the same as in Budapest. Smaller in size and population than Budapest, Szeged offers premier educational prospects through the prestigious University of Szeged.

A tram-train system implemented in 2021 links this charming city with neighboring Hódmezővásárhely, establishing the second-largest urban concentration in Hungary. Budapest is the largest. Buses provide affordable public transportation to residents of Szeged.

The University of Szeged often has job openings for professors, university staff, and researchers. Other employment opportunities in Szeged include healthcare, manufacturing, tourism, and logistics associated with transportation and shipping along the Tisza River.


10 Bucharest, Romania

October, 14, 2023. Tourists and locals enjoy the nightlife in the old town of Bucharest, Romania. Street view, with old buildings, people, street cafes and restaurants.

The largest city and capital of Romania, Bucharest is an Eastern European country bordered by Hungary, Moldova, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Ukraine.

A one-bedroom apartment within the city limits costs around $470 (171,630 Hungarian forints). A three-bedroom apartment in the Bucharest metropolitan area costs an average of $865 (302,750 Hungarian forints).

Bucharest's public transportation system is one of the largest in Europe. Millions of residents rely on the Metrorex underground metro system. The city also provides trolleybuses, trams, and traditional buses to accommodate transportation needs.

Bucharest's thriving economy and numerous multinational corporations support an active job market offering diverse opportunities.


11 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Panorama of Cluj Napoca with The Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral, Transylvania, Romania

Locally referred to as the unofficial capital of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca is situated in the beautiful Someșul Mic River valley. Bordered by grasslands and forests, Cluj-Napoca's high standard of living attracts global expats and Europeans. Apartment rents are nearly the same as those in Bucharest.

Purchasing property in the city center costs around 2,000 Euros ($2200) per square meter. Residential prices may vary according to the condition of the property.

Cluj-Napoca's public transportation system consists of trams, buses, and trolleys. Trams and trolleys tend to be restricted to specific neighborhoods. In-demand employment opportunities include IT, healthcare, education, and mechanical/civil engineering.


12 Timișoara, Romania

Aerial view of the old Timisoara city center, European capital of Culture in 2023

Home to the Polytechnic University, the most distinguished technical university in Eastern and Central Europe, Timișoara retains much of its Austro-Hungarian culture. It also offers less expensive living accommodations than Bucharest, with a one-bedroom apartment near the city's center renting for about $350 (1,613 Romanian Leu).

The public transportation system includes tram lines, buses, and trolleybuses. It connects residents with all vital city areas and certain metro areas surrounding the city. Taxis are also always available.

In-demand employment opportunities in Timișoara include positions in the IT, manufacturing, engineering, and automotive industries. Ford Automotive and Continental have headquarters in Timișoara.


13 Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, Royal castle and old town at sunset MikeMareen/ Getty Images

Warsaw's quality of life index is not yet comparable to other Eastern European cities. Still, its affordable rents and lower expenses attract many expats from the U.S.

Renting an apartment in Warsaw is 55% cheaper than renting an apartment in New York City. A one-bedroom apartment in Warsaw costs around $1000, or 4400 Polish zloty. Apartments outside the city's center can be up to $200 cheaper.

Warsaw's public transportation network consists of buses, trams, and the only subway operating in Poland. The fastest way to get around Warsaw is by taking one of two subway lines: the M1 or the M2.

Job openings are plentiful in the finance and IT sectors. Companies operating in Warsaw include General Electric, Citi Bank, Samsung, and many manufacturing plants and warehouses.


14 Krakow, Poland

Krakow Market Square, Poland TomasSereda / Getty Images

Krakow, Poland, is the European Capital of Culture and a UNESCO City of Literature. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Krakow is approximately $680, or 2730 Polish zloty.

Krakow's public transportation system includes an extensive network of trams and buses operated by the city and supplemented by private minibusses. Local trains service outlying suburban areas, while Krakow's historic center is mostly pedestrian zones.

Over four dozen multinational organizations, such as Uber, Motorola, General Electric, and Google, operate in Krakow. These companies help keep Krakow's unemployment rate lower than Poland's general rate of 5%. Job opportunities in Krakow are in the IT, banking, tourism, and research sectors.


