Riga by far most expensive Baltic capital

  • 2001-11-29
  • BNS
RIGA - A survey of products and services in the three Baltic capitals shows life to be most costly overall in Latvia's capital, Riga.

Three business newspapers - Dienas Bizness of Latvia, Aripaev of Estonia and Verslo Zinios of Lithuania - found that a Big Mac meal in a McDonald's restaurant in Riga costs 1.57 lats ($2.5), compared with 1.54 lats in Vilnius and 1.39 lats in Tallinn.

Levi 502 jeans cost between 42 lats and 56 lats in Riga compared with 39 lats in Tallinn and Vilnius.

The pattern was the same with fixed-line telephone calls, which cost 0.02 lats per minute in Latvia, 0.017 lats in Lithuania and 0.01 lats in Estonia.

Electric power in Latvia costs 0.039 lats per kilowatt-hour while in Lithuania the price is 0.037 lats per kWh and in Estonia 0.034 lats.

But when it comes to entertainment Rigans fair better. Opera tickets in the Latvian capital are cheaper than in Vilnius and Riga's movie theaters are also cheaper than Tallinn's.

For the sick it also pays to live in Latvia as Riga's drugstores are cheaper than those in Vilnius and Tallinn.

The bad news is that average monthly wages in Latvia are the lowest in the Baltics at 113.7 lats, compared with 128.3 lats in Lithuania and 161.6 lats in Estonia.

But Raita Karnite, director of the Latvian Science Academy's institute of economics, cast doubt on the survey's accuracy.

"If we had to live on the salaries that this survey claims, we would be dead already," she said.

"Judging from consumers' behavior it doesn't look like the people of Riga are so poor - our supermarkets are crowded with people. But the question is where they get the money from."

In Karnite's view Riga's high prices are also due to the Latvian capital's central location. Many international companies have offices in Riga staffed by people who can afford to pay higher prices and to live in greater comfort.

In a survey last year The Financial Times ranked Riga the 101st most costly city in the World. Vilnius came 121st and Tallinn 134th.