Live the European Dream on a Budget – The 12 Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

Steve Cummings

In 2023, Europe remains a desirable destination for relocation, offering better career prospects, family proximity, and improved living standards. With the increasing cost-of-living crisis, the primary motivation for many is affordability. Some find cost savings in warmer climates with reduced heating expenses and cheaper groceries. Certain European nations provide higher earning potential, resulting in more disposable income once essentials are covered. Affordable rent and property prices also attract potential expats. 

Numerous enticing options exist for those seeking budget-friendly places to live in Europe. Let us tell you about those options!

1. Moldova

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Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, is a European haven for frugal expats, known for its fine wines and hidden jewel reputation. Moldova entices those seeking an uncomplicated, natural lifestyle with its limitless green scenery, friendly population, and picturesque settlements. Despite its poor infrastructure and small expat community, it is a favored choice for budget-conscious families.

The cost of living is particularly appealing, with rental prices approximately 80% lower than in the United States. A one-bedroom apartment in a major city can be found for roughly 250 Euros, while smaller communities offer even more affordable possibilities. Moldova's attractiveness stems from its low cost of living and genuine charm, making it an ideal location for people looking for a simpler life on a budget.

2. Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia
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Topping the list of Europe's most affordable places to live, Georgia remains a hidden gem on the global stage. Nestled in the far east of the continent, this often-overlooked country boasts a treasure trove of offerings accompanied by wallet-friendly prices.

With a unique location bridging Europe and Asia, enveloped by the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia boasts a remarkable blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. The nation's evolving economy has seen significant growth and numerous improvements in recent decades.

3. Croatia

Zadar Sea Organ
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Croatia's magnificent Adriatic coastline, while slightly more expensive than Portugal's Atlantic coasts, is a mesmerizing location for budget-conscious expats. The attractiveness of coastal cities such as Dubrovnik and Split, famous for being ‘Game of Thrones' filming locations, contributes to the country's relatively higher average cost of living. 

Croatia, with its crescent-shaped coastline, dazzling beaches, and lovely red-capped towns, remains a tempting choice for expats looking for affordable solutions. Its remarkable natural beauty and cultural attractions make it a strong candidate among low-cost expat locations.

4. Slovenia

lake bled
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Slovenia has a cost of living index score of 50.8 and is generally referred to for its natural beauty, dynamic urban life, rich cultural legacy, and history. This picturesque country is known for its breathtaking landscapes, dramatic panoramas, and shimmering lakes, making it an ideal alternative for expats wishing to relocate overseas. 

Slovenia also has one of the lowest crime rates in the EU, making it an excellent place for families, especially those with children. Another prominent feature is the cheap cost of living, with rental expenses averaging 64.3% lower than in the United States, cementing Slovenia's reputation as a budget-friendly yet appealing expat refuge.

5. Hungary 

Budapest, Hungary
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Hungary is a top choice for those seeking to stretch their dollar in Europe. The country boasts a comparatively low cost of living, making it a budget-friendly alternative, especially when contrasted with Western European nations like the UK and France. To put things in perspective, a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Hungary costs roughly $40, while in the UK, you'd be looking at closer to $30. 

Affordable housing further sweetens the deal, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Budapest hovering around $500 monthly. Hungary offers a compelling option for those seeking cost-effective living in Europe.

6. Spain

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Spanish culture includes culinary delights, the fiery art of Flamenco, a wealth of artistic and literary works, unique buildings, and even bullfights. It consists of pure white-sand beaches, shimmering azure waters, and picturesque villages with meandering cobblestone lanes, elegant stone buildings, and breathtaking vistas. The paradisiacal landscape of northern Spain further adds to the region's attraction.

Madrid, Spain's dynamic and welcoming capital, is a financial treasure with a Numbeo index score of 50.6, or just under half the cost of living in New York City. Not only do residents of this cosmopolitan center enjoy relatively low utility and grocery costs compared to other European cities, but they are also immersed in a vibrant culture. 

Madrid offers a fulfilling lifestyle for people looking for a cheaper cost of living without sacrificing quality, from world-class museums to luxury shopping and the delicious world of tapas.

