Some expats and expats-to-be share get excited about the opportunity in Asia, especially places like Cambodia and the more developed Malaysia. Others feel closer to Central and South America. And others love the romance of Europe.
Living in Latvia is one of the best ways to experience the excitement of living in Europe without the price tag that usually comes along with the privilege.
Many North Americans grew up dreaming of living in Europe, and Latvia ticks a lot of the boxes expats are looking for in a European base.
Latvia is part of emerging Europe and, while not perfect, offers refuge from some of the usual challenges, especially the high cost of living.
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What Does Latvia Have to Offer?
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a charming city, and the Old Town is full of restaurants, pubs, quiet bars, and loud clubs. It has anything you want, from local dishes to TGI Fridays.
And there’s plenty to do. Attend a show at the National Opera House, with tickets starting at just $10.
Compared to its neighbor Lituania’s capital Vilnius, Riga is more vibrant. There is a nice park that runs along the river in Old Town, offering a place to sit and take in the beautiful scenery.
The Old Town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Riga was named the European City of Culture in 2014.
While Latvia is a small country with just under two million people, it offers plenty of natural wonders outside Riga. Latvia has four national parks, including Gauju National Park in the Gauju Valley, which features more than 500 monuments.
What is more, half of Latvia’s land area is actually untouched ecosystems, offering further natural beauty. And regions like Sigulda offer interesting historical relics for those that enjoy a historical element.
Latvia is also home to gorgeous lakes, castles, and cliffs. If you’re not interested in Latvia’s natural forests, which have a distinctly Scandinavian feel to them, the Jurmula area just west of Riga features some of Eastern Europe’s most sought-after beaches.
The place turns into the New Orleans of Eastern Europe in the summer, with wealthy Russians and European tourists partying on the long beaches.
The Benefits of Life in Latvia
Possibly the most significant benefit of living in Latvia is the cost of living, as one of the cheapest countries in Europe.
The average cost of living in Latvia is in the region of €830 per month (without rent), but of course, this can vary greatly depending on the type of lifestyle you are looking for and the degree of luxury you desire.
You can rent an apartment for around $500-600 per month and go up from there. If you want more luxury, there are plenty of high-end homes in Riga and Jurmala. You will pay around $230 per square foot for real estate.
Riga is one of our favorite places to live in the Baltic States, compared to the somewhat less scenic Lithuania and the pricier Estonia to the north.
When it comes to the quality and prices of food, Latvia does quite well. Even in some of Riga’s better restaurants, a three-course meal for two could cost as little as $50, complete with coffee or tea.
This Baltic nation is suited to those who prefer colder winters and who don’t mind learning a second language, although that being said, most Latvians speak excellent English.
Another aspect of Latvian life to keep in mind is the dark winters, with an average of just 2 hours of sunlight, and bright summers, with an average of about 11 hours of daylight, which can prove difficult for some to readjust to.
Many Americans grew up with Paris and Rome as the European dream. Still, by not simply following the crowd, you can find gems in Europe that offer more opportunities and easier access to residence and even citizenship in the EU.
Living in Latvia has a lot of the feel of the cobblestoned cities of Western Europe at barely half the price.
Nowhere in Europe is going to match the low cost of living in Southeast Asia or even parts of South America. Still, Latvia has to be one of the cheapest places to live in Europe for the level of sophistication it offers both young and older expats.
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