Prague tops ranking for highest cost of living in the CEE region

While the Czech capital was the most expensive in the region, but residents have the highest purchasing power.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.02.2022 18:00:00 (updated on 07.02.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The days of Prague being considered a cheap city are something of the past. A new ranking finds the Czech capital has the highest cost of living out of 49 cities in Central and Eastern Europe. On top of that, Czech cities held four of the top six spots, with Slovak cities taking the other two.

Statistics site Numbeo ranked cities for cost of living, rent, groceries, restaurant prices, and purchasing power. New York City was used as a benchmark, set at 100 in each category.

Prague had a cost of living index of 51.78, meaning overall costs in Prague were 51.78 percent of those in New York. Bratislava was second at 49.44, followed by Brno at 49.29, Olomouc at 48.21, Košice at 48.19, and Ostrava at 46.17.

Cities in Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria finished the top 10. By contrast, cities in Russia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine filled out the bottom 10 spots on the list.

Cost of living, for this index, counts prices of consumer goods prices, including groceries, plus restaurants, transportation, and utilities. It does not include accommodation costs.

In terms of rent, Prague was second in the CEE region with rent prices at 26.02 of the New York average. It was beaten only by Moscow, with an index of 28.04. Brno was fourth, Olomouc 15th, and Ostrava 23rd. When the cost of living and rent are combined, Prague is again on top, with Brno third, Olomouc seventh, and Ostrava ninth.

Prague has long had a problem with high rents due to demand for flats far outstripping the new supply, and a limited number of flats in the pipeline. The Covid pandemic temporarily saw rental prices drop, but they are now returning to pre-pandemic levels. Numeo calculates that a one-bedroom apartment in Prague in the city center costs CZK 18,085 per month, and outside the center is CZK 13,727.

Prague’s winning streak continues with the most expensive groceries, at an index of 45.19. Czech cities took four of the top five spots but in a new order. Olomouc second, Brno third, and Ostrava fifth. Bratislava snuck in for the fourth spot.

Relatively speaking, eating out is a bargain in Prague. It comes in fourth in the index at 44.85, with Moscow, Bratislava, and Košice all more expensive. The dining budget goes even further in Brno, at eighth place, Ostrava at 23rd, and Olomouc at 28th. Prague, though, has two restaurants with Michelin stars and five with Bib Gourmand rankings, while no other Czech city has an eatery that warrants an entry in the Michelin Guide.

Moscow, though, has seven eateries with one Michelin star and two with two stars, so perhaps the expensive meals there are worth it. Neither Bratislava nor Košice earned any mention in the guide.

Beer, an area where Prague tends to do well both for prices and quality, was not ranked separately from restaurants.

Prices, though, are only half the picture. Wages are also higher in Prague than in many other cities in the CEE region. Demand for qualified workers in IT and other fields has been high for some time, with potential employers scrambling to fill positions. Even with the pandemic, wages have been going up.

The average gross monthly wage for a full-time employee in Prague in the third quarter of 2021 was at CZK 45,523, up 4.2 percent year on year, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). The gross wage includes insurance and social security payments. Employees receive a net wage, which is slightly lower.

Local purchasing power shows how much someone can buy, based on the local net salary. Prague has the highest local purchasing power in the CEE region, coming in at 71.96 percent of what someone can buy on the average salary in New York City. Ostrava came in fourth, followed by Brno in fifth. Olomouc barely squeaked into the top 10 in ninth place.  

Cost of living

  • 1.Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2.Bratislava, Slovakia
  • 3.Brno, Czech Republic
  • 4.Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • 5.Košice, Slovakia
  • 6.Ostrava, Czech Republic
  • 7.Budapest, Hungary
  • 8.Warsaw, Poland
  • 9.Gdynia, Poland
  • 10.Sofia, Bulgaria

Source: Numbeo

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