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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-20-2007, 01:05 PM   #21
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Trek,

I did a little research on Estonia and was really impressed with it. But I have a little problem with your modest expenses/budget. The GDP per capita is 20K (PPP), or 10K (OER). As an expat, I would expect that your budget to be at least in line with those numbers. If I recalled correctly, yours is well below them. What's the catch? What's the secret? Thanks in advance.
No secret here Sam. Just simple living. No need for a Hummer and 5000 square foot house and dinners and Ruth's Chris steak house every night.

Really though, I'll try and help you out. I think I gave most this information before though. So, you did some homework and I applaud you for it. I'm glad you were impressed with what you found out, it is a nice place. Anyway, the average monthly gross wage of an Estonian is 10,212 EEK or at todays exchange rate would be $887 USD. This data is for the 4th quarter of 2006 per the Estonian Office of Statistics. The income tax rate is a flat 22%. So the average net is $692 USD per month.

So, the average Estonian would have $692 USD to spend per month on everything. This includes rent/mortgage, car payment, house/apartment insurance, car insurance , petrol, utilities, entertainment, food, etc....

My budget is $625 per month or $67 less than the what the average Estonian has to spend. Now I have no mortgage as I own my apartment. I live in just a normal part of town surrounded by working class Estonians. The guy I purchased my apartment from was renting my place out for 3500 EEK per month or $304 USD per month. Now someone might get a better rate on a mortgage, I don't know, but let's assume that's the going rate in my area. I don't have that payment, so now the average Estonian has $388 USD to spend on everything else after rent. Now my budget exceeds that of the average Estonian by quite a large margin.

I live in the city so I don't have a car and I don't have car insurance. I am an excellent cook and never eat out (never did in the States either). I don't have to pay for gas for my car. I'm retired so I don't have to buy bus/tram tickets unless I want to go somewhere I can't walk. If you look at the beginning of the thread you'll see my utility bills. So I think you can see now how I can be comfortable on my budget.

Now, as you know, I'm engaged now and my girl lives with me and nets around $580 USD per month . So now together we have around $1205. She has some university bills and our food and water bill went up a little, but other than that, we have extra we can invest now, so we're in great shape.
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-20-2007, 01:25 PM   #22
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Not sure you covered this in an earler post, but what is the availablillity of permanant visas there? Also what about the cost of real estate? Would you mind sharing with us the cost of your one bedroom unit? What might a two bedroom unit go for?

Is there any English spoken there? Do you know the language there?
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-20-2007, 01:52 PM   #23
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by modhatter
Not sure you covered this in an earler post, but what is the availablillity of permanant visas there? Also what about the cost of real estate? Would you mind sharing with us the cost of your one bedroom unit? What might a two bedroom unit go for?

Is there any English spoken there? Do you know the language there?
I'm no immigration expert, but I can point you to their website and you can see the requirements at http://www.mig.ee/est/. The site is in English too. Since my family was from here I was able to get citizenship, so I never had to deal with visas, etc.
English is widely spoken by anyone under say 40. I know the language but it is one of the more difficult languages for people to learn. It's very similar to Finnish.

Real estate prices have been increasing at about 10 - 12% per year for the past 6-7 years or so, so it's been a hot market, but it's slowed down a bit and isn't the undiscovered "hot spot" it was a few years ago. I was lucky and got in early enough to have built up some nice equity. Prices aren't like they were just a year or two ago, so you're going to pay around $90K for an unrenovated one bedroom in the greater downtown area and more like $150K for a renovated one. Two bedroom will just go up from there. If you're willing to live outside the city, prices drop tremendously. But Slovakia is the big money earner now if you're looking to make money in real estate . I'd look there for big deals.
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-20-2007, 03:09 PM   #24
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Oh yeah, more savings include: my STB FIL gets us free potatoes and my STB MIL makes her own ground beef that she gives us along with homemade jam......oh, and my STB BIL's GF gives us free honey too cause her dad is a beekeeper! They are all great people and just love to share with us. Here is a pic of our latest delivery





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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-20-2007, 05:13 PM   #25
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

I had a substitute teacher who was from Estonia when I was in the 6th grade. She was a fervent anti-communist because of what the Russians did to the country. But she loved her country, was passionate about it, and was one of the most wonderful teachers I ever had -- one of the few from that far back that I still remember. I don't even remember the teacher for whom she was substituting.

