The Truth About the Average Salary in Ukraine | 2020 Edition

When people hear the number, they are shocked. Did you know what the average salary in Ukraine is? Well, if you did not, here goes:

$301 per month

Yes, it is that low. As of April 2018, the average monthly wage in Ukraine is 7828.00 UAH per month, which is a little under 301 USD.

But if that already seems like too little, consider the minimum wage, determined by the government. It’s just 3723.00 UAH—or 143 USD.

A minimum wage of $0.90 per hour at best!

But there is more to the quality of life than the average salary in Ukraine! In this article, we are looking at how people actually live and what you can expect as a foreigner!

The Average Salary In Ukraine Vs The Poverty Line

In October 2015, the World Bank updated the international poverty line to $1.90 a day (it was changed due to inflation, among other factors). It is pretty obvious that the average Ukranian lives above that. Ukraine is not a country of starvation and extreme poverty.

Let’s look at what “being poor” actually means. The UN defines absolute or extreme poverty as not having enough resources to secure basic life necessities. These basic needs include:

  • Food
  • Safe drinking water
  • Sanitation
  • Health
  • Shelter
  • Education
  • Information (newspapers, TV, computers etc.)
  • Access to services (education, health, legal, social, and financial services)

The poverty line is drawn by the minimum income required to cover these needs.

In some aspects, life in Ukraine is decidedly above the poverty line. If you’ve ever been invited to dinner at a Ukrainian family, you know that food is plentiful and the water is perfectly safe (even if you’d rather have the vodka). Other basic necessities are not covered as efficiently.

For instance, a lot of people complain that the healthcare system is broken and that recovering from anything more serious than a cold would break your finances. To be fair, this is the case for many Americans, too. In the case of Ukraine, there is a lot to be desired from public hospitals. Complex procedures that you can get in the West are simply impossible in Ukraine where the relevant equipment is way too expensive for hospital budgets.

How To Live On $10 Per Day

You might remember the social media challenge of living on less than $1.90 per day. There are plenty of YouTube videos of people doing it if you’re curious. Either way, it’s not really realistic and $1.90 each day is genuinely not enough to survive in a non-developing country.

Ukraine is indeed much cheaper than any Western country.

That is a part of the reason Western travelers love it. You could travel to Ukraine on less than $30 per person per day. That would include two sit-down meals, your accommodation will be a hotel and not a hostel or a private room in an Airbnb and you’d have plenty of cash to spare for nights out.

For most Ukrainians, life is cheaper than that.

You yourself don’t spend as much as tourists who come to your area, right? It’s cheaper to rent an apartment (and many Ukrainian families don’t rent, they already have a place to themselves), it’s cheaper to cook for yourself, and just overall, life is cheaper when you know the place.

$10 per day is still a little low. You could not live a decent life in Kiev on that. In Ukrainian villages, however, it is more than doable.

In rural areas people have their homes, so no expenses for rent, they would typically grow some of their food, and whatever they buy is much cheaper, too. The cost of living goes down drastically.

Average Salary in Ukraine

The Average Salary In Ukraine Is Not Real?

But even though it is possible to live on the official average salary in Ukraine, that’s not how most people do it.

Come again?

Yes, the average salary in Ukraine actually gives you no real information about the economy.

How Ukrainians Hide Their Income

I have to give major props to Olga Reznikova for first making me realize this in one of her videos. I highly recommend that you watch it.

Essentially, there are very strict government-imposed sanctions if you don’t pay your employees however much their salary is supposed to be. For smaller companies, this is an issue. They might have to make cuts one month but still be able to provide a higher salary most months.

There are different ways out of this.

One of them is through bonuses. The salary on an employee’s contract is lower than reality. They get paid the rest in the form of bonuses. If one month the company can’t afford to pay the full amount, they will not be sanctioned. Besides, paying in bonuses has some tax-saving benefits.

The illegal way is to simply pay the rest of the salary under the table. They get cash instead of an official paycheck. The business saves money on taxes and so does the employee.

Third, there are some people that are employees but are registered as private entrepreneurs. This also has some tax benefits.

Neither of these three ways of “hiding income” enters in the average salary statistic. Since those are so common, the real average salary in Ukraine is much higher than the numbers initially show. What is more, the relevant Ukrainian agencies have been suspected of tweaking the data, and so have some large companies.

