If you’re looking for the cheapest countries to live in Europe then I have the answer for you, having travelled all around Europe over the past 20 years or so.
As a budget traveller (hence the name Backpackingman) I’m always on the lookout for cheap places to travel and the cheapest places to live, in this case, the cheapest countries to live in Europe.
In doing that I can also share my “knowledge” to help out others, like yourself, in making decisions on where to travel to and live on a budget. Or even how to travel to more expensive countries but travel them reasonably cheaply.
Although the main cities of these countries, especially the capitals, are cheaper than other European countries to live in, it’s when you get to the smaller towns and cities that you find the cost of living cheaper.
The other thing is, even if it’s the cheapest country in Europe to live in, doesn’t necessarily mean you will like the country more than others that might be more appealing to you.
That’s to say you have to balance the cost of living against the standard of living in each place. The cost of living is self-evident, whereas the standard of living covers everything from how good the healthcare system is to the standard of general happiness in the country.
Find the right combination of cost of living and standard of living, and what the country offers in terms of attractions and scenery, and you’ll be one happy ex-pat/retiree/whatever.
Thankfully the cheapest countries differ only slightly in price and I’m sure that out of the countries mentioned here you will find one to your liking.
The number one cheapest country to live in Europe is at the end of the article.
Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe
Note that when I mention apartment costs, these are generally the cheapest prices you can find and do not include the cost of utility bills.
When mentioning eating out costs those are at inexpensive restaurants.
Montenegro is easily one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe and is in a great location as well on the Adriatic Sea. It’s also a small country making it easy to get around and isn’t known as the “pearl of Europe” for no reason.
The city of Kotor is delightful and historic and the mountain scenery makes for great trekking opportunities, after which there are plenty of stunning beaches to relax on. It has it all.
The cost of living in Montenegro is very cheap by European standards and you can get by easily on $1000 a month or less for all costs.
You can eat out decently for around $5 and a one-bedroom apartment will set you back, roughly, a measly $250 a month.
Note that Montenegro is not part of the European Union yet, but it’s on the way. Also, Montenegro is surrounded by other Balkan countries like Albania to the south and other countries that I am going to mention in the article., which are also cheap to live in.
I would personally choose Montenegro out of the lot for living in on the Adriatic Sea side of things.
Bulgaria is, along with its neighbour Romania (see below), one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe, along with lots of access to nature and historic towns and cities to live in.
It has one of the lowest prices for goods such as food, where you can easily eat out for $5 a meal, and the utility bills and rent are low as well.
You can get a two-bedroom apartment for around $400 in the big cities and even cheaper in the countryside. A one-bedroom apartment costs around $300 which easily makes it one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe.
The capital Sofia has easy access to mountains and the Black Sea coast has beaches to relax on. Turkey and Greece are its neighbours to the south giving close access to ancient historic cities like Istanbul and Athens, and the stunning islands and beaches of the Aegean Sea.
Romania is one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe and has a lot to offer the ex-pat when living there. From epic nature scenery in the mountains to medieval towns and plenty of historical areas, it has something for everyone.
On top of that, it is cheap! Although slightly more expensive than Bulgaria, but not by much.
A one-bedroom apartment will set you back around $350 and eat out around an extra dollar or 2, so we’re not talking much. Although overall expect to pay say an extra $150 a month on average than Bulgaria.
There is only one obvious “downside”, (obvious when in the country that is), that I would say and that is the water quality is one of the lowest in Europe so you will most likely be buying lots of bottled water, like my friends that live in Romania do.
The best city for living in Romania, in my opinion, is the old medieval city of Brasov which is close to the mountains and has plenty of historical attractions in the city and nearby. Read 10 best things to do in Brasov.
Czechia (Czech Republic)
Ah, Prague! Prague is without a doubt one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and one of the greatest cities to live in Europe.
The rest of Czechia is also good to explore, with quaint historic small towns and cities, along with forests to hike in and a few mountainous areas.
Living outside of Prague will no doubt be cheaper and there are plenty of good alternatives like the small scenic spa city of Karlovy Vary. Having said that, if you want one of the ultimate places to live in Europe, then it has to be Prague.
The cost of a one-bedroom apartment
Czechia is also not just one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe, but also one of the safest with a high standard of living. It’s also not far from Budapest and other great cities in Europe.
And another thing, it has one of the cleanest drinking water in Europe!
Poland has been known as one of the cheapest countries in Europe to live in for quite some time now.
It’s a very cheap country to live in and also has a high standard of living as well, making it the perfect balance between the two. It also has access to lots of forests, mountains, and historic sites.