7. Lithuania 

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Lithuania is deservedly known as one of Europe's most cost-effective countries. It promises lower costs for necessities such as food, transportation, and utilities and affordable rental prices. However, there may be disadvantages to living in Lithuania for remote workers earning a salary in the United States or the United Kingdom.

One such problem is the lack of English proficiency compared to other European countries. This linguistic barrier can make simple operations like grocery shopping or banking more difficult. On the plus side, immersion in Lithuanian may speed up language acquisition, but this is a crucial point when considering living as an expat in this low-cost European country.

8. Czechia

Prague, Czech Republic
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The Czech Republic is one of the most inexpensive places in Europe, making it a popular destination for foreigners. Karlovy Vary and Kutna Hora are among the top beautiful places in this country. 

Czechia's robust economy and cutting-edge public services contribute significantly to the country's high quality of life, and the locals are always happy to help visitors feel at home. Located in the heart of Europe, this country has flourished since its independence from Czechoslovakia in 1993, rising to the ranks of the best places to live in the world.

Some of the world's most charming places to live may be found in the Czech Republic, including old towns surrounded by verdant hills. For those seeking a truly remarkable European expat experience at a reasonable cost, the Czech Republic is an attractive option.

9. Romania 

Sibiu, Romania
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Romania is one of the European Union's most affordable destinations. Its charm lies in picturesque towns like Brasov, mesmerizing forests, and iconic castles like Peles Castle and Dracula's Castle. This hidden gem offers abundant natural beauty, making it a haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts.

Regarding the cost of living, Romania shines as a budget-friendly choice compared to its EU counterparts. Moreover, it's a dreamland for digital nomads, boasting some of the world's fastest internet speeds. Romania, with its affordability and natural splendor, remains an underrated and attractive country for those seeking an exceptional European experience.

10. Portugal 

Lisbon, Portugal
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Portugal, with its delectable cuisine, relaxed way of life, and breathtaking coastal vistas, emerges as an appealing choice for expats, primarily due to its notably low cost of living. According to Numbeo, it garners an impressive rating of 45.3, making it a pocket-friendly destination.

In perspective, Portugal's cost of living is a mere 45.3% of what one would encounter in a bustling metropolis like New York City. In contrast, Europe's most expensive country, Switzerland, records an index of more than double that, at 114.2, indicating that prices are 14.2% higher than the Big Apple. Portugal's affordability stands out, making it an attractive option for those seeking a balanced expat experience.

11. Poland

Krakow, Poland
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Poland is, without a doubt, one of Europe's most cost-effective places to live. It has a considerably lower cost of living than Western and Central European countries, although it may be slightly more expensive than in Bulgaria, Albania, or Turkey.

Due to its Communist past, it retains an Eastern European atmosphere despite its location in central Europe. Poland's appeal extends from its breathtaking landscapes to its burgeoning economy and contemporary public services. As one of Europe's largest countries, it boasts a diverse mix of bustling cities and quaint villages, making it a compelling destination for those seeking affordability and a unique cultural blend.

12. Greece

Santorini, Greece
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Greece stands as a top choice for those seeking affordability in their adopted country. In Athens, the capital, securing a one-bedroom apartment might set you back around $600 per month. Beyond the city's hustle and bustle, prices drop further. Regarding sustenance, a budget of $30-40 per day covers food and drink expenses.

But cost isn't the sole factor; quality of life and cultural integration matter. Greece excels here, too, with friendly locals known for their warm welcome. Moreover, Greece's scenic coastal towns and ancient ruins make it a stunning place to call home, even if only temporarily.

Europe Offers Affordable Options

Praia da Falésia
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In conclusion, Europe offers affordable and enticing options for expats seeking to stretch their budgets while embracing diverse cultures and lifestyles. From the picturesque landscapes of Portugal to the historic charm of Poland and the enchanting allure of Greece, these countries provide cost-effective living without compromising the quality of life. Europe's blend of affordability, rich heritage, and welcoming communities make it a remarkable continent for those pursuing a new chapter in a foreign land, where the experience often surpasses expectations.

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Tosa de Mar, Spain
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Santorini, Greece
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