Finances and Shopping
Planning your budget
The cost of living highly depends on your lifestyle preferences. Our suggestion for RSU international students is a minimum of EUR 555 per month (including accommodation). This comparative table gives an overview of the cost of living in Rīga.
|Average low per month||Average high per month|
|Rent||EUR 200||EUR 400|
|Food||EUR 150||EUR 300|
|Utilities and services||EUR 50||EUR 100|
|Public transport||EUR 15||EUR 15|
|Entertainment||EUR 40||EUR 150|
|Other||EUR 100||EUR 200|
|Total||EUR 555||EUR 1165|
You can compare the cost of living between Riga and your home town here.
Opening a Bank Account
Opening a bank account in Latvia is relatively fast and easy. All you need to do is go to a bank branch of your choice and bring your passport/ID document and study contract with you. Then you have to file an application and choose the type of services you will want from the bank. Return to the bank three days later to pick up your credit card. Some of the most popular banks in Latvia are:
Note that banks are generally open on workdays from 9:00 until 17:00, although some banks provide extended opening hours until 18:00, and some branches are even open on Saturdays. This is another reason why internet banking is very convenient.
The official currency in Latvia is the euro, abbreviated as EUR (symbol: €). 1 euro is divided into 100 cents, and euro banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. Coins come in eight denominations of EUR 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20, 0.10, 0.05, 0.02, and 0.01.
ATMs and Payments
There are more than 1,350 ATMs in Riga, called 'Bankomāts' in Latvian. Most of them are located in shopping malls, close to bank branch offices, on street corners, near office buildings and petrol stations. There is one ATM just outside the main RSU building and plenty of them in the Old Town as well - all available 24/7.
Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted for making payments, and are safer than carrying cash with you. In addition, internet banking is widely used for paying bills, recharging phones, buying e-tickets, shopping on the internet and using many other services. Therefore, we highly recommend that you open a bank account at one of the many banks in Riga and obtain a debit card.
You may need to exchange money at the beginning of your stay. Banks ensure the exchange of currency, but you will also find that there are many private currency exchange offices. These stay open much later than banks and sometimes offer better exchange rates than banks. In either case, you should check and compare rates before making any transactions. You can check the official rates at the Bank of Latvia.
As in any European city, you will find a wide variety of places to do your shopping. Many people enjoy buying organic food from Latvian farmers at Centrāltirgus – the Central Market (right behind the Forum Cinemas movie theatre) or Āgenskalns Market in Pārdaugava. This is also true for RSU students who buy fresh food in the Rīga Central Market and also visit the place for leisure.
There are several food store chains, among them:
For buying other necessary items, such as clothing, shoes, furniture, electronics etc., the most popular shopping centres in Riga are: