The Real Cost of Living in Ukraine

25.09.2017

Ukraine is a country of beautiful women and liberal prices. But women will always stay beautiful while the cost of living may eventually reach European level. That’s why if you’re curious about Ukrainian traditions and culture, now is the time to travel there. Such an adventure will bring you tons of new emotions and experiences.

Although there are a lot of online services that allow you to learn the prices in different countries, to find out the real cost of living in Kiev, Ukraine, you need to book a flight there and see for yourself. But there’s a cheaper way. Just check out this article to get the general idea of how much such stuff as accommodation, products, or entertainment cost in Ukrainian cities. We’ll take some average numbers across Ukraine as well as Kiev and Odessa as examples. These two cities are the most expensive in the country, so if you travel somewhere else, the prices will be lower.

cost of living in Ukraine

Some general costs of living in Ukraine

Entertainment

If you come from the US, the cost of living in Ukraine will pleasantly surprise you, unless you want to buy a ticket to a concert of a Western band. But as for other kinds of entertainment, we’re talking about ridiculously small prices. If you compare prices for entertainment and recreation, then a movie ticket will cost $10-13 in the US and $2-2.3 in Ukraine. A monthly fitness club or gym membership costs $60 in the States and from $30 to $40 in Ukraine.

Internet

As the standard of living in Ukraine is a little lower than in the US, the Internet in Ukraine is also pretty cheap, with prices ranging from $6.5 to $7.5 per 100 MB speed per month (comparing to $30-$75 in the US). But in fact, 50+ MB speed is more than enough. You won’t have any problems with paying for the service, as terminals can be found on almost every corner.

living in Kiev Ukraine Mobile connection

Mobile communication takes a tiny place in our budget. For 1 minute of conversation on a mobile phone in the US, you pay about $0.12 (without discounts) comparing to $0.05 in Kiev.

Transport

Apart from conventional public transport, such as buses, trams, and metro, there’s also a unique type of transport, called “marshrutka.” It’s like a taxi that follows a certain route. You can get on and off anywhere along the way. It seems weird at first, but after living in Ukraine for a couple of months, you’ll get used to it. The cost of a trip is 5-6 UAH (which is about 20 cents). When talking about the cost of living in Odessa, Ukraine, the prices for public transport are mostly the same.

Intercity traveling is a different thing. A train trip from Odessa to Kiev costs 350UAH ($13.2) in a four-bed compartment and 600 UAH ($22.6) in a more private two-bed compartment. Bed linen and hot drinks are included.

For almost every US citizen, a car is a must-have. So the cost of 1 liter of gasoline in the US is lower: $0.62 compared to $0.97 in Ukraine. If you decide to take a taxi, a trip in the Ukrainian capital will cost you $0.25 per 1 kilometer in comparison to Washington with its $3.26 per kilometer. Although most people use public transport. Speaking of the general condition of roads, the US is clearly ahead of Ukraine both in terms of quality and speed of repairs.

Food

Eating out. Prices in Ukrainian cafes and restaurants are low. You have a great appetite if your check in an average restaurant is bigger than 350 UAH ($13.2). Such prices make even the more expensive establishments quite affordable. Lunch with a drink in the American steakhouse will cost you about 60-65 dollars, with prices for a glass of wine starting from $15. The same order in the Ukrainian steakhouse won’t be bigger than 25 dollars.

Groceries. As the cost of living in Ukraine is cheap, you won’t pay much for products in local supermarkets and grocery stores. The prices for vegetables and fruits are low, especially in summer and early autumn. For example, you can buy a big basket of strawberries for $1.5. During winter and spring months, fresh fruits and vegetables become a bit pricey. But still, you won’t spend more than 1000 UAH ($37.8) a week.

Comparing the prices for products in Ukrainian and US capitals, the cost of 1.5 liters of drinking water in Kiev is $0.35, while in Washington, the price is $2.1. One kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of chicken fillet in Kiev costs about $2.70, and in Washington, it costs $9.6. A loaf of bread costs $0.25, while in Washington, the price is $ 3.1. As you see, in Ukraine, the cost of living is cheap.

