March 2021: First Month in Kyiv, Ukraine! (Costs of Living, Income and Expenses)

Happy April everyone! It's officially the start of Spring, and it's been exactly 30 days since I arrived in Ukraine. I'm both excited and hesitant to calculate how much I spent this month as I have a feeling it'll be 2-4x what I've been spending in Sri Lanka all of last year. But it's also exciting as I've been able to live a European standard of life again, eat Western food, and do a lot of things that I've missed in the past year. Kyiv is the capital city of Ukraine, and is also known as Kiev from the Russian influenced times. It has a population of around 3 Million people officially, but in reality has a lot more as there are thousands of students, expats, tourists, and Ukrainians from other cities or small towns living here and working unofficially. 

The average salary in Kyiv is $574 a month, which makes it seem like you'll be able to live comfortably off of anything more than that, but in reality, things here are a lot more expensive than you might imagine. More than half of the income in Ukraine isn't officially reported and all of the numbers you'll see are after tax, which means that people are actually earning closer to $1,000 a month after tax, which really only allows you to live outside of the center, and cook at home most meals. That would be equivalent to someone in the US earning $1,800 a month if you factor in taxes. In my experience, that's also the amount of money you'll need to spend each month to live comfortably in the city center, go out to restaurants, take taxis, etc. If you really want to live like a baller, take dates to high end restaurants, have cocktails at fancy bars, and live in a modern apartment, you'll actually need to budget $2,500 to $3,000 a month. Lets break down how much I spent this month and what I got for it, as well as my thoughts, plans, and goals for April 2021. 

Kyiv Costs of Living

Costs of Living

In Sri Lanka I was spending around $1,500 a month on average, going out to eat everyday, living directly on the beach. Everything was good, and life was cheap. I knew things were going to be more expensive here in Kyiv, as it's the capital city, and closer to USA or European prices, but I was actually shocked that I somehow ended up with a $10,000 credit card balance this month. 

Luckily not all of that was actual costs of living expenses, as a few thousand of it was me pulling out cash to put down a deposit on an apartment i'm looking to buy, a few thousand in lawyer fees to start the process for to get permeant residency in Ukraine, and some of it was other business expenses or one of costs, like my Airbnb for next month, or the gym for the next 6 months. One annoying thing though is the $100 in cash advanced fees I was charged by Capital One for using the local equivalent of Venmo or Cash App here called Monobank. I got hit with like 10 separate $10 charges and they won't reverse them, so i'm stuck with a lesson learned. 

So in short, deciding to come to Kyiv has been one of the most expensive decisions of my nomad life, as the $10,000 I spent on my card doesn't even include the $2,500 I pulled out of the ATM this month. The good news is that this was by far my most expensive month as things like plane tickets, gym memberships, lawyer fees, and my Airbnb is already paid for April as well. But then again, if I do end up buying this apartment, then i'm sure a lot more costs will be coming my way! Here's a breakdown of what I spent this month in Kyiv. 

Flight: CMB to Kyiv - $483.93 (fly Dubai) 

AirBnb Apartment - $1,079.68 (center - 31 nights)

Taxi - $119.61 (uber 2-3x a day)

Mobile Data - $4.50 

Capital One Fees - $150 (for Monobank) 

Restaurants & Groceries - $771.83

Coffee & Waters: $43.11

Bars and Going Out: $450

Events and Parties: $288

Clothes & Shoes - $106.43

Gym & Pool - $30.63

Saunas & Massages - $282

Dentist - $43.11

Snowboarding - $45

Other/Tips/Misc Cash - $300

Gift to Mom - $1,000

Total Costs for March - $5,892.86

*increased from $3,500 last month. +/-

Income for March

The funny thing about leaving Sri Lanka is the fact that even though my views on Youtube will drop significantly, there's a chance that I may end up earning more money through as the ad rates are higher outside of the country. While I appreciate all of my viewers from Sri Lanka, the fact is advertisers there don't pay very much, so the revenue per metric (RPM) I'd earn was actually quite low at around $2.30 per thousand views. My recent videos here in Ukraine have gotten slightly higher ad rates as there are more Americans and Europeans watching the videos. 

That combined with a few very popular videos, and the fact that I was leaving Sri Lanka and creating new fresh content, I've actually had my best month on Youtube this year so far. We'll see how that goes next month as April will be the first month with just content from Ukraine, and I'm sure a lot of my Sri Lankan audience won't continue following, but so far, we're off to a good start. 

Earning $2,000 a month is a great income stream, especially for doing something that I really enjoy and am passionate about. But it's actually not my main stream of income, so whether it continues or doesn't isn't actually a huge life changer for me. My biggest revenue stream is the dropshipping stores that I am part owner of that was built following Anton's course. This month we've had an incredible month with over $78k worth of sales. Most of that isn't profit though as product, shipping, advertising and fulfillment all costs money, but I am entitled to 30% of that store profit. 

Aside from that, I have 13 other income streams that I've built up over the years, including all of my investment income that has been doing extremely well this past year. Take a listen to both the Travel Like a Boss and Invest Like a Boss Podcasts that I host to learn more. 


