Living in: The world’s happiest places
Utrecht’s centre, near the two main squares Janskerkhof and Neude, and close to the Domplein, the cathedral square, is popular for its walkability and access to nightlife and restaurants. “The best areas are in the eastern part of town, such as expensive Wilhelminapark which has mansions and brownstones from the 1900s,” said de Waard. Also popular is neighbouring Oudwijk where the housing stock is being modernised, as is lowrise Wittevrouwen in the northeast of the city, with its family houses built in the 1920s and ‘30s. West of Centraal Station, Lombok is ethnically diverse with a Turkish and Middle Eastern population, and attracts a liberal crowd and young families. Further west, outside the city, a modern district called Leidsche Rijn has been developed over the last decade with large business parks and more than 10,000 homes, and it currently houses nearly 30,000 residents.
The average two-bedroom apartment costs around 200,000 to 250,000 euros in and around the city centre. Average rental prices for a two-bedroom in a good neighbourhood are between 1,250 and 1,400 euros per month.
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Malmo is Sweden’s third-largest city, but after more than a decade of being linked to Copenhagen via the Oresund Bridge, it is also considered part of a bigger trans-national metropolitan area. It has experienced growing pains: the multicultural city currently has the largest Muslim population in Scandinavia and anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise. The new mayor has pledged to fight them more seriously than her predecessor.
Malmo is also Sweden’s first fair trade city, meaning workplaces serve fair trade tea and coffee and stores promote ethical consumption. While the Old Town and its squares are as charming as ever, new development, architecture, transport and sustainability projects have attracted tech companies, university students and immigrants from around the world. “It’s easy to get around, you can ride your bike all over town and you always are close to the sea and countryside,” said Daniel Saveman, an estate agent with Fastighetsbyrån. “It is also very close to Copenhagen and the rest of Europe.”
Residents of Gamla Väster on the west side of the Old Town between the central Stortorget square and green Slottsparken successfully fought demolition and urban renewal in the 1970s. Now the small houses and buildings are very valuable and popular. On the other side of the park, reasonably priced and quiet Slottsstaden is close to the Ribersborg beach. On the waterfront, the rejuvenated neighbourhood of Västra Hamnen is home to Santiago Calatrava’s landmark Turning Torso tower, the tallest in Sweden. Further west, Limhamm, next to the Oresund Bridge, is a good place to look for a house near the water. An average two-bedroom house in these desirable areas ranges from 1.4 to 1.8 million Swedish krona, while the average rent for a two-bedroom ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 SEK a month.