Post-Brexit edition: Dispatches’ 2020 list of Europe’s 5 best cities for expats

No. 4 Ljubljana: 480 points (440 in 2019)

Ah, the Switzerland of the Balkans.

We put Ljubljana on our list in 2019 after we heard great things about it from everyone we knew who’d ever visited. When we started doing the research, we were taken aback – Ljubljana is affordable and innovative and on the edge of Eastern Europe, where we believe the action will be for the next decade.

There are lots of cool things that put little Ljubljana on our list.

It’s beautiful, with skiing and lots of outdoor activities.

• Bike sharing is big, with 32 docking stations across this small city, population 300,000.

• Slovenia’s education system is ranked as No. 13 in the world by the Program for International Student Assessment and No. 4 in the EU only behind Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands, according to the most recent OECD rankings.

• It’s a leader in robotics and even space exploration, with Slovenia announcing plans to launch its own satellites. Last year, Slovenia made headlines when officials announced a new AI center in collaboration with UNESCO.

Ljubljana was short-listed for European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2020 and was tops in digitalization. By the way, Slovenia is the richest of the Slavic companies with the highest GDP per capita.


• Overall cost of living compared to London: Score 100

COL in Ljubljana is 46-percent less than London.

• Quality of Life/housing: Score 90

Housing is about half the cost of London, according to Expatica.

This is one of the “Green” capitals of Europe, ranked No. 8 by the Copenhagenize bicycle-friendly cities Index. Our research shows the housing market is stable here. U.S. News and World Report has Slovenia at No. 53 on their list of the best countries with bonus points for quality of life, entrepreneurship and business-friendliness.

• Talent and serious career opportunities: Score 70

The country as a whole has a tiny population of only 2 million. The largest companies in Slovenia are mostly local including Petrol, the national energy company. But there are many multinationals here, including Siemens, SAP and other companies. Slovenia as a whole has a low unemployment rate of 4.3 percent as of October 2019.

The bad news? Ljubljana University is not great.

• English speakers: Score 80

The data we found estimates about 60-percent of Slovenians speak English on some level, and almost all young people in urban centers speak conversational English.

• International Schools: Score 70

Ljubljana has at least three international schools including British International School and QSI International School.

• Corruption: Score 70

On Transparency’s internationals corruption Index, Slovenia is 35 out of 180 for 2020, the worst ranking on our list, but higher that Spain, Italy or Croatia.

Negatives: Is a city of 280,000 people – roughly 37-percent of the population of Zagreb – really a city?

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Most Popular

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!