Posted: Jun 15, 2017
Not everyone seeks to move to the country when looking to relocate abroad, many appreciate the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy the sense of a 24/7 lifestyle.
While property in some cities can be almost painfully pricy (potentially putting them out of reach) there are European options which represent great value. So if you’re considering packing up and starting fresh somewhere new, one of these major cities may be a good place to set up shop.
Located on Spain’s glorious Mediterranean coastline close to the border with France, Barcelona is Europe’s seventh most populated city and offers everything one could want from a major metropolitan, including an abundance of glorious sunshine.
Despite being one of the oldest cities in the country, Barcelona has modernised rapidly over the last few decades. With substantial capital spent on improving the city’s amenities and transport links, it has quickly risen near the top of quality of life index for Europe.
The cost of living in Barcelona is also very reasonable for a major city on the Mediterranean coast, with the area holding a cost of living index score of 65.12 (according to Numbeo). Costs are also lower thanks to a warm climate that helps keep energy costs down.
Property prices, meanwhile, are little higher than some others on this list at an average of around €4,432 per square metre, but are still significantly lower than in other major centres (such as Paris) while offering a potentially high return on investment.
However, when buying in Barcelona you must be wary of any outstanding debts a property may have accrued from the previous owner as these will be passed onto the buyer upon completion of a sale, potentially adding substantial costs on top of the asking price.
After languishing for a number of years following the Portuguese financial crisis at the turn of the decade, Lisbon has found itself undergoing a rapid revival recently. The city is once again becoming a bustling hub of activity with new cafés and boutiques breathing life into the historic capital.
However, those looking for the opportunity to settle in this up and coming city will find that property prices remain relatively reasonable and still a long way off the highs seen in the mid 2000’s – offering great value to those looking to snatch up a real bargain.
Lisbon is by far the cheapest capital within Western Europe for property prices with the average property currently valued at around €2,543 per square metre in the city centre, making purchasing a home at the heart of Portugal a very achievable goal for many.
Adding to Lisbon’s appeal is the cost of living in Portugal itself, which at 49.19 on Numbeo’s cost of living index puts it as the cheapest city to reside in within the Eurozone.
However, you’re advised to act fast if you wish to claim your own piece of Lisbon as while the city is currently an anomaly in Western Europe in terms of prices, this looks set to change as investors seek to take advantage of the great value and growing popularity of the charming city.
With its mixture of both French and Dutch culture, Belgium is a beautiful and diverse country – and nowhere is this more evident than the city of Brussels.
The administrative heart of the European Union and home to a number of international organisations, Brussels often gets associated with the dull drudgery of bureaucracy. However, those willing to look past this will quickly find the rich heritage that is hidden beneath.
Brussels’ central position also offers great access to a number of other European countries by train, making exploring everything that Europe has to offer that bit easier.
Brussels does tend to come in on the more expensive side for cost of living, however, with a score of 77.97 on Numbeo’s cost of living index. Those living in Belgium are likely to spend around 20-30% more on an average week’s shopping than those in countries like Spain and Portugal.
However, with prices averaging at €3,023 per square foot, property in Brussels is very reasonable in comparison with other Western European cities, leading many to call its property market one of Europe’s best kept secrets.
Those seeking a life in the sun may wish to keep their distance however. Brussels receives more rainfall than any other European capital with an average of 200 days of rain each year.
With the country’s economy still struggling under the weight of the financial crash, many expats have given up on the idea of moving to Greece, however anyone who overlooks the opportunities that can be found in its ancient capital are sure to regret it.
You will be hard pressed to find a city anywhere in the world that is steeped in more history than Athens, as evidenced by the Parthenon which dominates the city’s skyline. The city’s central position also allows you easy access to the rest of Greece by train, plane or boat.
The cost of living is also very reasonable with a score of 61.47. Costs have fallen dramatically following years of financial woes. As long as you have a stable income you should find that you have little issue covering your expenses.
Those looking to purchase a home in the city will also find themselves pleasantly surprised by just how affordable property can be. Average prices in the city generally fall around €2,717 per square foot.
However, those looking at it as an investment opportunity may wish to look elsewhere as Greece still has a long road to recovery and its property market is likely to remain volatile over the next few years.
Once described as ‘Paris of the East’ Warsaw ranks highly for quality of life, often placing near the top of the most liveable cities in Central and Eastern Europe.
The city’s turbulent history during the 20th century, which saw large parts of the city destroyed or flattened, has led modern Warsaw to become a vibrant mix of traditional and contemporary architecture that offers a glimpse into both the city’s past and future as the cultural, political and economic hub of Eastern Europe.
Warsaw is also an incredibly cheap place to live day to day. With a score on 45.02 on Numbeo’s cost of living index and a meal in an average restaurant costing less than €6 you can make your money go a lot further in Poland without missing out on life’s little luxuries.
Averaging at €2,159 per square metre, property in Poland’s capital is equally cheap and with prices steadily rising it could offer a great potential return on investment if you decide to sell later on, although be aware that many apartments in old buildings may be a little smaller than you may be used to.
