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Dan and I are digital nomads, so we stay in countries much longer than the average traveler. In 2019, we spent three months in Ukraine split evenly between the western city of Lviv and the capital city of Kiev.
Although the cost of living in Ukraine is fairly cheap, there was a pretty big price disparity between the two cities because Kiev was significantly more expensive than Lviv. But whichever city you visit, this breakdown of our cost of living in Ukraine will help you create the perfect budget for your trip!
Rent Prices in Ukraine
We always rent on Airbnb both for the protection it provides us and because it usually has the biggest selection of furnished apartments.
Rent was our biggest expense in both cities and is higher than you may expect in Ukraine compared to the prices for other goods in the country. This is because the market for rentals is fairly small at the moment so competition is limited and prices go up.
In Lviv, we rented a clean and spacious one-bedroom apartment in the city center. We stayed for 36 days and paid $838 including all Airbnb fees, cleaning fees, internet, and utilities. That came out to about $23.25 per night.
In Kiev our one-bedroom apartment was in the Pechersk neighborhood, 20-minutes walking from a central area with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. We paid $990 for 43 days, so our total again came out to $23 per night including all fees and utilities. You can find cheaper options in both cities by opting for studio apartments or less desirable locations.
For short-term stays, staying in hostels with shared dorm rooms will also save you some major cash. The Botanic Globus Hostel and the Friends Forever Hostel are both in the Pechersk neighborhood and have dorm beds for as low as $5 to $8 per night!
Our apartment was a block away from this central Rynok Square in Lviv
Public transport is incredibly cheap in Ukraine. In Lviv the tram lines cost 20 cents per ride and in Kiev the bus and metro was 30 cents per ride. We usually used Uber because a 10-minute trip would only cost about $2.
The train ride between Lviv and Kiev cost $12 for second-class tickets on the six-hour trip. The country has most of the budget airlines like RyanAir and WizzAir so you can find cheap domestic and international flights as well. (I found flights on Skyscanner for our trip from Kiev to Manchester and back for only $56 each.)
Like rent, groceries are a bit higher than you might expect based on the other prices I’m throwing out in this article.
Both Kiev and Lviv have a supermarket chain called Silpo which is one of the best I’ve encountered outside of the US. (I’d rank it worse than Kroger, similar to Spar, and better than Carrefour if those comparisons tell you anything.)
Because Silpo was so big and well stocked there was usually a range of prices for most items we needed. Your purchases and expenses will obviously vary based on taste but Dan and I (who work from home and eat in most meals) usually spent about $75 to $100 per week on groceries in both cities.
Of course, we also ate out and sampled the Ukrainian cuisine as well.
In Lviv, a cheap to-go meal like a cup of soup or slice of pizza was $1 to $2. A mid-range sit-down meal with a main and a drink was between $4 and $8 per person and an expensive meal in an upscale restaurant with an appetizer and glass of wine only cost about $10 to $12 per person.
Kiev is more expensive, and though you can still find cheap options a mid-range restaurant will be about $6 to $10 per person and an upscale restaurant closer to $15 or $20.
My list of the 11 best restaurants in Kiev links to the menus for each one if you want to see more specific pricing. You can also check out my guide to the 10 best cheap restaurants in Lviv for more details.
Just a quick pic of the ahhh-mazing food in Ukraine
If you like to drink, you’re in luck because alcohol is very affordable in Ukraine.
Buying craft beer in stores was usually around $2 per bottle (which is a bit on the higher end) but in bars, restaurants, and breweries it was also the same price which was great.
Glasses of wine were $1 to $2 in restaurants in Lviv but for some reason much more expensive (around $4 or $5) in Kiev. In both cities, I found bottles of wine in the grocery stores for around $3.
If you’re on a budget you can definitely drink on the cheap in Ukraine. On the other end of the spectrum, upscale cocktail bars (especially in Kiev) can range up to $6 or $8 per drink.
This article on the 10 best bars in Lviv (with prices) will give you an accurate picture of what you can expect to spend on alcohol in Ukraine in 2019.
Our entertainment expenses reflected the cost of living in Ukraine pretty accurately and were generally low.
Our gym in Lviv cost $24 per month and in Kiev we paid $15 per month. In Lviv we also found a super cheap coworking space for $75 per month in the city center but it was weird (I think a homeless guy was actually living in it at some point) and most other coworking spaces were much more expensive.
There were plenty of free churches, museums, and parks to visit on the weekends, and museums that did have entrance fees were almost never more than $2 per person.
We did an eight-hour castle tour from Lviv for $17 per person and our most expensive excursion in Ukraine was the Chernobyl tour which was $100 per person for a full-day trip with transport, food, and guides.
Gorgeous St. Michael’s Monastery in Kiev
Our Total Cost of Living in Ukraine
During our three-month trip, I found that the cost of living in Ukraine was low.
Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly weekend away or a long-term base abroad, this country is a spectacular choice. We were able to stretch our money pretty far while still enjoying some of our favorite things like good food and craft beer.
I preferred Lviv to Kiev overall (and these are my seven reasons why) and found Lviv to be significantly cheaper than Kiev as well. But whichever city you choose, you’re bound to have an awesome time.
Now that you know how affordable the cost of living in Ukraine is, plan the rest of your trip with the Ukraine Travel Guide for more insider tips like a DIY walking tour of Kiev and where to find the best dumplings in Lviv. Yum!