cheapest european countries
Studying in Europe is costly but thankfully there are countries with cheaper alternatives. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

From the Northern Lights in Reykjavik to the fashion mecca of Paris and the punkish creativity of Berlin, living in Europe is glorious. But it is also just as expensive. With the euro strengthening, many international students have to spend more to live and learn here.

Out of over 500 international applicants to UK universities, 88% of international applicants continue to see the UK as a positive or very positive place to study, a study by UCAS (which oversees the admission process to British universities) found. What’s putting off 69% of applicants surveyed are the high tuition fees and living costs as a top concern.

Alternatives exist, thankfully. There are some European countries that offer low tuition fees and low living costs. Below are the four cheapest European countries that will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds – a world-class education at a frugal cost:

A barmaid waits for customers in the Kleine Nachterevue cabaret, in the Berlin-Schoeneberg neighbourhood. Source: Merit Schambach/AFP


German universities have produced greats the likes of the author of the James Bond books Ian Fleming and the inventor of diesel Rudolf Diesel. Today, the main pull factor to Germany is low to zero tuition fees and affordable living expenses compared to other European cities such as London or Paris.

This is because most universities in Germany are state-owned, making tuition fees affordable for both home and international students. 

Though tuition fees are free, bear in mind that there are other minimal fees by the university that students have to bear such as application fees, enrollment and processing fees. These fees generally cost around 250 euros (US$246.38 at the time of writing).

That’s not all. International students looking for additional financial aid can still apply for a wide array of scholarship options too. 

Living costs in Germany will be your biggest expense. Students should prepare at least around 934 euros (US$920.46) a month to cover rent, groceries, transport and leisure. 

Haven’t decided which German uni to attend? This list can serve as a guide. 


Home to what’s arguably the best football teams in the world and Gaudí’s frosted fairytale houses in Parc Güell,  Spain charms international students from all around the world. Considered one of the cheapest European countries to study in, Spain offers tuition fees as low as 150 euros a year for bachelor’s and up to 3,500 euros (US$147.83 to US$3,449.25) for master’s at public universities.

The tuition fee costs vary according to your chosen programme and university, with private universities charging a higher fee. It’s wise to check with the university regarding tuition fee costs.

Similar to Germany, living costs in Spain are relatively more reasonable. Generally, you would need between 900 euros to 1100 euros (US$886.95 to US$1,084.05) to cover your day-to-day expenses. This varies according to your lifestyle as well as the city you’re living in.

To save on living costs, avoid cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Students can enjoy cheaper costs of living in cities like Valencia, Seville or Cadiz – 700 to 900 euros (US$689.85 to US$886.95) a month on average. 

Check out these cheapest universities that are perfect for international students. 

People take part in the LGBTIQA+ Pride Parade in Budapest on July 23, 2022. Source: Ferenc Isza/AFP


Next on the list is Hungary. Hungarian universities do not offer free tuition fees but they do offer low tuition fees and various scholarship programmes to international students. Compared to Germany and France, Hungary is still ranked among the cheapest European countries to study in. 

Students only need approximately 400 to 700 euros (US$394.20 to US$689.85) for student accommodation and other basic utilities. On average tuition fee costs range between 2000 to 4000 euros annually, but these figures may differ depending on the institution.

Another way for students to pinch their pennies is by preparing their own meals. Groceries cost as low as 40,000 Hungarian forint (US$95.08) monthly while eating out can cost you HUF70,000 (US$166.39) a month.

Some institutions may also charge application feesEnglish-taught programmes may be more expensive. Search here for those programmes. Here are some affordable Hungarian universities to consider.


Another favourite destination among international students. Not to be underestimated for its size, Belgium universities offer students big opportunities for students who seek a good education as they explore the graffiti, avant-garde installations of Brussels and the scenic waterways of Bruges (while munching on some crunchy croquettes).

Though Belgium is considered one of the more expensive European countries to live in, it still fares relatively low across Europe with the national average monthly rent being 650 euros (US$640.58).

Here is a breakdown of living costs in each Belgian city. Still on a hunt for cheap universities in Belgium? Here are the 30 most affordable unis to check out.