11 Safest & Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

If you’re a digital nomad, travel influencer, explorer, retiree, or simply someone who wants to experience life through travel, I’m sure you are always in search of budget-friendly destinations. 

Starting with Asia is a good choice, as I did, but once you’ve explored it thoroughly, welcome to Europe, the second destination of choice for backpackers and retirees! There are many economical places to travel in Europe, so worry not!

Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

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This blog is all about telling you how I spent 2.6 years on budget-friendly European vacations, exploring the towns and cities of the continent. Hence, I balanced my work, and exploration, saved money, and, above all, had an amazing experience to cherish.

Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

1. Bulgaria

  • Population: 6,669,258
  • Cost of living of a single person: €947
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €404.11
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €208
  • Three-course meal for 2€38.36
  • Currency: Bulgarian lev

Bulgaria, being a neighbor of Romania with its modern Soviet influence on towns, 200 km of beaches, and impressive mountains is always associated as one of the most affordable European countries to reside in.

I found the best thing about Bulgaria is its commute, you don’t need to travel an hour to get somewhere, and everything is really close. And, the grocery price is half of what you’ll find in other EU countries. And, yes, the weather, you experience all four!

Architecturally, Sofia the capital city is so rich. I guarantee you’ll love clicking pictures with the Roman Ottoman buildings, Byzantine buildings, and courtyards. Also, if you’re a USA citizen you can reside here for up to 90 days with a regular tourist passport.

Bulgaria being one of the cheapest countries of the European Union has become home to many digital nomads and retirees. Soniya, my friend who is a digital nomad works at one of the premium co-working spaces – CO&WO Coworking café in Sofia and had immense fun! 

She puts so much of photos of her partying in Varna, exploring the Sea Garden, taking a historic walk across the cobbled streets of Plovdiv, or having Banitsa and Boza for dinner with a retiree’s couple at Veliko Tarnovo. What a life at an affordable cost!

Tips:

  • Use the “SPARK” app for shared car
  • Monthly public transport pass
  • Have healthy yogurt, flavourful fruits and vegetables
  • English is widely spoken
  • If you’re in Bulgaria in July, check out the Wake Up Creative Festival. There are other functions and exciting cultural meet-ups
Castle, Bulgaria
Castle, Bulgaria

2. Romania

  • Population: 19,819,540
  • Cost of living of a single person: €947
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €404.11
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): € 208.08
  • Three-course meal for 2€38.36
  • Currency: Romanian leu

Romania is a dream destination for backpackers, digital nomads, retirees, and explorers who are looking for opportunities on a small budget. I spent 2 months here and fell in love with its mouth-watering food, garden terrace, and, ahh! Coffee. Check out some great coffee shops in Romania!

I was in this beautiful Balkan Country in 2021, and my average monthly expenses were $1,500. I was staying in Bucharest, the capital city, with my income at the time of USD 650 per month. I explored the city every weekend, traveled to towns, ate outside on Sundays, and managed to save money as well.

Your dream of living at the low cost of living in Europe can come true here! Some days, I worked from a small hotel terrace in Transylvania, soaking in the warm sun and breathing in the fresh air. On holidays I made plans with friends to climb the Carpathian Mountains and explore. 

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I also stayed at Floreasca, which I found to be the most affordable place, as it was near Herastrau Park and Circus Park. Moreover, the internet speed here was excellent! The adult population will love visiting churches or soaking in the sun at Constanta.

Sibiel Village
Sibiel Village

3. Lithuania

  • Population: 2,711,529
  • Cost of living of single person: €1100
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €670.34
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €334.67
  • Three-course meal for 2€48.21
  • Currency: Euro

When two budget digital nomads, Soniya and I, decided to travel together and live a nomadic lifestyle in one of the cheapest countries in Europe, we chose Lithuania. It is the largest of the Baltic States, with beaches, national parks, and the opportunity to explore Vilnius city and relax in Klaipeda, among other things. 

While we were in Kaunas, we loved the public transport connectivity. We even had a conversation with the owner of our hotel, who mentioned that real estate prices were very affordable, and children from lower-income groups also received free education facilities.  

Its location close to Central Europe gives you more chances to explore the surrounding areas and return on the same day. On the weekends, we also visited Druskininkai, amid pristine nature, to relax and enjoy a rejuvenating spa.

Some offbeat destinations in Lithuania are our all-time favorites. When we posted photos on Instagram, they received hundreds of likes within an hour. I would suggest exploring Cepkiliai Marsh, Plateliai Lake, and Vente Cape.

