The cost of living in certain areas is rarely observed through the scope of price versus quality of product or service. I’ve seen traveling peers instantly assuming that low cost usually goes hand in hand with terrible infrastructure, service, and hospitality. Such a bias can easily cloud your judgment when analyzing Macedonia as you next destination. This page, putting together a carefully retrieved data, serves to take the guess work out of the equation- insight into prices, but everything else that numbers cannot reveal as well.
Macedonia is cheap
The Macedonian economy is up to no good. Urban areas can enjoy decent income per capita, but that’s pretty much the extent of it – though this concerns locals only. As a traveler, the first thing you need to know right away is that this county is ranked at a very sweet spot when it comes to cheapest places in the world. Taking the eighth position overall, it’s a place where your buck can go a long way.
But here is the catch – whereas similarly cheap destinations have a struggle to get your internet connection up, and are usually govern by regime and dictatorial governments, making safety a big issue – Macedonia is in every way a manifestation of your average European standard. Enjoying far less tourist traction than other European destinations though, few people are familiarized with this fact.
The price tables are few scrolls away, since there are few important things that bear mentioning first.
Almost everywhere you take your wallet out, the card can cover the bill. Every museum, shop, write-a-local-of-your-choosing, accepts cards. And the few places that doesn’t, are not that far away from an ATM. Yup, that’s right, ATM’s are all over the place as well. Exchange offices are not that easy to find, though banks can do the job just as well. These, even more so than machines, are easy to spot around. For Western Union, you will have to do a bit of a search, but no matter where you are in the city we are talking about dozen of minutes away.
The Macedonian average salary makes the destination heaven for foreigners. Everything, and I do mean everything, is easily accessible for the average European or American; Groceries, entertainment and hospitality, transport, tourist attractions, and even housing if you are here for the long stay. Forget about counting and let your wallet smile as well.
The interesting thing though, is that everything that you pay for, despite the low price, is very decent, dare I say top notch, in quality and level of satisfaction. This applies to restaurants, bars, hotels (though they can be a tad pricier), markets, entertainment, shopping, and everything in between.
So let me take you sightseeing. Pay attention.
Groceries and personal care items are way below the price you are used paying for them back at home (assuming that you come from Northern America, Europe or Australia, just to give you a loose and vague clue of standard). And this makes Macedonian cost of living instantly lower. Markets are easy to find, and they are the size of your average suburban supermarket. The ones in the capital are way, way bigger though. Inside, you can have everything you would normally expect to find in your back-at-home-market. Some – being close to government institutions- even serve hot prepared meals as well.
The best thing when it comes to Macedonian supermarkets or fruit and vegetable open markets, is that organic food is way cheaper than anywhere in the world, and way better quality wise. After trying Macedonian vegetables, you are instantly setting your standard higher; and for good.
|Milk (regular), (1 liter)||0.8€|
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)||0.45€|
|Rice (white), (1kg)||1.22€|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||5.09€|
|Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg)||4.55€|
|Lettuce (1 head)||0.34€|
|Water (1.5 liter bottle)||0.39€|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||3.27€|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)||0.73€|
|Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)||1.02€|
|Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro)||1.98€|
Medicine is cheap and easily accessible as well. Pharmacies are all around the place, well-equipped, though only few operate during late hours.
When it comes to going out and having fun, again, your buck takes you a long way. Restaurants are serving delicious food, usually provide beautiful atmosphere, and are very inexpensive with exceptions to few. The staff and the service is nothing more or less than in every popular destination of the world.
|Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant||3.27€|
|Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course||16.375€|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)||1.64€|
|Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)||1.47€|
|Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle)||1.3€|
|Water (0.33 liter bottle)||0.58€|
Transport is cheap. Like really cheap. Taxi, unlike in huge cities, comes at a moment’s notice. Busses are usually on time, maybe with few minutes of delay, and are clean and fast, operating on routes that take you from point A to wherever you want in less than half an hour at most. In summer, you can also catch the roofless ones. Intercity travel, though also cheap, is not nearly as comfortable. So take our advice and go for a rent-a-car. Bikes are around too, and they are nearly for free; though the urban cycling infrastructure is close to terrible in some parts of the city.
Also, take in mind that this whole section describes the capital, Skopje. Other cities like Ohrid, Bitola, Strumica are entirely different of a story. Take that in mind in almost every section of the pricing tables. Cost is usually lower there, but quality of service and level of satisfaction way lower too.
Not to forget about gas, it is also cheap and gas stations are around the place.
Oh, did I mention that English is the unofficial second language among the youth, and taxi drivers can easily understand you? Well, there is that.
|One-way Ticket (Local Transport)||0.57€|
|Monthly Pass (Regular Price)||15€|
|Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)||0.64€|
|Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)||0.41€|
|Taxi 1h Waiting (Normal Tariff)||4.91€|
|Gasoline (1 liter)||1.17€|
Shopping for clothes is not that much different than in other countries around the world. With huge malls and famous brands all lined up, you can buy everything and pay equal price as in, say US. Ok, some brands are maybe few dollars up the price as you can see from the chart. Electronics, gadgets, everything else is more or less the same like anywhere else in the world.
|Clothing And Shoes||Avg. price|
|1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar)||52€|
|1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …)||36€|
|1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range)||72.83€|
|1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes||72.02€|
The cost of staying is entirely different than the cost of living. And this is mostly so due to the fact that hotel accommodation and rent differ by a huge margin. Whereas hotels are way cheaper than what you pay for in most countries (hostels too, and these are on the rise), rent is surprisingly low compared to average European cities.
Oh, and internet connection is better than most countries from the western world. Free Wi-Fi is also easy to catch. Phone bills are… well, like everything else so far, very cheap as well.
|Rent Per Month||Avg. price|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre||229€|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre||157€|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre||370€|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre||264€|
Tourism attractions and packages are the cherry on the top. Prices are near the average of what you would normally pay elsewhere, though some are surprisingly low. Take for example mountain bike tours, tandem paragliding flights, and authentic Macedonian experiences like horseback riding while visiting traditional villages along the way and tasting domestic cheese and beverage. Entries to museums and official attractions are more or less what you’d expect.
The price tables above, and the info you have about Macedonian hospitality and level of service, I hope this makes visiting easier and lot more comfortable to plan ahead. The cost of living in Macedonia is for some so unbelievable, that it makes you give it a thought about staying longer than planned.
Here is to spending less and having great time!
An outdoor junkie and an adventurous spirit who loves the mountain. Slavko regularly talks about travel, lifestyle design, holistic health and fitness. You can find his writings on popular magazines around the net, and his regular guides and columns in The Lifestyle Updated.