Expat Cost of Living in Armenia

After previously speaking about the cost of living in Thailand the UAEQatarChinaHong KongCosta Rica and Mexico this article will focus on Armenia.

Our staff have also looked at some of the other aspects of living in Sakhalin, such as visas, housing and taxes, alongside the positives and negatives of living in the country.

Some of these factors might be affected by the ongoing pandemic in 2020, especially when it comes to visa processes and costs.

Needless to say, expat cost of living will differ considerably depending on your lifestyle, and be quite different to local costs.

For any questions, or if you are looking to invest as an expat, you can contact me using  this form.

Introduction

Armenia is known to many as a country of majestic mountains. This state in the Transcaucasia has incredibly beautiful nature, unique traditions, stunning color and hospitable population.

The magnificent mountainous country is famous for the hospitality and cordiality of the local population. 

This is one of the most important factors due to which the majority of Russian-speaking emigrants choose to choose Armenia for permanent residence.

At the same time, almost all Armenians are fluent in Russian, which does not create a language barrier. Except for this, nowadays Armenian youth is also specialized in different languages and definitely you will not be lost in Armenia if you are from China or from Spain.

But, despite all these advantages, Armenia can hardly be called one of the most developed countries.

This republic is only gaining momentum in its development. Not so long ago, the Armenian Republic joined the Customs Union.

This accession had a very favorable effect on prices in Armenia, the standard of living of its population, as well as customs rules for entering and leaving the country.

Armenia is one of the countries that was previously part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

After the collapse of the USSR, Armenia could not stabilize the political situation in the country for a long time. But today this state is distinguished by liberality, stability and democracy. In recent years, several bills have been adopted aimed at developing the economic system. 

Thanks to these reforms, in 2010 the Armenian economy began to slowly recover, as evidenced by its current level of GDP. Industry is actively developing in the country. Armenia has become an exporter of machinery equipment to many countries of the world. Tourists do not need a visa to visit Armenia.

So today we are going to study one of the most interesting countries, which is enough small and unknown for most people, but is a home for a lot of expats. So let’s see how it costs living in Armenia and how much you need for a permanent resident.

Citizens’ income

Average monthly nominal wages according to official statistics are 172 thousand drams ($ 400). Finding a job in Yerevan, unlike other cities in Armenia, is very easy. All young people are eager to move here. As a result, Yerevan is developing very quickly. 

The minimum wage here is 55 thousand drams ($ 110). But few people work for that kind of money. The average salary in the private sector is about 200 thousand drams ($ 450), the salaries of state employees in the public sector are lower – about 150 thousand drams ($ 300). This is enough to live a normal life.

It is considered to be very good salaries in the IT field. There people receive from 300 thousand ($ 600) to 5-6 million drams ($ 10.000 – 12.000), depending on qualifications and experience. If you have a good experience and are a good specialist, you can easily find a well-paid job in Armenia. 

Housing

Renting a three-room apartment in the center will cost you about 150 thousand drams ($ 300). The cost of housing, as elsewhere, depends on the area. Yerevan is divided into 12 administrative districts. The most expensive apartments are, naturally, in the center. Prices for well-renovated apartments there start at 120 thousand drams ($ 230). 

In other districts, similar housing will cost 70-80 thousand drams per month ($ 120 – 130). But for that kind of money, you can’t always find a decent apartment. Many people rent housing that has not been renovated for a long time.

Actually in Yerevan purchasing a house is not that expensive as in many other European or Asian countries, not talking about America. Here you can even find a house of $20,000, but of course far from a city center. Anyways if you have a car, it would not be a problem for you to live far from a center as the city is really small and moving is a story of maximum 20 minutes. 

Transport

Transport in Armenia is not in the best condition, as they are super cheap and the cost is fixed 100 drams ($ 0.20) for both buses and metro. But good news concerning taxis, taxis in Yerevan are the cheapest in the world, a short trip will cost you about 500 drams ($1).

But the transport situation in Yerevan is difficult. The city is not designed for such a number of cars, so traffic jams happen here all the time. Ground transport such as minibuses and buses are private. Everyone wants to earn more, sometimes to the detriment of the comfort and safety of passengers. 

For example, there are 12 places in the minibus, but even when they are all full, the driver will still stop to take more people. Sometimes more than 20 people are packed into the minibus. The current mayor of the city – famous actor and screenwriter – promised to rectify the situation.

Of all types of public transport, the metro is the most convenient and clean. Yerevan Metro is small – only one line. A trip by bus, minibus or metro costs 100 drams, as already mentioned, but definitely worth it.

Food

A set of products for a week will be 5-6 thousand drams ($ 10 – 15), for lazy expats ordering pizza home will be about 3-4 thousand drams ($6-7).

There is Carrefour among international trade networks in Yerevan. In addition, there are many different local supermarkets. The prices are not high there. You can shop at Yerevan City supermarket where it is cheaper compared to other markets, but there is also SAS supermarket which also has exclusive products that you cannot simply notice in other supermarkets. 

Fast food is very popular in Yerevan. From the world chains there are Burger King, KFC, they want to open McDonald’s. You can have a cheap snack there. For example, a hamburger at Burger King costs from 600 AMD ($ 1.20). But the most popular fast food chain in Yerevan is Tashir Pizza. Ordering pizza home for three will cost about 5 thousand drams ($ 10). 

Armenia is famous for its national dishes. These are dolma, khorovats (a type of shish kebab), kyufta (a type of meatballs), basturma, khash. This food can be found in all restaurants and will be inexpensive.

For gourmets, here in Yerevan are a lot of interesting cafes and restaurants where you can eat dishes of different cuisines. But simply making such a dinner will cost about 15,000 drams ($ 30).

