Survey: Families in Tallinn need €1,063 minimum income each month

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Food price rises have exerted the most influence on inflation over the past year (picture is illustrative). Source: Statistics Estonia

A family of four in Tallinn needs a minimum income of €1,063 a month to sustain itself, which is more than in Riga or in Vilnius, a survey by the Swedbank Institute for Finances found.

Of the Baltic capitals, families living in Tallinn have the highest incomes and more money left over after paying mandatory expenses.

An analysis based on household models showed the monthly costs for food, housing and public transport for a family of two adults and two underage children living in an apartment of 70 square meters total €1,063 in Tallinn, which equals 37 percent of the family's income. The corresponding costs for a family living in Riga total €950 per month, which equals 47 percent of the family's income, while for a family living in Vilnius they total €954, accounting for 43 percent of the income.

"Of the Baltic capitals, the most expensive place to live is Tallinn, whereas also the income of a family living in Tallinn is higher than that of its southern neighbors. Together with child benefits, the average net income of a family of four in Tallinn is €2,897, in Riga €2,020 and in Vilnius €2,207," Mari-Liis Jääger, head of Swedbank's Institute for Finances, said.

Jääger said families living in Riga and Vilnius have lower incomes as well as monthly expenses than families living in Tallinn. Since the incomes of families living in Tallinn are higher, they have the most money left over after paying mandatory costs, she added.

The food basket recommended by nutritionists for a family of four is the most expensive in Tallinn, costing €536 and accounting for 18 percent of the family's income. The food basket is cheapest in Vilnius, where a family of four spends on it €442, or 20 percent of their income. In Riga, families spend €483 per month, or 24 percent of their income, on the recommended food basket.

"Compared to 2018, the cost of the family food basket has increased the most in Tallinn, rising by €28. In Riga, the family's food basket has become €22 cheaper, and in Vilnius the cost of the food basket has not changed in four years," Jaager said.

In all three Baltic capitals, families repaying a home loan pay less on housing than families who rent a home. For families repaying a home loan, housing costs, including the loan repayment, utility bills, water, heating, and electricity, are highest in Tallinn, where a family of four spends €527 a month on these items. In Riga, housing costs total €367 and in Vilnius €448.

The cost of housing for a family living in a rental apartment is significantly higher than for families who have bought a home with a loan. A family living in a rental apartment in Tallinn spends €705 per month on aforementioned housing costs, compared with €558 paid by a family in Riga and €703 by a family in Vilnius.

"Compared to the results of 2018, the cost of water and heating for the family living in Tallinn has decreased, but the increase in real estate prices has brought with it higher costs for rent and home loan payments," Jaager said.

In Tallinn, public transport is free of charge for those who have registered themselves as residents of the city. In Riga, a family of four spends €100 a month on public transport, and a family in Vilnius €64.

The Swedbank Institute for Finances was established in 2010 to provide independent information and practical advice. It aims to support people in making economic decisions, offer insight on managing finances and promote financial literacy or financial wisdom in Estonia

Data for the survey was gathered in the three Baltic capitals in March and April of this year. The data on incomes dates from 2020.

The recommended food basked is based on a normative method of the Estonian Society of Nutritional Sciences and the Swedish National Food Agency. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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