Ultimately, you can’t trust the statistics you see. Though it’s true that some Ukrainians live on $300 per month, the genuine average is much higher.

Large Cities Vs Rural Areas

There are enormous regional differences in both income and the price of life. In Kiev, you can’t find a decent apartment under $400 per month. If you want it in the city centre, you’re looking at at least $600 to $800. Food and groceries are relatively cheap but going out for drinks can get pricey in larger cities.

Overall, to live a decently comfortable life in a big Ukrainian city, you would have to earn at least around $900 to 1000. Granted, some survive on less than that but that would mean sacrificing some “luxuries” – cable TV, going out to eat, frequent shopping, etc.

In the countryside, as I already mentioned, you could easily live on $300 per month or even less. The biggest expense people in small towns and villages have is fuel. Since those are not places with the perfect public transport, you have to drive most places. Families, especially, absolutely need a car to stay on top of things.

In Kiev and other big cities, though, you could survive perfectly well on just public transportation.

The Problem With Western Companies

You will be surprised to find that affordable Western brands are almost considered luxurious in Ukraine. Maybe not H&M but definitely Zara—though it should be noted there is an H&M now in Ukraine at the Lavina Mall in Kiev.

And now, in 2019, at River Mall (Left Bank).

Still, Western-style marketing seems to be a little too effective on Ukrainians.

You can feel a genuine struggle to afford what they have been told to want. Western brands have the novelty factor and they have the strong advertising strategies. You can see some people who spend way out of their means just to keep up with the trends.

Once again, the irony in the case is obvious.

What is considered lower quality and cheap in the West is often high-end in Ukraine.

In large cities like Kiev, there is an emerging community of local brands that seek to fill the gap between quality and price. There are now some prominent up-and-coming designers from Ukraine to look out for. The alternative fashion and thrifting community is also growing in some bigger cities. In small towns, though, it’s still all about the brands – the brand that you are wearing, the car that you drive, the phone you have, etc. Expect some Ukrainians to be genuinely impressed at seemingly normal things that you own. I once had someone compliment my really nice designer sunglasses. They were Nike (yes, Nike makes sunglasses, ok?)

The Average Salary In Ukraine: What It Can’t Show You

While looking at numbers and figures is usually a solid way to judge a country’s economy, the case of Ukraine is a bit more chaotic. If you’ve read our piece on Ukrainian banks, you know that the financial system is a bit complicated too.

Either way, I hope you came out of this article with a little less feeling of superiority. So many Western travelers go to Ukraine thinking they’re going to some third-world country. This is so not the case! Ukrainian people are pretty much like everyone else. Granted, they might have to get a little crafty with savings, but as a whole, the quality of life in Ukraine is pretty great!

As usual, if you have any thoughts or comments on that, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!


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2019 Trips & Travel Hacking - This Is Trouble

[…] parents and grandma coming out for a visit to Ukraine, and taking them to visit Croatia to see the Selo farm, in addition to maybe heading up through […]

    to do list for moving into a new house

    The heart of your writing whilst appearing agreeable at first, did not really sit very well with me personally after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you actually managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a while. I still have got a problem with your leaps in assumptions and you would do nicely to fill in those gaps. In the event you can accomplish that, I could surely be amazed.

    James Hannum

    This article is incorrect when it says that the people who live in the villages (countryside) need cars. Ukraine is serviced by millions of privately owned marschrutkas. These are small passenger vans with windows. Each has a hand-lettered cardboard sign inside the lower passenger side of the front windshield, that tells the name of the district, town, or villages that it goes to.

    Marschrutkas are staffed by the driver (always male), and the cashier (usually female) sitting next to him whose sole job is to make sure everyone pays & to make change. She also gives advice & gossips, & of course advises the driver. Both are glad to give travelers detailed & passionate directions where to get off & where to walk, for the passenger accomplishing the purpose of his trip. Marschrutkas will stop anywhere you need them to along their circuitous routes through backwater Ukraine. The one way fare is 24 cents in Kiev.

