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Cost of Living in Chisinau

This page will show you my monthly living expenses starting with September 2005. The main purpose of this page is to give you a real life example of what it costs to live in Chisinau, so that you could compare it with the official living minimum and with the average salary in Moldova. There are a few caveats, please read them to avoid getting a wrong impression from my particular way of life.

Here's a chart of Food and Utilities expenses. These are the only two categories that are constant, while others depend on circumstances and vary wildly from month to month.
Chart of Monthly Expenses

I apologise if the table is not as readable as it could be, but I am not sure how to format it. Suggestions are welcome.

All amounts are in US dollars, converted from Moldovan Leu at the National Bank Of Moldova rate on the last day of the respective month. Even though the USD has dropped in 2007, I am keeping this currency as my income is in USD, like for many other people in the financial industry in Moldova.

Month Food and drink Baby Pet (cat) Public transport Utilities Communi-
cations
Health and Beauty Household Clothing Enter-
tainment
Total Exchange rate (per 1 $)
June 2008 353 184 41 1 65 40 48 45 5 8 790 MDL 9.92
May 2008 346 222 7 9 32 46 58 80 158 8 892 MDL 10.25
April 2008 351 501 45 1 60 45 60 39 0 12 1041 MDL 10.37
March 2008 230 203 3 1 62 27 46 94 8 14 616 MDL 10.61
February 2008 271 188 4 1 61 26 37 38 87 13 726 MDL 11.19
January 2008 192 59 42 1 64 25 84 24 75 15 581 MDL 11.28
December 2007 254 315 3 1 49 42 50 23 7 7 751 MDL 11.32
November 2007 181 103 35 3 47 24 63 15 88 7 566 MDL 11.26
October 2007 180 88 3 1 29 25 188 78 90 7 689 MDL 11.47
September 2007 214 212 37 6 30 51 334 119 26 7 1036 MDL 11.51
August 2007 202 --- 0 6 29 32 76 47 72 13 477 MDL 12.08
July 2007 218 --- 33 4 20 39 45 50 14 8 431 MDL 12.11
June 2007 284 --- 5 3 24 29 16 240 22 6 629 MDL 12.27
May 2007 235 --- 32 7 22 39 123 108 147 19 732 MDL 12.42
April 2007 234 --- 3 11 41 32 122 102 220 6 771 MDL 12.41
March 2007 278 --- 29 11 40 38 35 244 134 30 839 MDL 12.52
February 2007 176 --- 2 10 44 30 78 50 37 6 433 MDL 12.80
January 2007 146 --- 33 13 33 30 112 43 1 6 417 MDL 12.97
December 2006 202 --- 7 10 35 30 68 100 14 61 528 MDL 12.91
November 2006 200 --- 19 10 23 27 118 32 19 8 457 MDL 13.19
October 2006 174 --- 21 10 19 30 37 39 69 13 413 MDL 13.23
September 2006 162 --- 25 8 22 38 22 1 118 6 402 MDL 13.29
August 2006 245 --- 59 10 25 28 94 62 164 12 699 MDL 13.32
July 2006 178 --- 52 16 21 31 81 66 71 13 531 MDL 13.32
June 2006 237 --- 65 11 19 35 92 53 51 14 577 MDL 13.29
May 2006 186 --- 20 6 27 26 87 27 11 23 413 MDL 13.22
April 2006 206 --- 52 11 36 22 86 22 144 10 589 MDL 13.01
March 2006 224 --- 16 10 43 36 39 178 31 10 587 MDL 13.02
February 2006 145 --- 12 6 40 20 14 3 0 10 251 MDL 12.97
January 2006 163 --- 14 9 43 12 69 84 5 22 423 MDL 12.93

Please read the notes below regarding the data in the table:

  1. Prior to September 2007, all expenses related to a family of 2 - young husband and wife (in their twenties). Starting September 2007, the family expanded to include a little girl :) .
  2. These expenses do not include rent or mortgage because we don't pay any (my parents own the apartment);
  3. After the birth of our daughter in September 2007, our parents have been helping us with shopping and cooking, which mostly means that we are not paying for some of our food expenses.
  4. The "Baby" category includes items that relate exclusively to the baby, such as clothes, diapers etc. Some items that we buy for our daughter but which can be used by us (e.g. some medicines etc.) go into their respective categories. Thus, the real Baby-related expenses are likely to be higher than what goes into the respective column in the table.
  5. Beginning with September 2007, we changed our preferred shopping place from the Green Hills chain, which became far too expensive, to cheaper stores. It is less convenient, but more economic.
  6. These expenses are by no means the total we spend each month. We spend more, but I am only showing those expenses that would be relevant to the general population.
  7. Exchange rates are taken from the National Bank of Moldova for the last day of each month. With the falling USD, the dollar amounts are inflated even if the MDL amounts stay the same or are slightly lower.
  8. When we buy food and drinks, we usually buy WHAT WE WANT, provided it is not abnormally expensive. We almost never eat out, but cook our food at home. I would say we buy a lot of stuff average Moldovans would not buy because of low disposable income. However, to have a decent quality of life (i.e. be able to consume coffee, chocolate, high quality meat etc.) one would have to spend at least as much as we do.
  9. Communications include home phone bill and mobile phone cards; starting March 2006, this also includes monthly internet bill for the next month (currently MDL 240);
  10. I mostly work from home, so public transport expenses relate mainly to Sasha, my wife; Transport also includes an occational taxi when coming home late in the evening;
  11. We are still finishing renovating our apartment so household expenses are higher than average because we are equipping our household with necessary items (dishes, pans, tools, bed linen, home appliances etc.);
  12. We have enough clothes so clothes shopping is rare. Read about shopping at the Living in Chisinau page to understand this better.
  13. Entertainment includes mainly going out to have dinner with friends, buying magazines and paying for cable TV.
  14. December 2005 Food & Drink expenses are high because of the preparations for celebrations. In January we hosted a friend for a whole month so January food consumption did not go down after December's high expenses. In March 2006, I guess, we just ate more expensive stuff. Another factor may be the fact that in 2006, the VAT (sales tax) on meat was apparently raised from 8% to 20%, and I like meat.
  15. In 2006 our cat was sick and we had to take him to the vet a lot.
  16. My birthday is in June, and Sasha's - in August, so June and August food expenses are high because we had a couple of small parties.
  17. In August 2006 public transport tariffs were increased.

For those looking for prices of individual items, here's another table. It shows average price of items in the last month when we bought it (in MDL). Thus, these prices may not be correct at all during periods of fast changes (early summer for vegetables and fruits, for example). These tables are shown on an "as is" basis and are for guidance purposes only. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want the table to contain other items. These prices are by no means the cheapest available - they are averages for us, depending on when and where we bought the respective products.

Category Average unit price in MDL Last measured month
Food
Fresh champignons, 1kg 35 Jun-08
Pasta, 0.4kg 10.91 Apr-08
Flour, 2kg 15.95 Apr-08
Rice, 1kg 19.23 May-08
Milk, 1 litre 6.40 Apr-08
Butter, 200g 14.50 Jun-08
Yoghurt 4x125g 14.00 Mar-08
Veal, 1kg 90.00 Jun-08
Pork, 1kg 91.18 May-08
Salami, 1kg 108.50 Jun-08
Carbonated drink, 1.5 litres 8.30 Jun-07
Mineral water, 2 litres 3.96 Apr-07
Tea, 100 teabags 29.60 Jun-08
Cabbage, 1kg 8.00 Jun-08
Zuccini, 1kg 6.00 Jun-08
Potatoes, 1kg 9.00 Jun-08
Onions, 1kg 9.00 Jun-08
Carrots, 1kg 10.00 Jun-08
Cucumbers, 1kg 9.00 Jun-08
Tomatoes, 1kg 15.00 Jun-08
Frozen chicken, 1kg 44.00 Jun-08
Eggs, 10pcs 13.30 Jun-08
Juice, 2 litres 18.53 May-08
Cheese, 1kg 100.86 Jun-08
Bananas, 1kg 16.00 Jun-08
Lemons, 1kg 37.00 Jun-08
Apples, 1kg 34.95 May-08
Household chemicals
Fairy, 1 litre 23.70 Feb-07
Persil gel, 1.5 litres 98.28 May-08
Liquid Soap, 1 litre 20.27 May-08
Calgon, 1kg 106.79 Feb-08
Hygiene
Toilet paper x10 pack 47.63 Apr-08
Aquafresh toothpaste 19.67 May-08
Toothbrush 19.19 Apr-08
Utilities
Electricity, 1 kilowatt-hour 0.98 Jun-08
Tap water, 1 cubic metre 5.07 Jun-08
Hot water (in addition to tap water charge), 1 cubic metre 19.30 Jun-08
Central heating, 1 gigacalory 233.00 Apr-08
Natural gas, 1 cubic metre 2.80 Jun-08