Britsh newspaper "THE TIMES" ranks Lausanne in the best cities for people under 40


Best places to live in Europe if you’re under 40

These young hotspots are our top cities to move to if you’re looking for a fresh start



When Louise Cross-Bone moved from Brighton to Istanbul five years ago it was the first time she had set foot in the Turkish city. “It was quite an adventure, I had never been here before,” she says.

She immediately fell in love with the place. “It’s compelling to live here,” she says. “Although I loathe using the ‘East meets West’ stereotype, Istanbul is an absolute melting pot.”

The “stereotype” is that the city, which sits on the Bosphorus, a natural strait that divides Europe and Asia, is a perfect mix of both cultures. Funded by the ancient Greeks, made the capital of the Roman Empire and then of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is as diverse as its long history.

Cross-Bone, 27, is one of more than five million people aged under 35 living in the city — roughly a third of the population — enjoying its sophisticated cuisine, high-spirited nightlife and excellent public transport. Istanbul is home to the youngest population in Europe, according to a survey by the estate agency Savills.


“It attracts a lot of interesting and dynamic people,” Cross-Bone says. “There are graphic designers, journalists, writers and so on. They tend to live here for six months or a year and then move somewhere else.”

Istanbul is a vast, inexpensive city where English is widely spoken. The downside, Cross-Bone says, is that it is “almost impossible” to get a work visa. “You can get a one-year residency permit for tourism and use that to work remotely.” She used to work as a nanny for a Turkish family and now she is looking for a job, potentially for an NGO where she can use her language skills. She is renting a flat in the Cihangir district, not far from Taksim Square, the heart of the modern city and the centre of the political protests that shook Turkey in 2013.

“For the most part Brits live in a pretty privileged bubble,” she adds. “The purchasing power of the pound makes it incredibly attractive.”

Istanbul is not the only youthful city in Europe with inexpensive living and cheap real estate. In Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, for example, the average flat sells for about £119,000, according to Savills. In the Italian city of Palermo you can rent 90 sq m apartments for less than £595 a month.

If you are under 40 and are WFH, why not consider doing that from one of Europe’s most youthful cities, such as Lyons, Helsinki or Malmo? Experience a new culture, learn a language — and cut down your living costs. Here’s our list of the 20 best places to live in Europe for the under-40s.


1. Istanbul, Turkey


Average apartment price: £58,200

Average rent per month: £250 (one bedroom-flat)

Most happening neighbourhood: Cihangir (European side); Moda (Asian side)


2. Aarhus, Denmark
Denmark’s second city — 116 miles northwest of the capital, Copenhagen — claims to be the home of hygge. Well known for its music scene, it was a European Capital of Culture in 2017. The old central Latinerkvarteret (Latin Quarter), with its cobbled streets and traditional houses, is popular with tourists, but the young hip crowd can be found in the Trojborg neighbourhood close to the university in the north of the city. There has been a lot of redevelopment in the past ten years, such as the continuing regeneration of the docklands area, including the distinctive Iceberg apartment complex. Quality of life here is high, with low pollution and crime as well as easy access to the countryside and beaches. However, property prices have been rising and so has the cost of living.


Average apartment price: £4,788 per sq m

Average rent per month: £867 (for a one-bedroom flat in the city centre)

Most happening neighbourhood: Trojborg


3. Nicosia, Cyprus
The capital of Cyprus is the last divided capital in the world — split by the so-called green line, with the Turkish quarter to the north and the Greek side to the south. It is home to five universities, making it popular with students and digital nomads. The property prices, which have fallen 21 per cent in the past ten years according to the Central Bank of Cyprus, also add to its appeal. Historical areas of Nicosia are enjoying revivals, including Chrysaliniotissa, with its art galleries, boutiques and bars and restaurants (check out the Ermou Rock Bar once the pandemic allows) as well as Kaimakli, which is a little further out. Moving here is not as easy as it once was because the country’s golden visa scheme, which offered residency and citizenship in return for buying property, ended in November.