    The Ukrainian’s inability to afford cars in the villages is a blessing to them. It created this wonderful marschrutka tradiion, which is a very sociable, fun, & economical way to go just about anywhere. It also freed their villages from the invasion of asphalt sprawl, which has destroyed pedestrian life in the West. Think about it. No one walks in America because everything is too far apart. Everything is suburban sprawl. Huge spaces are devoted to cars, not people: Normal surface streets 9 lanes wide, counting the curb parking, & the R&L hand turn lanes. Gas stations that occupy huge lots on corners. Every hamburger stand oil change shop is surrounded by it’s own parking lot, never near filled except perhaps on Christmas. Tire shope, auto repair. For every car there must be a home garage, a driveway, curb parking in front of the house, parking at work, and many parking spaces at the various stores he might visit.

    Add up all that asphalt and you see why no one walks in “developed” countries. Everything is so sprawled out by all the car infrastructure that you can’t walk to any of it, it’s too long a walk! Further sprawling it out is that most shops etc. in the West are at most 2 stories high. In L’viv, Kiev, and every other European city I’ve ever visited, the buildings are approx 7 stories tall. This beautiful very old architecture makes the cities dense; the number of people per square mile is several times the number in the “developed, modern” West. Streets are narrow, there are very few parking lots, gas stations, etc, and with people living & working in many-storied buildings the number of pedestrians & activity on the streets is vastly increased.

    In a Western suburb you can look out your window for many minutes before even one pedestrian walks by. Without strong pedestrian life, things are very boring.

    Ukrainian villages have always known everybody in their village, and not known them just enough to say hello. The villages remain to this day tight-knit communities because they can’t “afford” expensive, dangerous isolation chambers (cars). They constantly meet each other on the streets, and stop & talk. You can’t do that in cars.


In small cities such as Kherson, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsa, Poltava situation with salary are much worse than in big cities (Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa). Also food, rend prices and other important things are going up and it’s hard to live with comfort in the country.

Andrew Henderson

Great points; it’s impossible to compare apples and oranges when apples are from a developed, highly transparent, highly-taxed country and the oranges are from an emerging country with a different approach.

John schofield

How hard is it to visit Ukraine or get a Ukrainian woman out of Ukraine into America


    Don’t do it even if you think you are an expert on women and they cannot fool you. They have 10 ways from Sunday to get your money.

    Scott Lee Paffenroth

    Very easy to visit Ukraine. I have been many times no Visa required. BUT to get a lady to the US is virtually possible unless you submit a K1 for a fiancé Visa and that will take close to a year to process

John schofield

Waiting for a reply to my first question


I will move to Ukraine. You have a great country even if you do not know it.

    Ukraine Living

    It is great here.


If the average salary is calculated from all residents of Ukraine (incl. politicians, singers, actors, etc.), the salary of a middle-class citizen is even less than $301, right?


    That is. I am Ukrainian. The average salary in my city is about $200. And my mother`s pension is $70 (I`m not joking).

      Ukraine Living

      That’s for sharing that. What city are you in?




        Why liar???I live in Lviv(rather big city), and even here situation for some people is exactly the same!


        I don’t think so. My wife is head accountant at a local firm and has a monthly salary of 5000 hryvnia. At 24.5 exchange rate that is $204/month.


I agree with the marketing and ridiculous obsession with brands, but not with the fact that they are considered low-end in the West. Where is the West? Brand new Nike sneakers average about $400-500 per pair where I live, same with other brands.

Also would like to add that Western brands are usually was too expensive in Ukraine. A nice pair of Adidas I get for $50 in Baltimore will run up to $250 in Kyiv’s most “fashionable” shopping plaza.
SO the artificial demand is fueled with unreasonable prices on subpar brands.


Interesting article – and comments – thanks.

I’m from Denmark and are writing with a BEAUTIFUL girl from Ukraine… I must admit, I get more and more interested in her – of course – and the country and culture…

Thanks for a brilliant site!


    I went to Denmark and the girls there are goddesses, no religious crap and fully independent economically and don’t look 60 in their 30es after hard life like Ukrainians do. I guess to each their own…


I would like to travel to Ukraine and looking for real partner


I am looking an small investor from Ukraine..
I am from Maldives


I’m a middle-aged, middle class, divorced American guy. I visited Odessa in September and went on a date with a young lady and her mother to dinner. We went to a French restaurant that was recommended by them. The place had nice ambiance but didn’t look too high end. We had light appetizers, main course for each, dessert, and a bottle of wine with glasses of water. Now, I’ve been to restaurants all over the world and this one had to be the most expensive. The bill came out to 13,000 UAH!! Did I get ripped off?


