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The Best in Student Budget Management

Managing a budget is not very easy - it requires a lot of discipline, but it is nonetheless necessary to do in order to effectively manage income in relation to expenses. For international students coming to live in Russia, Saint Petersburg, it is particularly important to have a plan on how to manage costs.

The Best in Student Budget Management

Life in Saint Petersburg is relatively cheap compared to other cities. However, while living in Saint Petersburg there are certain fixed costs that must always be accounted for.

Dormitory Costs

These are the cost or expenses that international students are going to incur when staying in school-based accommodation. These amounts are discounted, meaning that international students are going to pay reduced prices for the dormitory, thus making it a cheap way to live here. The high quality and standards of the dormitory makes it a great value for the charged fees.


This is the cost incurred by students looking for cheap medical care. The amount paid for insurance depends on the treatment offered. This is paid just once a year and it is not too expensive. However, if you are not someone who is often sick or has a pre-existing condition, I suggest not spending your money on this, because you do not really need it. You can always visit the pharmacy or clinic for any little illnesses that might come along from time to time and receive the care you need at an affordable rate.

Winter Shoes and Clothes

These expenses are essential. Given the fact that Russia is a cold country, it is important to buy shoes and clothes that will last throughout the winter. If you can buy them cheaply in your home country, my suggestion is to do so before coming to Russia, where clothing and footwear can be expensive.


The transport system in Saint Petersburg is a modern one that grants access to every part of the city. Most people move around via the metro, bus or taxi.

All international students should have a transport pass, which grants access to all forms of public transport at a discount. Once you have this card, you can move freely within the city without having to worry too much about the cost. This card requires you to pay a fixed sum of money every month, during which you are able to move from one place to another as often as you like each day. The card’s funds are deducted based on the number of days, not on the number of times within a day that the card is used, making your opportunities to move around each day limitless in effect.

There are other types of costs that are more dependent on an individual student’s behaviour and preferences, but for many they can prove just as vital as those listed above.


Saint Petersburg has so many telecommunication companies that offer cheap service for calling and using the Internet. However, international students may find they may not even need to pay for these, because all HSE buildings, including the dormitory, are equipped with Internet facilities that can also be used to make phone calls. If you can limit your calling and web surfing to when you are in an HSE building, you will cut the cost of buying telephone cards.


We all know that food is very important to our survival, but it is just as important to eat wisely.

You can choose to eat in a restaurant or cook for yourself. Nevertheless, I advise everyone to blend the two approaches, especially since you may not always have time to cook and eating in a restaurant here is cheap and comfortable.

If you decide to buy groceries to do your own cooking, it is very important that you get a discount card. They are available in the shops, and these cards can sharply reduce the total cost of buying food and other groceries.

Even more planning around your shopping can have great benefits, and you should plan what you intend to buy in advance so that you only get what you need. By knowing how often you will ship, you can set a time frame, such as once a week, every two weeks or even every month depending on your preferences. The discipline in such planning is key to a great budget and managing your income. 


The cost connected with free time depends on the individual. In my own opinion, for the first few months you do not need any form of leisure, because you are still new and you do not even know how to speak Russian. As a result, there are plenty of distractions to keep you busy and barriers to overcome. Communication is the first such barrier, and it is important to make some inroads before branching out too much, so that you do not end up wasting your funds.

If you are looking for activities to keep you busy, the university is the best place to look. Most university-related activities are free or very cheap, which allows you to attend many and fill your social and leisure calendars without draining your bank accounts. Keep an eye open for lectures, clubs and other activities that will keep you busy and engaged with others.

When you put it all together, expenses in Saint Petersburg tend to look something like this:


Amount (RUBLES)

Amount (USD)

Amount (EUROS)


670 per month

11 per month

10 per month









Winter clothing

1700 to 3000

27.3 to 48.2

26 to 46


35 to 40 per ticket

0.56 to 0.64

0.54 to 0.62

Eating Out

School cafeteria

150 to 200 minimum

2.4 to 3.2

2.3 to 3.1

Restaurant (fast food)

300 to 400

4.8 to 6.4

4.6 to 6.1


Water 5 litres




Boneless chicken breast




1 litre of milk




12 eggs




1 kg of tomatoes




1 kg of cheese




Sport and Leisure

Fitness club monthly.




Tennis club (1 hour)









Telephone card

290 minimum



In conclusion, managing all these expenses is possible and necessary, so as not to run into financial crises. It is all about knowing your income and relating it to what you can/need to buy and what you do not need to buy, given all the alternatives available. Living like this will help you to be able to effectively manage your income and expenses in Saint Petersburg and keep yourself in good financial standing throughout your studies.

By Hamza Akorede, Master’s student, Finance, Nigeria