The cost of living in Belarus is relatively low compared to other European countries, like Norway or Switzerland which are ranked two of the most expensive nations to live in. As of March 2011, Belarus was ranked 193rd by Mercer to measure the cost of living for foreign nationals in 214 cities all over the world.
Buying Real Estate
Despite the growing number of foreign investors in Belarus, foreign nationals or foreign legal entities are not allowed by the Belarusian government to own a land or property. Only Belarusians and Russians are allowed to buy properties in the country, but it is restricted to only one hectare of agricultural land in a household plot, and 0.25 hectares of agricultural land around and under a private house. As such, expats and foreign businesses choose to rent accommodations and office spaces instead. Foreign nationals are allowed to lease non-agricultural lands in Belarus for a period of up to 99 years.
Lands in Belarus are all publicly-owned. Arrangements that involve state property valued at 1,470,588,235 BYR or approximately $150,000 will require the personal approval of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Most foreign nationals who live and work in Belarus opt to rent an apartment in the capital city, Minsk. It is because Minsk is where modern infrastructures and facilities are mostly found, and it is also where the center of the international community is based. Expats choose Minsk because of its proximity to their workplace, which is also mostly located in the city proper.
As with any other country, rental accommodation in the Belarusian city center are always more expensive than those in the suburban areas. A one-bedroom apartment in Minsk costs about $326 to $600 a month, while a three-bedroom apartment is priced from $565 to $1,000 a month. Meanwhile, a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs about $250 to $400, and a three-bedroom apartment costs approximately $500 to $700 per month.
The price for basic utilities in Belarus like water, electricity, garbage and heating ranges from $34 to $55. One-minute local calls from prepaid Belarusian mobiles cost about $0.02 to $0.05, while internet connection rates for cable/ADSL with unlimited data and a speed of 6Mbps cost approximately $17 to $23.
A meal at an inexpensive Belarusian restaurant costs approximately $10, while a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant costs about $37. A regular cappuccino in a Belarusian restaurant costs about $1.97. Buying a combo meal at McDonalds or a similar fast food chain costs around $6. One liter of regular milk costs $0.90, 1.5 liters of bottled water costs $0.81, one kilogram of local cheese costs about $7.66, a dozen eggs cost $1.54 and a loaf of white bread costs $0.59. A bottle of mid-range wine costs approximately $6.61, domestic beers are at $1.02 and imported beers are priced at $1.93.
The price of gasoline in Belarus ranges from $0.85 to $1 per liter. A one-way ticket for a local transport such as the railway costs about $0.23, while a monthly pass costs $13. Taxi rides in Belarus has a flag down rate of $2, with an additional $0.50 for every kilometer.
Everyone working in Belarus – residents or non-residents – are mandated by the government to pay an income tax rate of 12% each month, which is deductible to their monthly income. Foreign nationals working in Belarus can check if it has a double taxation treaty with their home country. Value Added Tax (VAT) in Belarus is set at 20%.