Looking for a change of scenery? Whether you’re chasing fresh job prospects, a better quality of life, or just craving a new adventure, relocating to a new country is the ultimate way to shake things up. 

But with so many promising destinations to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? And most importantly, which are safe enough for you to feel comfortable and secure in your new surroundings? 

To help you decide, we’ve ranked the best and safest cities for expats in Europe according to a range of factors, including number of job vacancies, property and transport costs, and crime rates. 

Bucharest is the best city in Europe for expats

Bucharest, the capital of Romania, ranks as the number one city for expats in Europe. This charming city offers one of the lowest costs of living; expats can rent a 1-bed flat for just £398.66 per month, or buy one for as little as £2,107.76 per square metre. Public transport is also very affordable at just £14.41 per month, which is the second cheapest in Europe after Luxembourg, where public transport is free. 

Bucharest also boasts a low crime index score of 28.07, making it a safe and secure place to live. The only catch is that it has one of the lowest job vacancies at 9.09 per 1,000 people, and an average salary of only £819.28 per month. Even so, this dynamic city is still a very attractive option for expats seeking a budget-friendly European experience.

Valletta, Malta comes in second after Bucharest. This island city is great for job prospects, offering expats the most job vacancies per 1,000 people at 688.9. Unfortunately, the average monthly salary is fairly low at £911.91, and the city’s crime index of 37.79 is higher than in Bucharest. 

Valletta is followed by Nicosia in Cyprus, which offers the cheapest cost per square metre to buy a flat (£1,848.97). Nicosia is also very safe with a low crime index score of 30.12, and a better average monthly salary than both Valletta and Bucharest at £1,207.98.

Bern, in sixth place, actually offers the highest average salary of all cities at £5,021.12 per month – so if you’re chasing a better paycheck, the Swiss capital may be the best place for you.

*The table below reveals the top 10 best cities for expats in Europe

Rank City Job vacancies per 1,000 people Average price for 1-bed flat (per month – £) Average price to buy flat (per square metre – £) Average price of public transport per month (£) Average salary per month (£) Crime index
1 Bucharest, Romania 9.09 £398.66 £2,107.76 £14.41 £819.28 28.07
2 Valletta, Malta 688.90 £822.48 £7,337.20 £22.96 £911.91 37.79
3 Nicosia, Cyprus 22.00 £534.34 £1,848.97 £35.33 £1,207.98 30.12
4 Tallinn, Estonia 7.93 £581.04 £3,443.93 £26.50 £1,200.61 24.42
5 Ljubljana, Slovenia 9.82 £599.00 £3,827.83 £32.68 £1,160.71 21.69
6 Bern, Switzerland 76.93 £1,086.44 £9,671.11 £69.59 £5,021.12 18.10
7 Zagreb, Croatia 4.46 £492.70 £3,271.25 £42.23 £956.31 22.37
8 Warsaw, Poland 16.82 £670.36 £3,723.44 £20.61 £1,054.57 25.93
9 Vilnius, Lithuania 9.19 £636.64 £3,558.16 £25.61 £1,076.56 27.79
10 Budapest, Hungary 6.70 £448.26 £3,075.37 £21.56 £854.54 34.68

London ranks as the worst city in Europe for expats 

London, the bustling capital of the UK, is unfortunately the worst place in Europe for expats. The cost of living in London is extremely high, costing on average £2,002.11 per month to rent a 1-bed, and £12,025.21 per m2 to buy your own flat.

Public transport costs here are also the highest in Europe at £154.50 per month on average, making it even more of a challenge to make ends meet. And with only 20.18 job vacancies per 1,000 people, it’s tough to find stable employment to support the high cost of living. 

To top it off, London also has one of the highest crime rates at 53.74, which is a serious concern for those considering relocation.

Paris ranks as the second worst city after London, offering slightly more job vacancies (27.18 per 1,000 people), but a lower average salary of £2,304.89 per month. The cost to buy a flat is also very high here (£11,007.45 per m2), but renting is slightly cheaper at £1,136.83 per month.

Dublin, Ireland comes in third, with a slightly more affordable cost to purchase property than Paris (£6,493.71 per m2), but a higher average rental price of £1,696.43 per month.

