My Russian sisterThis is a personal story. Some men reading Elena’s blog ask how Russian women are able to live exciting lives on their seemingly low wages (USD $200-500 a month). When I hear such questions I cannot help thinking about my sister Irina. Her life is a bright example of how Russian girls live wonderful lives earning around USD $500 a month.

Her take home pay as a medical doctor in a state hospital in Russia is about 30,000 rubles (after taxes) but she’s always involved in something extraordinary and travels twice a year. How is that possible? Let’s see.

My Russian sister’s exciting life

First of all, I have to mention that Irina has no kids and doesn’t have any debt or loans to repay. She is free to spend her money how she wishes.

She works daily from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday.

Once a week she takes “duty shifts” at the hospital, which means she leaves for work in the morning and comes back in the afternoon of the following day. So she works additional hours overnight, giving her extra payment equal to 1/2 of her base salary. Otherwise her monthly pay (typical of medical doctors) would be only around 20,000 rubles or just over $300. In Russia, it’s possible to survive on such money and some people do, but you will definitely live a life devoid of luxuries. So, because Irina is able to do it, she works extra hours and saves some cash to enjoy life more.

All her spare time she dedicates to her hobbies and activities. Irina is a fan of traveling and it’s hard to imagine her sitting at home on weekends.

Fun things on the budget

  • For starters, she is an avid rock climber. She does indoor rock climbing twice a week and it costs her 2,500 rubles ($40) per month. Each session is 3 hours long, which means that the price per hour is only 104 rubles ($1.7). Not a large fee, right?
  • Exhibitions and theaters are also quite affordable in Russia. The price in such places varies from 300 to 1,500 rubles ($5-24). It can be more expensive in case the performance features artists from Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
  • Going to movies is a popular entertainment among locals. Cinemas are always full of people and kids. The regular price of a movie ticket is about 300-600 rubles ($5-10). But there are places where you can see the same movies for 100-150 rubles ($1.5-2.5).
  • Just recently we enjoyed a meal at a nice restaurant. We’ve been there before and knew that prices are affordable. I paid only 470 rubles ($7) for the main course, tea, and desert. Though everything was tasty and it was located in the city center. Sometimes you just have to know the places.

Traveling twice a year while earning only 500 dollars per month

As I have mentioned above, Irina travels twice a year. She has been to several countries around the world. Though she is only 27.

Every time when Irina strictly plans her budget and lives in hostels. Sometimes my sister goes hiking and spends a couple of days in a tent.

She is excited to see the world and doesn’t care much about comfort. Well, Irina is young enough. When we’re younger, we often don’t care about lots of things.

While traveling my sister prefers doing things and enjoying various activities. You won’t see her lying on the beach for hours.

I asked her to share some photos from her adventurous trips to show you that sometimes you don’t need a 5-star hotel to see the world.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Rock climbing is her main hobby.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

About a year ago she participated in a “Race of heroes” held in Chebarkul, Russia.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

In Russia’s provincial towns eating out may cost you about $10 or even less.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

In 2013, Irina visited Georgia. She reached the country by train. Irina booked a hostel in advance and spent a week in Tbilisi.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Nature in Georgia is wonderful. Irina spent a couple of days in a tent and went hiking during daytime.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

It’s a special guest house for tourists in Borjomi National Park, Caucasus, Russia. You can stay there absolutely free.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

The views of the mountains are fascinating.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

This is Abkhazia (2013).

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

It’s a hotel in Abkhazian city of Gagra on the Black sea. The prices were quite affordable but the level of comfort leaved much to be desired.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Traveling to Israel didn’t cost much because she paid only for the tickets. She stayed there with relatives (2014).

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Later in 2014, Irina spent her 3-week vacation in Italy. She found some cheap hostel in Rome and stayed there for 1 week.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

In the region of Cinque Terra on the Ligurian sea, Irina rented a room from an Italian family.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

This is the room in the Italian home where she lived.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

To visit Padua and Venice she connected with a local girl through Couchsurfing platform. She stayed at her place a couple of days.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

This accommodation in Italian Alps offers rooms for alpinists and climbers.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

She always looks like this with a big backpack, which sometimes seems to be heavier than her.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

In 2015, she lived two weeks with relatives in Moscow. Of course, it was for free. She took parasitology course for her job and in her spare time visited towns located near Moscow.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Suzdal is located 200 km from Moscow. If you plan to visit the Russian capital, you’re highly recommended to take a bus and go sightseeing to Suzdal. The city is also called the diamond of the famous Golden Ring.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Places around Suzdal remain the same as ages ago with cute wooden cottages and flower-filled meadows.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

After Moscow, she flew to Israel for the second time and explored places like Haifa that she wasn’t able to see during her first visit. Round trip tickets from Moscow to Israel cost about USD $200-250.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

This year she made a trip to China. She got to Kazakhstan by train and then flew to Urumchi. Irina planned to live near Labrang monastery which she achieved by bus. In the photo, you can see the sacred Taoist mountain Huashan.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

The hostel looked a bit scary but it was very cheap. Besides, most of the time she was traveling around the country.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

Altai is one of the best destinations in Russian Siberia.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

She spent in Altai mountains 2 weeks. It was a tour organized by the alpinist club. They rented a small bus and lived in tents near Belukha mountain—the highest peak of the Altai mountains in Russia.

Traveling twice a year while only 500 dollars per month

It’s Taganai national park located in the Ural region where Irina lives. The geographical boundary between Europe and Asia runs there. Hiking in the park brings unforgettable emotions.

I hope I was able to show you that it’s possible to live an exciting life and travel the world with a small amount of money in the pocket. I couldn’t enumerate all the stunning places she’s been to within the article. I had to omit lots of other places in Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey. This year Irina also stayed a couple of weeks in Crimea. Not surprisingly, she enjoyed hiking and rock climbing there.

 

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Jul
Guest

Well, I think your sister is a lucky person. She lives the life full of good adventures and happy moments. Of course, a small amount of money is not a problem. It is enough to control your expenses and plan your activities with money, to my mind. And therefore financials won’t be a problem.

Henk
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I want to get married with your sister! 😉

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