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Best Of Europe...

7 best cheap european countries for aspiring american expats

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How to Travel Europe On a Budget For a Year Or More With Only $15K

How would you like to make the sweetest joys in life an everyday occurrence? Where picnics in Parisian gardens and strolls along the most romantic rivers, or evenings lost underneath the shadows of Earth's most spectacular architecture...

This is Europe!.

And what if this cobblestone majestic living only costed you $500 a month in rent? 

What if all that was asked of you was a little might, courage and saying yes to faith in yourself to make any place your home?

That's exactly what this ultimate guide to cheap european countries is going to reveal to you today. And I speak from first-hand experience!

It was my own quest back in 2015 for a life outside of problematic America that had me wondering...

Which country TRULY has the best quality of life…

Which countries have the best health care for all…

Where in the world can you wake up to the most beautiful cities daily…

Which country eats the most flavorful healthiest food by default and enjoys the world's finest wines…

Someone please just tell me...where is THE GOOD LIFE simply just their way of life!

Well, the contnent of Europe ticked all these boxes in a year-long research obsession. I've poured hours upon hours into Global Index rankings, local newspapers dating back to 2006, scientific health name it, I've read it. All so that you don't have to.

But! There's just one thing I know you're thinking.

Europe? Yeah right! "I wish"

Well, maybe you haven't realized or simply can't believe it: Europe my dear friend, can be far more affordable than you might ever imagine.

Letitia Elizabeth Europe Traveling Blogger Smiling in White Frock

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The European  Continent is a never-ending feast for your soul, your mind, your body, and of course as many love affairs and romance novels have proven to us...your heart.

La dolce vita siestas, people watching afternoons at local cafés, Michelin-starred dates out on the town… museum hopping with Rembrandt and Picasso...making new friends at centuries-old festivals… Instagram-worthy bookstores towering with spiral staircases… fashion houses and farmers markets oh my!

All in a setting of architectural delights and ancient grounds of all our ancestors.

This is not a contest. There is no competition. Hands down Europe takes all. Though this land of greatness also has its fair share of many political, religious, and economical grievances, it is still the best place in the world to this day to seek out what qualifies as a life full of richness, awe, splendor, and sheer fullness in every facet.


Perhaps the most surprising part of it all, is that almost every country in this glorious region of the world has a myriad of cities and glorious villages or perfectly magical countrysides available to YOU right now for far less cost than you might imagine it costs.

Some of the best of it is even free including, a lot of the times, education and health care. Particularly once you've become a resident.

Fancy starting a business without paying tax?

Dream of owning an Italian villa for only one dollar?

How about a gourmet three-course meal for less than your total morning breakfast bill at Starbucks?

The point is that you don't need to deny or delay your dreams of a brand new life in Europe if the main reason is you’re worried you can’t afford it. Europe, quite frankly, can be a downright bargain!

Who hasn’t dreamed of that moment we've all heard of and envied where you storm into your boss' office and call it quits?

It doesn't require trust fund-level privilege. I know that's what you may think. I can see you rolling your eyes now. Mostly because the average American could never dare dream of such an impulsive act of rebellion when everyone is living paycheck-to-paycheck in a boring American neighborhood, living to work instead of working to live.

Guess what? You absolutely can live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for only $900, $1,000 or even just under $1,200 per month in cheap European countries spanning thanks to “geoarbitrage.” 

Geoarbitrage is a fancy schmancy word that represents taking advantage of differences in currency value and the cost of living in other countries.

So! If you've been meaning to get the heck out of your home country and hop or skip over to another one in Europe, and if you have an open-mind with a sense of adventure for international living, then it's your lucky day. This guide is for you.

First I just have to say, you may be hard pressed to believe my claims so far. Which is why I had my assistant do triple-checked research for 2021 data just to share with you today. And I can empathize with any skepticism trust me. I was in the same place mentally. 

And that's because most blogs or travel magazines out there will tell you to add $30k to your savings before you even book a ticket to Europe for a few months or a year, and that is just ridiculous. For some reason they want us all to believe that Bali or Bangkok are the only places cheap enough to move to. 

There are a lot of tips from different people regarding how much money one should have in order to travel long-term and feel the same sense of comfort they're accustomed to. 

You 100% do not have to have a lot of money. So I want to encourage you by sharing exactly how I have not only researched but lived it myself first-hand that $15K a year or less is realistic and possible. 

