Maximizing Earnings: Affordable European Cities for Living

For professionals considering a move to Europe, one key aspect to consider is how far their salary will stretch in different cities. It’s not just the gross income that matters, but how it stands against the cost of living. This article examines affordable European cities where you can maximize your earnings by balancing a good salary with an affordable cost of living.

The Balancing Act: High Salaries and Low Living Costs

Finding a city where a strong salary aligns with reasonable living expenses can significantly enhance your quality of life. This balance allows for more savings, leisure activities, and overall financial security.

1. Berlin, Germany

  • Salary vs. Cost of Living: Berlin offers competitive salaries, especially in sectors like tech and engineering. Despite being a capital city, its living costs are relatively lower compared to other major European capitals. Numbeo’s data indicates that the cost of living in Berlin is approximately 30% lower than in London.
  • Lifestyle: Berlin is known for its vibrant cultural scene and high quality of life.

2. Lisbon, Portugal

  • Affordability: While salaries in Lisbon may not be the highest in Europe, the city’s affordability makes it an attractive option. Rent and living expenses are considerably lower than in many Western European cities.
  • Growing Economy: Lisbon is becoming a hub for startups and tech companies, offering increasing job opportunities with competitive salaries.

3. Warsaw, Poland

  • Economic Growth: Warsaw has seen significant economic growth, with rising salaries, particularly in the IT and finance sectors.
  • Cost of Living: The cost of living in Warsaw is relatively low, making it possible to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on a moderate salary.

4. Barcelona, Spain

  • Balanced Lifestyle: While Barcelona’s salaries are moderate, the cost of living is balanced, offering a good quality of life. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, beaches, and vibrant cultural life.
  • Expat Friendly: Barcelona has a thriving expat community and a growing number of international companies.

5. Prague, Czech Republic

  • Affordable Living: Prague offers a relatively low cost of living, with housing, food, and transportation costs being quite affordable.
  • Career Opportunities: With a growing number of multinational companies setting up in Prague, there are increasing opportunities for high-paying jobs.

6. Budapest, Hungary

  • Low Living Costs: Budapest is popular for its affordable living costs, including cheap public transportation and reasonably priced housing.
  • Cultural Richness: Apart from financial benefits, Budapest offers rich history and a vibrant social scene.

Factors to Consider When Assessing Financial Viability

  • Income Tax Rates: Understanding the tax system and how much of your salary will be taxed is crucial.
  • Healthcare and Education: Consider the cost and quality of healthcare and education if they are relevant to your situation.
  • Savings Potential: Consider how much of your income you can realistically save in each city.


When choosing a European city to live in, it’s important to look beyond the salary and consider the overall cost of living. Cities like Berlin, Lisbon, Warsaw, Barcelona, Prague, and Budapest offer a favorable balance, allowing expatriates and locals alike to make the most of their earnings. Each city offers its unique charm and opportunities, making them attractive destinations for those seeking a financially viable and enriching European experience.

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