Where to Live and Work in Europe
The European continent is made up of an eclectic mosaic of countries, each one with its own culture, defining traits, and histories. This rich tapestry of nations is what makes Europe such an appealing place to live. So which of its hundreds of cities should call your new home? Deciding on this can be tough and will depend on what you want out of your new home city.
Many places are fantastic for the history and culture they provide; others have become modern powerhouses of their country’s economy – something that is great for finding work. While others offer up themselves are perfect cities in which to raise a family. Let’s take a look at the 21 Best places to live in Europe in the year 2021.
One of the largest cities in Europe, London has grown at such a fast rate over the past decade that it has become a bustling and highly energetic place in which to live. London is a city made up of hundreds of different communities and cultures, making it a multicultural beehive of a city and the most linguistically diverse city in the world. This is good news for ex-pats seeking a little comfort and familiarity when they touch down in the UK’s capital.
Besides its overtly multicultural reputation, there much more to love about the British capital. As one of the economic centers of the world, including the London stock exchange, making it one the best cities in Europe to find work of all kinds. Many major global brands call the city home, and with a tumble-down effect, employment at all levels can be found with ease.
It’s not all hard work; however, London is renowned for its electric atmosphere in both its restaurant scene, its nightlife, and its famous West End theatre district.
Why do we recommend London?
- A multicultural city, home to many different ex-pat communities.
- Fantastic transportation across the city.
- Economic powerhouse offering a variety of different work.
- Great nightlife and restaurant scene.
As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh has long flown the flag for Scottish culture and identity. Although not the nation’s largest city, Edinburgh attracts most of Scotland’s visiting tourists and daytrippers, and for a good reason. One of Edinburgh’s most lovable features is the cityscape itself. The beauty of the city is heightened by its inner-city castle, green spaces, and the extinct volcano ‘Arthur’s Seat’ that looms large over the city.
Apart from the city’s natural features, Edinburgh also has reputation for low crime rates and high success when it comes to education. This is boosted by the city’s famous Edinburgh University, something that adds more panache to the overall feel of the city. Once a year, the International Festival welcomes acts and performances from across the globe, and the city’s notorious Fringe Festival does the same.
With the perfect cocktail of education, employment, culture, and breathtaking landscapes, it is easy to see why many choose the Scottish capital as their new home.
Why do we recommend Edinburgh?
- Breathtaking scenery in the heart of the city.
- Relatively low crime rate.
- Scotland’s cultural capital.
- A high rate of successful education.
One of Europe’s most famous cities, the French capital of Paris, has filled the imagination of writers, artists, and travelers for centuries. Modern Paris lives up to this reputation and offers new arrivals that gorgeous Parisian experience that many strive for. The bustling streets are home to a palpable atmosphere of cafe culture and fine restaurants, but also a subtle scene of everyday life that draws you in.
Apart from the obvious features that draw in the millions of tourists to Paris every year, the city has more practical positives to those wishing to call the French capital home. Around 30% of French taxes go to welfare and social funds allowing you to get help on things such as child care and family allowances. The working week is also capped at 35 hours; anything higher, you will be paid extra. All of these things contribute to Paris being one of the best cities in Europe for families.
Why do we recommend Paris?
- Vibrant city streets, full of life and culture.
- Great work-life balance, helping you to raise a family.
- Acres of green space with 421 municipal parks.
- Well-run transport links across the city.
Germany’s capital Berlin is one of Europe’s biggest cities and home to a vibrant population that will welcome you with open arms. A city known for its exceptional examples of Germanic art, culture, and history, you can spend countless days exploring all that the German capital has to offer, and still, there will be more. Although one of the world’s leading economic powers, Berlin is a surprisingly affordable place to live, and for ex-pats first arriving in Germany, this is a welcoming thought.