Kramer
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-23-2007, 11:49 AM   #26
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trek
The income tax rate is a flat 22%. So the average net is $692 USD per month.

....

My budget is $625 per month or $67 less than the what the average Estonian has to spend. Now I have no mortgage as I own my apartment. I live in just a normal part of town surrounded by working class Estonians. The guy I purchased my apartment from was renting my place out for 3500 EEK per month or $304 USD per month.

....

Now, as you know, I'm engaged now and my girl lives with me and nets around $580 USD per month . So now together we have around $1205. She has some university bills and our food and water bill went up a little, but other than that, we have extra we can invest now, so we're in great shape.
Thanks Trek. Your girl has to pay the 22% flat tax, but you don't have to, right?
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-23-2007, 02:23 PM   #27
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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Originally Posted by Sam
Thanks Trek. Your girl has to pay the 22% flat tax, but you don't have to, right?
Yes, she obviously pays income tax as a citizen earning her money here, hence I said her NET is $580. I don't have to pay Estonian taxes on income earned overseas because of the double taxation treaty between the US and Estonia.

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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-25-2007, 06:28 PM   #28
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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Originally Posted by Trek
It is a cold country for sure, but I like it (used to live in FL and hated it). I prefer cold to hot, but that's just me.

In so far as government goes, I think it is easier to govern a smaller population. Easier to implement laws or new programs. Easier to hold people accountable. Things can be done more efficiently. Also in a small country you tend to have more of a feeling of community. People taking care of their own through more generous social programs, etc.

Based upon my experiences so far, things have run very smoothly and efficiently. Some examples: When I purchased my apartment here I decided I wanted this one on a Monday and I legally held title to it on Thursday. When I applied for my Estonian passport I was in and out of immigration in 30 minutes (no appointment). When I first opened my bank account here the teller just asked for my ID and I had new bank account opened in under 10 minutes.

Everything (and I mean everything) can be paid for online or from your mobile phone. Estonia is very high tech so very little paperwork for anything. Seems to be a lot less "red tape" and bureaucracy and a lot more common sense. So, yeah, coming from the States I was astounded how simple these things really could be.
Sounds like Finland on the cheap. You have found a very good situation I think.

Ha
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-25-2007, 10:38 PM   #29
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Interesting to read about costs in Italy and Estonia -- I would love to spend some time in both or either of those places someday (Italy I have been to -- was supposed to go to Estonia on a school trip in 1990 but we couldn't get visas...)

Thought some prices from a smaller city in China might be interesting in comparison.

We rent a 150 sq m (I think around 1200 sq ft?) apartment in a nice complex in one of the more expensive parts of town. We have 3 br. + small office. Walk up on the second floor. Nice car-free garden area outside our door where our kids can play. Our rent is 4000 RMB/month -- about $520 at current exchange rates. We pay a management fee to the compound of about $26/month. Our electric bill ranges from a high of about $100/month (only in the hottest part of summer, or coldest part of winter, when we have the forced air ac/heat units on full blast) to a low of about $25 (last month's bill was about that level. Water is really cheap -- maybe $4-5/month max (and we take a lot of showers and do lots of laundry). Gas is also around $4-5/month -- for cooking and hot water heating.

It would probably cost around 100-120k to buy our apartment. Could have bought it for around 70k five years ago. Kind of kicking ourselves that we didn't, but our rent is paid by our employer and we will likely not stay in this city long-term (currently planning a move to Beijing).

Local food is ridiculously cheap. We try to buy as much organic stuff as we can, for reasons related to the Chinese food supply that everyone is well aware of these days. Can't always manage that, though. Some examples from recent shopping lists/receipts:

red peppers (probably about a pound worth): $.50
Lean pork shoulder (probably about a pound worth): $.65
Various small breads/rolls: $.13/each
1 lb lean sausage: $.80
yogurt cups: $.14 each
3 lbs potatoes: $.15 (.05/lb)
soy sauce: $.38
Fuji apples (2 lbs): $.68
Bananas (2 lbs): $.79
Cauliflower (2 lbs): $.30
Soy beans (1 lb): $.20

That's not a full week shopping. but gives you an idea. We typically spend from $120-200/month on groceries for a family of four (two adults, a 6 YO (who eats like an adult) and a 2 YO). Our nanny/housekeeper also eats the mid-day meal with us 6 days/week. We pay her a monthly salary of about $130/month, plus generous bonuses and time off (she typically gets 2 months paid vacation a year).

