Do you want to live in Europe without the high living costs associated with most European countries?
Latvia is an appealing and more affordable option that is home to over 1.8 million people and with a cost of living average about 29% lower than in the USA, it makes a very strong case for itself.
But exactly how much does living in Latvia cost??
We break down what life in Latvia is going to cost you.
Where is Latvia?
Latvia is one of the Baltic states, situated in North Eastern Europe. It is situated by the Baltic Sea and is between Estonia and Lithuania. The capital of Latvia is Riga and it’s known for its vast central market, art nouveau architecture, and also a medieval Old Town featuring St. Peters Church. Latvia has a mild and humid climate with relatively flat terrain located in the temperate climate zone with peak temperatures in July averaging 17 degrees. The country joined the European Union in 2014 which has had a significant benefit to income levels and the economy overall.
The average salary in Latvia
Official data shows that on average, people in Latvia earn 1,277 euros per month.
The minimum wage is 500 euros per month, which is quite low considering that the minimum wage in America is approximately $1160 a month (1092 euros).
If you were based in the capital city of Riga, here are some examples of the average monthly salary for a selection of jobs.
Hotel Receptionist – 700 euros ($744)
Chef/Cook – 900 euros ($956)
Lawyer – 1400 euros ($1487)
Hotel Manager – 1500 euros ($1594)
IT Analyst – 1600 euros ($1700)
Doctor (GP) – 1800 euros ($1912)
Dentist – 2200 euros ($2358)
As the average salaries are lower, this would translate into lower costs elsewhere.
The cost of living in Latvia
A family of four estimated monthly costs is circa 2589 euros ($2750) excluding rent costs. A single person on average would have estimated monthly costs of 779 euros ($828) without rent. Again, if you were based in Riga, you would see average living expenses to be about 45% less than in New York. We will look at a selection of areas for you to highlight the differences.
Again, based in Riga, rent is typically about 87% less than in New York. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment located in the centre is circa 506 euros ($537).
If you are looking to buy a property, as a guide, a one bedroom flat in a residential district would be on average 70000 euros ($74336). The same type of property based in the Old Riga district would be about 150000 euros ($159356). On the lower end of the scale, a Studio price in the area of Riga would be around 23000 – 30000 euros ($24435 – $31871).
Over 30% of property acquisitions are done in Jurmala which is famed for its pine forests and clean beaches. Housing here is more expensive than in other cities but it is still cheaper than in another European country. A flat would start from around 20000 euros ($21248) and a superior villa would set you back around 500000 euros ($531186).
· Fresh White Loaf (500g) – 182% more expensive in the USA
· 12 eggs – 41% more expensive in the USA
· White Rice (1kg) – 89% more expensive in the USA
· Potatoes (1kg) – 231% more expensive in the USA
· Water (1.5l bottle) – 156% more expensive in the USA
· Beef Round (1kg) (or equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 44% more expensive in the USA
We see the same trends when eating out in Latvia compared to the USA. On average, a meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant for 3 courses is about 57% more expensive and even a meal deal with Mcdonald’s is 36% more expensive than in the USA.
This theme carries over into drinks with a cappuccino about 75% more expensive, a 0.33l bottle of imported beer about 125% more expensive and the same sized bottle of Coke/Pepsi about 92% more expensive.
Overall on average, Grocery costs are about 77% higher in the USA than in Latvia and on restaurant prices, this is 62% higher in the USA.
There is one area in public transport we see as cheaper in the USA and that is gas prices. One liter in the USA is on average 0.95 euros ($1.01) but in Latvia, this increases to 1.87 euros ($1.99). However, the average taxi cost tends to be lower in Latvia with the average cost for a 1km journey being 0.70 euros ($0.75) compared to 1.58 euros ($1.68) in the USA. Buying a new car also tends to be slightly cheaper in Latvia.
As an average, we tend to see that the cost of monthly utilities in terms of heating, cooling, water, electricity and garbage for an 85m2 apartment in Latvia is circa 256 euros ($272). This is actually higher than the average in the USA of 168 euros ($179). However, a prepaid mobile tariff is cheaper in Latvia by about 5 cents a minute. A massive saving is found in the cost of the internet. For 60 Mbps (or higher) with unlimited data, the average is 16.09 euros ($17.13) compared to a huge jump to 64.73 euros ($68.90).
An average monthly fee for one child in a private, full-day preschool or kindergarten would be 334.82 euros ($356.43) in Latvia compared to 1078 euros ($1147) in the USA.
Sports and Leisure
If you enjoy going to a gym to beat your personal goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be pleased to know that on average, the monthly cost for membership is typically lower than in the USA. 36 euros ($38) compared to 39 euros ($42) in the USA.
For your nights out (food and drink were covered above), a visit to the cinema for an international release on average costs about 8 euros ($8.52) compared to the USA at 11.27 euros ($12) for one seat.
The financial benefits of living in Latvia
On top of the cultural and location benefits, the low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe is a big factor for people to consider moving here. Since joining the European Union in 2014, the standard of living for its citizens has indeed increased compared to the European average from 48% to 68%. Latvia has a flexible taxing system. Standard VAT is 21% and Corporate income tax is 15% which is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Adding to this the reliability of local banks gives a great place for entrepreneurs to move from abroad to set up a business. Of Latvia’s GDP, 65% is provided by small businesses.
Taking all of the above into account, Latvia should very much be on your list of places to relocate to. Many areas of living are more cost-effective and if you are thinking of relocating to set up a new business venture, there’s no better place to choose.