This booming economy also makes Berlin a desirable place to settle and work, with good working conditions and some of the highest salaries in the world. Not only is Berlin one of the best cities in Europe to find work, but it’s also one of the best for enjoying yourself. An excellent nightlife scene full of vigor and life famously precedes Berlin’s reputation, and it lives up to this in every sense.
Why do we recommend Berlin?
- City of art and culture.
- A high rate of employment.
- Good wages and cost of living.
- Booming nightlife.
- Environmentally friendly city.
Another of Europe’s most famous capital cities, the Austrian city of Vienna, has been at the crossroads of history for centuries. Modern Vienna still holds an alluring charm and brings in millions of tourists every year. For those who choose to stay, there is much to love about this central European capital. From an economical point of view, Vienna is one of the more affordable places to live, especially when it comes to renting and the cost of food.
Vienna is also known as an extremely safe city, with street crime and serious crime at an astonishing low. As a new arrival, you will certainly feel safe walking the Viennese streets after dark. For those working and traveling across the city, Vienna’s transport system is a well-oiled network that is both efficient and relatively cheap to use.
Finally, the countryside surrounding Vienna is a haven for hikers, walkers, and those who love breathtaking views. It is only a short distance from the inner city to the idyllic foothills.
Why do we recommend Vienna?
- Affordable place to live.
- An extremely safe city with low crime rates.
- Great transport links around the city and out of Austria.
- Surrounded by stunning countryside.
From awe-inspiring Gaudi architecture and fantastic weather all year round to delicious local cuisines and iconic sporting teams, there is much to love about the Catalan capital of Barcelona. Located on the Spanish east coast and looking out to the picturesque Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is one of the few major European cities to have a beach in the heart of the city. Apart from basking in the Spanish sun, living in Barcelona brings with it its own positive practical points.
High-quality health care is renowned in Barcelona, and the city is home to a number of primary care centers for a variety of different people. Barcelona’s gastronomical experience is another reason for setting up a home here. Placed between the sea and the mountains, Barcelona has the best of all eastern Spanish cuisines. The city’s educational systems, both public and private, are of high quality, and the UB and the UAB are among the 200 best universities in the world.
Why do we recommend Barcelona?
- Beautiful architecture.
- Fantastic choice of cuisines.
- Great weather all year round.
- Top European healthcare.
- Successful educational systems.
As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a multicultural metropolis and one of the largest cities in all of Europe. The city’s size and diversity mean that ex-pats’ experiences can differ depending on the Madrid experience you want. As the country’s capital, Madrid offers a Spanish experience full of life-changing career moves and inner-city living. Yet the suburbs of Madrid offer life a much slower pace and one that can be full of peace and quiet.
A city full of Spanish traditions, Madrid offers good food, hospitality, and a Europe defining nightlife scene enjoyed by thousands. The city also offers some of the best retail experiences in Europe, and its central location means it makes the perfect base to explore the rest of the Spanish mainland. Setting up home in Madrid will mean sunshine all year round, and with a seemingly endless number of public parks, there’s plenty of space to bask in the sun.
Why do we recommend Madrid?
- A major city, full of job opportunities.
- A range of housing accommodation, including inner-city and suburban.
- Full Spanish gastronomical experience.
- Central location with connections to the rest of Spain.
As the third Spanish location on our list, you would think that there was no beating Spain’s top Madrid and Barcelona locations, yet Valencia offers up a different Spanish experience. Home to a rich, diverse history and culture, Valencia is peppered with museums, religious sites, and narrow cobblestone streets. All of this creates a citywide atmosphere that is unique not only in Spain but in Europe.
If you wish to move to Spain, Valencia may be a great affordable choice. Compared to other major Spanish cities, Valencia has much lower property and rent prices, making it an attractive place to settle. As one of the gastronomical capitals of Spain, you will never be short of fantastic places to eat and as one of the national dishes paella was invented here, you will be in safe cooking hands.
Valencia’s geographical location also makes it a great place to settle, a few hours train journey to both Madrid and Barcelona, with a ferry trip to the Balearic islands within reach.