The cost of a one-bedroom apartment is roughly $450 a month so rent is a little bit pricier than in some other countries listed here but is still cheap compared with other countries in Europe, although eating out is roughly the same as an inexpensive meal will cost around $6.
Slovenia is a little gem of a country by the Adriatic sea and bordering Croatia to the south, Italy to the west, Austria to the north, and Hungary to the east.
It’s a perfect location to live in Europe with mountains, lakes, forests, and coast and is small in size, making it easy to get to places. The capital of Ljubljana is one of the most delightful capital cities in Europe and Bled is only around a 1-hour drive away where you get easy access to nature.
The cost for a one-bedroom apartment is roughly $350 a month and eating out at a cheap place will set you back around $7.
Lake Bled is also one of the most scenic lakes in Europe to visit and you can also rent an apartment near it if you don’t want to live in the city.
Budapest is one of the greatest capital cities in Europe and Hungary as a whole is one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe. I spent 2 months living in Budapest and loved it there, in fact, it’s one of my favourite cities out of 90 countries visited.
First of all, there is lots of nature to explore outside of the cities, but the real gem of the country is Budapest.
In Budapest, you have a high standard of living at a reasonable cost and there are gorgeous natural thermal hot springs housed in Romanesque style buildings for you to relax in.
On top of that, it has an epic castle that overlooks the city, and the old part of the city has an excellent coffee shop and bar scene.
You can get a one-bedroom apartment for around $500 a month in a decent location and eat out for around $7 a meal at an inexpensive place.
Slovakia is a country next to Czechia, Hungary, and Poland and has a lot to offer if you live there. There are excellent hiking trails in the mountains and loads of historical places like castles to explore.
It’s a little bit pricier than neighbouring Hungary but not by much and has a higher standard of living than them. A one-bedroom apartment is around $400 a month and eating out around $10.
$1000 a month and you’ll be living good in Slovakia.
If you’re interested in a slightly different vibe than some of the more central European and southern European places to live in, then check out Latvia in the Baltic.
The medieval city of Riga is an excellent place to live as it’s not just beautiful and full of history, but also small in size, making it feel more like a town in parts.
If you like the idea of living near lots of mountains then Latvia is not for you, but its relaxing coastline with its beaches is perfect in the warmer months to relax. An added bonus is they love saunas there!
A one-bedroom apartment will be around $400 a month and eating out around $8.
Latvia is also a great choice if you like the idea of living not that far from Finland but with much cheaper living costs.
Bonus Country – Portugal
Out of all the western European countries, Portugal is the cheapest country to live in. I’ve added it as an extra ‘bonus’ country to check out as technically it’s not as cheap as some other countries that I could also include here, but, as noted, is the cheapest western European country to live in, if that was of interest to you.
On top of that, Portugal truly is a stunning country to live in and is situated on the Atlantic Ocean with some of the best beaches in Europe and easy access to Morocco just across the sea.
I haven’t lived there myself but have visited and enjoyed my time there. I do have plenty of friends living in Portugal though and they told me the costs of living are decent and it’s a good place to live.
A one-bedroom apartment would set you back around $450 a month on average and eat out around $7-10 at an inexpensive place.
Note that the main cities of Lisbon and Porto are quite pricey in comparison with other cities/towns in the country, so if you like the idea of living in western Europe cheaply then head to Portugal, but live somewhere outside of the main cities for a cheaper life, where you can get by for around $1000 a month for everything.
Portugal is also one of the safest countries in Europe to live in.
Cheapest European Country to Live In:
It breaks my heart to say it, given the current war situation in Ukraine, but Ukraine is out of all the cheapest countries to live in Europe, the cheapest European country to live in overall, and not because of the war, it was that way beforehand.
I lived in Kyiv, the capital, for several months in 2015-2016 and it was very cheap to live there and is one of the best cities in Europe I have been to.
The Ukrainians are very welcoming people and Kyiv has a vibrant scene of coffee shops and bars, especially in the summer the parks and outdoor spaces in the city come to life in such a fun way.
I rented a 2 bedroom apartment with a large living room in a historic part of the city centre for $400 a month.
As an example, the equivalent location and size of an apartment in Amsterdam would cost around $2000. I lived in Amsterdam for 13 years and loved it, but would not recommend it for budget living.
Eating out is very cheap and there are plenty of great value restaurants all around the city. Even sushi is very popular in Kyiv and can be found in many places.
Living in Europe
So if you’re planning on living in Europe for a while and looking for some good cheap countries to live in then these 10 of the cheapest countries to live in Europe will help you with that decision.
For more budget travel advice take a look at 25 of the cheapest countries to travel to.
For more information on travel in Europe take a look at my Europe guides.
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