Drinks

For this part, let’s see what you may come across when living in Odessa. Ukraine doesn’t stop surprising us with prices even in this resort city. A glass of local beer in a bar won’t cost you more than 25-27 UAH (about $1). Foreign brands are a bit pricier, starting from 40 UAH ($1.5). A few words should be said about Ukrainian wine. A glass of it will also cost about $1.5 but don’t let the prices fool you, as wine here is as great as in Georgia. In case if you want to celebrate some special occasion, a bottle of champagne will cost 200 UAH ($7.5).

Considering that Odessa is one of the Ukrainians’ favorite vacation destinations, the prices here are a little higher than in Kiev. Take this into account when choosing a city to stay.

Accommodation

standard of living in Ukraine Apartment rent. Rent takes up most of the expenses both in Ukraine and the US, but the prices vary significantly. Renting a one-bedroom apartment close to the city center will cost about $2000 in Washington, while in Kiev, this will cost you $280-290. If you’re looking for an apartment with two bedrooms in a residential area, the prices vary from $2765 in Washington to $300 in Kiev. In case if you want to buy an apartment, then one square meter in the center of the US capital will cost you $5930 and about $3900 in Ukraine.

The thing is that for foreigners living in Ukraine, the rent is always higher than for locals. And it doesn’t matter how tight your budget is, if you speak English, be ready for realtors setting the price for the apartment a bit higher than it actually is. Criticizing them for it won’t change anything for you; it’s just the way it goes in Ukraine. You don’t have any other choice but to bargain.

Don’t forget about the cost of utilities. Be ready to pay about $30-34 for electricity, water, and gas per month for an 80-square-meter apartment in Kiev. During the coldest winter months, you may expect to pay about $270-$300 for an apartment with one bedroom close the center of Kiev per month. These numbers already include utilities (electricity, gas, water, but not the Internet). If you need a housekeeper, be ready to pay additional $180 per month. We should mention that the prices for apartments vary depending on a season.

Hotels. But there’s no need in mentioning that the hotel prices also vary. If you prefer living in Kiev, Ukraine, the costs of staying in an average hotel are between $20 and $50. As for staying in a more fashionable place, the prices are also pleasantly low comparing to the ones in the US or Europe. A night in such hotel will cost you around $100. You won’t find such cheap prices anywhere else.

Education

In the US. US universities are recognized all over the world and highly valued in the labor market, so the cost of obtaining master’s degree in the US starts at $40,000 regardless of the state and specialty. When talking about different specialties, cities, and universities, the cost can go up to $100,000 per year. The average cost of education in the United States is approximately $60,000 per year with accommodation and administrative fees.

In Ukraine. Taking the cost of living in Ukraine into account, tuition fees in local Universities are quite affordable, ranging from $1000 to $2500 per year. These prices are relevant for Science, Management, and Engineering programs for foreigners. If you’re interested in medical related programs, be expected to pay from $2500 to $3000 per year. Still a considerable difference in comparison to the US.

Average monthly wage in the US and Ukraine

living in Odessa Ukraine Comparing monthly wages in Ukraine and the US, you can see a huge difference, as the average wage in Washington, for example, is $3435, and in Kiev, it’s about $320 (8377 UAH as of September 2017). Now let's compare how much people earn per hour in these countries. The minimum wage in Ukraine per hour is $0.35. The minimum wage in the US is $ 7.25 per hour. As you can see, the numbers speak for themselves. The monthly wages in Ukraine can’t be even compared to the ones in the US. But considering the cost of living in Ukraine, the difference gets a bit smaller.

Analyzing all of the above, we can conclude that the standard of living in Ukraine doesn’t even come close to that of the US. The number of great opportunities in America is fundamentally different, but at the same time, the requirements there are also much higher. We shouldn’t forget about such thing as insurance, as there’s no affordable free medicine, and education and apartment rentals are higher.

In conclusion

So, if you’re looking for some changes in life, just move to Ukraine. There are not many civilized countries where you can enjoy a great meal for less than $5, take a ride across the whole city for a couple of cents, and lead a healthy and active lifestyle for $1000 a month. But you shouldn’t hesitate because, like in many other countries, in Ukraine, the cost of living gets higher and higher. Sooner or later, the prices there will reach European level.

But before considering moving to Ukraine, you need to take a few things into account. Life in this country is different. Ukrainian mentality is unique, though some say that people there are nicer than in the US. Besides, you’ll have to get used to some cultural peculiarities and learn a new language. But the experience you’ll get will be worth it.