Where should I live?
May 20, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of buying an affordable apartment somewhere in Europe. The question is where can I get the best trade off between being affordable and being awesome?

I work remotely, and recently took a working trip to Europe. I loved having my days free while working at night. I'm looking for countries, cities, and or towns that are slightly off the beaten path where an apartment would be affordable in this time zone. Obviously, I also want to live the coolest place imaginable! So - where should I buy my affordable apartment and why?
posted by xammerboy to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't the faintest clue, but I'm guessing people will need some ballpark as to what you consider affordable...
posted by bardophile at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: I instantly thought of Antwerp, Belgium and found this apartment which led me to this site. If it were me (and someday it will be) I would also consider Cologne.
posted by Duffington at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: Oh, I forgot why. Antwerp - it is a beautiful small city, not too touristy and Belgians are friendly, the beer and food is great and it is easy to get around. The woman are gorgeous, which isn't really great for me as a single straight lady, and it seems affordable.
Basically the same with Cologne, but that is also a city which loves a great party.
posted by Duffington at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2010

Berlin is famous for both being uber-cool and having cheap real estate (for a metropolis).

I would personally gravitate more towards southern Europe (Barcelona comes immediately to mind), and would think--if you were willing to compromise a little bit on location and comfort--a decent pad could be found there, too.
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:36 AM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: I am looking for something around or under $200K.
posted by xammerboy at 8:36 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: My old apartment in Berlin (1 bedroom, central, 80sqm, balcony, polished wooden floors) was on the market for EUR 115,000 last year. It took six months to sell.
posted by dydecker at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: Check out Nantes, France.
posted by the foreground at 8:43 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: What do you think of Eastern Europe? I lived in Budapest for a while and everything was pretty cheap (in 2006.) I can't remember what we paid for our apartment, but it was less than the equivalent of $600 a month for a three bedroom apartment with a balcony, in a nice section of Budapest. And Budapest itself was lovely.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: I'm open to all suggestions!
posted by xammerboy at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2010

Timing is everything. Countries like Spain are in a deep recession now...that might translate to rock-bottom property prices. Can any local Spaniards confirm?
posted by randomstriker at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2010

If you are an American, than it might be more difficult than just picking a place you can afford. Every country has different rules for foreigners buying property. For instance, I have a American friend who bought an apartment in Paris two years ago. He had to jump though many hoops (although he had to get a mortgage... if you are paying cash it might be easier). And, in a similar situation to you, he is now working remotely and is going to stay in Paris for 8 months. However, he found it difficult to get a visa that would allow him to do this for longer than the usual three month tourist visa. He had to get an attorney help him sort it out.

Some British acquaintances I know had their property in Spain seized without recourse, because the developers had built without the proper authorization. The apartments were torn down, and that was that.
posted by kimdog at 9:19 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: As a semi-marketing ploy to repopulate the village, the city council is selling houses in San Basile, a small village in Southern Italy, for as low as € 5000.
On their facebook page they say they're going to publish detailed descriptions of all units in a few days.

Most of them are in need of work and the place, while beautiful, is definitely not a metropolis.

But, hey, € 5000!

(all links in Italian)
posted by _dario at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Slightly off the beaten path" doesn't always line up well with "coolest place imaginable!"

That being said, friends of mine from Venezuela who needed to get of the country in a hurry bought a very comfortable townhouse in Plasencia, Extremadura, Spain. They chose Plasencia because it was significantly more affordable than Madrid or Barcelona. I've been to visit them, and Plasencia is indeed off the beaten path but it is quite lovely in a very-important-five-hundred-years-ago kind of way, not unlike Siena in Italy which is gorgeous but probably out of your price range.

Other towns in Extremadura (Caceres, Badajoz) or Salamanca might also be worth looking at. I'm not local so I have no idea what real estate prices are like, but I do know that's a big reason my friends wound up in Plasencia.
posted by ambrosia at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: This might be an odd suggestion, but if you're not too bothered about having glorious weather all the time, you could check out Belfast.

Pretty cheap city to live in, very compact, and turning into a genuinely pleasant city to live in now. Also there's the cachet of living in a post-conflict society, heh.

Here is an apartment in a new development in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. 1 bedroom and comes in at £140,000 or around $200,000. It's just an example though, there's a lot of other options here too.
posted by knapah at 9:31 AM on May 20, 2010

Best answer: If you want more out of the beaten path then Berlin you should consider Leipzig. Here you will find plenty of really cheap apartments. They are often old and big.

So why would you like to live here? It is a historic city with lots of culture and the buildings are a fascinating mixture of really nice houses and those fallen into disrepair during the communist era (it is lots of restoration going on). It is less crowded than further west in Germany and you can easily go to Berlin if you feel like it.
posted by furisto at 10:30 AM on May 20, 2010

GBP 140K for a 1 bedroom apartment in Belfast is "cheap"? Only when compared to the insane property markets of UK, Ireland and N. Ireland. The same in Budapest will cost you EUR 50K.
posted by randomstriker at 10:48 AM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: These are great answers everyone. Any other places? My wife likes the ocean and hiking, if that helps.
posted by xammerboy at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2010

randomstriker: I just searched for an example near the price point suggested, I am well aware that eastern Europe is a hell of a lot cheaper. There are cheaper, nice, places than that in Belfast as well, albeit not in the same league as Budapest.

As for 'cheap', Belfast is fairly cheap in terms of cost of living - for western Europe - and it is English speaking.

In light of the OP's recent comment, it's also within easy striking distance of the Mountains of Mourne and some pretty nice coastline.

I'm not some Belfast zealot, I'm actually planning on leaving Ireland soon, just thought it was an alternative to the normal suggestions in these questions.
posted by knapah at 3:27 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Although I've never been myself, one place you might consider is Slovenia.

- It's an EU member, and had a GDP per capita 91% of the EU average in 2008
- It has mountains and beaches located fairly close together
- It's a bit off the beaten path, but the capital Ljubljana has good transport links to the rest of Europe
- It seems to be cheaper than most other European capitals, especially those in Western and Northern Europe
posted by armage at 5:24 PM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. These places are stunning.
posted by xammerboy at 6:48 AM on May 21, 2010

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