Meanwhile, Rome in fifth place offers the fewest job vacancies (4.77 per 1,000 people), and Athens in tenth offers the lowest average salary (£810.41 per month).

*The table below reveals the 10 worst cities for expats in Europe

Rank City Job vacancies per 1,000 people Average price for 1-bed flat (£) Average price to buy flat (per square metre – £) Average price of public transport per month (£) Average salary per month (£) Crime index
1 London, UK 20.18 £2,002.11 £12,025.21 £154.50 £3,043.20 53.74
2 Paris, France 27.18 £1,136.83 £11,007.45 £70.44 £2,304.89 56.87
3 Dublin, Ireland 44.63 £1,696.43 £6,493.71 £105.98 £2,639.14 52.26
4 Stockholm, Sweden 24.31 £1,162.26 £8,910.77 £76.96 £2,571.68 46.25
5 Rome, Italy 4.77 £886.05 £5,903.11 £30.91 £1,387.77 53.09
6 Berlin, Germany 21.07 £1,147.98 £7,150.06 £74.84 £2,708.31 43.39
7 Amsterdam, Netherlands 42.03 £1,435.15 £7,369.13 £78.61 £3,016.51 31.72
8 Oslo, Norway 6.97 £1,147.07 £7,783.09 £66.85 £3,087.24 33.99
9 Brussels, Belgium 34.11 £835.52 £3,418.62 £44.16 £2,400.87 54.59
10 Athens, Greece 13.09 £438.32 £2,230.27 £26.50 £810.41 55.84

Swiss capital Bern is the safest city in Europe

To reveal the safest European destinations, we ranked cities according to their crime index score. This is an estimation of the overall crime level in each city, with lower scores signalling a much safer environment. 

Our ranking revealed Bern, Switzerland’s charming capital, as the safest spot for expats and tourists alike. This city is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty, offering mediaeval architecture and cobbled streets right at the foot of the Swiss Alps. But what really sets it apart is its safety score; it received the lowest crime index score of all cities (18.10), making it a secure and peaceful place to call home.

Ljubljana in Slovenia scored second place for safety, with a slightly higher – but still very low – crime index of 21.69. This was followed by Zagreb with a crime index of 22.37, Reykjavik with 23.91, and Tallinn with 24.42.

*The table below reveals the top 10 safest cities in Europe

Rank City Crime index 
1 Bern, Switzerland 18.10
2 Ljubljana, Slovenia 21.69
3 Zagreb, Croatia 22.37
4 Reykjavik, Iceland 23.91
5 Tallinn, Estonia 24.42
6 Prague, Czech Republic 24.66
7 Helsinki, Finland 24.80
8 Warsaw, Poland 25.93
9 Vienna, Austria  26.77
10 Luxembourg, Luxembourg 27.69

Paris is the least safe city for expats, with the highest crime rate in Europe

The capital of France is a popular destination for anyone seeking romance. Unfortunately, taking a romantic stroll along the iconic Seine river might require some extra safety precautions, as Paris received the highest crime index score of all cities analysed at 56.87. Crime levels between 40 and 60 are classed as moderate – so while Paris’ score isn’t sky-high, it’s definitely high enough to raise concerns.

Athens ranked second for safety after Paris, with a similarly high crime index of 55.84. Brussels came third with a score of 54.59 followed by London (53.74), Rome (53.09) and Dublin (52.26).

*The table below reveals the 10 least safe cities in Europe

Rank City Crime index 
1 Paris, France 56.87
2 Athens, Greece 55.84
3 Brussels, Belgium 54.59
4 London, UK 53.74
5 Rome, Italy 53.09
6 Dublin, Ireland 52.26
7 Stockholm, Sweden 46.25
8 Berlin, Germany 43.39
9 Sofia, Bulgaria 41.84
10 Riga, Latvia 38.46

Methodology and sources

We created an index to determine the best cities within the European Union and the UK for expats, comparing city’s crime rates to reveal which city is the safest for expats alongside lifestyle metrics such as the average salary, cost of living and available jobs.

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