Average apartment price: £120,000

Average rent per month: £513

Most happening neighbourhood: Chrysaliniotissa


4. Groningen, the Netherlands
Groningen is known for having the youngest population in the Netherlands. The small city, criss-crossed with canals, has only just over 200,000 inhabitants, a quarter of whom are students at the two local universities. About 15 per cent of those students are international, including many from Britain and Ireland. That’s not surprising because the University of Groningen offers more than 100 courses in English. From the leafy Schilderswijk and Zeeheldenbuurt districts, with their 19th-century architecture and gardens, to the wild nightlife around Grote Markt, where bars never close, Groningen is a younger, more liveable (and far cheaper) alternative to Amsterdam.


Average apartment price: £229,000

Average rent per month: £458

Most happening neighbourhood: Grote Markt


5. Münster, Germany
The pretty city of Münster in northwest Germany has been voted the world’s most liveable city and Germany’s most bike-friendly city. Not far from the country’s border with the Netherlands, it is sometimes referred to as mini Amsterdam because of its proliferation of bicycles, museums and galleries — it is home to Germany’s first Picasso museum. Visit Hansaviertel and Hafen, the harbour area on the Dortmund-Ems canal, for the bustling bar and restaurant scene. Nearby Hawerkamp, a former concrete factory, is home to several nightclubs and hosts the annual Vainstream Rockfest. Across the other side of town is the university, one of the largest in Germany.


Average apartment price: £3,730 per sq m

Average rent per month: £9.35 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Hansaviertel


6. Bergen, Norway
Norway’s second city, Bergen is the self-proclaimed capital of the fjords. It sits in an idyllic spot surrounded by seven mountains. The pretty wharf area of Bryggen, with its multicoloured clapboard houses, is a Unesco world heritage site. Bergen is also a Unesco city of gastronomy, particularly famed for its fish dishes. Skostredet, with its art galleries, independent shops and restaurants, is worth a look, as are the student neighbourhoods of Sogndal and Volda — about 10 per cent of the city’s residents are students. There is also a thriving music scene. Haakon Odegaard of Malling & Co estate agency (a Savills associate) says: “Skostredet is original, real and lively — a pulsating part of the city centre with many hidden treasures.”


Average apartment price: £4,946 per sq m

Average rent per month: £860 (one-bedroom flat, city centre)

Most happening neighbourhood: Skostredet


7. Aachen, Germany
Germany’s most westerly city is famed for its spa waters, spiced biscuits (printen) and Unesco-listed cathedral, where Charlemagne is buried. It is a small compact city, with Germany’s largest technical university to the northwest. Pontstrasse is the place for lively nightlife, although Frankenberger Viertel is a well thought of neighbourhood with a range of activities at the Moltke Park, with skateboarding, festivals, workshops and art installations.


Average apartment price: £2,625 per sq m

Average rent per month: £8.19 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Frankenberger Viertel


8. Oslo, Norway
The capital of Norway hosts several large music festivals each year, and Grunerlokka is the city’s equivalent of Shoreditch in east London, with microbreweries and vintage shops galore. When Brewdog opened its first bar in Norway it came here. The city has styled itself as the world’s winter capital, with several ski areas in close proximity, the largest being Skimore with 18 slopes. There is also a 2km toboggan run from Frognerseteren to the Midtstuen metro station, after which you could go for a sauna and an icy dip in the city harbour at one of the “sauna rafts”. However, nothing is cheap in Norway and property prices have been increasing steadily.


Average property price: £5,148 per sq m

Average rent per month: £1,008

Most happening neighbourhood: Grunerlokka


9. Utrecht, the Netherlands
Utrecht is right in the middle of the Netherlands and offers everything you would expect of a Dutch city — canals, bikes, culture and flower markets. It is home to one of the Netherlands’ largest universities and attracts plenty of digital nomads too with its reputation for good wifi and co-working spaces. Wittevrouwen, close to the city centre, has a large number of bars, restaurants and speciality stores — “and a very young and urban vibe”, according to Raymond Frederiks from Savills Netherlands. A little further out Oost and Universiteitskwartier are lively districts popular with students and cheaper than Wittevrouwen.