It is also common practice for buyers to negotiate directly with owners when purchasing property so you may find you can pick up a property for less than the asking price if your negotiation skills are up to par.
However, be warned that buying property in Poland can be an especially time consuming process thanks to a lot of communist era bureaucracy still plaguing the country’s government departments.
Definitely one of the most obscure cities on this list, Nicosia in Cyprus is an oft overlooked diamond in the Mediterranean. Situated near the centre of the island nation, it is a vibrant mix of European and Middle Eastern culture.
Located near the centre of the Mersaoria plain, the city enjoys a subtropical climate during the summer and mild winters, so would be the perfect escape for someone looking to get away from the miserable weather found in northern Europe.
A score of 63.32 on Numbeo’s cost of living index causes Nicosia to be slightly more expensive to live in that some of the other cities on this list. A single person can be expected to spend an average of €650.52 a month (minus their mortgage/rent) on living in the city, but there are savings to be made on property.
Property Prices in Nicosia are typically around €1,530 per square foot, making it one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe to purchase a home, although it is worth noting that VAT on the purchase of newer properties in the city can be quite high, so if you wish to score a real bargain you will have to look at older homes.
You should also keep in mind that the city is technically split in two, with the northern part of the city being the capital of Northern Cyrus, a state which is only recognised by Turkey and is considered an occupied territory by the international community.
Also known as the Czech Republic, Czechia is a central European country nestled between Germany and Poland, with its capital and largest city of Prague being famous for both its beer and its rich cultural history.
Situated on the Vltava River, Prague has very distinct seasons, with warm summers and often snowy winters that makes its Christmas Market’s truly spectacular. Meanwhile, the many theatres, art galleries and museums dotted around the city allow you to absorb yourself in the local culture with relative ease.
Prague also remains fairly untouched by expats, with low demand helping to contribute to a relatively low cost of living compared to many of its neighbours. By scoring 47.73 on the cost of living index it is nearly 45% cheaper than living in London.
While house prices in the city are a little more expensive than some on this list, they are still within the realm of affordability for many at €3,831 per square foot, with average prices for a 70 square metre apartment costing around €260,000.
However, one major disadvantage of moving to Czechia is that it lacks free healthcare and you will be required to get some sort of medical insurance to cover you and your family, although this may be covered by your employer if you plan to work there as well.
The meeting point of the Middle East and Europe, Istanbul offers an unmatched blend of the two cultures and was at the centre of European history from the Roman era all the way up to the Ottoman Empire, making it one of the most culturally important cities on the continent.
Istanbul has also undergone rapid expansion and revitalisation over the past couple of decades, with a huge amount of money and time spent on improving the city’s services to accommodate an ever growing population.
According to Numbeo, Istanbul also ranks well on their cost of living index scoring, 46.24. Those living in the city able to pick up a full three course meal in a respectable restaurant for as little as €10, while a loaf of bread will cost you an average of €0.43.
In part thanks to the weakening of the Turkish lira, property in Istanbul is becoming increasingly affordable, with a small apartment in the beautiful Besiktas district overlooking the Bosphorus averaging around €2,534 per square foot.
You should also keep in mind the current political situation in Turkey however. A recent referendum radically changed the political landscape in the nation, with president Erdoğan being granted greater powers and cracking down on political dissidents.
While it doesn’t have the prestige or cultural dominance of Paris, for those looking to move to France a great alternative option would be beautiful Marseille in the south of the country.
The second largest French city in terms of population, Marseille is located on the Mediterranean coast, with the warm regional climate allowing its residents to enjoy 2,900 hours of sunshine a year, more than any other major city in France.
The popularity of the city as a tourist destination does mean that your daily expenditure may be a little high however, with a cost of living index of 66.68. Although not astronomical, slightly higher prices may require some more careful financial planning.
Helping to offset this however is the great value property on offer in Marseille, with an apartment in the city usually costing between €2,000 and €2,800 per square foot depending on how centrally it is located, a far cry from Paris where an apartment would generally be priced at over €10,000 per square foot.
Be sure to enlist the services of a surveyor before purchasing a home anywhere in France, surveys are still not common place in France despite recent changes to the law and its always better to be safe than sorry.
Galway is known locally as Ireland’s cultural heart thanks to the many festivals and celebrations held in the city and its strong association with the Irish language and the traditional events held in its main theatres and venues.
However, the former trading hub is far from being stuck in the past and has seen notable development over the past few decades.
The cost of living in the city may be a potential barrier to some however, with Numbeo ranking it at 75.83, partly thanks to the colder weather in the North Atlantic region causing heating costs to be relatively higher than in other areas of Europe!
However, in terms of property prices it is hard to best Galway, with the average price of a property in the city centre being just €1,603 per square foot, less than half the price of a comparable place in Dublin.
It is advised that you move quickly if you’re thinking of snapping up a property in the city however as Irish property prices have begun to rapidly rise in recent years thanks to a shortage of stock following the crash of the Celtic Tiger at the start of the decade.
That’s our round up of ten of the more affordable cities in Europe. Hopefully it’s provided you with some inspiration if you’re considering a move to the continent!