In 2022, more than 75,000 Americans moved to Europe. The Netherlands, for example, saw an increase from 15,500 to 24,000 Americans moving in over the last five years, while Spain’s American expat numbers jumped 13 percent, from an estimated 20,000 to nearly 34,000 in the same time frame, according to statistics from the European Union.
Be it for the food and culture, the lower cost of living, or personal opportunity, a move to Europe can offer a lot in terms of life-changing experiences.
“I moved to Spain in 2018, and since then, my life has been filled with exploring new places, meeting new people, learning about local cultures, and uncovering hidden gems,” said Nadia Podrabinek, founder of WhyThisPlace.com. “Barcelona, my home since 2018, is, for me, the best place to live in Europe. This vibrant city strikes a perfect balance between urban hustle and beach town relaxation. The local cuisine, a gastronomic extravaganza, will delight your taste buds with delicacies like tapas, paella, and the world-renowned Catalan cava. Art lovers will be entranced by the city’s architectural marvels, from the whimsical designs of Antoni Gaudí to the contemporary art showcased at MACBA. And let’s not forget the friendly locals — the Catalans — who will welcome you warmly into their community.”
Where else in the continent should you consider relocating? Here are 20 of the best places to live in Europe.
Lisbon has experienced a tremendous boom in tourism over the last few years, hitting a record high in 2023. The country was also named the best place to retire in Europe in 2023, thanks to its relatively low cost of living, ease of acquiring visas, and many fantastic beaches that residents can explore up and down its magnificent coast.
Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is also having its moment in the limelight, thanks to new hotels like the Rosewood Vienna, as well as studies like The Economist’s annual Global Liveability Index, which named Vienna the most livable city in the world. It came out on top due to its excellent health care system, infrastructure, and rich culture.
Madrid is yet another European capital to make several “best of” lists, including ranking fourth in Euromonitor International’s compilation of best urban destinations. It’s highly regarded thanks to its high safety index score and vibrant culture, which is filled with superb food, sites, and plenty of dancing through the night.
Yes, Zurich is expensive, but it more than makes up for it with an easy-to-access health care system, delicious food, and more ways to spend time outdoors than almost anywhere else on the planet. It was also deemed the third most livable city in the same study that named Vienna as number one.
Helsinki’s art scene is, without question, top-notch, and that may be reason enough for some to move there. But if you’re a parent, you’ll have more of a motive when you discover the city was named one of the best places to live for families in 2023. It ranked highly as a result of its large number of parks and low child care cost, making it an ideal location for families seeking a new adventure.
Copenhagen is another city on our list that may seem expensive from the outset, but it has consistently ranked toward the top (if not at the top) of Monocle’s list of the world’s best cities for quality of life. Specifically, the publication calls out its large number of green spaces, focus on sustainability, and ease of health care.
Munich was named the fourth best city to live in on a 2019 list by HR consultancy Mercer, and as the number one most livable city in the world in Monocle’s 2018 Quality of Life Survey. Time and time again, lists note its stellar public transit, access to health care, museums, and ease of reaching an airport as reasons it’s such a great place to live.
Estonia has become a major player for digital nomads. The tech-forward nation has excellent visa options for those looking to live and work abroad. Specifically, the cultural hub Tallinn ranked as the 11th best place for expats in the 2022 global survey by InterNations.
Looking for another cool spot to call home? Consider Dublin. Smithfield in the city was ranked the second-coolest neighborhood by Time Out in 2023.
Those looking for a stylish place to live and work need not look further than Milan. Arguably the fashion capital of the world, it more than delivers on good taste. It was also named as the best city to live in Italy in Il Sole 24 Ore’s 2020 list.
Amsterdam has plenty to offer those who seek culture, great food, and streets that are designed for walking and biking. It also made an appearance as the fifth best place to live in Time Out’s 2022 list, scoring high marks for its arts community and dating scene. “Amsterdam is, without a doubt, one of the best places to live in Europe, particularly for expats. With people from more than 170 countries represented here, you’ll have no trouble finding a social life and community that fits your needs,” Kyle Kroeger, a content creator behind ViaTravelers.com, shared with T+L. “Dutch culture also greatly values green spaces, as well as maximizing child happiness. The country has consistently been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.”
Read More: How to Spend One Perfect Day in Amsterdam
Liverpool, United Kingdom
While much of the United Kingdom can be considered a desirable place to live, Liverpool has the stats to back it up. The city was named one of the top 10 most desirable places to live in the U.K., according to a 2023 survey, thanks to its increasing home value and local diversity.
Another chic European destination to consider living in: Marseille. The French city by the sea is home to Cours Julien neighborhood, which also made its way to Time Out’s coolest neighborhoods list in 2023. As the publication noted, it’s a hotbed for food and wine lovers, plus home to art galleries galore.
In 2023, Totaljobs released its first Quality of Living Index, which surveyed thousands of users, and named Edinburgh as its number-one choice for places to live in the United Kingdom. The historic city nabbed the top spot thanks to its relatively lower cost of living and access to endless cultural destinations.
Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech capital was listed as one of the 10 best global destinations for those looking to move abroad in InterNations’ 2021 Expats Insider survey. It made its way to the top thanks to both its cost of living and first-rate work-life balance.
In 2020, Lonely Planet named Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, as one of the top 10 places to live for expats. The reasons? It fast internet connectivity, high number of coffee shops, art, and tech scene.
Norway is consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live in the world, and Oslo, the capital city, offers both that peace of mind and access to world-class dining, museums, and an excellent public transit system.
Switzerland is chock-full of top-notch places to live, including Bern, which was named the best city for expats in 2015 due to its beautiful outdoor destinations, wildly good air quality, and access to health care.
Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, was crowned the number-one city to live in as part of InterNations’ 2022 Expat City Ranking. And that’s no surprise to Patricia Palacios, cofounder of España Guide. “Located on the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula, the beautiful city of Valencia boasts more than 300 sunny days per year with mild winters and warm summers. Moreover, the city is home to two urban beaches with fine golden sand to make the most of its awesome weather,” she said. “The list of Valencia’s charms goes on and on. From its picturesque old town to the lush riverbed park with the neo-futurist City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia is definitely a feast for the eyes.”