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Travel Tuesday: The Official List of Top 10 Best Cities in Europe to Move to

A recent Travel Far and Wide study ranked key European cities by affordability, walkability, and happiness scores

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By Condé Nast Traveller Middle East | October 31, 2023 | Travel Leisure

Whether it’s to feel part of a new community, better weather, or just the thrill of a new adventure, there are lots of reasons many Brits choose to pack up their lives in Blighty and embrace the expat lifestyle.

It would appear that the idea of moving to a new country is more appealing than ever – and gone are the days when it was reserved for retired people. According to the Office for National Statistics, 557,000 UK nationals emigrated in 2022, likely in search of a better quality of living, among other things.

But where is Europe’s best place to emigrate? A recent Travel Far and Wide study might have the answer, having ranked key European cities by affordability, walkability, and happiness scores.

10. Zürich, Switzerland

Zürich secures 10th place and is the first of four Swiss cities to feature. Happiness and walkability scored top marks, but the notoriously high cost of living let the city down – the average price of a one-bed flat here costs £2,032.52, the most expensive of any top 10 destination. That said, the average monthly salary is a whooping £5,538.26, so pre-retirement expats should still have lots of spare change to experience all that Switzerland’s largest city offers.

Zürich, Switzerland. Image via Pexels.

9. Basel, Switzerland

The second Swiss destination to make the top 10 is Basel – often regarded as the cultural capital of Switzerland. The art crowds descend on the city each year for Art Basel, and there’s no shortage of stunning architecture; marvel at the city’s intricate structures while sipping coffee on the banks of the Rhine. Rent is considerably cheaper in Basel than in Zürich at £1,268.75, although the city scored the lowest for nightlife at just two points.

8. Vienna, Austria

The only Austrian city on the list is by no means the most affordable European city for the everyday traveller, but it’s a different story for expats in Vienna. The average cost to rent a one-bed apartment is £749.92 – the cheapest on the list – while the estimated monthly cost of living is £2,805.

Vienna, Austria. Image via Pexels.

7. Stuttgart, Germany

The sixth-largest city in Germany is another popular destination for UK citizens searching for a better quality of living. The city scores top marks for walkability and four out of five for happiness and nightlife. The south German city is notably cheaper than its Swiss counterparts, but it has the worst safety index out of all the top 10 at 67.88.

Stuttgart, Germany. Image via Pexels.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

The capital of Denmark is an increasingly popular destination for Brits in search of a city break – millions visit the beautiful gardens, historic palaces and fascinating museums each year. However, Copenhagen’s charm attracts more expats than ever, thanks to safe streets, a high happiness score, and high average wages (£4,141 a month).

Copenhagen, Denmark. Image via Pexels.

5. Munich, Germany

Munich may have a reputation as Germany’s party town, thanks to the millions of tourists that descend each year to experience the raucous Oktoberfest celebrations. Still, the historic city is also a great place to move to. The safety index is a solid 80.65, while the average cost of a monthly travel pass is just £56.40. Naturally, Munich scores top marks for nightlife, while the happiness index is also five out of five.

4. Prague, Czechia

Forget everything you think you know about Prague. Yes, it does remain one of the most popular stag do destinations in Europe, but this plays into the city’s favour when it comes to nightlife (top marks, of course). Where Prague excels is in its affordability factor. It’s the cheapest city in the top ten to rent a one-bed apartment at £856.57 a month, and the estimated monthly cost of living for an expat is just £1,807 – the only city featured under the £2,000 mark. Salaries are considerably less than in Switzerland and Austria, but this is all relative – monthly travel could set you back just £20.68.

Prague, Czechia. Image via Pexels.

3. Bern, Switzerland

Switzerland’s capital is one of Europe’s key business hubs, so it’s little surprise this is where the most significant average salaries are found (£5,415.47). The average rent is almost half that of Zürich’s at £1,073.19, while the moderate travel and monthly living costs are also slightly cheaper. Bern is built around a crook in the Aare River, and some areas date back to the 12th century, making it a great place to settle for lovers of history and architecture.

2. Lausanne, Switzerland

If one thing’s evident from the Travel Far and Wide study, it’s that Switzerland could be Europe’s most liveable country for UK expats in search of a better quality of life – even though it just misses out on the top spot. Lausanne scores top marks for happiness, nightlife and walkability, while the safety index scores 73.86. Expats expect an average monthly salary of £4,631.46 and a cost of living of £3,173 a month.

1. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is officially Europe’s best city for expats, scoring a high 75.21 out of 100 for safety and perfect ratings for happiness, walkability and nightlife. Public transport costs are surprisingly reasonable, while the average one-bed rental costs £859.72 a month – considerably less than many of the other contenders in the top ten. The monthly cost of living is around £2,309, while the average salary is £2,754.54, leaving lots of disposable income to explore all this beautiful city offers.

Helsinki, Finland. Image via Pexels.

This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveller.