Monthly Budget as a Student: Nkajima's Experiment

Hi! It’s your friendly Nigerian neighbor studying in Estonia - Nkajima. I hope you have been keeping safe, wearing your masks, washing your hands and using sanitizers!  Remember, it’s important to keep to safety regulations wherever you are!

So, what interesting bit do I have to share you may ask? Well, it’s all about the money, money, money… Jessie J would probably be unimpressed by my rendition of her famous song. But yes, let’s get right into it. Before I got to Estonia, I wondered what my expenses would be like. How much I would spend in a month - on accommodation, food and every other miscellaneous thing I happen to want. This is me helping you plan your monthly budget if you intend to come to Estonia and are bothered about spending. 

It’s important to know what to expect when it comes to spending as a student. I have spent over a year in Estonia and in comparison to some other European cities I have been to (and also those I have compared expenditures of students in), Estonia is quite inexpensive to live as a student.  

First of all, I had to make sure I had nothing at home so I could kind of give a breakdown of my expenses for the month of January. I had about €300 and so began my journey of spending it to bring you this breakdown.


Source: Giphy

First thing I paid for was my accommodation. I stay at the student dormitory in Tartu and there’s a fixed amount for rent each month. If you are trying to cut costs and not spend so much money on rent, I advise that you stay at the dormitory. It is less expensive and it's set at a fixed price - to my knowledge, this is for University of Tartu dormitories. A fixed price means you can plan your budget accordingly and not be surprised by utility bills as it's already included in the monthly rent.


Dormitory. Photo: Unsplash

After that, I went grocery shopping and also shopped for some personal items. Whenever I go shopping, I make sure to go to different stores. Not because I like going from place to place, but because I get different things at different stores and also for the discounts I get at different stores. After a long journey to Maxima, Coop and Tartu Turg, I got food items such as rice, spices, eggs, spaghetti, frozen veggies and fruits, flour, cooking oil, sugar and milk. For my personal items, everything you can think a grown lady would need like deodorants, tissue, toothpaste and shower gel, I got. Now, I love my proteins and choose to get them fresh from the meat market - I got some pieces of chicken, turkey, fish and gizzard. At this point, I was done shopping and had restocked on everything I didn’t have. 

At some point during the month I made some random purchases. I think I got some snacks and paid for some random things like a journal, a mirror and fairy lights.

Grocery bag

Grocery bag. Photo: Unsplash

How much did I spend on everything? We are going to do a bit of math to get the total of my expenses:

  • Accommodation - €107 
  • Groceries and personal effects-  €85 
  • Random buys-  €33.59
  • Total spent -  €225.59
  • Money left -  €75

By the end of January, I had spent approximately €226 the entire month. Well, mind you that even though I got this total, this is not what you may spend every month. Aside from my accommodation I do not get to spend on food and personal items every month because when I shop, I make sure to get enough to cover for at least half of the next month which is probably why my total seems so much.


A calculator for calculating your budget. Photo: Unsplash

So if you plan on coming to Estonia, you need to consider that you may spend on an average  €250- €300 every month. One more thing to consider is that budgets differ from person to person. For example, if you stay in an apartment, you may incur more charges than others because you pay for utilities every month which are often not fixed rates as utility bills are dependent on the season. Also,  the base rent for apartments is more expensive than the base rent at student dormitories. 

I hope this helps you plan your monthly budget - cause I sure am going to cut costs after calculating all I spent last month! :)

Text: Nkajima