I certainly didn’t have twenty or thirty grand with us when leaving the U.S. Actually, there was not even two thousand in my account. What I had was hundreds only, and a rich desire to work online and see the world.

Yes, it's true that while the economic crisis has hurt every country, there are still a few European nations where families and individuals can live comfortably on $800 to $1,200 per month all-inclusive.

Browsing through photos of Europe on Pinterest and Instagram used to be one of my favorite ways to pass time in winter. 

I imagined myself sitting by an Alpine lake or walking the cobblestone streets of a French countryside village. Life there looked so romantic!

So I've recently been researching other affordable places in Europe for expats outside of the countries I personally have chosen to move to this year. After all, life abroad, whether it's five weeks or five years, never hurts your résumé or your pocket if you plan accordingly.

The average American thinks of Europe as a place where you take a two-week vacation, staying at fancy hotels, and eating at expensive restaurants. But there are also cheap countries to live in. My version of expat life is all about making the most out of your money.

Now while some of these places below may not be your fantasy destinations, they are still intriguing and an absolute fantastic jumping off point for your move abroad! 

Plus their relatively low cost gives me hope that someday soon, I could make my dream come true of permanent residency + global entrepreneurship a reality.

Plan carefully beforehand

As much as Europe is more integrated, planning your travels around different countries can be daunting. You must take into account the various visa costs or need for the proper currency exchange.

However, with a little bit of reading + research, you can determine how much it will cost to visit many countries in Europe on what I call Scouting Trips until you find your perfect one to settle in. 

Look at day-to-day expenses such as public transportation, food, and accommodation so that you don't spend more money than you can afford.

It may sound hard, but trust me when I say this, it is well worth the effort if you plan ahead of time!

Which European Country Is Right For American Expat?

So, you're an aspiring American expat planning to live and work in Europe. 

Is your plan to take the plunge for a year or two of work abroad and then return to your home country? Is your plan to stay long enough to gain residency or even citizenship? Do you want to get married and have kids with a European? Is your dream lofty and you want all of the above? Let's do it then!

The first step to planning a Scouting Trip and eventual relocation as an expat or digital nomad is to decide which country you want to visit. 

But what are the factors that will help you determine which European country to visit? 

Here's my quick guide:

Affordable housing: Sure, it might seem fun to stay in a castle on a hill overlooking historic vineyards. But you'll need to consider the cost of rent for decent housing. 

Inexpensive food: No matter how much or little you have, you still want to save some money for recreation, entertainment, travel expenses, and yes, even for food!  You can't live on bread alone, and cheaper carbohydrates don't mean better nutrition.

A healthy standard of living: It's essential to afford adequate nutrition, primary healthcare, and modest social life. 

Fair exchange rate: Of course, since so many of you are coming from the U.S., this is something to consider.

Easy travel/ease of movement: Sure, it's a pain in the neck to have to go through customs every time you cross into another country. But really, isn't that an investment in a better life? It really shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes to move into another country with practice. 

Let's Talk About Quality Of Life

What do you have in mind? A job? Love? A place to work on your photography skills, with the only distraction being the sound of waves crashing onto the beach or how a river gurgles as it flows through the valley?

An excellent lifestyle, culture, food, and general experience as you travel around Europe indefinitely? You probably want to spend less than $1000 per month.

For every traveler, this can be one of the main reasons to go there. But for those traveling on a budget, quality of life can be an issue. After all, what are you going to do when your money runs out, and you don't have the funds to pay high prices? The crucial thing is to live cheaply in Europe without having a poor quality of life.

A Better Quality Of Life 

In many cities in Europe, the cost of living is cheap, but you will have to pay for a lot of things which in other countries are free. Housing, electrical bills, water bills, and even the internet are not as inexpensive as most people would expect them to be. The good news, though, is that there are ways you can reduce the costs significantly with just a few minor adjustments. In Europe, you can live at a high standard for less if you know where to look.

Quality of life is very subjective, and what may be a deal-breaker for one person can be a non-issue to another. What matters is that you're happy with the choice you have made and if it's worth it for you to spend more money.

Cost Of Living in European Cities

This is possibly one of the greatest benefits of living in a eastern European city. You get most of the secrets of traveling without spending too much, even when it comes to luxuries such as fine dining or great hotels. It's common knowledge now that Europeans generally pay less for things than Americans do in tons of places along the Mediterranean or Balkans.

