Cost of Living Report – Odessa, Ukraine
For anyone thinking of moving to Odessa, or elsewhere in Ukraine, we thought it might be useful to do a breakdown of the cost of living. Advertised salaries can look really low, but in fact, given the low living costs, you can live a very comfortable life.
The currency of Ukraine is the Hryvnia – pronounced Grivna, which at the time of writing was about 26 to the dollar. All of these prices are for both of us.
Rent = free
In Odessa, we got accommodation provided by our job, so we didn’t have to pay any rent. We got given a flat about 15 minutes from the school with living room, one bedroom, one dining room/spare bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. The school even gave us a care package when we moved in, with basic food, medicine, cleaning products and even some wine and beer.
Bills = about 500 – 1500 UAH a month
The biggest expense for bills was gas. In winter the heating is on constantly (there’s no option to set a timer or anything). Gas prices went up a lot while we were there, and our bill was about 1000 UAH a month in winter. Obviously, this is a lot cheaper in summer.
Electricity cost about 200 UAH per month. This would obviously be higher if you use the air con a lot in summer, when it gets up to 40 degrees. Our only air con unit was in the dining room/spare bedroom, so we didn’t use it often. At night we slept with the window open, which was cool enough.
This was really cheap. Pennies really.
These three bills were sorted by the school, and the money was deducted from our salary. We didn’t even have to worry about how to pay them.
We also paid a fee for the communal areas of our courtyard, but this was only about 200 UAH a month. This covered cleaning of the landing and stairs outside our flat, and of the courtyard outside.
Internet = about 200 UAH per month
The Internet was super cheap at about 200 UAH a month. We had 20+ MB speed for about 4 quid a month. We paid it using one of the many machines around the city. You can top up your mobile phone on them too.
Mobile phone = 100 UAH a month.
We had a Life SIM card provided by the school. All the staff are on Life, and calls within the network are really cheap.
The main form of transport is the marshrutka – small buses. You hail them anywhere on the street, get on, and then pay when you want to get off. It cost 7 UAH a trip anywhere. When working in the other school in the city, it cost 14 UAH a day, so about 280 UAH a month – about$10.
Buses to Kiev from Autolux cost about 315 UAH for standard, and 415 for VIP. On the VIP bus there are only three seats to a row, so you get plenty of leg room. You also get a TV in the back of your chair for entertainment, wifi and a hostess selling drinks and snacks. Not a bad service at all for about $16.
Oddly, it’s quicker to travel from Odessa to Kiev by bus than by train. However, travelling at night is much more comfortable in a sleeper carriage on a train. It costs less than 300UAH in a compartment with four beds, and about 550 for one with two beds. For this price, you get clean bed linen and a conductor to serve you hot drinks, and wake you up in the morning when you get close to your destination.
You can book both buses and trains online using the links above. Be aware though, you sometimes need to spell Kiev ‘Kyiv’ and Odessa with one ‘s’ – Odesa.
Our school gives teachers a one-way flight at the beginning and the end of their contract (August and June-July). At Christmas, we flew home on Christmas eve (Ukrainian Christmas is in January). We flew back again about two weeks’ later. Flights cost about £250 for each of us, from Kiev via Paris or Amsterdam with Air France, or direct to London with Ukrainian Airways.
There wasn’t much need to take taxis often. A taxi from the beach cost about 50 grivna and it was the same for a taxi to the airport. Booking a taxi when you speak terrible Russian became much easier with the appearance of the Bond app (like Grab taxi and all the other taxi apps around the world).
Shopping = up to 1000 UAH a week
Local groceries are cheap, meaning bread, pasta, rice, and canned staples. Fruit and vegetables are really cheap in season. In summer, a big basket of cherries or strawberries was about $1. Out of season, fruit and veg could be really expensive though. Imported products were also pricey. In total, we probably spent about 500-1000 UAH a week.
Eating out was really affordable. A meal in an average restaurant was less than 200 UAH. Even the expensive places were affordable. We went out to the Steakhouse – quite a swish restaurant in the city centre. We had a meal each, including steak, Kris had two imported beers and I had two glasses of Argentinean red wine, all for less than $35. This was a special treat. We ate out in other places several times a week.
Again, this is really affordable. A pint of local beer costs about 25 UAH. Even a pint of Stella will only set you back 40. Ukrainian wine is also cheap and decent, as is Georgian wine, and you can get a glass for about 40 UAH. If you’re celebrating, you can buy a bottle of Ukrainian fizzy wine for about 200 UAH.
If you were considering moving to Odessa to live, hopefully, this will help you understand how much you will need to live on. If you have any further questions about it, contact us through this blog, or leave a comment. We’ll be happy to help.