Have you ever wondered what your salary could buy in other European capitals? Sometimes when you are on holiday you might notice that a drink is significantly cheaper at your holiday destinations than at home – but how about rent, transport and food?

Discovering the most affordable cities

On the website www.numbeo.com local people can submit the average cost of food, transport and the most basic goods in their cities – including rent and mortgage payments. The results of the submission of the participants for each city are then averaged and then contrasted against other cities, using New York City as the base Index of 100 to calculate the affordability of living in these cities.

As of September 2017, numbeo is listing the following five places as the most affordable capitals to live within the European Union:

  • Athens, Greece
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Lisbon, Portugal

These five cities have been also recently at the forefront of so called “digital-nomads” in Europe, people who are working remotely on the internet with their clients based all around the world and generally earning their livening in US-Dollars, Euros or British pounds.

While local wages in the five cities above might be in line with the relative lower expenditures, for digital nomads with clients in the United States or the UK, living there would likely be a very interesting opportunity.

Managing foreign currency when living in Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria

If you are interested to becoming an expat or digital nomad in one of those cities, an important point to remember is that apart from Athens and Lisbon, none of them is part of the Euro currency zone, but still use their own local currency.

Unfortunately, using a bank account denominated e.g. in Euro and withdrawing cash in Romanian Leu, Bulgarian Leva or Hungarian Forint is not only not practical, but also quite expensive.

Over the last years, however, companies have emerged who do not only make it possible but also affordable to withdraw cash and paying in foreign currency.

Companies like Revolut and N26 are offering a pre-payed credit card which can be topped up in any major currency like British Pounds or Euro by a wire transfer from your bank account or an instant payment from any other credit card.

You can then use the card to immediately pay in local currency and get better exchange rate directly from the interbank market.

If you want to send money back home, you should explore your options, e.g. transferring 1000 GBP from Hungary to UK you can save about 40 pounds.