Cheapest Countries In Europe To Live

Cheapest countries to live in europe

The cost of living in Europe varies depending on the country. Generally, some Western European countries, such as Switzerland, Norway, and Denmark, are known for having expensive lifestyles. On the other hand, Eastern European countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, are some of the cheapest countries in Europe to live in.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in finding cheaper European countries to live in. Several factors contribute to this decision.

Lower cost of living, affordable housing, quality of life, adventure, culture, or escape from instability drive relocations.

Living in affordable European countries offers a range of benefits, from cost-effective living to experiencing an enhanced well-being lifestyle.

When relocating, key factors impact well-being, adaptability, and quality of life in a new environment.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Cheapest Country to Live In

When living in another country, several parameters need consideration to ensure a smooth and successful transition. These parameters are essential because they directly impact your overall well-being, quality of life, and ability to adapt to a new environment.

Here are the common factors to consider when choosing the cheapest country to live in:

Cost of living index

The cost of living index measures how expensive it is to live in a particular place compared to another. It includes food, shelter, transportation, energy, clothing, healthcare, and childcare expenses. A cost of living index can help you compare the fees from one town or geographic region to another.

Accommodation costs

The expenses related to housing play a crucial role in determining your affordability to reside in a different country. Housing expenses fluctuate based on geographical location, size, and accommodation type. Researching the housing market and comparing prices in different areas is essential.

Transportation expenses

Transportation expenses include car ownership, public transportation, fuel, insurance, and maintenance costs. Location and mode of conveyance affect transportation costs. Assess the availability and cost of transportation at your potential destination to estimate travel costs.

Food and grocery expenses

Local agricultural production, import taxes, and market rivalry affect food and grocery prices. Location and food type affect food costs. Researching the local food markets and comparing prices is essential to find the most affordable options.

Healthcare costs

Healthcare expenses are crucial, especially if you have an existing medical condition or require regular medical attention. Compare healthcare quality, cost, and insurance alternatives in your chosen nation. To find cheap healthcare, research the system and compare prices.

Education Expenses

You must research the education expense in your selected country if you have children or plan to study. It covers school and university tuition, textbooks, uniforms, and other educational materials.

Educational expenses vary according to the country of your choice. Research their educational system costs to get the best solution for your family.

Top 5 Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

Europe is known for its diverse cultures, languages, and traditions. Consider vital factors for budget-friendly European living, aligning choices with lifestyle, preferences, and financial goals.

Considering the parameters mentioned, what are the top five cheapest countries to live in Europe? Read on to find out.


Bulgaria's rotunda at night

Bulgaria is one of the Balkan countries located in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. The country has mountains, beaches, and mineral springs.

Bulgaria’s gorgeous nature and UNESCO World Heritage sites, together with its history, culture, and slower pace of life, attract many tourists and families.

People are drawn to Bulgaria for its affordability, natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, friendly people, safety, and opportunities for expats. Bulgaria is considered one of the cheapest countries for expats and one of Europe’s most inexpensive places to retire.

Cost of Living Overview

Bulgaria’s cost of living is generally considered affordable compared to many other European countries.

The country has a cost of living index of 48.4, much lower than the European average of 100. It means that goods and services in Bulgaria are generally much cheaper than in other EU countries.

Cost of living in Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas are three places in Bulgaria known for their low cost of living. Their equally budget-friendly expenses make it an appealing choice for those seeking affordability without sacrificing charm and quality of life.

Affordable Accommodation Options

The quality of accommodation in Bulgaria varies, allowing expats to find suitable options that match their needs and budget quickly. Property prices are growing, yet they remain among the lowest in the EU. This makes the country appealing to foreign buyers.

Renting an apartment is a common choice for long-term residents. You can find various apartments with different sizes and amenities, and the cost will depend on the city or town you choose to live in.

Look for lodging in suburbs or small villages near large cities. These areas have cheaper housing than city centers. Contact local real estate agents for help finding affordable rentals.

