Cost of Living in Kyrgyzstan

The cost of living in Kyrgyzstan is relatively low in comparison to other international expat destinations. This is demonstrated in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2018, where Bishkek was ranked 207th out of 209 cities surveyed, placing it as one of the cheapest expat destinations.

Nevertheless, the cost of living can be highly variable. Due to its landlocked location, lack of natural resources and underdeveloped manufacturing industry, Kyrgyzstan relies on imports for the majority of its goods, mostly from China, Russia or Turkey.

Expats working for a large international organisation should expect a Western-style salary. Some companies consider Kyrgyzstan a “hardship” or “hazard” posting and will offer an additional percentage on top of a basic salary.

Generally speaking, daily expenses in Kyrgyzstan are reasonably priced, as food is cheap, utilities are subsidised and real estate is much less expensive than other expat destinations. However, the costs of creature comforts and tastes of home can be shockingly high.


Cost of food in Kyrgyzstan

Due to food subsidies and the wobbly economy, prices for staples like rice and flour will sometimes rise, but never to unreasonable levels for expats. Seasonal produce must be imported in the winter.

Bishkek is more expensive than the rest of the country in every way but also has the most diverse selection of food and imports. In larger cities, there are Western-style supermarkets, convenience stores and department stores. But with most items, if it's in one of these stores then it's likely also available and cheaper in one of Kyrgyzstan’s many bazaars.


Cost of accommodation in Kyrgyzstan

Prices for accommodation vary widely depending on location and size. Utility prices will rise or fall depending on various economic or political factors. Utilities from private companies can be more reliable but are hugely more expensive.

Due to the high cost of good-quality furniture, appliances and clothing, many expats, especially those with families, prefer to ship most of their possessions. However, shipping to this landlocked, mountainous country with sometimes unreliable infrastructure can be an expensive, time-consuming, and a bureaucratic, nightmare, so expats should try to negotiate as large a shipping allowance as possible with their employer. Expats working for anything other than a well-established, well-funded organisation should expect to cover shipping costs themselves.


Cost of transport in Kyrgyzstan

Public transportation in Kyrgyzstan is quite affordable, but buying a car can be expensive, as all vehicles are imported or bought second-hand from within the country. Best practice for buying a vehicle is to purchase from another expat who is leaving the country.


Cost of schools in Kyrgyzstan

Schooling options are limited for expats with children, as there are very few international schools in Kyrgyzstan. Annual tuition fees are very high and expats should try to negotiate an education allowance or subsidy into their contract.


Cost of living in Kyrgyzstan chart

All prices in Kyrgyzstani Som (KGS). Prices vary across Kyrgyzstan - these are average costs for Bishkek in June 2019.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

Furnished one-bedroom apartment

KGS 36,600

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

KGS 47,500

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

KGS 85

Milk (1 litre)

KGS 52

Rice (1kg)

KGS 62

Loaf of white bread

KGS 22

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KGS 281

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KGS 70

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

KGS 250

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KGS 27

Cappuccino

KGS 114

Bottle of local beer

KGS 70

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

KGS 1,200

Utilities

Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

KGS 2.30

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

KGS 1,200

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

KGS 2,600

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KGS 12

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KGS 10

Petrol/Gasoline (per litre)

 KGS 43

Kirstin Styers Our Expat Expert

I'm a 23-year-old media analyst starting a research organization in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I previously lived in Jordan and Iraq, studying Arabic and consuming massive quantities of hummus, but gave it up to learn Russian and develop media projects across Central Asia. I try to tell some of Kyrgyzstan's untold stories through my photography and writing on my personal blog. I'm also working hard to bring the magic of cupcakes to Bishkek.

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