The cost of living in Kyrgyzstan is relatively low compared to other international expat destinations. This is demonstrated in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2023, where Bishkek was ranked 224th out of 227 cities surveyed, making it one of the cheapest expat destinations worldwide.

Expats working for a large international organisation should expect a Western-style salary. Some companies consider Kyrgyzstan a 'hardship posting' and will offer an additional percentage on top of a basic salary to compensate for this.

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


Cost of accommodation in Kyrgyzstan

Prices for accommodation vary widely depending on location and size. Expats who choose to live in Bishkek's city centre will pay more, while those who stay in the city's outlying areas and suburbs will spend a little less. Similarly, staying in rural areas or smaller cities will also incur lower rental costs.

Utility prices will rise or fall depending on various factors. Utilities from private companies can be more reliable but are far costlier.


Cost of groceries in Kyrgyzstan

Due to food subsidies and the country's shaky economy, prices for staples such as rice and flour will sometimes rise, but never to unreasonable levels for expats. Seasonal produce must be imported in the winter, making it pricey during the season. 

Bishkek is costlier 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 personal goods in Kyrgyzstan

Due to the high cost of 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 often frustrating process, 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 entertainment and eating out in Kyrgyzstan

Much of the entertainment and lifestyle opportunities in Kyrgyzstan are centred around outdoor and sporting activities, which typically cost little to no money. The country is home to picturesque mountain vistas that make for great horse riding and skiing. Eating out in Kyrgyzstan is affordable, and there are plenty of local and international options available. Naturally, Western-style restaurants will be pricier than local spots, but the cost will still be fairly reasonable. 

Shopping enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the country's bazaars and purchasing unique nomadic-style goodies at cheap prices. Expats who prefer more conventional shopping experiences will find a few malls in Bishkek, but these mostly house local brands, which can be purchased cheaply. 


Cost of transport in Kyrgyzstan

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


Cost of healthcare in Kyrgyzstan

The healthcare system in Kyrgyzstan is still developing, but expats moving to the country's major cities will have access to adequate healthcare. The country offers universal healthcare, which is funded by the Mandatory Health Insurance Fund (MHIF), and it is now compulsory for all citizens to have health insurance. 

While Kyrgyzstan offers adequate care, some of the state's facilities may be below what many expats are used to, and there is a shortage of well-trained medical professionals in the country. Therefore, it is essential for expats to secure comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation to neighbouring countries for severe cases. 


Cost of education in Kyrgyzstan

Schooling options are limited for expats with children, as there are few international schools in Kyrgyzstan. Annual tuition fees are sky-high, and over and above tuition, parents will need to pay for uniforms, excursions and textbooks.

That said, these costs are often justified by excellent teaching standards, facilities and extracurricular activities. Expat parents should try to negotiate an education allowance or subsidy into their contract to offset some of the costs.


Cost of living in Kyrgyzstan chart

Prices vary across Kyrgyzstan. These are the average costs for Bishkek in August 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

KGS 37,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KGS 26,300

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

KGS 70,400

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KGS 48,600

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

KGS 139

Milk (1 litre)

KGS 70

Rice (1kg)

KGS 131

Loaf of white bread

KGS 37.41

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KGS 449

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KGS 118

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

KGS 487

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KGS 54.11

Cappuccino

KGS 173

Bottle of local beer

KGS 100

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

KGS 1,850

Utilities

Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data

KGS 850

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

KGS 1047

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

KGS 2,600

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KGS 20

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KGS 15

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 KGS 62.82

Expat Health Insurance

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