Rent and utilities in Bulgarie

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Bulgarian transportation and commute expenditures are low compared to other European countries. The country has a well-developed transportation network for city and regional travel.

Public transportation is a popular and cost-effective way to get around major cities like Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas. Buses, trams, and metros are standard modes of transport, and ticket prices are relatively low.

The primary means of transportation to work or school in Bulgaria are walking (30.65%), cars (36.61%), buses/trolleybuses (16.37%), bikes (2.38%), and motorbikes (0.60%).

Transportation cost in Bulgaria

Food and Grocery Prices

The cost of food and groceries in Bulgaria is generally low. Expats can choose from various options, including supermarkets, local markets, and street vendors. Local produce is usually inexpensive and of good quality.

Cost of groceries in Bulgaria

Eating out in Bulgaria is inexpensive, especially at casual restaurants and fast food chains. For mid-range restaurants offering a broader menu selection and a bit more ambiance, main courses may range from $15 to $25.

Meanwhile, fine dining establishments in larger cities may have main courses starting at $25 and can go up to $50 or more.

Healthcare Affordability

Woman holding medicines

Bulgaria’s healthcare financing: public-private mix, funded by insurance, taxes, out-of-pocket, corporate, donations, and external sources.

The cost of using public healthcare services is generally lower than private healthcare options. The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) covers essential medical services with employee and employer contributions. It is a mandatory benefit for all residents in Bulgaria.

While the public healthcare system covers essential medical services, patients may still need to pay out-of-pocket for specific medications, specialized treatments, or additional services not fully covered by the NHIF.

Private healthcare is also available in Bulgaria, offering more extensive services and shorter waiting times. Private medical facilities typically charge higher fees than public ones.

Education Affordability

University in Bulgaria

Bulgaria provides free public education from primary to secondary levels, making it accessible to all residents. The quality of public education may vary, but several reputable schools and universities exist in the country.

Private schools and universities are available in Bulgaria, offering different educational approaches and facilities. Private education may come with tuition fees, varying depending on the institution.

The tuition fees at public universities in Bulgaria are approximately $2,300 per year, which is generally lower than in other European countries.

Bulgaria’s three notable excellent universities are Sofia University, Technical University of Sofia, and American University in Bulgaria. Their tuition fees range from $1,500 to $3,000 per academic year, contingent on the chosen program of study.


Wideshot of Romania

Romania is a southeastern European country known for its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and historical significance.

The country has a low cost of living, making it one of the cheapest Western European countries to live in. It may appeal to budget-conscious families and individuals.

Romania is widely regarded as a safe country with a stable political environment, making it an appealing destination for families and individuals seeking security.

The crime rate is low, and gun violence is infrequent. Romanians also have access to the EU labor market and education as EU members.

Cost of Living Overview

Cost of living in Romania

Romania is considered the 3rd cheapest country in Eastern Europe regarding living costs.

The country has a lower cost of living than Hungary and the Czech Republic but higher than Bulgaria and Serbia. However, the cost of living in the country varies by city and region.

Romania’s places known to have lower living costs are Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, and Iasi. They are less expensive compared to the capital city, Bucharest.

Affordable Accommodation Options

Rent and utilities in Romania

Romania offers a range of affordable accommodation options for people planning to move to the country. Whether you prefer urban living or a more rural setting, various choices suit different budgets.

Renting an apartment is the usual option in Romanian cities. The cost differs based on the city and neighborhood, with smaller towns offering more budget-friendly options.

Small towns or rural areas often provide more cost-effective housing options than major cities. Rent and property prices can be lower in these regions as well.

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Cost of transportation in Romania

Transportation and commuting costs in Romania are relatively low compared to many European countries. The average monthly cost of public transportation in Romania is about $23, while the average monthly price of owning a car is about $112.

Romania has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the metro. The average monthly cost of public transportation in Romania is about $23.

