Many of our guests are interested in standards of living in Latvia and ask us about the cost of living in Riga. This is completely normal and natural to compare living standards when travelling around the World and so in this article we will try to answer one of the most asked questions our guides have to respond to, ' What is the cost of living in Riga? ' we know from past experience that some of you who come to Riga and join our tours, may actually end up living here. Therefore we will give you some basic information that may help any of you curious to know a little more about life in Riga.
Rental prices in Riga - How much does it cost to rent in Riga?
In our first article on the cost of living in Riga we will be focusing on Rental Prices in the city. Probably your biggest expense when living in a city is renting an apartment / house. And in Riga there is a huge range of living conditions and prices that go along with various needs of different newcomers. Bare in mind that Latvia has one of the highest ratios of apartment living spaces per inhabitant and therefore it is highly likely you will end up living in a shared building.
Flat shares for students
As of 2021 rental prices for single rooms within the city center in flat shares (popular amongst Erasmus / Foreign students) tend to float around the 150 - 300 euro mark. The price range and quality may differ quite considerably. You will find some larger apartments with more bedrooms if rented as a whole and then split will keep the price down per bedroom but you have to take into account the heating and other bills that can considerably raise your overall monthly expenses. Some landlords are renting out rooms at fixed rate, with bills included. If the price is around 300 euro and you have internet, good furnishings and all bills, we would say that is pretty decent, not to have to worry about bills and contracts beyond your rental property. You also will not find your self left alone with a contract on a 4 bedroom apartment when your flat mates have all failed their courses and gone home... leaving you to lump the bills.
1 - 2 room apartments in Central Riga
If we look at prices in 2021 we can see that 350 - 600 euro a month for a compact apartment in a good location without bills included could be a realistic range to find. Given that some people like nicer environments or interiors the pricing reflects upon this greatly. Be aware of average bills and communal costs for properties that can depend on house management differ. Ask for the previous winter bills to get an idea of what you can expect to pay. In these uncertain times energy prices in Riga are increasing and winter can be a shock for many tenants.
Larger apartments in the upmarket Quiet center of Riga
Some newcomers to Riga will have the chance to push their budgets further and when you start going over the 1000 - 2000 euro range you really can begin to get some nice accommodation. Roof terraces, parking, sauna. Some places really are beyond expectations and on a European level, fancy places are less comparatively in Riga. Many embassy staff and foreign multinational companies house their staff in this area and despite it being known as the quiet center, it is a rather bustling part of town surrounded by Art Nouveau architecture and parks.
Renting in Old Riga
Our advice. Do not rent in Old Riga. Why? you may ask. Well, simply put the Old city of Riga can get very noisy and messy with drunk revelers and tourists causing havoc. Price ranges are anything from low in off season to high as you can pay for properties that are well over market value. Old town seems charming at first but so many expats we have met who made the mistake to rent in the historic center have since moved out. It is tough living in Disney land.
Things to watch out for when renting in Riga
Use ss.com a web portal that will show you a wide range of private listings and agents listing places in Riga, its a good place to start. If you are not comfortable using Latvian or Russian, find an agent on there in one of the listings and ask them to help you out.
Make sure the contract is legitimate and your deposit has a chance of being returned. Its less common but people do get scammed. Use an agent to make sure you are covered if you are worried and where possible make an agreement stating your deposit will cover the last months rent.
Check all hidden costs. Some landlords love to add property tax or extra communal fees. Its always messy for foreigners who can be taken advantage of, so get a clear picture if what is exactly required of you. Which contracts you will need and so on.
Beware of Riga heating. Much of Riga is supplied by city heating. Not always is it possible to regulate the heat and when it is on, it is on for the season. You pay whatever they say. It can be very hard for some to understand but imagine a network of heating that in Soviet times meant everyone was keto warm now being used during the free market. Look for autonomous heating! It will make a big difference.
Pets in apartments. If you have pets you may find it hard to get a decent place to live. Cats are everywhere and so is an increasingly more common trend towards Dogs in Riga but not all landlords want scratched up floors.
On facebook you can find some expat groups. If you really are uncertain you may find these helpful to ask questions and get assistance. We have heard of many foreigners paying much more than the local rates on places. Just shop around and see what is what.
There are some places with only wood heating. If you like a challenge its great :)
Some properties will come with NO furniture.