Why do we recommend Valencia?
- Rich, diverse history and culture.
- Unique citywide atmosphere.
- Fantastic food.
- Better rent and property prices compared to other major Spanish cities.
One of Germany’s oldest cities and a center for Germanic culture for centuries, Cologne is an often overlooked gem when it comes to European cities. Cultural attractions include Cologne Cathedral, one of the tallest churches in the world, and the Ludwig Museum, home to Europe’s largest collections of Pablo Picasso artworks. Though much of its Medieval infrastructure was destroyed during the Second World War, Cologne retains that distinct connection with the past, with art and culture part of the city’s very fabric.
As German employment goes, Cologne is a fantastic place to settle. Home to the country’s main media centers, Cologne employs over 23,500 media companies and produces a third of the nation’s television programs. Education is also a major element of city life in Cologne, with 100,000 students and more than 3,000 researchers based here. The University of Cologne is one of Europe’s oldest universities.
Why do we recommend Cologne?
- Hub of German art and culture.
- One of Germany’s most historic cities.
- Main German media hub, providing high employment.
- City of education and home to a successful university.
Only 20 miles south of Cologne is the city of Bonn, one of Germany’s oldest cities. Although famously remembered as the capital of West Germany, Bonn has largely gone under the radar when it comes to internationally known German cities. This lack of notoriety only adds to Bonn’s appeal and makes a great place for ex-pats to settle, especially one who wishes to escape the often manic rush of many major cities in Germany.
Settle in along the River Rhine, Bonn has an idyllic and picturesque feel to it, and only being a stone’s throw away from the German economic powerhouse of Cologne, Bonn makes the perfect commuter city. Apart from its location, Bonn is also a cultural marvel in its own right. Visit the birthplace of famous German composer Ludwig van Beethoven or throw yourself into one of the many yearly festivals that call Bonn home.
Why do we recommend Bonn?
- Proximity to Cologne.
- Picturesque landscape along the banks of the Rhine.
- Home to a rich history and culture.
- Ideal place to experience annual German festivals.
As the capital of Germany’s largest state Bavaria, Munich has long played an important role in the history of Germany and the modern city is no different. Although Germany’s third-largest city, Munich has the comforting feeling, one of relaxed familiarity and an air of the countryside. This is increased by the greenness of the city – Munich is home to over twenty large public parks, including the famous Englisher Garten.
The famous German engineering and German organization is seen in all its glory in Munich, with a transportation system that is the envy of all of Europe. Whether it’s the tram, buses or train line, you can be at your destination in no time. Munich’s location means you can enjoy the rolling foothills of Bavaria and even the ski slopes of southern Germany and return home within a very short time.
Home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Munich comes even more alive during the end of September and the Start of October, another reason why Munich is one of the best cities to live in Europe.
Why do we recommend Munich?
- One of Germany’s largest cities, providing a variety of opportunities.
- Very green, with many open spaces and parks.
- Expertly run transportation systems.
- Close location to rural Bavaria and the Bavarian Alps.
Capital of Ireland, Dublin has long held a place in the minds of well-trodden travelers as a must-visit place and with good reason. The palpable atmosphere of the city is something that permeates into everyone, whether tourists or residents of this ancient city. With major companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Dropbox setting up in the city, Dublin is a great place for professional ex-pats to settle.
The compactness of Dublin also means that much of the city can be accessed by foot, making it a lot easier to get around. This also means everything is on your doorstep when you need it, a unique feature of living in a European capital. The combination of rich history and modern-day attractions such as the Guinness factory and Trinity College means there is plenty to see and do in the city while you’re not at work. Unlike many other major capitals, it is only a short journey out of the city and into some of Ireland’s most picturesque and idyllic scenery.
Why do we recommend Dublin?
- Fantastic city atmosphere and friendly people.
- Home to many international companies.
- A compact city makes getting around easier.
- Closeness to the idyllic Irish countryside.
