Cost of Living and Salaries in St Petersburg, Russia

In case you are curious about how much people make in Saint Petersburg and what is the cost of living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, I have put together a few facts for you.

How Much Do People Make in St Petersburg, Russia?

Russians get their salaries paid in rubles every month net of income tax.  Russians never think about their incomes on an annual pre-tax basis.  

Employers remit income taxes, various social taxes, and pension contributions directly to the government.  

Personal income tax is 13%-15% in Russia.  

Saint Petersburg is called the Northern capital of Russia.  With 5 million inhabitants, the city has many developed industries and businesses and a good job market.  It is a popular city among Russians and people from the former Soviet Union to come for studies or to find a job. 

Key industries in St Petersburg are the production of industrial equipment, electric devices, and optics.  Ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, chemicals, printing and consumer goods are also quite big.  Russian beer brand Baltica (Балтика) is made in St Petersburg. 

According to the official data by Rosstat, the Russian Statistics Agency, the average salary in St Petersburg in 2019 was 65,286 rubles ($860) per month, which is double the average salary in Russia, but lower than in Moscow. 

To give you some examples, of how much various jobs pay in St Petersburg, I got some data from the Rosstat website as well as from local vacancy announcements. 

These days, in 2020, the US dollar is worth 77 rubles and the Euro is around 89 rubles.
Job type Monthly salary, net in rubles Annual, net of tax, $
Firefighter
35,000-50,000
5,500-7,900
Driver
60,000-80,000
9,300-12,500
Security guard
35,000-40,000
5,500-6,200
Apparel store worker
35,000-40,000
5,500-6,200
Dermatologist
60,000-65,000
9,300-10,100
Finance
150,000-200,000
23,400-31,200
Lawyer
100,000-150,000
15,600-31,200
Accountant
50,000-60,000
7,800-9,300
Looking at these figures you will understand why so many Russians pursue degrees in Finance and Law. 

Another fact, every fourth person in St Petersburg relies on government pensions, which range between 7,000 rubles and 25,000 rubles per month, or $100 to $320, with an average of 16,437 rubles or $213.

Cost of Living in St Petersburg

Alaskan pollock caviar, an affordable Russian caviar

Housing. How Much is Rent in St Petersburg?

Most of the people live in apartments in Saint Petersburg and the surrounding areas in the Leningrad Oblast. 

The outskirts of St Petersburg are made of thousands of high-rise blocks, most of which were built in the past 20 years. 

Prices of these studio apartments with a separate kitchen (called here 1-room apartment) start from 4-5 million rubles ($50K to $65K) to buy.  Monthly rent would be 20 thousand rubles ($260).  

1-bedroom apartments go for 30,000-40,000 ($390-$520) per month.

In the historic center of Saint Petersburg, apartment prices are about two-fold those in the suburbs.

In addition to rent, there are bills to pay in the order of $50 – $100 per month. 

Eating out

Restaurant prices will look very affordable in St Petersburg for travelers from North America. 

Main dish at a local restaurant is anywhere between $6 and $10, appetizers are around $5-$6.  Wine starts from $5 per glass and $13 per bottle.  All taxes are included in the published prices.  Most of the wine is imported, so expect high prices on decent wines.  

You can have a fast-food meal for under 500 ($7) rubles, while average check for restaurants in the center of St Petersburg ranges between 2,000 ($26) and 3,000 ($39) rubles not including the drinks. 

Tips are very appreciated. There is not a set expectation on how much you should tip.  From my experience, Russians would usually leave 10% of the bill as a tip.  

I always recommend to check your bill, sometimes service fee will be on the bill already. This often happens when you come as group of 6 or more people.  In that case, you may choose to not leave extra tip. 

How Much is a Cup of Coffee in St Petersburg?

Regular coffee can be found for 39 to 49 rubles ($0.50) at democratic chain bakeries such as Bakeries of F. Volchek (Булочная №) and Shtolle (Штолле).  If you are looking for a simple coffee break with some Russian pie or a pastry, these are the best places to stop. 

Numerous coffee shops and restaurants sell coffee for 140-200 rubles ($2 to $3). 

Typical Russian coffee offers include espresso, americano, cappuccino, and flat white. 

Did you know that many Russians prefer black tea to coffee?

Groceries

Groceries are less expensive in Russia than in Western Europe or North America on things like local dairy and meats, but fruits and vegetables especially anything exotic can be more expensive. 

There is an embargo on produce and other foods from EU countries.  As such, it is hard to find good Jamon or Pecorino Romano in Russia. 

I find the choice of produce to be quite limited, especially in wintertime. 

Check out my article about Russian Foods You Must Taste in St Petersburg.

Price RUB Price $
Loaf of bread
50-100
$0.70-$1.20
Milk, 1 Liter
50-90
$0.70-$1.10
Eggs, 10
40-50
$0.45-0.70
Beef steak, 1kg
800-1500
$10-$20
Chicken breast, 1 kg
200-250
$2.60-$3.25
Rice, 1kg
80-120
$1.00-$1.60
Spaghetti, 1 pack
80-90
$1.00-$1.10

Transport

Public transport is relatively inexpensive in St Petersburg. 

Single Metro fare is 55 rubles ($0.70).  With monthly pass costing 1,870 rubles ($25). 

Suburban trains can cost anywhere between 50 rubles ($0.65) and 150 rubles ($1.95) depending on distance and comfort level. 

Taxis are also quite affordable. For a couple, it makes economic sense to move around by taxi, especially outside of rush hour. 

Everything you Need to Know about St Petersburg Metro.  

Is there Uber in St Petersburg, and Other Taxi Options.

Healthcare

Healthcare is declared free in Russia.  You can be seen by a doctor in a designated state-owned clinic for free if you have a government-paid insurance policy, which most people are entitled to.  

However, these free clinics may be poorly equipped or have long queues. 

Many in St Petersburg choose to pay cash for services at better quality private clinics or pay for private insurance. 

Private care is relatively inexpensive by Western standards.  For example, a specialist consultation can cost between 2,500 to 5,000 rubles ($30-$60).  A pelvic ultrasound is 1,000 ($14). 

However, many locals are struggling to afford private healthcare and use this option only for real emergencies.  

Prescription medications are generally not included in government healthcare plans with some exceptions. 

A gap between poor and rich remains wide in Russia.  The middle class makes ends meet but rarely would have any savings.  Those on government pension struggle financially. People currently relying on government pension were severely underpaid during the Soviet era and lost any savings in the transition to democracy when Russia went through horrific inflation.  

Final Thoughts

I am sure you will have a fantastic time in St Petersburg. 

St Petersburg is affordable and you can do either a low budget or a luxury trip.

Enjoy your stay!