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The best European cities for expats

Helsinki has been ranked the top spot for expats in Europe/ Photo by Kuutti Siitonen
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A new study from Travel Far and Wide has investigated the best cities in Europe for expats to move to in 2023. Yet, they may not be what you’d expect or want to hear

Many freelancers and contractors dream of living abroad at some point in their lives, whether for a short-term stay or a major relocation. But with the cost of living crisis spreading across Europe and so many factors to consider, how do you decide where to settle down and start the next chapter of your life?

You’ll have to do some research and calculations to weigh up factors such as cost of living, safety, transport and happiness. Based on this criteria you can make an informed decision rather than one based on where you believe is a good place to live based on holidays past.

Best city for expats in Europe

Helsinki is the best city in Europe for expats, scoring a high 75.21 out of 100 for safety, according to research carried out by Travel Far and Wide, a relocation information service.

The Finnish capital also receives a rating of 5 out of 5 for happiness, as well as for its walkability and nightlife offerings. Expats who would rather use public transport than walk will be happy here too, as a monthly public transport pass costs a very reasonable £58. 

Swiss cities Lausanne and Bern follow in second and third, with Bern awarded the highest safety score on the list at 82.45 out of 100. Both cities are a little more expensive than Helsinki with the monthly cost of living averaging over £3,000, but average salaries are also higher to reflect this. 

Two other cities in Switzerland – Zürich and Basel – also made the list in ninth and tenth, making Switzerland the country with the most high-ranking cities for expats. 

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Which city in Europe has the cheapest cost of living?

Prague places fourth in the overall ranking, but offers the cheapest cost of living for expats at an average of just £1,807 per month. The Czech city is also the cheapest on the list for public transport specifically, with a monthly pass costing just £20.68. 

The top 10 European cites for expats to live

 LocationCost of livingLifestyle
RankCityAverage monthly rent for 1 bed flat (£)Average cost of monthly public transport pass (£)Average monthly salary (£)Monthly cost of living as an expat (£)Safety index (out of 100)Walkability score (out of 5)Happiness score (out of 5)Nightlife score (out of 5)
1Helsinki, Finland£859.72£58.00£2,754.54£2,309.0075.21555
2Lausanne, Switzerland£1,392.98£67.54£4,631.46£3,173.0073.86555
3Bern, Switzerland£1,073.19£71.15£5,415.47£3,452.0082.45553
4Prague, Czechia£856.57£20.68£1,578.97£1,807.0075.16545
5Munich, Germany£1,224.34£56.40£3,127.86£3,121.0080.65545
6Copenhagen, Denmark£1,459.26£64.01£2,953.53£4,141.0073.29555
7Stuttgart, Germany£862.72£65.14£3,036.93£2,152.0067.88544
8Vienna, Austria£749.92£42.39£2,690.86£2,805.0072.93544
9Basel, Switzerland£1,268.75£72.05£5,216.26£3,521.0077.32552
10Zürich, Switzerland£2,032.52£90.06£5,538.26£3,781.0080.21553
Source: Travel Far And Wide

Is Italy a good place for expats to live?

If you have your heart set to move to Italy, you may want to do some more research on which cities may be safer and less expensive to live in. For example, the Italian cities of Naples, Venice, Rome and Milan rank as the worst cities in Europe for expats, according to the research, making Italy the top country to avoid when considering a move abroad. The average cost of living in these cities is very high, reaching £5,166 per month in Venice. Meanwhile, average salaries are fairly low in comparison, at only £1,235.21 per month in Naples and £1,383.16 per month in Venice. 

These cities also rank poorly for safety, with a score of just 37.55 in Naples and 46.50 in Rome. 

Didn’t see the city you were hoping for?

If you have your heart set on moving to a city in Europe that wasn’t listed, you will probably find it in this report: top 50 cities in Europe or you can look it up yourself on the Numbeo site. The ranking was based on the following metrics, which were then added together to determine the overall score for each city.

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