Inexpensive European cities give expat quality of life

Published:  20 Oct at 6 PM
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Everything in life, including food and shelter, needs to be paid for, but expats on a budget can still get quality of life in a number of European cities.

Every expat knows the ‘best things in life are free’, but the reasonable cost of living in your chosen destination isn’t as important as a friendly community. Given that, it’s possible to have both in at many European cities.

Berlin is becoming increasingly popular with expats for its cultural scene and thriving nightlife, with a beer costing around three euros and plenty of places to choose from if you fancy a night out. Although accommodation costs have risen over the past several years, it’s still possible to rent a big studio flat for around 550 euros, and rental charges in general are at around 40 per cheaper than in Paris.

Spain’s cost of living has dropped considerably over the past decade or so, with Barcelona popular with expats for its unique vibe and beachside location. Low-budget expats should head for Nou Barris district, home to the city’s student population and one of the city’s cultural melting pots. Two bedroomed flats come at around 400 euros a month.

The Estonian city of Tallin is a combination of traditional and modern, and is a hub for business start-ups. It’s charming, inexpensive and has all the infrastructure needed by entrepreneurs. The old town overlooks the harbour, and, although the cost of living is on the rise, it’s still a value-for-money destination. Monthly rents for studios start around 350 euros, and lunch with a drink will set you back eight euros on average.

Warsaw’s Praga district is the place for affordable housing, and is a trendy hub for artists and young professionals. Food here is cheap, especially if locally produced. The Latvian city of Riga boasts a fascinating culture, and the city is known for its vibrancy and low cost of living. Three bedroomed apartments in the central area cost from under 700 euros a month.

Historic Athens may well be going through hard times, but the cost of living is low and much appreciated by expat pensioners, freelancers and students. Rental costs are now around 80 per cent lower than in London, and the weather is far more enjoyable. Small, city centre apartments are now renting at under 300 euros. Although Istanbul’s imported foodstuffs and alcohol are now expensive, local foods, services and healthcare are surprisingly cheap, with bargains to be found in the many fascinating street markets and the tiny alleys off the main squares.
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