Cost of living
The cost of living in Kazakhstan is cheaper than in Europe and America. However, in comparison with Central Asia and CIS countries, it is expensive. Rich mineral resources (especially oil) and positive developments in the economy led to the overall living standards increase followed by a price increase. Later, economic recession and tenge (KZT, Kazakhstan currency) exchange rates falling resulted in another price increase and the decrease of average citizens’ income.
The cost of living in big cities (Astana and Almaty) is higher than in small and regional ones. The concentration of working places, businesses and foreign companies influences the prices. The exchange rate of tenge to the dollar is 1 USD=320 KZT as of 15.02.2017. The average salary in 2016 made 147 000 KZT (460 USD).
Accommodation prices are very expensive, so the majority of the population rent property or take out mortgage loans. The government's Affordable Accommodation Program builds economy class apartments, making them available through mortgage loans in all cities.
The average flat rental cost without utilities for a one-room flat is 300 USD and 400 USD for a two-room flat. The rental cost will increase depending on location, for example, whether it is in city centre or close to shopping centres, renovation and western-style renovation, home appliances, cable TV, the Internet and etc. If one wants to buy a flat, the average cost of one-room flat is 40,000 USD, while a two-room flat is 60,000 USD.
Utility rates are not so expensive. Utilities are provided by state-owned or private companies. The utility list in Kazakhstan comprises of electricity, gas, central heating, cold and hot water, wastewater disposal, landline telephone and garbage removal. The price of utilities in a one-room flat is about 56 USD. The Internet for 1 month is about 15 USD.
Healthcare and medical costs
Healthcare in Kazakhstan has also undergone numerous reforms starting with privatisation and ending with compulsory insurance which will be introduced in 2017. The healthcare sector is mostly public. People can get all kinds of services and medicine free-of-charge. All emergency medical services are also free of charge, including surgeries. However, the quality of free medical services and medicine is far from perfect.
The situation is better in the private sector, but it is not affordable for all people. Through a benefits package, top companies provide their employees with good medical insurance covering visits to doctors, treatment, medicine, stomatology, hospital and outpatient treatment. Some medical costs: cold medicine for 6 days – 6 USD, antibiotics 1 box – 5,5 USD, visit to the doctor - 15 USD.
The best shopping destination in Kazakhstan is Almaty. The south capital has plenty of modern shopping centres, such as Mega, Dostyk Plaza, Esentai Mall, ADK, Tsum and etc. Popular brands such as Zara, Mango, Karen Millen, Next, Marks & Spencer are available in the shopping centres of Almaty, Astana and other big cities.
The cheapest supermarkets are Small, Magnum chains or even better bargains are dealt at bazaars, for instance, Zelenyi Bazaar. Zelenyi bazaar is one of the attractions of Almaty, representing the spirit of oriental bazaars. Every month, craftsmen from Central Asia gather in Almaty for a Handicraft Fair. Here, one can find national (Kazakh, Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Turkmen) souvenirs, clothes, toys, jewelry, hats and bags.
Most sales in Kazakhstan are subject to 12 % VAT. The introduction of a tax free system for foreigners is being discussed.
- Rent of one-room apartment in city centre – $ 625 per month
- Rent onf one-room apartment outside city centre – $300 per month
- Price of one-room apartment – from $ 40,000
- Loaf of bread – $ 0.34
- Milk (1 litre) – $ 1.06
- Cheese (500 gr) – $ 3.75
- Beer (0.5 litre) – $ 1.06
- Packet of cigarettes – $ 1
- Petrol (1 litre) – $ 0.43
- Cinema ticket – $ 4.06
Source: www.expatarrivals.com (accessed February 2017).