Food and Grocery Prices

Cost of groceries in Romania

Food and grocery prices in Romania can vary depending on location, season, and circumstances. It is generally lower than other neighboring Eastern EU countries like Bulgaria and Poland.

The cost of eating out or dining at local restaurants in Romania can vary depending on the type of establishment, the city or region, and the specific dish or menu items.

For budget-friendly options or local eateries, a meal can range from $5 to $10 per person. It might include a main course, a side dish, and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Dining at mid-range restaurants with a broader selection of dishes and ambiance can cost around $15 to $30 per person for a three-course meal.

High-end or fine-dining restaurants in major cities may have prices starting from $30 and can go upwards of $100 per person, depending on the level of luxury and exclusivity.

Cost of eating out in Romania

Healthcare Affordability

Clinic in Romania

Romania has a mixed healthcare system, including public and private healthcare providers.

The healthcare system in the country is universal, providing healthcare services to all citizens and legal residents. However, healthcare quality varies depending on where you live and your insurance type.

The state funds Romania’s universal healthcare. With a health card and insurance premium, Romanians can receive unlimited medical operations from doctors.

Private healthcare in Romania is available to those who can afford it. It is generally of a higher quality than public healthcare, but it is also more expensive.

Education Affordability

University in Romania

Education in Romania is generally affordable compared to other EU countries. Public institutions have lower tuition and more scholarships and financial aid.

Romania offers free public education at the primary and secondary levels, including primary and high school. Public universities in the country also offer relatively low tuition fees for domestic and EU students.

As a member of the European Union, Romania provides the same tuition rates for EU students as domestic students. It makes higher education in the country attractive to students from other EU countries seeking affordable options.

The three good universities in Romania are the University of Bucharest, the West University of Timisoara, and the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi. The tuition fees depend on the program choice, which ranges from $2,000 to $5,500 annually.


Poland at day

Poland has a diverse and vibrant culture and society. Situated in Central Europe, the country has a long and rich history of over 1,000 years. The country is also known for its traditions, folklore, and contributions to art, literature, and music.

People move to Poland for many reasons. They like the country’s inexpensive cost of living compared to other EU countries. The country’s universal healthcare system also provides free or low-cost medical services to all residents.

Cost of Living Overview

Cost of living in Poland

Compared to other European countries, Poland is known for its reasonable cost of living. Housing costs favor affordability, irrespective of your chosen settlement, and rent remains budget-friendly compared to other European nations.

Large cities like Warsaw and Krakow have higher rents than smaller towns. A one-bedroom apartment in Warsaw’s city center costs $500 a month, while a three-bedroom in the suburbs costs $700.

Szczecin is one of Poland’s cheapest options for city living. Located in northwest Poland, Szczecin boasts beautiful parks and gardens. Its cost of living is relatively lower than other Polish capital cities like Warsaw and Krakow.

Affordable Accommodation Options

Rent and utilities in Poland

When choosing an area in Poland to live in, consider its proximity to your place of work, your children’s school, and access to public transport. Renting an apartment is a popular and affordable option.

Many cities have rental properties, from studio apartments to larger family-sized units. Rental prices vary significantly depending on the city and location, with smaller towns offering more budget-friendly options.

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Transportation cost in Poland

Transportation costs in Poland vary depending on the mode of transportation and the distance traveled. A single bus ticket within a city costs $0.80. Unlimited travel within the city costs around $23 per month.

Taxi fares in Poland are generally low, and a taxi ride in the city can cost around $4 to $6 for the first kilometer and $0.70 to $1.10 per kilometer afterward.

If you plan on staying in Poland, getting a monthly pass for public transportation may be worth it. It will save you money in the long run.

Food and Grocery Prices

Food and grocery prices in Poland

Food and grocery prices can vary depending on the city or region in Poland and the type of store you shop in, i.e., supermarkets, local markets, discount stores, etc.

Shopping at local markets and discount stores can often be more cost-effective than purchasing groceries at supermarkets.

