Students in Warsaw report spending about $80-100 a week average over the course of their stay. This covers groceries, eating at the university cafeteria, city transport, an occasional meal out, school supplies, modest weekend entertainment, and other general living expenses. Note that this guide assumes 3.7 rubles = 1 US dollar. Prices current as of February, 2016.
1. Getting Started
Packing beforehand: Bring appropriate clothing, any electronics you need, and any prescription medication you are taking in amounts to last your time abroad. Check our packing guide for more information on preparing for your trip.
Card Fees. Call your banks and credit cards! Let them know the dates you’ll be abroad, otherwise, they tend to shut them off when they appear abroad – assuming they’ve been stolen. Note that most US banks will charge fees for every transaction you make abroad. $5 and/or 3% for every ATM withdrawal, for instance, is not uncommon. Make sure you understand these fees and factor them into your budget. See our Guide to Managing Cash Abroad for more information.
Local Currency or “Your Own Currency?” Some ATMs, retailers, and cafes will give you this option. Always pay in the local currency. It may sound convenient to have your bill brought in dollars, but it will always be higher. You will be paying at the store/ATM/cafe internal exchange rate. This is always worse than the exchange rate you will get from your bank or credit card company if you simply use your card to operate in the local currency. Always use ATMs that are connected with banks. Avoid those machines that are unbranded or privately branded.
See our Guide to Managing Cash Abroad for more information.
Start Up Costs: Will depend on your housing situation.
- Electric kettle: $10 (for coffee/tea/instant noodles/oatmeal)
- Pot/silverware/plate/cup: $10
- Water filter: $10-15 (or $2 for 5 liter bottles – folks generally don’t drink from the tap)
- Pens/erasers/school supplies: $10
- Textbooks: $0 (generally they are given free or public access online)
2. Incidentals & Other
Flexibility: You should always plan some flexibility into your budget. There will always be expenses that you didn’t plan for – a new umbrella, a better coat, a short trip that a new friend invites you on that is too good to say no to, you get the point.
Hygiene: Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and toothpaste – in brands you are likely to recognize – run about $2 per package. Feminine hygiene products are around $4 per box.
Gyms: Information coming.
Laundry: Information coming.
3. Food and Shopping
For general recommendations, see our Guide to Eating, Shopping, and Services in Moscow.
Groceries: With food and groceries, it’s easy to live on $10-15 a week if you cook for yourself.
Eating out: An average restaurant is usually $5-10 for an entree.
Average weekly total food spending: ~$10-$30 per week
Public transportation: For 30 days of unlimited rides on all forms of transit (trams, buses, metro, suburban trains), you’ll pay about $15 with a student discount of 50%. For 90 days, you pay just $34. Here is the city transit site with the price list in full. For further information about city transit, see this article.
Average weekly transport spending: ~$3-10 per week
See our Packing List for more information about bringing electronics to Russia.
Mobile service and data: SRAS will supply you with a simple mobile phone while abroad. Students that use only these phones to call and text report spending $1 or less per month. Students with unlocked smartphones who get local SIMs for data and calling report spending around $2-4 per month for texts, calls, and 4G.
High-speed Internet: Private ethernet companies charge around $20 per month, but if you have this, you’ll likely be with roommates and splitting the cost.
Internet cafes / City Hotspots / Free WiFi: Internet cafes cost around $1-3/hour and are becoming rarer. Free WiFi is available in restaurants.
Average total MONTHLY spending for communication: $1-4
6. Free Time, Other
Entertainment and incidentals are the most variable expenses you’ll face.
Random: Movie tickets will range from $5-10 depending on where you go, and galleries will be $10-15. Museums are $5-15, but generally a student discount will keep the price below 10 for any of these. Going out at night is surprisingly cheap too: $5 cover charges at central clubs with $3 for a beer, or $5 for a cocktail.
The Erasmus student group and the CC International Group are both fairly active too, so sometimes they’ll organize gatherings at a club or bar downtown and offer discounts. This is probably one of the reasons Warsaw is so popular for students. Another example would be ice skating, which costs about $10-20 depending on where you go.
Souvenirs: Information coming.
Travel: If you are going to blow some money in your budget – SRAS recommends you do it on travel. See more of the country and wider region and meet more of the people while you have the chance to do it quite inexpensively. Look at SRAS’s extensive travel site for info about in (and out) of country destinations.