As an American who moved to Europe many years ago, I have learned a lot about European culture. Besides being jealous of many facets of European life like healthcare and vacation time, one feature of the continent that I have always respected is the Erasmus programme. The name is a pseudo-acronym for “EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students”. The programme is essentially a student exchange programme that helps international students easily study throughout the continent. As of 2014, 27 years after its creation, the programme has promoted the mobility of more than 3.3 million students within the European community Nothing of the sort exists in the United States, and that is a shame. But there is one problem with Erasmus: European students have too many choices! This article looks at recent cost-of-living data to show the differences among potential Erasmus locations, thereby also giving an insight into the economic situations in various countries.
Countries with a low cost of living are the cheapest countries for students, although this year they are less interesting than they have traditionally been, as they have high inflation rates. Turkey is the cheapest country, as renting a room there costs a minimum of 211 euros per month with expenses, however it should be noted that the price of rents is 72% more expensive today than it was a year ago. The average cost of living per month stands at €509, according to Wise, also much higher than a year ago due to the high inflation rate of around 80%.
Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria are also attractive options, with rental prices of 237, 325 and 353 euros per month including expenses respectively. The average cost of living in these countries is €541, €663 and €756, more affordable amounts for a €210 allowance.
“The countries categorized as ‘low cost of living’ are precisely those with the highest inflation, with an average of 21% for the general cost of living and almost 35% for accommodation,” Wise notes. In this group, students with destination Czech Republic will be the most affected by this price increase, especially as far as rent is concerned, since the minimum expenditure stands at 735 euros per month.
France (1,465 euros monthly cost of living), Germany (1,441) and Italy (1,287) are the preferred destinations for students from Western European nations. They are considered countries with an average standard of living, although in these countries there is not only a general problem of rising rents but also, in some cases, a lack of available housing for students.
It is clear that, given the disparity between grants and the cost of living in these destinations, students need to have accumulated previous savings or receive help from their parents to be able to afford to stay abroad. “Many banks and companies offering international transfer services inflate the exchange rate without informing the consumer. It is therefore important to compare prices and check that the exchange rate offered corresponds to the real exchange rate,” says Wise.