Mini-Guide On How To Move To Europe On A Budget

Set A Plan On Where To Go And How Much Time To Spend In One Place

This is important because otherwise, you'll end up spending money in one place without moving onto other points. Having a plan will force you to stay within the budget.

When planning a budget trip, the most important thing is setting realistic goals about where we will go and how much time I plan on spending in each location?

Visiting too many places at once will cost more than it should since you'll need accommodation either way. Trying to be everywhere at once won't work, so try to pick just one favorite place to travel to. 

How much should I budget? How much do I need? These are essential questions you want your trip to be as affordable as possible.

Get A Travel Credit Card Before You Leave

While the idea of getting a credit card might be scary at first, it can save you money on your trip. You'll have more options for shopping and entertainment and also not paying too much in exchange fees when using other currencies.

It also gives you access to an emergency line if something happens while traveling, like theft or accident, which would give you a temporary replacement while you call the bank and cancel your card.

Choose To Travel Slowly To Be Able To Save Money

There are lots of ways to cut down the cost of your trip. By choosing a slower way to travel, you will be able to save money. Traveling slowly means passing through each place for a longer time and exploring more at your own pace.

You can spend less money during that time since you'd have a chance to find cheaper alternative housing. For example: staying with an Airbnb host instead of booking through hotels.

If you prefer the alternative way of camping or staying in cheap hostels, then that's best. Hostels are more affordable than many hotels.

The more we hurry, the more money we'll spend. We'll end up paying for our haste in accommodation costs and transportation fares.

Travel Where You Do Not Need A PCR Test

A PCR can be useful, but it will cost you money, so if you can avoid that, then do it. Try to pick countries that don't require those entry tests. It'll cost you between 50 and 100 dollars depending on the country you're traveling to. In some cases, it might be cheaper to stay there than go through all the trouble of obtaining such test results.

Pack Everything You Need Before You Leave

It's almost absurd to think that some people spend a lot of money traveling and then spend even more on buying the stuff they forgot at home. Make sure you pack everything from hiking boots to clothing and toiletries before leaving for your trip.

Don't waste money on buying things you forgot. Some people like to purchase many different fun hair accessories from the souvenir shops at the airport. Maybe it's just me, but it's too expensive for me to justify spending $5-$10 on little pieces of plastic and metal.

Now drum roll please...

Where in the world can I live on 600-950 a month? Is it even possible!

List Of European Countries That You Can Travel On A Budget

The Nordic countries are often named as the most desirable place to live in the world. The reason is simple: life has significantly improved for the poorest people there, while inequality has been reduced dramatically during the past 50 years.

This is due to robust social security systems and high taxation combined with significant public investments in education, health care, and child care. The result is an equal society where there are fewer poor people than America is used to.

The Nordic countries top the list of most desirable places to live for several reasons:

Taxation may be high, but services are world-class, and you get what you pay for. There's no stress or high crime to worry about as everyone generally gets on with each other regardless of class, race, or religion.

The most noticeable differences in everyday life are the free healthcare and education systems which are second to none.

And it's easy to see why multiculturalism is celebrated there; nowhere is this more apparent than in the larger cities with a noticeable immigrant population.

For these reasons and many more, maybe like some of you who have already been researching your escape plan, Scandinavia was HIGH on my list of relocation. In fact after many books purchased, it made it to my TOP 3. But alas, it's ridiculously expensive. Not to mention competitive because they are so darn great. So unless you do have that five digit savings account as mentioned before, you'll need a softer place to land. And I've got the list for you!

Here Is Our List Of Cheaper European Countries That You Will Love

This list is based on the cost of accommodation, food, utilities, phone/internet, travel within the city, and Visas. So as a quick recap:

Crime and safety. How safe is it where you're moving? Note: This will vary from city to city or even neighborhood to neighborhood, so make sure you check out your area!

Cost of living. This includes the cost of rent for an apartment in a good neighborhood, utilities, and other expenses.

Healthcare. How much will your monthly health care cost? How much will you pay for prescriptions and dental work?

Taxes. Income tax, VAT, property tax, etc. These are all taxes that people pay in every country. 

If you're coming from the U.S., you should know that some European countries do not speak English. Obviously. So learning a few words or basic phrases in the local language is not only polite, but it can help make your stay more enjoyable and rewarding. 