Additionally, seasonal fluctuations can impact the prices of certain fresh produce items.

Healthcare Affordability

Hospital in Poland

The Polish healthcare system operates on a universal and compulsory health insurance model. The primary sources of financing the system include health insurance contributions and the state budget.

Health insurance contributions amount to 9% of the basis of assessment.

The National Health Fund covers 70% of Polish health costs and provides free treatment to insured people. The remaining 30% comes from private health insurance.

Everyone covered by health insurance is eligible for free healthcare benefits in Poland.

Education Affordability

Architectural strcuture in Poland

Education affordability in Poland is generally considered attractive, especially in higher education. The country offers a range of affordable higher education options for both domestic and international students.

Poland offers cost-effective tuition for international students, making it an attractive choice for quality education abroad.

International students will pay $4,600 to $9,200 in tuition fees for public universities, while private universities cost around $7,000 to $15,000 annually.

Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University, and Warsaw University of Technology are Poland’s major universities with diverse curricula. Students at these universities pay $2,500 to $11,500 per year.


Hungary at day

Hungary shares borders with Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

Budapest’s capital city is Central Europe’s primary cultural, economic, and political center. This landlocked country is renowned for its stunning architecture, thermal baths, and the Danube River that divides the city into Buda and Pest.

Many people consider Hungary a great place to reside due to its unique benefits.

Affordable cost of living, stable economy, peaceful lifestyle, welcoming culture, safety, and cultural activities. These qualities make Hungary appealing to expats and their families.

Cost of Living Overview

Cost of living in Hungary

Hungary’s cost of living is generally lower than many Western European countries, making it an attractive destination for expats and retirees looking for a good quality of life without a high price tag.

Outside Budapest, housing is affordable in Hungary. Hungary has a well-developed healthcare system and lower healthcare costs than many Western countries.

Hungary offers a good balance between quality of life and affordability, making it an attractive option for expats and retirees seeking a comfortable lifestyle in Central EU.

Consider living in Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city in the northeast. A significant academic town, it has a dynamic culture.

Debrecen has lower housing expenses than Budapest, making it appealing to budget-conscious residents.

Affordable Accommodation Options

Accodomodation in Hungary

Renting an apartment is the usual accommodation choice, especially in urban areas like Budapest and other famous cities.

While central locations in Budapest can be more expensive, there are more affordable options in the suburbs or smaller towns.

Consider settling down in cheaper cities in Hungary, such as Veszprem, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs, and Debrecen. These cities offer lower living costs and may have more affordable accommodation options.

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Transportation cost in Hungary

Hungary has an extensive public transportation system that is both efficient and affordable.

Many cities have extensive bus and tram networks, while Budapest also has a metro system.

For frequent commuters, monthly passes covering all modes of transport can be purchased at major transport hubs. Students and pensioners can avail of discounted rates.

Food and Grocery Prices

Food and grocery prices in Hungary

Hungary’s food and groceries cost are typically budget-friendly compared to many Western European nations’ prices. Hungary’s agricultural tradition and local produce contribute to various fresh and reasonably priced food items.

Fruits and vegetables are affordable in Hungary. You can buy a kilo of apples for around $1.10 and a kilo of tomatoes for about $2.20.

Meat and fish are more expensive than fruits and vegetables but still relatively affordable. A kilo of chicken breast costs about $5.50, and a kilo of salmon for about $11.

Healthcare Affordability

Hungary at night

Hungary offers affordable healthcare services, which is one of the reasons why citizens from neighboring countries often seek medical treatment in the country. Hungary has both public and private healthcare options.

Foreign nationals living in Hungary are required to have health insurance coverage. Proof of healthcare coverage is necessary when registering as a resident or applying for a Hungarian visa.

The insurance should cover medical and repatriation expenses of at least $50,000.

Education Affordability

Tuition fees in Hungary

Hungary’s education system attracts local and international students with diverse options and affordable excellence.