Average property price: £376,585

Average rent per month: £1,045

Most happening neighbourhood: Wittevrouwen


10. Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva in French-speaking Switzerland, has been undergoing a quiet renovation. The old town is uphill, while the newer port is in Ouchy on the waterfront. Here at Le Flon you can find bars, boutiques and galleries in former warehouse buildings. David Colle from Luxury Places estate agency says: “Le Flon has gone from an old industrial wasteland to a new dynamic area with shops and restaurants, concentrating a good part of the nightlife of Lausanne.” Near by, Plateforme 10 is a new arts district being created in the city’s former train sheds. Three of the city’s largest museums are set to move here and there will also be restaurants and a library. The university and polytechnic are to the west of the city on the lakeside. However, property is not cheap, although price growth has started to slow in recent years.


Average house price: £1.54 million

Average rent per month: £1,877 (for a two-bedroom flat)

Most happening neighbourhood: Le Flon


11. Toulouse, France
Toulouse, known as la ville rose because of the pink colour of its terracotta brick buildings, is the fourth-largest city in France, with one of the oldest universities in Europe and more than 100,000 students. It also ranks first for economic growth, demographic evolution, job creation and investment in research and development in the country. Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer giant and main competitor to Boeing, is among the city’s largest employers. The conglomerate has its head office and one of its production plants on the outskirts of the city. With its warm weather, sparkling nightlife and strong Occitan identity, Toulouse is often compared to Barcelona (it lies only 75 miles from the Spanish border).


Average house price: £3,206 per sq m

Average rent per month: £595

Most happening neighbourhood: Carmes


12. Dublin, Republic of Ireland
In the decade or so after the financial crisis Dublin has grown to become one of the world’s most vibrant cities. It is now known as the Silicon Valley of Europe, with big tech companies setting up campuses here, from Facebook to Google, all filled with youthful employees. The capital has great universities, a buzzing nightlife (from a clichéd pint of Guinness to the most innovative cocktail bars) and one of the best music scenes in Europe. What’s more, it’s just over an hour’s flight from London, and Brexit will only strengthen the Irish city’s appeal. However, it ranked as the sixth most expensive city in Europe in this year’s Mercer cost of living survey.


Average house price: £401,709

Average rent per month: £1,858

Most happening neighbourhood: Phibsborough


13. Malmo, Sweden
More affordable than nearby Copenhagen, which is only a 35-minute journey away on the train, Malmo offers larger, cheaper properties compared with its Danish counterpart. The city has grown enormously over the past 20 years, since the opening of the Oresund bridge, which connects it with Denmark. Many people working in Copenhagen have since decided to relocate to Malmo and commute to the Danish capital. Malmo is an important hub for the video game industry, and Ikea also has a large presence in the city. The high number of international workers makes Malmo a buzzing, multicultural place to live, where English is lingua franca and everything is a 15-minute cycle. The only downside? The city (but also Sweden in general) is an expensive place to drink or dine out. A beer costs £7, while a gin and tonic can set you back twice that amount.


Average house price: £365,000

Average rent per month: £700

Most happening neighbourhood: Mollevangen



14. Lyons, France
The ancient city of Lyons is known for its food. It has some 4,000 restaurants, 20 of which have earned Michelin stars. It is not all starched tablecloths and haute cuisine, though: there is an alternative youthful side to the city. La Croix-Rousse, the former silk weavers’ quarter, retains its artistic allure. Cyril Robert of Savills France says: “The slopes and the plateau of La Croix-Rousse have today become a mecca for students and artists. There is street art and shops for young designers, as well as traditional silk workshops, student bars and discotheques — outside the lockdown period, of course.” Another area to watch is Confluence, a new district full of bars and restaurants that have sprung up around the brutalist-style Musée des Confluences.


Average house price: £4,545 per sq m

Average rent per month: £109 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: La Croix-Rousse


15. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, but despite its modest size (and cold temperatures) it regularly ranks as one of the world’s best cities for quality of life. The excellent public transport, social welfare and a low crime rate contribute to its appeal. The city’s Design District covers about 25 streets and contains more than 200 buildings, including the Design Museum, which dates from 1873. Winters in Finland are dark and cold, but don’t be afraid — Helsinki has plenty of Finnish saunas to keep you warm.