The Belgian capital of Brussels is an iconic and cosmopolitan city, most famous for being the headquarters of the European Parliament. This status is a perfect reflection of Brussels’ multicultural and Eurocentric character. From a professional and career-building point of view, Brussels is a fantastic place to set up home. As the de facto capital of the EU, Brussels welcomes politicians and businesses regularly from all over Europe. This also leads to thousands of business conferences being held in the city every year.
Apart from job opportunities, the city has a lot to shout about when it comes to its history and culture, something that makes living in the city a joy. The nighttime of this Belgian capital is also one of its best features. Attracting different societies and nationalities from across Europe, Brussels has become a multicultural and multinational city and one of the best cities in Europe for ex-pats.
Why do we recommend Brussels?
- Multinational city, ideal for ex-pats.
- The base for several large international companies, perfect for finding work.
- Booming nightlife scene.
- City of history and culture.
Once known for hedonism and Golden Age art, modern Amsterdam has developed into a far more modern and multifaceted city and one that competes on the European stage. The beauty alone draws many ex-pats to the city, the interwinding canal systems offer an idyllic look that is typical of Amsterdam. This small village-esc feeling is one of the reasons both ex-pats and natives love the city. Another reason the city is open wide to many ex-pats communities is the Dutch people’s ability to speak the English language. Although learning the local language is common courtesy and will open many new doors for you, the linguistic skill of the natives is an impressive characteristic of not only Amsterdam but the whole of the Netherlands.
Families may also see Amsterdam as a great European city in which to live. The cost of living is relatively low and the school system is renowned across the continent. The many parks and green spaces dotted across the Dutch capital also provide ample space for children to play, making it one of the best cities in Europe for families.
Why do we recommend Amsterdam?
- Picturesque village-like city.
- City is full of art and culture.
- Top schools and open green spaces.
- Citizen’s openness to ex-pats.
One of the financial and banking centers of the world, the Swiss city of Zurich offers a thriving place to work and live, especially if you work in the banking and insurance sector. The overall quality of life is seen as much higher in the city, with fresh mountain air, clean streets, the Swiss alps only a short drive away. Zurich’s closeness to the borders of Germany, France, and Austria makes it one of the most international cities in central Europe and perfect for ex-pats to settle and call home.
Although the cost of living is higher in Switzerland and Zurich, the wages and quality of life balance this out. The notoriously clean city is also a short journey to the Swiss countryside, a place of extreme natural beauty and perfect for an array of different sports and pastimes.
Why do we recommend Zurich?
- Numerous jobs in banking, finance, and insurance.
- Better quality of life, with fresh air and clean streets.
- Close many other European countries, making it more multicultural and international.
- Great for outdoor sports.
Another Swiss city to make our list is the, often overlooked, Swiss city of Lucerne. What Lucerne lacks in size, it sure does make up for in its beauty and style. The largest settlement in central Switzerland, Lucerne laps the shores of Lake Lucerne and is overshadowed by the breath-taking views of the Swiss alps.
This combination of nature and Swiss township makes Lucerne one of the most unique places to live in Europe. The gentle vibe of Lucerne, with its lakeside markets and mountainside views, make it a relaxing place to live and is attractive to those who don’t want to get caught up in the fast pace of life.
Lucerne’s infrastructure is also one to celebrate, with intercity rails and a state-of-the-art bus network, both visitors and residents can make their way across the city and further afield with ease.
Why do we recommend Lucerne?
- Beautiful lakeside town, with the Swiss Alps a stone’s throw away.
- Relaxed atmosphere.
- High wages and low taxes.
- Fantastic transport network.
As one of Germany’s premier manufacturing hubs, Stuttgart is easily seen as one of the best cities in Europe to find work. Home to international companies and manufacturers such as Mercedes, Porsche, and Bosch – unemployment is at all-time low.
