The Best City in Europe for expats

 By Andrea Tucci,

Dreaming of moving to Europe? This could be the perfect time as more and more countries launch digital nomad visas and workplaces continue to offer remote contacts.

That said, there are a lot of destinations to choose from and you need to make sure you find somewhere that suits your lifestyle, budget and interests. Here’s where a new survey by InterNations—a global networking and advice site for expats—may come in handy.

The platform has asked over 12,000 people living in 49 cities around the globe to rank everything from ease of making friends to career opportunities. Here are the best and worst European cities for expats at the moment, according to their results.

You may think a European capital would clinch the top spot, but the best city in Europe and in the world for expats in 2023 is Málaga, according to the survey. Respondents voted Málaga the top city in the world for friendliness, with nine out of 10 saying inhabitants are welcoming of foreign residents.

The coastal Spanish city is also the top-rated for its temperate climate and good weather, while expats voted it second globally for quality of life. Málaga also comes in the top 10 for healthcare, travel and transit.

The city is slightly let down by its career opportunities, only making 41st place for the local job market. However, when it comes to work-life balance, it soars ahead into first place. If you’re looking for a place to live on a budget, Málaga makes a good choice as it ranked first for the general cost of living and came top in the personal finance index.

The survey’s second and third best cities globally are Alicante and Valencia, while the capital Madrid made 6th place. Respondents particularly appreciated the ease of settling in in these destinations and quality of life.

Alicante claimed the top spot for making expats feel welcome and the social life it offers residents. Healthcare is both affordable and easily available and it has excellent leisure options. The city is let down by its low ranking for working abroad, however, with expats saying local workplaces do not encourage creativity or flexibility.

Expats who want to feel confident about healthcare options should consider Valencia, which ranked first for affordability and third for availability in that category. Survey respondents also praised the general cost of living in the city, which leads to a top 10 place in the personal finance index.

Beyond these practical concerns, expats are also well connected in Valencia. Most feel welcome there, and the same share considers the local residents to be friendly. It’s hardly surprising, then, that 80% are happy with their social life in Valencia

Claiming 6th spot overall, Madrid ranks third in the world for quality of life and eighth place for east of settling in. It comes in first for leisure options and culture and nightlife. Madrid’s expats score digital life well too, praising its high-speed internet access and unrestricted access to online services.

On the downside, over 50% of expats find it difficult to live in the Spanish capital without speaking the language and are unhappy with job security and the local economy.

Bringing up the rear of the rankings is Milan in 49th place. Expats particularly struggle with bureaucracy, finding it difficult to open a local bank account and obtain a visa. The city also ranked poorly for its housing options, job security and fair pay. About one-third of expats aren’t satisfied with their personal career opportunities in Milan. In addition, less than half are satisfied with their job in general and they also struggle immensely with their financial situation.

In the quality of life index, Milan ranks among the worst 10 cities worldwide. Although the leisure options are good, especially the chance to travel, expats don’t feel safe and over half say the air quality is poor compared to 17% globally.

Source: Worldenvironment Magazine