Life as a single mom isn't always easy. The cost of childcare, healthcare, and housing quickly racks up, especially when you're living on a single income. And then there's schooling, safety, job opportunities, and more besides to think about. Where you live has a big impact on just how much time you spend worrying, and just how much time you spend enjoying your family. Fortunately, there's plenty of great cities, towns, and villages scattered across Europe which offer a great standard of life at an affordable price point. Without further ado, here are the 20 best places for single moms to live in Europe.
20. Gothenburg, Sweden
If you're looking for a city where the pace of life is relaxed, the standard of living is high, and the family-friendly appeal doesn't need spelling out, Gothenburg might well be your ideal match. The winters may be long, dark, and cold, but the Swedish hospitality will inject plenty of warmth into your days. Healthcare is free for all kids until the age of 20, and even after that, it's more than affordable. Sick leave is available at 80% of your salary and you can even claim it when your child is sick. If all that wasn't enough to tempt you, the fact that Gothenburg ranks as one of the cleanest, safest, and most charming cities in Sweden just might.
19. Liverpool, UK
Buying a home on a single-parent income can be challenging, at least in most places. In Liverpool, the situation is more attractive, with the average property costing just £173,000. Factor in the wealth of excellent schools, nurseries, and parks, and you can understand why so many single parents choose to make it their home.
18. Barcelona, Spain
According to wifitribe.co, Barcelona ranks as one of the very best places to live in Europe. They were talking generally, but there's definitely a lot here to attract single parents, including affordable housing, a low cost of living, and a chilled Mediterranean vibe that's the perfect antidote to the stresses and strains of parenthood. The weather is blissful all-year-round, letting families enjoy the wealth of parks and outdoor recreational opportunities 365 days a year. Like most cities, it has its trouble, but it's typically considered a very safe place to live. English is widely spoken, although you might need to brush up on your Spanish skills if you want to fully immerse yourself in the culture.
17. Pisa, Italy
Given Pisa's popularity as a tourist destination, it'd be tempting to think the cost of living would be sky-high. In fact, it's more affordable than you'd imagine, especially in comparison to some of Italy's other major cities. Other than having plenty of change leftover in your pocket after the bills have been paid, you can expect a very child-friendly vibe, great schools, decent healthcare, and plenty of fun activities for the family to enjoy.
16. Murcia, Spain
According to Forbes, Spain has some of the highest living standards in Europe—and for a lot less than in the U.S. In Murcia, living on a single-family budget won't come at the cost of a headful of grey heads. As one of the most affordable destinations in Spain, you'll be able to pick up a house, groceries, prescriptions, textbooks, and anything else your family needs for a fraction of what you'd pay in the US. In fairness, you'll need to have at least a sprinkling of Spanish to get by, but if you do, you'll find it a great place to call home.
15. Athens, Greece
Europeanbestdestinations.com has ranked Athens as one of the best places to live for expats. It's not exactly the worst place in the world for single moms, either. With moderate rents, affordable home prices, a fairly low crime rate, and a good selection of international schools to choose between, it's a great place to raise a family. English is widely spoken, but learning a little basic Greek will help you get by that much easier.
14. Munich, Germany
Germany has a lot going for it, not least in Munich. This incredibly friendly city delivers all the good stuff in spades... excellent schools, great healthcare, affordable living costs, attainable housing prices... you name it, it's got it. It's also packed with plenty of family-friendly activities, with a plethora of parks, museums, and recreational venues to enjoy. Safe, tolerant, and blessed with a vibrant, diverse community, Munich has a lot to offer at a surprisingly small price point.
13. Lisbon, Portugal
According to trekbible.com, the living cost in Lisbon is thrillingly low - expect to meet all your housing, childcare, utility, and grocery costs for around $1300 per month. Other key benefits of living in the Portuguese capital include a friendly, accepting environment, beautiful surroundings, easy access to the beach, and a community in which 75% of people understand at least some English. It's warm, it's friendly, it's safe... what more could you want?
12. Sheffield, UK
Real Homes describes Sheffield as a safe, green city with good schools. As descriptions go, it's bang on the money. For young, single parents, 'the best city up North' (as it's often described) comes with some great perks, including a welcoming community spirit, a safe, child-friendly environment, and some very affordable accommodation options. Childcare is affordable (expect to part with around £122 per week part-time per child), the schools are excellent, and there's enough going on in the city to keep the whole family entertained. Despite the fact it's a large, urban environment, it's also an incredibly green city, with plenty of parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy. So green are its credentials, in fact, it actually has the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe. If you want to head out to the countryside with the kids on the weekend, the magnificent Peak District is just a stone's throw away.
11. Plymouth, UK
If you're sick of spending the bulk of your earnings on childcare, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of Plymouth, a city that consistently ranks as having the cheapest childcare of any city in the UK, with the average cost coming in at just £350 per month per child. Cheap childcare isn't the only thing it has going for it - with a diverse population of 234,982 residents, a buoyant job market, good schools, and affordable properties, it's a great place to call home. If you prefer somewhere a little quieter, there are some great little villages scattered around its outskirts, most of which come with superb primary and secondary schools and convenient transportation links into the city.
