8 European hotspots expats want to call home

Housing is near the top of every expat’s to-do list when relocating abroad. Whether for a month, a year, or a lifetime, we all need to put a roof over our heads -- and hopefully for a price we can afford and through a process that is as painless as possible.

Published: Fri 9 Jun 2017 09:26 CEST
8 European hotspots expats want to call home
Photo: archideaphoto/Depositphotos"

After all, choosing to build a life in a new country and city is complicated enough!

Knowing that savvy expats do a lot of their house hunting online, we turned to Nestpick, a furnished apartment aggregator that covers 30 cities across Europe, for insights on where in Europe expats are finding furnished rental apartments online.

What better indicator of expat housing hotspots in Europe than the users of one of the continent’s most popular online apartment comparison services?

Nestpick scans thousands of apartments from various partner websites, giving expat users a ‘one-stop-shop’ featuring the best selection of furnished apartments and rooms. Plus, all the listings are in English, and securing a contract only takes a few clicks. 

So which cities in Europe are teaming with expat apartment-hunters? Have a look at the list below -- some of the finalists may surprise you.


Photo: Marek Heise Fotografie/Wikimedia Commons

Artists, musicians, writers, and all sorts of creative types have been flocking to Berlin in recent years. And it’s easy to see why. Firstly, it’s affordable. Rent and general living costs are relatively cheap compared to other capitals in western Europe.

But more than that, it’s a city brimming with culture and history. Ever since the wall came down, Berlin has been in a constant state of evolution, and now boasts a vibrant art scene and plenty of trendy restaurants and bars -- and the Berlin startup scene is also booming. Expats also rave about the city’s numerous parks, forests and beaches - which offer a welcome contrast to Berlin’s more bohemian neighbourhoods. The German capital attracts new residents from all over the world, giving the city a distinctly international feel with an ever-growing expat community.


Photo: Der Schmitzi/Wikimedia Commons

Rotterdam may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands. Indeed, the lively port town suffers from ‘younger sibling syndrome’ in the shadow of the more well-known Amsterdam. But make no mistake, Rotterdam is just as cool (it’s even home to a neighbourhood named ‘Cool’).

Heavily bombed during World War II, Rotterdam now boasts plenty of beautiful modern architecture; and sculptures by the likes of Picasso and Rodin decorate the city. In terms of food, the cuisine on offer - local and international - is exquisite.


Photo: anpalcacios/Flickr

Considered by many to be the fashion capital of the world, Milan is also the birthplace of the classic negroni cocktail, and home to the spectacular Duomo cathedral. And as Italy's financial capital, Milan attracts expats with high-flying careers looking to add and Italian twist -- as well as those simply looking for an excuse to live in one of Europe’s most glamorous cities.  

While the cost of living may be high, salaries usually manage to keep pace. And what’s more, Milan is also a bustling student town, home to some of Italy’s larger universities. So whether you prefer the swank city centre or the more artsy Navigli neighbourhood, Milan has something that appeals to expats of all stripes (especially those boasting the iconic stripes of the town’s two main football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan).


Photo: reginaspics/Pixabay

France’s second city certainly has a lot going for it. While it often gets overlooked, expats who give it a chance are very glad they did. The cost of living, firstly, is a mere fraction of that in Paris. And with nearly 100 Michelin starred chefs in the region, there’s no shortage of fantastic food to sample.

Lyon is also home to both modern and ancient architecture – including the Historic Site of Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features Vieux Lyon, the city’s oldest district and the Roman ruins at Fourvière

Expats also enjoy Lyon’s closeness to the wine producing region of Beaujolais, as well as its proximity to the Alps. When you add it all up, Lyon really has the best of everything France has to offer: great food, amazing history, and access to nature.


Photo: Andrew E. Larsen/Flickr

As Spain’s second-largest city and the capital of the Catalonia region, Barcelona has something for everyone -- whether you’re a beach bum, football fanatic, or budding entrepreneur.

Expats can’t help but be drawn to the buzz of Barcelona and its heady mix of sun, tapas, and impressive architecture from Gothic to Gaudi. It’s no wonder Barcelona often tops expat happiness surveys.

The city also boasts a bike rental scheme, making getting around the city a breeze. Barcelona is also gaining a reputation as a startup hub, making it a popular destination for expat creatives and techies.


Photo: Moyan Brenn/Wikimedia Commons

We’ve all heard that Paris is truly is one of a kind. Few, if any cities, offer such an intoxicating combination of history, beauty, and energy. No wonder it’s popular with expats from all over the world. Its pace of life may be slower than that of New York or London - but who can say no to leisurely lunches and the splendours of the city’s cafe culture?

Sure, flat rentals in Paris may be a bit pricier than other European capitals, but with so many expats, students, and tourists flocking to the City of Lights, you have to be ready to pay a little more (although you'll still probably pay less than you would in London or Amsterdam).

Besides, there's also something inherently romantic about a life in Paris: the small cobbled back streets, the grand architecture have long attracted…artists, writers, and intellectuals.  The city’s charm, coupled with a range of employment opportunities and connections that make it easy to explore the rest of Europe make Paris one of the continent’s top expat hotspots.


Photo: LenDog64/Flickr

The Irish capital offers expats a plethora of cosy pubs, castles -- not to mention employment options at big name tech firms like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. It doesn’t take long to embrace the city’s pub culture and soon adopt the philosophy of ‘everything can be fixed by a pint’.

Founded by the Vikings (also expats!) in 988 A.D., Dublin is now home to about 1.8 million residents -- about 40 percent of Ireland’s population -- and has seen a steady inflow of expats in recent years, making it a surprisingly international city.

As a result, rental apartments are in high demand, meaning prices may be higher than you’d expect -- especially in more upmarket areas near the city centre.


Photo: DomyD/Pixabay

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but expats will find themselves hooked on the city’s energy in a fraction of that time. The ancient historical capital of Italy is truly enchanting and never ceases to awe. Of course, Rome is also a bustling, modern European capital with all of the cultural and career opportunities that come with it. The beautiful Mediterranean climate makes dining al fresco in any of Rome’s famed piazzas a delight. And the ruin-filled city can make every day feel like an adventure.

The “Eternal City” boasts a range of neighbourhoods, all with distinct flavours – from the hipster haven of Trastevere to the more upscale Prati. And while Rome’s brisk tourist trade can make some things pricier than you’d expect, housing prices are generally cheaper than in other major cities – something that makes expats rejoice. Va bene!

Click here to find your own furnished apartment with Nestpick

This article was produced by The Local’s Client Studio and sponsored by Nestpick.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also