15 Gdańsk, Poland

Beautiful Gdansk over the Motlawa river at dusk. Poland

Gdańsk is Poland's sixth-largest city and a major north seaport located on the Baltic coast in northern Poland. It is famous for being home to the world's largest brick church- the Bazylika Mariacka (St. Mary's Church).

Rent and living expenses are lower in Gdańsk than in Warsaw. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment is between 2500 and 3500 Polish zloty, or $620 to $870. Renting an apartment outside the center of the city averages 2000 Polish zloty ($500)

The Tricity area of Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia is served by the Szybka Kolej Miejska (SKM), a metro-like system with 27 stations for frequent electric trains. At the same time, Gdańsk Główny is the central railway station connecting to long-distance PKP Intercity trains across Poland.

Gdańsk's primary industries include food production, shipbuilding, and petrochemicals, which offer the most employment opportunities. Pharmaceutical and information technology corporations are also establishing themselves in Gdańsk.


16 Belgrade, Serbia

Beautiful view of the historic center of Belgrade on the banks of the Sava River, Serbia

The largest city and capital of Serbia, Belgrade, lies at the intersection of the Danube and Sava Rivers. The cost of living in Belgrade is comparable to Budapest, with a one-bedroom apartment renting for $450 (48,968 Serbian Dinars)

Belgrade's public transportation system consists of over 100 bus lines, several hundred bus routes that reach the suburbs, and several tram and trolley lines. Serbian Railways and Belgrade's city government also run a rail system.

Belgrade is home to nearly 7000 information technology companies, making it a central IT hub in Southeast Europe.

The most in-demand jobs in Belgrade are in the IT sector. Positions are also available in the tourism, engineering, manufacturing, and retail industries.


17 Tallinn, Estonia

Woman sightseeing Tallinn city landmarks vacations in Estonia travel lifestyle girl tourist relaxing at viewpoint Old Town aerial view architecture Everste / Getty Images

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, a country in northern Europe on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Tallinn is famous for its Tallinn Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A one-bedroom apartment in the center of Tallinn costs between 600 and 800 Euros (about $750). On average, renting a similar apartment outside the city center costs 490 Euros ($529). Tallinn offers a more affordable way of life compared to the cost of living in neighboring Finland or Sweden.

Public transportation includes nearly 100 bus lines, trolley buses, and trams. Registered residents can ride for free within the city limits.

Over 50% of Estonia's gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in Tallinn, boosted by a diverse economy and increasing tourism. Employment prospects are most favorable in IT, logistics, and tourism.


18 Riga, Latvia

Aerial view of Riga center from St. Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia

Latvia's capital and largest city, Riga, has more people than all other cities in the Baltic States.

Riga's living expenses are half of the living expenses in New York City. In addition, renting an apartment is nearly 90 percent cheaper than renting an apartment in the Big Apple. A one-bedroom apartment in Riga costs between 400 and 700 Euros ($430 to $750).

Riga is the leading economic hub and most active port in the Baltic region. The city's thriving IT, pharmaceutical, and international transportation sectors offer many job opportunities.

The public transportation system includes trolleybuses, trams, and regular buses that follow routes crossing Riga. The city also operates a minibus service.


19 Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia. sorincolac / Getty Images

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, a central European country belonging to the European Union. Considered one of the wealthiest EU members, Bratislava's unemployment rate is just below 3%.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Bratislava costs around 630 Euros ($670). Outside the city center, renting a one-bedroom apartment is nearly $100 cheaper.

Bratislava's public transportation system includes trams, trolleybuses, regular buses, and one central train hub with international connections.

In-demand jobs in Bratislava included IT roles at major tech firms, automotive manufacturing skills for Volkswagen's large plant, finance and business services for its regional hub status, tourism/hospitality workers, and construction/engineering for development projects.


20 Find Out More About Moving to Europe

amalfi coast road Ryzhkov Oleksandr / Shutterstock

These most affordable places to live in Europe also offer excellent education, transportation, and employment opportunities. Of course, you should do more thorough research on a city you are interested in relocating.


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.