Average house price: £3,959 per sq m

Average rent per month: £20.78 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Kallio


16. Naples, Italy
Despite being the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan, Naples city centre retains its traditional, working-class heritage. This is reflected in the inexpensive rents and most importantly in the cheap traditional cuisine of its endless trattorias. But don’t get distracted by the €3 pizza. The capital of the Campania region is also far less touristy than Florence or Rome, despite its long history. Head to the centro storico if you are on a budget, or if you have the cash to splash then try the hilltop district of Vomero, once the urban retreat of local noble families and their villas. This leafy and upscale neighbourhood offers breathtaking views of the bay and Mount Vesuvius.


Average house price: £2,564 per sq m

Average rent per month: £10.62 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Piazza Bellini


17. Palermo, Italy
Palermo has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years and has been an important crossroads for cultures in the Mediterranean. From the Greeks to the Arabs, the Byzantines to the Normans, the city’s long and rich history is reflected in its architecture and food culture. Take the cathedral, which was originally built as a mosque and converted into a Christian church by the Normans. Or the city’s street food extravaganza, which is epitomised by street markets such as Vucciria or Ballaro. Palermo has a condensed, easily walkable city centre and offers large, inexpensive houses that can be easily afforded by first-time buyers. Its proximity to great beaches, such as Mondello and Capo Gallo, is the city’s trump card.


Average house price: £1,221 per sq m

Average rent per month: £6.60 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Kalsa


18. Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Every Thursday in the Vegueta district, the old town of Las Palmas, it’s tapas night, when bars offer buckets of small tapas (or pinchos) and beers for about €5 until they (quickly) run out. The capital of Gran Canaria island in the Canary Islands has fabulous weather all year round — and the volcanic island off the northwest coast of Africa offers all sorts of natural wonders, such as sand dunes, beaches, reefs, forests and volcanoes. Las Palmas has a great movida (nightlife scene) and is a popular surfing destination. Co-working spaces with fast broadband are commonplace across the Canary Islands, so if you want a change of scenery you can hop on a plane or ferry to nearby Fuerteventura without having to worry about the wifi.


Average house price: £1,884 per sq m

Average rent per month: £9.25 per sq m

Most happening neighbourhood: Vegueta


19. Murcia, Spain
Sitting comfortably in a fertile valley, Murcia in southeastern Spain has a long agricultural tradition and exports some of the fruit and vegetables that will end up on our tables in the UK. A cosmopolitan city with good universities, Murcia also has fantastic weather — it is part of an area that residents call “the Caribbean of Europe” — and sea views such as those on the Costa Calida, where white sandy beaches stretch for miles. Known as the “city that never sleeps”, Murcia is also a party hotspot. Check out the Las Tascas areas with its endless bars, or the Luminata Disco nightclub for a proper night out. The city is also one of the cheapest in Spain in terms of cost of living and property prices.


Average house price: £845 per sq m

Average rent per month: £580 per month

Most happening neighbourhood: La Merced


20. Porto, Portugal
Portugal’s second city is a thriving coastal city in the northwest of the country that attracts tourists as well as foreign property investors. The younger generation head to the Bairro das Artes, where, Alexandra Gome of Savills Portugal Research, says, “you will find shops, artists’ studios and co-working spaces. If we think of the trendy, young and creative concept, this is the area to be.” Another area to watch is Bonfim, or neighbouring Campanha, where the Matadouro slaughterhouse is about to be transformed into a huge cultural centre. Property prices in Porto are the second most expensive in Portugal after Lisbon, and are 6.9 per cent higher than this time last year, according to Imovirtual. At the moment there is a “golden visa” scheme in Portugal for non-EU residents, offering residency in exchange for €350,000 in property investment, although there are plans for Porto to be excluded from 2021.


Average house price: £284,327

Average rent per month: £832

Most happening neighbourhood: Bairro das Artes

Sources: CBRE/Savills/Others