If you're planning to live in Europe for years like I am, you need to learn the local language as many people do.

Top 8 Inexpensive European Countries Where You Can Live For $600 - $1200 A Month Or Less:


Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $364
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $446
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $83
Internet: $23
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $28
Movie Ticket: $11
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $21,143
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $177
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $275
Global Peace Index Score: 1.8
This country is perfect for people looking to retire or take a break from their regular life in America. The country has many beaches and warm weather all year long, making it an ideal destination for Americans looking to move abroad.

In Albania, the average meal costs around $13, and 1-bedroom apartments rent for about $300 per month in Tirana's capital city. This makes Albania one of the most affordable countries in all of Europe. In addition, Albanian culture is similar to American culture, making it easy for people to adapt to their new lifestyle.

Food is cheap, and restaurants can cost as little as three bucks a meal. As an example of how cheap life is in Albania, try finding a cup of coffee at Starbucks; it will only cost you about $2.

Transportation is difficult because of the lack of public means, so you'll have to rely on taxis or hitchhiking. As far as visas go, if you overstay your visa by even one day, they will not let you back into the country for five years! So please plan carefully and renew your visa before it's due!

Albania is one of the cheapest places to live in Europe, offering cheap transport, food, and accommodation for backpackers and low-budget travelers, but it is not a tourist hot spot. 
Albania is now becoming popular with expatriates from Western countries looking for a cheap place to live in the pristine countryside. 

Tallinn, Estonia

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $653
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $754
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $216
Internet: $28
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $58
Movie Ticket: $9
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $23,478
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $308
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $1553
Global Peace Index Score: 1.6

This is one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe and has an excellent quality of life. The cost of living in Estonia also makes it an ideal place for travelers looking to practice their language skills.
Lifetime Tax-free Earning Potential Index: 87.1% 

The average price of a meal in Estonia is $10, and rent for an apartment costs about $350 to $400 per month--cheaper than most other European countries. If you're looking for somewhere to work as well, Estonia also has many great jobs available. The country's unemployment rate is meager, and it also boasts the best quality of life in the European Union.

The currency is the euro, although they use their local currency (the kroon) for small transactions such as buying metro tickets. 

In general, it's just not worth using cash there due to high sales taxes. You'll need to get a residence permit which costs about $70 depending on your length of stay. 

Estonia is very cold in the winter so pack your warm clothes if you go there, it gets freezing! Visa-free travel through most of Europe makes this country very attractive!

Riga, Latvia

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $523
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $651
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $205
Internet: $17
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $9
Movie Ticket: $9
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $23478
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $377
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $933
Global Peace Index Score: 1.7
It's one of the most affordable cities in Europe for American expats. Its small size also makes it easier to travel around compared to larger countries like France and Italy. Riga has been named Europe's Best Value Destination, so if you're looking for a place where you can get the most for your money, Riga is the place.

While Riga is one of the cheapest places to live in Europe, it still has a great selection of restaurants and nightlife. The average price for a meal out in Riga is only $12. This is significantly lower than other European cities, such as London and Barcelona.

The average monthly rent is $500 to $600 for a one-bedroom apartment downtown. However, there are many cheaper neighborhoods than this if you'd like to avoid living in the center city. It's easy to find work there, and visas are easy to acquire if you're from the E.U.

The main downside is that it's cold there most of the year, so be prepared to wear multiple layers when going out! Healthcare in Latvia is free, and the country has national health insurance, so you can quickly get healthcare if you need it. 

Lisbon, Portugal

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $858
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $1103
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $121
Internet: $35
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $9
Movie Ticket: $17
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $26554
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $439
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $2215
Global Peace Index Score: 1.2
From the first time I arrived in Portugal, I was hooked. There is definitely a chill vibe going on here, something that's hard to find in other Western European countries.

While you can live very well in Europe for $1,000 a month, it's possible to live even cheaper in Portugal than most other places on this list. To live a comfortable lifestyle for around $800 in Portugal, you need to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the suburbs of Lisbon.

If you have more money to spend and want to enjoy life, even more, you should look into renting an apartment along the coast or living in a big city like Porto, the second most popular destination in the country.
If food and transportation are your only concerns, you can live for around $600 to $700 a month. A monthly travel pass will cost $50-60.

