Expatriation: cost comparison

This post is part of a series describing an expatriation from Belgium to Ukraine. The goal of this series is to demystify the expatriation, tell our story and all the challenges we faced.

After checking our motivation we have to make sure it’s financially possible (hopefully beneficial) so here come the : Cost comparison

What to compare ?

The main challenge when trying to compare 2 different countries, is that it can depend on so many parameters. If you want to keep an identical lifestyle, costs can climb at rocket speed… Things that I took for granted all my life for example in banking (free wire transfer within Europe, free cash withdrawal at ATM) just don’t exist in Ukraine. Transferring money is very expensive, the banking system is inefficient & unreliable. Even for groceries, buying some french wine or cheese would cost twice more in Ukraine, same for electronic gizmo (because of import taxes). But public transport or electricity is much cheaper…
Several website provide comparisons like Numbeo or expatistan it let you compare basic costs in different city/country. But it depends on users input so you should cross-check multiple websites & official statistics…

We plan to live like locals, the flat we will share with the family is in a relatively central district (so public transport is a good option, we may be able to do without a car in the beginning). We won’t eat exactly the same products. For clothes or electronic devices that cost much more because of taxes, we will wait for vacation & buy/order them in France.

In the table below I will compare budget line for which costs are different, but I will not include

  • Groceries (9.000€): it should stay similar or decrease slightly (we will limit a bit on french product & buy them when visiting family)
  • Baby costs (7.000€): we don’t really know where the little angel will go to… Maybe daycare or kinder garden. But the most expensive one in Ukraine would cost the same as our current daycare
  • Savings: the goal is to try to live mostly on 1 salary and use the other one for renovating the house and savings for retirement. So we hope to double our savings rate
Category Belgium costs Ukraine costs
Lodging 14.000€ Rent & utilities 2.800€ Utilities & phone/internet
Healthcare  1.500€ 1.500 is the net to pay, here are real costs 3.500€ Private insurance & spendings
Transport 1.700€ 1.700€ is the net to pay, here are real costs 3.500€ 5K car amortized over 4 years, insurance & some gas
Vacation 8.800€ Traveling to families in 2 countries is expensive… 8.500€ 2 trips to Nice, paying 1 trip to Kiev for my family & traveling around
Pocket money 2.500€ We don’t really spend much of it 4.000€ More friends around, More spending!
Total 28.500€ 22.300€

Overall it would cost less, mostly because of sharing a big flat with the family

Income

With the expected costs, we need to bring between 2.000€ & 3.000€ per month for covering our “needs” & “wants” (as 8.500€ of vacation & 5000€ of pocket-money could be decreased if needed)
We expect my wife to earn more (as she would be multilingual which is highly valued in the IT industry). As for me, I would work remotely for my current company the first couple of months (to allow an easy transition). If it’s working out, I will negotiate to become freelance (which would decrease my taxes rate a LOT). If it doesn’t work out, I will look for a local job (which would be a bit harder as I don’t speak much russian but feasible)
The transition period will be a bit tricky as we will need to renovate a bit the flat while paying for wedding and moving costs… But we have an emergency fund in case of issue :)

Have you ever thought about expatriation ? In how much details did you calculate the financial impact ?

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