    Why did they bring you to place thats so expensive? Just to show off they have a foreigner friend that can pay for them? I would say talk to them cause it’s not OK.
    Process vary in Ukraine, something that’s nor considered upscale in US can be regarded as upscale in UA


    This is a typical situation, bro. There are much cheaper places.I dont understand why did they recommend that place if it is so expensive. YOu are a wallet for most girls there.


    Seriously, U still need 2 ask “IF”?

    That’s actually a common trick in Odessa;

    THEY will take U 2 the restaurant of THEIR choice and U will get skimmed.

    The way they operate is that they know the owners an dhave some sort of arrangement with them where U will get WAY over billed and your “dates” will simply got there the next day 2 pick up their cheque.

    Stay vigilant and B realistic.

Does not matter

I was married to a beautiful Ukrainian girl (well technically still as we’re divorcing) one day she just left me, without any difficulties. She just stopped loving me as she says and of course a few weeks ago took lots of my money… I heard I am not alone, and we had beautiful time together and then it happened one day.

Do not marry them ,I warn you guys, do not fall into their trap! That is a lawless country. The Russians are the same, so just use them as they would use you for the short term.


The article is about nothing. In Kiev my wife is fully employed by an Institute od National Academy of Sciences in Kiev, she completed PhD studes there and has publications in impacted journals. Basically her brutto salary (4050 UAH) is slightly below than minimum salary (4200 UAH). Ukraine is antisocial highly corrupted oligarch-protecting country. There is no such thing as non-taxable income, majority of families have no medical insurance. So, after taxation and military deductions,her net income is 3400 UAH. Now calculate city transport expenses. In Kiev, as in other cities in Ukraine, ther is no such thing as integrated city transport system, you have to pay every time you use a subway, bus or small over-aged unsafe ugly buses called marshrutka. So, to come to the Institute, she must pay 8 UAH for marshrutka, 8 UAH for subway. SO, living in Kiev you have to pay 32 UAH daily (770 UAH monthly) for city transport. SO, from net income 3400 UAH you have 2600 UAH remainig. Further, having an apatment in private property does not mean that you dont have to pay for utilitites. The share (20-50% from the salary) we pay for utilities is higher than that pple in Europe pay for rent. In winter monthes, utility expences for a small 1-bedroom apt comprise 2200-2600 UAH, meaning that with the minimum salary you can eat /feed children only at summer monthes. Millinons and millions of families live on basic minimum salaries. My salary is about 8000 UAH (300 USD). Prises for food in supermarket dont differ much than those. in US, or EU. The greatest problem is that the system is designed and works to protect oligarches. There is no such thing as incremental taxation in Ukraine. Everyone pays the same tax rates, meaning that our state budget is always underfilled.


I am sorry, but your article is untrue about USD 30 per day, which is enough for rent, 2 meals and cash for a night out. Your photos have been selected to show some industrial non-popular sites. People in Ukraine have their property in 90 % of cases, which is a great social security compared to countries like Switzerland where, even with huge income, one can hardly earn USD1,5 mln to purchase a 2-bedroom apartment
Ukraine is a great place to travel but it’s nonsense that it’s so extremely cheap and why shall it be “cheap”? It has well-developed infrastructure, intelligent people and beautiful nature.

    Ukraine Living

    Well developed infrastructure? That’s a joke…

    Yes, owning property outright is a huge plus, but to compare Ukraine to Switzerland is just silly.

Critically Yours

I don’t fully buy it. I was in Kiev last month, many people I’ve met told me the rent alone is 500-700 euro.

And going out in restaurants in Kiev center costs you 300-500 uah EASYLY thats about 15-20 euro. Some expensive ones cost up to 2000-2500 for 2 person, which is 100 euros! And most of these places were packed with people!

The official salary maybe low, but there MUST be an under the table sum paid in addition to the official sum. Also the rich poor divide must be big, and well off people are living like kings. But if rent for normal people in kiev is al ready around 500-700 euro, how the hell can they even live with a salary of 300-400 euro? It doesn’t make sense.

    Ukraine Living

    Most people own their apartment and don’t rent.

    How many LOCALS did you talk to?

    Foreigners don’t count.

Jo jo

Do you think it is well enough to live in Kramotorsk or Lviv with a monthly wage of 400-500 Euro? And let’s say your girlfriend is also working for minimum Ukrainian wage?


Yes as for me is a enough


As for me is a enough


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