Kaunas City
Kaunas City

4. Croatia

  • Population: 4,002,697
  • Cost of living of single person: €1100
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €492.83
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €315.95
  • Three-course meal for 2: €38.51
  • Currency: Euro

Among all the countries in the EU, Croatia is one of the dream destinations for those who want to live an affordable European lifestyle along the Adriatic shores. The best part is that you can obtain a one-year temporary residence permit without an expensive visa.

During my stay in Croatia, I remember spending my weekend afternoons swimming in the crystal-clear waters, sipping a glass of Croatian red wine, and enjoying the vistas. Luckily, I was in Dubrovnik in February and didn’t have to contend with the crowds of tourists. During the summer, this place becomes crowded because everyone wants to experience the Game of Thrones lifestyle!

Long-term rentals are cheaper in both Zagreb and Split. On average, my monthly expenses in Split were around $1,400. In 2020, Forbes ranked Croatia as one of the Best Places to Retire Abroad. My food costs in the winter season in Split were approximately $315 per month. Furthermore, transportation costs on buses are quite affordable, ranging from $5 to $8.

Croatia is one of the cheapest European countries for expats, as they can take full advantage of public healthcare insurance facilities. Also, in 2023, Croatia became a member of Europe’s Schengen Area, which increases the chances for Americans to explore the country and 26 other European countries without a visa.

Krka River
Krka River

5. Latvia

  • Population: 1,824,875
  • Cost of living of single person: €1000
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €444.22
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €218.25
  • Three-course meal for 2: €48.21
  • Currency: Euro

Latvia is one of the budget-friendly European destinations for retirees and travel entrepreneurs whose business is completely online. It boasts open-minded locals and numerous places to explore. Also, this European country offers affordable healthcare facilities which is the biggest draw for old people.

You’ll love residing in the medieval city of Riga, which is full of pubs, restaurants, and an Old Town vibe. Half of Latvia’s surroundings remain unexplored; therefore, if you’re a travel influencer, you have a higher chance of loving this place. I remember I used to spend my evenings watching shows at the National Opera House.

On average, my monthly cost of living, excluding house rent, was $1,100. However, I want you to know that Latvia’s weather is unpredictable, and it’s better not to come here in winter if you cannot tolerate the cold. Additionally, there are many hospitality job opportunities in Riga, making it a good option for work.

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I have been to Jurmala, a coastal town with plenty of greenery and ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. You can also consider coming to Liepaja for its gorgeous beaches and Cesis for a peaceful living environment. These towns in Latvia are the cheapest places to live in Europe that comfortably speak English.

Latvia at night
Latvia at night

6. Slovakia

  • Population: 5,770,200
  • Cost of living of single person: €1100
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €609.04
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €419.95
  • Three-course meal for 2: €38.57
  • Currency: Euro

Being a female solo traveler, I’ve never felt so safe and secure on the streets of Slovakia, even at night. It is not only one of the most inexpensive European cities but also safe for solo travelers. Here, you’ll experience postcard-perfect landscapes, modern amenities, and a rich history to delve into!

The offices in the countryside also offer views of serene nature. I have met so many remote workers, freelancers, and creative souls here. We had a group, and some days we used to plan outdoor activities in the High Tatras or visit the Cicmany village to see the painted houses or the town of Banská Štiavnica.

The economy of Slovakia is growing rapidly, and I believe you should consider residing here to enjoy its benefits. Though it’s a socialist state, its economy is completely privatized. There is plenty to do here; some days, come to Slovensky Raj National Park to enjoy the gorgeous waterfalls and natural beauty.

Tatra mountains
Tatra mountains

7. Portugal

  • Population: 10,467,366
  • Cost of living of single person: €1200
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €1,312.65
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €463.43
  • Three-course meal for 2: €42.89
  • Currency: Euro

If you want to retire in Western Europe on a budget and enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate, Portugal is the place for you to live in. I was in Braga in the north for 20 days and then moved to Porto for 3 days before flying out of the country.  

I haven’t explored Lisbon much, but I dream of coming back again. However, I explored Braga and loved every bit of it. So, Braga is one of the cheap European cities for students, and my cousin got admitted to the University of Minho, so we were there. I saw fewer tourists and a lot of students.  

Together, we booked a one-bedroom apartment, which cost us around $410 a month, and on average, we spent $26 daily on food. On weekends, we used to explore the Gothic Manueline Cathedral, Biscainhos museums, gardens, and much more.

Portugal, Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe
Portugal

8. Montenegro

  • Population: 626,485
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €564.86
  • Average real estate price: €1800(per square meter)
  • Three-course meal for 2: €42-45

Montenegro often referred to as the “pearl of Europe,” sits between Albania and Croatia. However, it’s not part of the EU; hence, they use the euro as their currency. Here, you’ll experience life close to mountains, valleys, and rivers on a shoestring budget. It’s also a great destination for family budget travel in Europe.  

The laid-back lifestyle and slow pace of life are what make nomads choose this place. However, you’ll find that many people do not understand English. Moreover, another good aspect is that after the tourist season, the crowds vanish, vendors disappear, and there’s more clean air to enjoy.

Montenegro
Montenegro

9. Hungary

  • Population: 9,797,561
  • Cost of living of single person: €930
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €410.44
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €282.39
  • Three-course meal for 2: €36.29
  • Currency: Hungarian forint

I was in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, for 8 months and worked in the hospitality industry. Trust me; I explored the town inside and out. In exchange for 1 US Dollar, I got 309 HUF; yes, they use the Forint (HUF) as their currency.  

My monthly living expenses, including rent, dining out at fancy restaurants six times a month, transportation, and entertainment, amounted to $1,500. For a month, I used to get 8 kg of pork, chicken, bread, fish, fruits, and some snacks, which used to cost me 17,567 HUF.  

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On average, here you’ll find homes that cost around £124,721, but the best part is that this European country has no limitations on the purchase of real estate, and the prices of houses are quite affordable. In the eastern part, especially in Miskolc or Debrecen, you’ll find beautiful, affordable properties

During the weekends, you have a great opportunity to sit in one of the coffee shops with a book and read. That’s what I used to do. Sometimes I used to visit bars with my colleagues or explore castles with them. I don’t even remember how much time I spent sitting by the Danube River or in lush green valleys, reading books.

10. Spain

  • Population: 47,519,628
  • Cost of living of single person: €1,000
  • Average monthly rent in city center (1 bedroom): €947. 86
  • Average real estate price (per square foot): €4456.01
  • Three-course meal for 2: €57.87
  • Currency: Euro

It has always been my dream to dance to their Flamenco music and go on a walking tour to see the architecture. I know Spain, in Western Europe, may seem expensive, but when compared to France and Belgium, it is one of the most desirable places in Europe for retirees and many expats.

You’ll love the Mediterranean lifestyle, sipping Spanish wine and just enjoying. Again, it’s important to consider the location you’re choosing if you’re a budget traveler. I was residing in Valencia, where my monthly expenses were around $1,700 per month.

Spain is ranked as the 24th safest country in the world. However, note that if you’re planning to reside here for more than a month, it’s a good idea to learn Spanish; otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to communicate.

Also, this place attracts a lot of international students and tourists each year, making it a bit crowded. Additionally, real estate prices are rising. I recommend Spain to people who want to spend 6-7 months here.

Girona
Girona

11. Serbia

  • Population: 7,149,077
  • Cost of living of single person: €638 (without rent)
  • Average monthly rent in the city center (1 bedroom): €460
  • Three-course meal for 2: €35-45
  • Currency: Serbian Dinar

Serbia’s summer can be very disappointing because the daytime temperature reaches up to 104°F, and I made that mistake. However, my friend Soniya was here during the winter, and I saw her pictures, and I was spellbound by the Christmas decorations and spirit. It also gets chilly with a little snowfall during the winter.

I did not like it much because its economic growth is very stagnant. Initially, I was staying in Belgrade, the capital, where I found things expensive, so I decided to move to Pancevo. It was a small town, free from any bustling environment; hence, the rent, utilities, and internet expenses were way less compared to Belgrade.

Serbia Church
Serbia Church

Conclusion

Who are you? A digital nomad, a travel entrepreneur, or planning to retire? No matter who you are, if you’re looking for the cheapest countries to live in Europe, I hope this blog will guide you on what to expect and where to go.

FAQ: Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

1. Which European countries have low education expenses?

A. Germany is known for its low education expenses, but I would recommend considering Poland because it is less crowded than Germany, and tuition costs are also affordable still varying from college to college. Moreover, the accommodation cost in Poland is around €400 to €700 per month.

2. Which European countries have the lowest housing costs?

A. You can consider Latvia, another Baltic country, where, on average, a three-bedroom apartment costs €500 to €580. If you choose an apartment away from the city center, it will be 20% cheaper. Healthcare costs are also budget-friendly, ranging from €480 to €560 per month. Utility expenses are around €100, making it one of the most affordable countries to live in.

3. Are there any European countries with low taxes for residents?

A. Bulgaria imposes a 10% flat tax rate on personal and corporate income. It has become a hub for IT professionals, making it a hotspot for software development. It is expected that the country’s economy will see a revenue increase of $9.2 billion by 2025.

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