The cost of living in Europe's popular expat destinations

  • Cost of Living
Published last year

Ever wondered how expensive it is to live in some of the most desirable European countries? Europe is home to a wealth of popular expat destinations for both EU citizens and those coming from further afield, but it can be hard to know just how much things like accommodation and transportation will cost. Below we present the average cost of living in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain.

Nisha Sawon

Editorial staff


The UK is an international hub, both commercially and culturally, but it can be expensive. Accommodation in the UK will cost you on average £902 a month (with an added £146 for bills) and, depending on your chosen career, this could be more than half your monthly pay. On the plus side there is a wonderful pub culture in the UK, with the average beer costing £3.50. If you find that those beers are becoming one too many, you may decide to hit the gym, which will cost around £33 per month. However, it's not uncommon for people to workout in parks at no cost whatsoever. Public transport will cost you an average of £60.50 a month, but this is likely to be more if you are a London commuter. However, it is important to note that these costs vary drastically depending on where you are in the UK — once you get out of London and head northwards or eastwards, things get noticeably cheaper. If you widen the net, you can find some great value for money in the UK.


Somewhat of a middle ground between the UK and mainland Europe, the Republic of Ireland is popular with both urbanites and those seeking a rural retreat. If you have your eyes set on the emerald isle, then be prepared for prices to be somewhat higher than other EU members. The average monthly rent in the country is €679 with bills making your total spend for accommodation €831. Getting around is also quite expensive at €100, but there is good city public transport of train and buses. Ireland is famous for being the home of Guinness, and if you want to pop into a pub for a pint of the inky beverage will cost you on average €5. Working up a sweat at the gym will cost you a hefty €42, though you may choose to swap an intense workout for a lengthy hike if you are in a more rural area.



Germany is often high on the list for expats thanks to its citizens' impressive familiarity with English and its stable economy. However, your choice of city will likely depend on its affordability, with the average rent of €600 plus €218 for bills, likely to soar much higher in both Munich and Frankfurt. Surprisingly, Berlin is an affordable city with both a rich history and a good economy. Public transport averages out at €70 a month.There is also a unique car-sharing culture with a large number of apps and companies helping you to get around. A beer will run you an average of €3.50, but needless to say that beer doesn't stop flowing in Germany, and it even has it's own annual Oktoberfest festival. On the other hand, while gym membership is on average €29 a month, many will attest that it's often far more expensive.


France is home to the world's romance capital and picturesque wine country further south. Rent here will cost you €598, however, a cute little apartment in Paris will undoubtedly cost more. Bills average out at €130, which is cheaper than most of the other destinations included in this list. Aside from Paris (which is the centre of the country's transport system), there is an extensive rail and road network across the country, and metros in six of the country's cities – getting around costs an average of €62 per month. You may decide to go for a beer, which will cost you €5 on average. However most people frequent cafes and restaurants in the evening (rather than pubs), with wine being the drink of choice. Parks and gardens in France are viewed as places to relax than to go for any physical exertion, so keep in mind that gym memberships are at €29.



Belgium is often overlooked for its more well-known counterparts. However it has a lot to offer. Renting will cost you €614 and bills €129 on average, which is cheaper than some of the other countries listed. Public transport is also affordable at a monthly average of €49, and there is a vast network to help you get around. There are several cities with both trams and buses, and Brussels also has a metro. With the likes of Oktoberfest-hosting Germany nearby, it's easy to miss Belgium when talking about great beer-producing (and drinking) nations. There are a large number of breweries creating distinct and flavourful beers, which will cost you €3.50. There is a range of upscale and downmarket gyms available, particularly in Brussels, and with the average monthly cost coming out at €29 there's no excuse to skip that next workout.


Italy is home to one of the world's fashion capitals and the Catholic Church. The wide-reaching cultural impact of Italy makes it a natural choice for a new adventure, but the tourist-trap prices aren't indicative of the cost of living. An average month's rent will cost €538 with €202 on top for bills, making the utilities one of the most expensive on this list. Public transport is very reasonable (€35), and city-centres have both bus and metro networks (Venice has a ferry system to navigate its waterways). The fees for cross-country train journeys are also reasonable, allowing you to experience the different facets of Italy. The average beer will cost €4.50, however, like in France, wine is the drink of choice, and this is fairly cheap as Italy is a great wine producer. The monthly price of keeping fit is the most expensive of the countries featured here at a whopping €52, but the gym culture isn't huge as in other countries.



Sought after for its mild climate and Mediterranean beaches, Spain has numerous choices of both bustling cities and tranquil countryside destinations. It is also frequently visited by holiday-goers for its affordable restaurants, with a beer averaging just €2. If you're looking to make your holiday something a bit more permanent, renting will cost an average of €622 with an added €115 for bills. However, the disparity in the cost of living in Barcelona and Madrid compared to smaller cities is notable. Getting around Spain is quite straight forward and costs an average of €43 a month. Bus and rail networks are covering the whole country, and there are metro or light rail networks in several major cities such as Seville, Barcelona, and Madrid. Keeping fit will cost on average €36 a month for a gym membership. If your Spanish is up to scratch, Spain can certainly be an affordable option.