When considering traveling somewhere, we always have to make decisions based on our budget. The question “How much can I spend?” pops up constantly, even if you choose couchsurfing and hitchhiking you still need to buy food and have some pocket money. The same happens when you want to actually move somewhere, whether because you want to find a job, because you don’t like staying long in the same place or simply because you want to run away.
Keeping in mind that when you move to another city you might not have a big budget, we decided to check where you could make your living with 500€ per month or 16,6€/day. To help us, we checked the backpacker’s index, a list of the cheapest countries in Europe for traveling, the cost of living database and classified advertising online for the chosen cities. The list takes in consideration rent for a room in a 3 people flat, food, transportation and entertainment.
Bucharest, Romania (Lei)
500€ = 2250 RON or 75 RON/day
The romanian capital is a booming cultural center in south-eastern Europe. The city has been experiencing great transformation and it is reinventing itself, from the Small Paris of the pre-war time to a communist capital it is now a great city full of young people. And, for a capital, it can give great value for your money.
In Romania, however the currency is Lei, housing prices are shown in Euros. This way, getting a room in a flat outside the city will cost you around 100€, even if you need to share the utilities with 2 other people you will never pay more than 150lei, even during the winter when you use more hitting. And because you live outside the center, getting a monthly ticket for transportation is the best idea, it will cost you 60lei. This leaves you with 1593lei.
And because we all need to eat, you can get decent meals for 15lei in a not so central restaurant, or you can always get something to eat in McDonald’s or KFC for 10lei. So, even if you have no patience for grocery shopping and cooking, 800lei are way enough to have 2 daily meals out that can be complemented with eggs (7lei for 6) for breakfast and some bread (1.8lei per 500g) with some cheese (4lei/200g). Obviously, you’ll save some money if you go to a supermarket and cook at home.
Now you see, you still have 793lei to have some beers, will cost you around 6lei for a local 0.5 if you get it in a bar, or 2.4 in a supermarket. If you smoke a pack per day, you’ll give away 15lei more daily, still you can keep a total 330lei in your pocket.
Krakow, Poland (Zloty)
500€ = 2205 PLN or 73,5/day
Again culture, again beautiful architecture, again art. Krakow is home to thousands of foreigners from everywhere, whether students or businessman the city welcomes everyone!
After paying the 450zl for the room and around 220 for bills, you can still enjoy 1535zl. Dividing it by 30 days you have a daily budget of 51zl for food and entertainment. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost around 20zl and in a fast food chain you won’t spend less than 15zl, calculations made, you won’t be able of eating out everyday, but you can have one of two meals out and have the other meal at home where you’ll spend much less: 1kg of chicken breast costs 15zl and a kg of rice 3.2zl, so in the end you won’t spend more than 900zl for food.
You end up with 21zl per day. And because a pack of cigarettes is about 15zl, you’ll just have 6zl for a beer.
Vilnius, Lithuania (Euro)
So here there is no exchange needed, 500€ will be 500€ everyday. Vilnius gives you the opportunity to live in the baltics, the capital of Lithuania is known for the beauty of its city center with amazing baroque architecture and still not as touristic as Riga or Tallinn.
Even if you have Euro, the prices are still pretty affordable. It won’t be hard to find a room for 100€ not far from the center, but count on 45€ per month for utilities. Transportation isn’t as cheap as in the other cities we talked about, 1€ per ticket or 28€ for a monthly card, so here you can take advantage of the city bicycles, you can get a seasonal subscription for 14€ if you are under 26 or 19€ if you’re older. At this point, you spent around 164€!
Eating out is an option, for 3.5€ you can get some traditional lithuanian dish, potatoes and a soup, keep 210€ for food and remember you can spend less if you eat at home.
Now you have 126€ to spend on some fun! A beer in a bar will be an average of 1.8€ for a 0.5, but in the supermarket you can easily find it for 0.8€. A pack of cigarettes costs 3€, you can still have a pack per day, but maybe try not to so that you have some extra money.
Porto, Portugal (Euro)
Things start getting more expensive! Still, Porto might deserve a bit more of struggle if you are a lover of sun and warm living in a city recognised as one of the best still unknown travel destinations in Europe.
Getting a room for 150€ is possible, but because transportation is more expensive the further you are from the main hub, it actually is smarter to find a room for 180€ in the center and walk around as much as you can, but if you want to go somewhere by bus or metro the ticket costs 1.2€ or, on a broader perspective, if you buy 6 trips per week, you’ll spend around 30€. Utilities will take around 40€ from your budget, but don’t expect having hitting systems, this is just for electricity, water and internet. Half of your budget is gone, 250€ left.
With 9€ per day forget smoking and forget eating out, even if you can find some hidden places were a meal won’t be more than 3.5€, it doesn’t make much sense if you want to have money for other stuff. Instead, get your grocery from a big supermarket where everything is a bit cheaper, you’ll certainly spend 150€ on food. In the end you have 100€ to buy some rolling tobacco, 3€ for 20g, and you’ll be forced to find some cheap places where a 25cl beer is as cheap as 50cent and not the regular 1.5€.
Managing money is always hard, at least for most people, but get the trick: always know how much you can spend per day and try not to exceed that amount. But if you do, just spend less on other days and you’ll always manage to balance your budget. If sometimes we can’t have a beer in a bar, buy it in a supermarket and go on a house party. In the cities we showed you, 500€ is a reasonable amount of money to live with some quality, so there you go some tips if you’re considering moving and still don’t know where to!
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