Tuition fees at public universities in Hungary are quite reasonable for international students. These fees fluctuate based on the university and program, averaging between $1,200 and $5,000 per year.

While private universities in Hungary charge higher tuition, they remain competitive compared to other EU countries.

One of the most prestigious medical universities in Europe is located in Hungary.

Semmelweis University was founded in 1769, making it one of the oldest medical schools in Europe.

The university excels in medical education and research, renowned nationally and globally for producing top-notch medical professionals.

Tuition fees at Semmelweis University range from $14,000 to $22,000 per academic year.


Ukraine at day

Ukraine, the second-largest country in Europe, has a diverse history and culture.

It shares borders with Belarus to the north, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and Russia to the east and northeast.

Ukraine is a rapidly growing economy with a young and educated workforce.

There are many opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs to start businesses in Ukraine.

Cost of Living Overview

Cost of living in Ukraine

Ukraine is one of the cheapest countries in Europe to live in. The cost of living is significantly lower than in Western Europe, making it an attractive destination for foreign nationals looking to save money.

The cost of housing varies depending on the city and neighborhood. Kyiv is the most expensive city in Ukraine, followed by Kharkiv and Lviv. The cost of living in smaller cities and towns is generally lower.

Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Zaporizhzhia are three regions in Ukraine known for their more affordable living cost than famous cities like Kyiv or Lviv. These regions can be attractive options for a more budget-conscious lifestyle in Ukraine.

Affordable Accommodation Options

Rent and utilities in Ukraine

Many converted city apartments in Ukraine offer centrally located dormitory accommodation, kitchens, and shared facilities for a low price.

These apartments are popular among expats who want to live in the city center and save money on rent.

Living in the suburbs or outskirts of a city can be more affordable than residing in the city center.

While the commute may be longer, the cost savings on rent and daily expenses make it a practical choice for those on a budget.

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Transportation cost in Ukraine

Public transportation is the most common and cost-effective way around Ukrainian cities.

Most cities have well-developed public transport systems, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the metro in larger cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro. The average public transportation ride costs $0.20–$0.40.

Food and Grocery Prices

Food and grocery prices in Ukraine

Food and grocery prices in Ukraine are much lower than in most EU countries.

You can expect to pay much less for groceries, meat, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

However, prices can fluctuate due to various factors, including inflation and economic conditions.

There are many affordable markets and supermarkets to purchase fresh produce, meat, and dairy products. A kilogram of beef will cost around $4, while poultry products are sold at $2.00

Healthcare Affordability

Buildings in Ukraine

Healthcare affordability in Ukraine is a complex topic.

Ukraine attracts medical tourists seeking cheaper treatments and procedures. Medical tourism is popular for dental, cosmetic, and reproductive treatments.

Though economical, Ukrainian healthcare suffers from underfunding, antiquated facilities, and a shortage of doctors. These obstacles can lower healthcare quality and access, especially in rural areas.

Education Affordability

Ukraine website for education

Ukraine has one of the most affordable education systems in Europe and the world. Ukrainian universities are gaining popularity with international students due to their affordable education system.

The school system in Ukraine is of an excellent standard. With the government committed to an education system that is accessible to all, the country has the highest literacy rate in Europe, at 99.4%.

The top three universities in Ukraine offering quality education are Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, National Technical University of Ukraine, and Bukovinian State Medical University.

Tuition fees at these universities vary according to program and level of study. It usually ranges from $2,000 to $6,000 per academic year.

Other Affordable European Countries Worth Considering

Other European countries worth visiting

If you’re looking for affordable European countries to live in, there are other cheaper EU countries that you can explore.

However, it is essential to research visa requirements, healthcare systems, job opportunities, and other factors that may impact your decision.

Expect diverse cultures and languages; prepare for language barriers, particularly in smaller cities or rural areas.