Nicosia, Cyprus

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $538
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $787
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $136
Internet: $33
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: 45
Movie Ticket: $9
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $18700
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $344
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $1954
Global Peace Index Score: 1.9
Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It's only about twice the size of Washington D.C. It's a short flight away from almost anywhere in Europe, including London and Rome. Because of its location and size, getting around on public transportation like buses and trains is very easy compared to other European countries.

The award-winning beaches in Cyprus are a definite draw for tourists. However, you might want to avoid the beaches in August, when they're busy with tourists. The prices of hotels and flights during this season can be significantly higher than at other times of the year. If you're looking to save money on your trip, then avoid them.

If you're looking for low rent, Nicosia is the best choice in Cyprus because it has the lowest rents in the country. 

The great thing about traveling to Cyprus is that you can easily get to Turkey and Greece without changing a lot of planes.

Podgorica, Montenegro

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $385
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $504
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $124
Internet: $26
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $25
Movie Ticket: $3
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $23,478
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $201
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $731
Global Peace Index Score: 1.9
Montenegro is a country in Southeast Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. Due to its affordability and pleasant climate, Montenegro has been rated one of the best destinations for American travelers to visit. Many people say that Montenegro is like no other place they've visited in Europe. 

Being one of the cheapest countries in the European Union, Montenegro is also known for its beauty. The country has a coastline consists of beaches and small towns. It's an excellent place for people who want to experience various activities while on vacation, such as hiking, swimming, and water sports.

Montenegro's capital city, Podgorica, is also very cheap for American travelers. The average monthly rent in the center of Podgorica is $400 for a one-bedroom apartment. This makes it about half cheaper than the center of Riga and London.

The country has an abundant selection of great restaurants to choose from with a blend of Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. Prices are also cheaper overall when compared to countries such as Italy and France.

Rome, Italy

Rent for One Bedroom in the City Center: $1124
Rent for a Three-Bedroom Outside City Center: $1433
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $211
Internet: $35
Diner Out at midrange Restaurant: $70
Movie Ticket: $8
Cost of New Volkswagen Golf: $28174
All-Day Day Care at Preschool: $513
Per Capita Healthcare Spending: $2,989
Global Peace Index Score: 1.6
For Americans, Italy is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Unfortunately, many tourists are drawn to the country because of its ancient buildings and famous landmarks. So it's not going to get cheaper any time soon.

Although Italy may be too expensive for Americans looking to retire abroad, teenagers looking for an affordable vacation with friends should consider visiting. An average meal in Italy costs around $20, but there are many food markets where you can buy fresh produce for just a few dollars.

Italy is home to several of the world's best lakes and beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, making it a great summer destination for young people who want to relax and have fun in the sun. In terms of living costs, renting an apartment in Italy's city centers such as Rome can be extremely expensive. But I wanted to include Rome as the example to show that even on the planet's oldest city, you can still be surrounded by magic and unmatched culture for less than you're paying now.

Living costs in Italy vary depending on which city you choose to live in. And my advice if you're dreaming of la dolce vita for under $1,000 is to head off to the countryside!

The Best Part: 

The question of whether or not you can live on $1200 per month depends mainly on which city you're looking to settle in. Prices between smaller and larger towns vary greatly, even within the same country. 

As a digital nomad, you'll need to get a digital nomad visa and driving license linked with your id card. The digital nomad visa allows you to travel between 30 countries without any problem for one year.
So now there is no need to apply for a tourist visa or work permit before traveling to other countries, and authorities can't stop you from traveling to their countries.

This visa is used in countries in the Schengen Region (the 26 E.U. Member States, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) and Canada and many other 'partner' countries.

Summing Up

After looking at all the information presented above, it is now your turn to make a decision. You should have an idea of some possible affordable European countries for American expats.

But where will you go? Are there any other fees involved in becoming an expat you did not think about? Which country would be best in your situation? Do you have any further questions you would like to ask or anything else to add?

If so, feel free to comment below. I will do my best to answer your questions and inform you of any other possibilities available to you! 

The choice is yours. That's all there is in this guide: The cheapest E.U. countries to travel on a budget. Save money while maintaining your current quality of life, so you can stay longer and enjoy yourself more.


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Letitia Elizabeth is the author of EUROPE NOMAD, the travel blog for daydreaming fellow travelers who love cheap countries in Europe, beautiful countrysides, and magical quality of life. Here you'll receive packing lists + guides, Europe travel tips, digital nomad working life advice & living in Europe as an American stories. Welcome!