10. Berlin, Germany
Berlin might be all energy and edge, but look beneath the hipster exterior and you'll find a lot on offer for single-parent families. Easily accessible by foot and bike, the city is a treasure chest of charms, with all the amenities, stores, cafes, museums, libraries, galleries, and recreational venues any family could ever need. Despite its capital status, it's eminently affordable, with both property prices and general living costs coming in at an attractive price point. Childcare is widely available at very decent rates, and the education system is excellent.
9. Madrid, Spain
If you're looking for the kind of home city that's blessed with gorgeous weather, a low crime rate, decent schools, affordable living costs, cheap childcare, and a fabulous quality of life, look no further than Madrid. Vibrant, diverse, and oozing with culture, this isn't just one of the best cities in Europe for single moms, it's one of the best cities in Europe, period.
8. Braga, Portugal
Braga has more to offer than a city of its size has a right to. Surveys often rank it as the happiest city in Portugal - it's not hard to see why. Blessed with year-round sunshine, a dynamic economy, great schools, and a family-friendly, welcoming vibe, it's a fabulous place to make your base. If you're thinking of combining parenthood with entrepreneurship, you're in luck - Braga has developed such a strong reputation for innovation and dynamism, it's recently introduced a reduced tax rate for start-ups to attract even more into the city. All Portuguese schools teach English as standard, so you shouldn't have too many problems getting by if your Portuguese is a little rusty.
7. Stockholm, Sweden
There's a lot of advantages to living in Sweden. Free healthcare until you reach the age of 20, paid sick leave, paid leave when your kids get sick, excellent schools, 480 days of parental leave when you have a child, with 390 of those days paid at 80% of your base salary, and a friendly, hospitable vibe. If you choose to live in the capital city of Stockholm, you get the added advantage of a wealth of attractions, museums, libraries, and other recreational opportunities, along with a very buoyant job market and a crime rate that barely registers on the scale. For single parents, it's a no-brainer.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
When the happiness of countries is measured, Denmark always ranks highly. And little wonder. Without question, it's a great place to live, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, close tight communities, low unemployment, and one of the smallest socioeconomic divides in Europe. For single-parent families, the outlook is even better, with a school system that focuses more on raising socially connected, well-rounded individuals than it does on test scores, heavily subsided childcare, plenty of options for flex working (a scheme that allows each parent to skip out of work early twice a week to pick up their kids from school), and generous maternity leave. It's not necessarily the cheapest place in Europe to live, but the high median incomes more than make up for the living costs.
5. Bordeaux, France
France has a lot to recommend it to single moms. For a start, the school system, while strict, is incredibly well respected. Teachers take an active role in nurturing and developing their students, with the result that test scores consistently rank among the best in Europe. Life is a little more laid back and less rigid than it is in the US, with families spending plenty of time together as a unit. With more emphasis on family and leisure than on work, there's plenty of opportunities to enjoy the stunning French coastline and countryside. While Paris tends to be the biggest target for expats, its cost of living can be a bitter pill to swallow. The charming city of Bordeaux, on the other hand, manages to combine the classic beauty and architecture of Paris with a cost of living that puts it firmly within reach.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Often described as the most beautiful city in all of Europe, Prague has long been an incredibly popular option among expats. Its old town, its astronomical clock, its bridges, and its castle district will take your breath away with their beauty. Although the cost of living has increased in recent years, it's still an eminently affordable place to live, with low rental costs, low property prices, and cheap groceries. For single moms, the benefits are extensive From cheap, exceptionally high-quality childcare to excellent schools, a booming job market with plenty of English-speaking opportunities, and a high percentage of English-speaking locals, it's an easy, affordable, and sublimely beautiful place to live.
3. Helsinki, Finland
According to The Independent, Finland is one of the best countries in Europe to raise a family. Safety, health, and well-being are all top of the agenda in the country, with the result that living standards are some of the best in the world. The Finnish capital of Helsinki may not be the cheapest place in Europe to live, but considering the high living costs are offset by an outstanding quality of education, easily available childcare, and high median incomes, it's still somewhere that anyone would be happy to call home.
2. Vienna, Austria
Unpakt.com thinks that Austria is one of the best places in Europe to live with a family. We'd struggle to disagree. Although you'll find it hard to make yourself understood without at least a smattering of German in most of the country, a good percentage of people in the capital city of Vienna speak English. The health care system is excellent (so excellent, in fact, that the World Health Organization ranks it as the 9th best in the world), the cost of living is reasonable, especially in comparison to US standards, and the school system is hard to fault. Amenities, museums, galleries, and green spaces are plentiful, giving you plenty of recreational options to choose between.
1. Brussels, Belgium
Belgium may be one of the smallest and most overlooked countries in Europe, but it's got a ton of perks, not least for single moms. Healthcare is publicly funded, eliminating the need for expensive private insurance. Schools are well funded and have excellent test scores. Creches and nurseries are publicly funded, so you won't need to worry about spending a fortune on early childcare. In the capital city of Brussels, job opportunities, amenities, and recreational options are bountiful, as are affordable housing options. It's also just an hour from the coast, letting you combine the best of city living with the delights of the seaside.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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