What I Did in Kyiv

A lot of my month was just settling in, buying groceries, going to the dentist, signing up for a gym, buying winter clothes, and other seemly mundane tasks. But somehow it was actually a really enjoyable month. Just being in a new bustling city was a nice change of pace, and it was fun meeting new people, hanging out with old friends again, and looking to buy an apartment in a new city. 

I also did a few things like take a snowboarding lesson, go to a Russian Sauna, as well as some great restaurants and bars that were all fun but ended up adding to my monthly expenses as well. But my goal for moving to Kyiv wasn't to save money, it was to enjoy life and have fun. My budget that I was comfortable spending was actually $4,000 so I definitely I went over it this month, but that's normal for arriving to a new country and overpaying for things like a last minute Airbnb, and going out way more than I would normally. 

My goal for April is to spend a bit less, travel a bit more within Kyiv or maybe around Ukraine itself as my friend Engin and his fiance Elena will be flying from Sri Lanka here in a just a few days. The city of Kyiv itself is actually under lock down right now and in the "red zone" which means all restaurants are take away only, gyms, bars and clubs are all officially closed, and on paper it's super strict. But what I can tell you is that life here goes on as normal as long as you have money, connections, and are willing to go outside of the box. Most of us have still be going to bars, parties and restaurants, and I even started working out again at the outdoor area of my gym even though it's officially still closed. 

The lockdown does work however, as 90% of people end up staying home as most things really are closed and it's not as simple as just walking into a restaurant or around the mall. So even though a lot of people choose not to follow the protocols, it still ends up flattening the curve. What's nice about Ukraine though is that unlike the US or Western Europe, here you have the choice to follow the rules, or not. You can stay home, be safe and follow the rules, or you can go out and live your life, either way, it's a personal choice here and not a political, racial, gender, lgbt, or outrage of the month debate like it would be back in America or Western Europe. That's what I like about Ukraine, it's not overly politically correct and if you try to be, or worse, try to force others to be, people will just ignore you. 

Plans and Goals for April

Now that Spring is officially here, I'm excited to go out a lot more often, and enjoy the city more than I was able to during the winter. I don't regret coming here during the beginning of March, even though it was -3 degrees most days. But now I also know that it's not necessarily something I'd want to go through again. My plan is to get Permanent Residency through Investment which will allow me to stay in Ukraine for as long as I want, and to have the legal right to come back here even if travel shuts down again in the future and borders close. 

It'll be a long process, but I've already started it by hiring an immigration lawyer, opening a Ukrainian Business, and starting the process of investing a minimum of $100,000 into the country. I'll be documenting the entire process of apartment shopping, and all of the legal stuff, on my channel so make sure you subscribe and follow me there if you're interested. 

I'm also planning to get back into great shape before summer, so keep an eye out for me at the gym, eating healthier, and walking a lot more. I started dating again as well, but honestly, I don't see why I would settle down with someone seriously unless she was someone I wanted to have children with or brought as much to the relationship as I do. So unless I happen to meet an amazing girl who is worth settling down with, I'm happy living the semi-single life and just dating casually and having fun. Learning a bit more Russian would defiantly help though as 90% of the people I've met hardly speak any English at all, and it's definitely a requirement to speak the language if you're going to live in Kyiv. 

With Love from Kyiv,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. How was your March? And what are your thoughts about me moving to Kyiv and spending so much money this month? Good move, or bad move?

  2. Nice. 10k is nothing for you big man.

    1. That's a great mindset to go, or stay broke. =)

  3. Thanks. But march income is unclear. Kindly show all, with cleat sources. Many thanks again.

    1. I still get income from all of these 14 sources, expect for the live events:

  4. kristina girl is coming to kiev in may. any re-union on card?

  5. Given the serious massing of Russian tanks on the eastern border of Ukraine, you may want to rethink settling down there.

    1. They've been at war since 2014. It doesn't affect life in Kyiv at all.

  6. Thanks for the insights Johnny! Any reason you're choosing to buy an apartment in Kiev over a place like Tbilisi?

    1. I'll have to write a whole post about it, but it's mostly lifestyle. Tbilisi is great, but lacks the high energy of a big city like New York, Berlin or Kyiv.


  7. Johnny if you had kids, where would you like to raise them?

    1. I'd probably have 2 bases, 6 months in each place. One near family, either hers or mine. And the other somewhere where they can be free in nature, maybe Thailand.

  8. Re "..I don't see why I would settle down with someone seriously unless she was someone I wanted to have children with or brought as much to the relationship as I do..",

    Eastern European women I would think still have more traditional values. It may be a challenge to find an Eastern woman with Western values. Westerners who prefer to date Eastern women it is often because they do not have Western values.

  9. Johnny, are you still doing BJJ ?
    Or looking to get back into it ?

  10. Thanks Johnny, I wish I found your website and channel early, I've done lots of mistakes and still didn't manage to create a passive income as I wanted.

  11. Hey Johnny, I thought that Ukrain was cheap. If that costs buther you,why don't you come to Turkey? Its the cheapest country in Europe. You will live like sultans in here.

    Greetings from Istanbul.
    If you come somewhere around here, take à call, free guidenesse from me :)

  12. Congrats Johnny! Awesome news on your accomplishments. Much happiness and fun adventure to you!


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