Here are the lists of other cheap European countries to live in that are worth considering:

  • Portugal: Portugal is noted for its low cost of living, beautiful coastline, rich history, and pleasant temperature. Lisbon and Porto attract foreigners with their vibrant cultures.
  • Spain: Spain is diverse and affordable. Smaller towns away from tourist attractions might provide reduced living costs and a great quality of life.
  • Czech Republic: The Czech Republic, especially Prague, attracts expats with its gorgeous architecture, rich history, and lower living costs than Western Europe..

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the FAQs regarding the cheapest countries to live in:

What does “cost of living” mean?

The “cost of living” refers to the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses required to maintain a certain standard of living in a specific place and period.

These expenses typically include housing, food, taxes, healthcare, transportation, and other essential goods and services.

Comparing cities and nations’ affordability commonly uses cost of living. These characteristics must be considered while relocating, working, or preparing finances.

How is the cost of living index calculated?

The cost of living index is a measure that compares living costs between cities. The base city’s cost of living is set at 100, and the cost of living in other cities is indexed relative to this benchmark number.

For instance, if we consider London as the benchmark with a cost of living index of 100, and New York has an index of 120, then New York’s living expenses are 20% more expensive than London’s.

Are cheaper countries in Europe less developed?

The affordability of a country varies on its level of development. Many affordable EU countries offer a good quality of life, developed infrastructure, and various opportunities for residents and expats.

For example, Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia offer a high quality of life despite being more affordable than some Western EU countries, as these countries have developed infrastructure, healthcare systems, and educational opportunities.

Is healthcare quality compromised in these affordable countries?

The healthcare quality in affordable countries can vary significantly. Many cheap EU countries have well-developed and efficient healthcare systems that offer high-quality medical services and access to essential treatments.

Can I find affordable education options in these countries?

Yes. It is possible to find affordable education options in many of these countries. Many EU countries offer affordable education options for both EU and non-EU students.

Some countries, such as Poland, Greece, and Hungary, offer free or low-cost education to both local and international students.

Are there job opportunities in these cheaper countries?

Job opportunities in cheaper EU countries can vary depending on the specific country, the industry, and the individual’s qualifications and skills.

Some of the cheapest countries to live and work in Europe include Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, and Romania. These countries offer cheaper living costs, ease of the visa process, and potential for job prospects.

What are the visa requirements for living in these countries?

Generally, people commonly use three types of visas for long-term stays in EU countries. These are:

Short-Term Schengen Visa: A visa allowing an individual to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within 180 days. However, it does not grant the right to live and work in the Schengen Area for an extended period.

Long-Stay Visa (Type D Visa): A country’s national visa allows you to remain longer than 90 days. This visa’s criteria vary per nation and depend on your purpose of stay—work, study, family reunification, or retirement.

Residence Permit: A residence permit is typically required for long-term stays in European countries. The residence permit requirements can differ based on the country and the applicant’s circumstances.

Are there any cultural challenges when moving to an affordable European country?

Yes, moving to an affordable European country can have some cultural challenges, especially for individuals from different backgrounds. These are:

  • Language barrier
  • Social norms and customs
  • Work culture
  • Social interactions
  • Bureaucracy
  • Cuisine and eating habits

How can I find affordable housing in these countries?

Finding affordable housing in these countries can be challenging, but there are several ways to find cheap options.

  • Research rental markets
  • Local real estate agents
  • Expatriate communities

Are there any hidden costs to consider when living in an affordable country?

When living in an affordable country, there may be some hidden costs to consider. These are:

  • Taxes
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Utilities


Living in affordable EU countries can provide various benefits, from a lower cost of living to a better quality of life.

Whether you’re looking to retire, work remotely, or enjoy a new adventure, there are many reasons to consider living in these countries.

When living in these cheaper countries, you can have more disposable income and a lower cost of living. It can provide a better work-life balance, allowing you to enjoy leisure time and pursue hobbies and interests.

Remember that while affordability is crucial, it’s also essential to consider other factors such as safety, job opportunities, cultural fit, and quality of life when choosing a country to live in.

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