Clothes are cheap here but the quality is spotty and sizing is difficult-- we tend to stock up at second hand stores during our annual trip to the US. We have had good luck with shoes in some cases, which are much cheaper than in the US.

We don't have a car. We live across the street from our office, so no need for a daily commute. Local buses cost $.13/leg -- no transfers allowed so if you change buses you pay again. Cheaper if you get a transit pass, but we have never needed one. They are building a subway system that will open in a couple of years. It will probably be about $.25/ticket. We take taxis for the most part if we need to go anywhere outside our immediate neighborhood. Flagfall is $.65, then $.15/km -- typically spend $1-3 on a taxi ride depending on distance.

Eating out is one of our big splurges, but also reasonable. Local restaurants range from very cheap to very expensive -- we tend to eat in the cheaper places where you can get a decent meal from $1-5/person. $1 is basically a bowl of noodles, very simple but filling and tasty. Western-style restaurants tend to be more expensive, but still affordable. $2-3 for a sandwich or salad and extras, $5-7 for a pizza, more than that for more fancy or substantial food (steak, etc.). We spend about $120-150/month for eating out and ordering in. Could bring that down considerably if we needed to.

Coffee is prevalent now but you pay US prices for it -- $3-4 for a latte or mocha, etc. One of our weaknesses so we do splurge from time to time.

Basic cable is $1.30/month. Unlimited ADSL $13.00/month. Cell phone depends on use, but pretty cheap. Basic phone line is about $4/month.

Our annual living expenses for the past five years have averaged around $22-24,000. That includes significant spending on vacations, computers, etc. Day to day living costs are probably around $15-16,000 of which a high percentage goes to health insurance and medical and kids childcare arrangements (DS is in a fairly expensive preschool by local standards).

But you can have a very good life here on fairly little, if you can handle the other issues related to living in China. My DH and his family are from here, and I speak fluent Chinese, so it works for us.

lhamo

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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-26-2007, 01:19 AM   #30
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

lhamo,

Thanks for sharing. It is always a cool to hear what others are paying for living expenses in different parts of the world. Sounds like a really neat place to be living and very affordable! I'd love to visit China someday. Enjoy!
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-26-2007, 04:48 AM   #31
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo
Thought some prices from a smaller city in China might be interesting in comparison.
What city in China do you live in lhamo?
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-26-2007, 06:57 AM   #32
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Thanks again, Trek!
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-26-2007, 02:34 PM   #33
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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What city in China do you live in lhamo?
At the risk of totally outing myself:

Chengdu

lhamo
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-27-2007, 03:30 PM   #34
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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At the risk of totally outing myself:

Chengdu

lhamo
Googled some pics and info on your town. Looks like a really neat place to live. Thanks again for sharing!
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-28-2007, 07:48 AM   #35
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

Hey what is going on in Estonia with the taking down of the war memorial? How bad is the situation?
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-28-2007, 08:27 AM   #36
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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Hey what is going on in Estonia with the taking down of the war memorial? How bad is the situation?
Well, the whole thing is a bit complicated regarding the relocation of the statue, however, the crap you are seeing on the TV are just young people using the whole situation as an excuse to get drunk and break things. It's not as bad as they make it look on TV either. It's primarily been contained to the very center of town and only after dark do the looters come out. The authorities are doing an overall good job of security, IMO. It's a small group doing the rioting compared with the overall population of the city. It's business as usual outside of a few streets downtown.
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses
Old 04-29-2007, 05:57 AM   #37
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Re: Local Prices & Expenses

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Originally Posted by Trek
Well, the whole thing is a bit complicated regarding the relocation of the statue, however, the crap you are seeing on the TV are just young people using the whole situation as an excuse to get drunk and break things. It's not as bad as they make it look on TV either. It's primarily been contained to the very center of town and only after dark do the looters come out. The authorities are doing an overall good job of security, IMO. It's a small group doing the rioting compared with the overall population of the city. It's business as usual outside of a few streets downtown.
I only saw the report on an internet site. Here in the states we get NO information or real news anymore!! We get entertainment as news.

I try to watch BBC world news to get some news about world affairs.

The longer I watch what is happening here in america the more I want to leave.
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