Life in St. Petersburg, cheaper than you think
24 May, 2019
Living in the Venice of North, as people use to call Saint Petersburg, may seem a paper dream. With a population of 5M inhabitants, give or take, and an appearance similar to metropolis such as London, Paris and other very expensive European capitals, the city can fool you into thinking that life here is extremely expensive. It is not so, and this is soon explained. The average salary here is of about 50000₽/month, so life in St. Petersburg must cost accordingly.
Let’s dig a little bit deeper. I decided to put forth the data I gathered, having crossed it with my personal experience.
Same as every big city it has a very wide range of different means of transport which make life in St. Petersburg so much easier, since it is likely that, wherever you are, you can reach a bus/tram stop or a metro station walking no more than 10 min. Let’s go a little bit deeper:
- Metro: a one-way ticket (жетон) costs 45₽. But, for those who need to use it often, different solutions are available. Go check on the dedicated website i linked above for further info.
- Bus/Tram: They can take you from the centre to the outskirts. I would say they’re the second more efficient transport in the city since they have a dedicated fast lane. As for prices I invite you to go check them on the bottom of the page i linked you above.
- Маршрутка (“Russian” bus – easily recognisable from the “K” before the number): They’re all over the place and every маршрутка has its specific route. The convenient things about these busses are that you decide where it stops and that it’s very cheap if compared to every other transport. (Ticket price depends on the length of your race)
- Taxi (Uber or Yandex): If you download one of these you’ll find out that going around by taxi is way cheaper than it is in Europe. I’ll take myself as example just so you can have a grasp on it. I live on Vasilevsky Island, approx. 10km far from the centre, a ride to my place costs from 150₽-400₽.
Let’s now discuss another key aspect of life in St. Petersburg: food cost. Doing a distinction appears again to be necessary. In fact, we can find different services at different prices, especially in the centre. I’m not saying that more money always equals more quality, but sometimes it is the case. Let’s go through a list of the best-known supermarket chains around Saint Petersburg divided per price range.
- Стокман (On Nevsky Pr. 114/16): The place where the ratio sq. meters/imported goods is insanely high, same as the prices. TBH, this is the best assorted place in the city centre, but some of the products are really overpriced if compared to competitors, just think that the av. check here is around 5000₽ for 3 grocery bags.
- Лента/Перекрёсток/О’КЕЙ/Карусель/Prisma: Same amount, more or less, can be used in one these mid-range supermarkets to buy food one person for a week or little less. On top of that, they have another strength: convenience. In fact, their stores are scattered all over the place.
- Пятёрочка/Дикси/Spar: Here we go with the discount chains that, to their advantage, can be found pretty much everywhere from the centre to the outskirts and usually offer very good deals. What’s more an average check here can range from 2500₽ to 3000₽ for the same 3 bags.
It goes without saying that there are different options and the market is continuously fluctuating, making it hard to make a guess. But, after a few searches, I would say that prices can be thus divided (depending on the distance from the centre):
- Room: 15000₽/month
- Studio: 30000₽/month
- Two-room flat: 50000₽/month
In order for you to get a lower rent you should avoid searching for your apartment in Airbnb where prices are more “European”. Whereas, in my opinion, one of the most reasonably-priced options here in Russia is Avito or ЦИАН (CIAN).
Concluding this paragraph I would like to point out that, as a rule of thumb, the better you speak Russian the cheaper you rent will be.
Let’s now get to the frivolous part of life in St. Petersburg: cafes, restaurants, and the like. Same as for apartments it’d be an understatement to estimate the average check worth. I’d rather divide the whole entertainment industry in 3 categories:
- High-end: We all know that luxury never comes cheap, but Russia can sometimes break the rules. In fact, living that high life in St. Petersburg is not impossible. The average check for a lavish night out ranges from 7000₽ to 20000₽, and a cocktail in an exclusive location can be worth from 500₽ to 2000₽.
- Average: When it comes to average places I’d say that a check in a bar may be worth between 250₽ and 400₽. In regard to restaurants or cocktails prices can range respectively from 300₽ to 700₽ and from 200₽ to 400₽.
- Cheap: Referring to low-end restaurants and bars I’d say that an average check may be worth around 200₽ for the first and 100₽ for the second.
So, all in all, we can say that the lower budget you can live on for a month in Saint Petersburg ranges from 30000₽ to 80000₽, depending on the accommodation and the number of night outs you indulge in. QED, strolling around this beautiful city is still not cheap, nevertheless not as expensive as you might have thought before reading this article. And now there’s nothing left I can do if not wishing you a pleasant stay.