Apart from the economical advantages of living in the city, Stuttgart is also a city of enviably green landscapes. In the center of what’s known as the Stuttgart Cauldron, the city is surrounded by rolling green foothills, forested woodlands, and wine vineyards – the city is also a short distance from the famous Black Forest, a location of extreme beauty.
As Germany’s sixth-largest city, Stuttgart has an impressive population of over half a million people, yet 45% of the population comes from 170 different countries, showing the multiculturalism of the city. The balance of greenery and industry means Stuttgart is the ideal place to get the best of what Germany has to offer.
Why do we recommend Stuttgart?
- Germany’s manufacturing hub, home to many industry giants.
- The city is surrounded by greenery included the famous Black Forest.
- Home to a large minority and ex-pat community.
- Great balance of city and county life.
Last but not least of our German locations, is the city of Frankfurt. Home to strong German finance and IT sectors, Frankfurt is a very attractive place to settle if you’re wanting to find work. The multinational atmosphere of Frankfurt means that there are many bilingual corporations and employers here, making it an extremely welcoming place for non-German speakers and those wishing to remain in the city.
The quality of housing and accommodation in Frankfurt is seen as at a much higher level than elsewhere in the country, perfect for families searching for that ideal home.
As one of the biggest financial sectors in Germany, Frankfurt has built up its city to become one of the most modern and appealing to those who love modernity. Though there is plenty of modern cityscapes, there is also a fair share of cultural and historical attractions too.
Why do we recommend Frankfurt?
- Financial and IT center of Germany.
- A city population open to ex-pats.
- High quality of housing in the city.
- Balance of modernity and tradition.
Home to one of the oldest educational institutions in the world, the English city of Oxford is mainly known for Oxford University. This high level of education permeates through the relatively quiet Oxfordshire city and makes it an attractive place to settle if education is big on your list.
The city itself is a combination of fine-looking architecture and homes, creating that quintessential English town look, full of charm and tradition. With the city being quite small compared to many major English cities, the idyllic charm can be taken in via bicycle or even on foot.
Another factor that makes Oxford such a pleasant place to live, is its surrounding countryside. A simple trip, a few miles in any direction, will take you out of the city and into the rolling green Oxfordshire countryside. Those looking for big-city work will be pleasantly surprised to know that oxford is home to huge companies such as BMW, BT, the charity Oxfam.
Why do we recommend Oxford?
- One of the best universities in the world.
- Beautiful architecture, quintessentially English.
- Surrounded by green and pleasant Oxfordshire countryside.
- Home to huge companies such as BMW and BT.
Another of the UK’s most famous university towns, Cambridge has a lot to love, especially for those wishing to settle here. Straddling the River Cam, Cambridge is an extremely green and pleasant city, with plenty of open spaces and rural spots, making it one of the greenest in the UK.
Much like Oxford, Cambridge itself has grown financially and culturally rich off the ancient university that calls the townhome. This has had a positive knock-on effect, with high employment and a booming nightlife.
Large multinational companies have also set up home in Cambridge, including Huawei and Microsoft Research – adding to the many employment opportunities here. Cambridge location also means it is only a short train journey to other major cities such as London and Norwich.
Why do we recommend Cambridge?
- Successful economy and high employment.
- Home to one of the world’s leading universities.
- Surrounded by green landscapes and rolling Cambridgeshire.
- Quick links to London.
One of England’s most famous cities, Manchester has been at the forefront of British popular culture for decades and continues to draw people in from all over the country and the world. The vibrancy of the city is manifested through its booming nightlife, its music scene, and popular restaurants. All of this also makes it a popular destination for students, many of which attend its five universities.
This city has grown through its manufacturing and media industries, both of which employ thousands of people across the city. With employment high and the cost of living relatively low for a major UK city, Manchester is an attractive alternative to London for ex-pats settling in the country.
Why do we recommend Manchester?
- City of culture, music, and bustling nightlife.
- Home to many universities.
- High employment rate with a lower cost of living.
- Home to the biggest media center in England, outside of London.