Why is Armenian cuisine interesting for expats?

The first acquaintance with the traditional dishes of Armenia will present you with an unforgettable abundance of spices and various herbs. In the republic, great attention is paid to aromatic additives in the form of spices, which are prepared separately for a certain dish. There are many retail outlets in Armenia selling national dishes right on the street. It is important to remember that Armenian dishes almost always contain meat – pork, beef, lamb, chicken.

Entertainment

In general, locals love to spend time eating and talking in a restaurant. A favorite way to while away the evening in a friendly company is to drink a beer with crayfish. Beer costs 500-700 drams ($1), crayfish – 800 drams ($1,30) apiece.

Many different events and festivals are organized in Yerevan. Concerts are held infrequently, mainly by Armenian musicians. Foreign artists rarely come to us. On weekends, it is customary to go out of town. Many families have a rest in nature near Yerevan. In winter, Tsaghkadzor is especially popular – a wonderful ski resort not far from the capital.

Yerevan, like many capitals of the former Soviet republics, is now gaining popularity among travelers. Very often on the streets you can see tourists from Iran, China, Russia. And the Armenians themselves love to relax in Georgia.

Education system

The education system in Armenia is a very well-coordinated, well-functioning mechanism. There is preschool education, secondary specialized and vocational education in the country. Preschool education in Armenia is represented by kindergartens. 

Kindergartens accept children from the age of three. In these institutions, children can be up to six years old. Secondary specialized education in Armenia is represented by schools. There are only three schools:

  • The youngest. Children go to primary school at the age of 6-7 years. 
  • The junior school includes four grades. The secondary school consists of five grades. 
  • The senior includes three classes.

Professional education can be: 

  • Primary
  • Average
  • Higher

Actually the kindergartens and schools are free, but there are also private schools with a payment of 100,000 – 1,000,000 drams ($ 200 – $2000). The universities are also paid, the average payment is about 600,000 drams ($ 1200). Here in Armenia there are either state universities or American and French universities, which have a very good system and are very popular among Armenian young people. 

How developed is medicine in Armenia?

For those who plan to move to Armenia for permanent residence, the republic will provide high-quality medical care. Already, many European citizens prefer to receive cosmetic and dental services here – with European quality, prices remain low. Armenian medicine closely cooperates with scientific laboratories, which allows the creation and implementation of innovations. 

The republic has a sufficient resource of qualified specialists to provide quality services to patients with the selection of individual treatment programs. The authorities have embarked on the development and support of insurance medicine according to the European model, which will allow those moving to permanent residence to receive services of the highest level.

How to get a residence permit

Thanks to the smooth but stable development of the economy, many foreigners want to become citizens of this country.

After all, it is quite possible that in the near future Armenia may become one of the most stable countries. Foreigners who wish to leave and obtain citizenship in Armenia in 2020 must first obtain a residence permit. Residence permit provides its owner with a lot of advantages. 

Firstly, the holder of a residence permit has the right to enjoy all social benefits. Secondly, the holder of a residence permit can reside in Armenia legally. There are four types of residence permit in the Armenian Republic: 

  • Normal
  • Temporary
  • Particular
  • Special

It must be remembered that a foreign citizen cannot be the owner of several types of residence permits at once. Only one residence permit is allowed. Let’s consider each of the varieties in more detail. A temporary residence permit is issued to foreign representatives entering the territory of the Armenian Republic under an agreement.

Students, refugees, representatives of religious communities, journalists, etc., can become holders of such a residence permit. That is, all persons who, due to the current circumstances, are forced to live in the territory of the Armenian Republic for some time. 

The validity period of such a residence permit usually does not exceed one year. It is subject to renewal for the same period. An ordinary residence permit is issued to every foreign representative who plans to stay in Armenia in the future. But in order to obtain such a residence permit, a person must meet certain requirements, namely:

  • Have lived in the territory of the Armenian Republic for the past three years. 
  • Be a former resident of this country. 
  • Have refugee status. 
  • Hold a diploma from a higher educational institution in Armenia.

It is worthy to note that a candidate for a residence permit must not meet all the requirements, but at least one of them.

This type of residence permit is issued for a period of three years. Only persons of Armenian origin, that is, Armenians, have the right to obtain a special residence permit in 2020. It is valid for ten years.

Temporary and particular residence permits are issued at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Armenia. Foreigners wishing to leave in 2020 for permanent residence in Armenia should apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a request to issue a temporary residence permit. After three years of residence in the territory of the Armenian Republic, foreign representatives have the right to apply for a regular residence permit.

More about getting a residence permit

Armenia is developing at a rapid pace due to government reforms, which are aimed primarily at the growth of sectors strategically important for the economy. At the same time, the standard of living of the local population is growing new startups and economic zones with preferential taxation appear. That is why foreign investors regard the country of the South Caucasus region as a permanent place of residence while simultaneously conducting an efficient and profitable business.

To apply for permanent residence in Armenia: where to start and how to work?

Initially, foreign citizens must obtain a short-term visa allowing them to stay in Armenia up to 180 days a year. However, not all non-residents are required to apply for an electronic or regular visa. As a rule, the holder of an Armenian visa is not allowed to work in Armenia if he has not issued a work permit. The exceptions are:

  • highly qualified foreign specialists;
  • business owners;
  • managers and some other categories of workers.

Such non-residents are completely exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit.

The transfer of personnel (qualified or unskilled) is carried out subject to obtaining a work permit and, if necessary, a temporary residence permits in Armenia. In the requirements for a work permit, it does not matter how the employee gets to the workplace: by transfer of specialists within the company, by hiring local residents or by employment on a contractual basis. 

The work permit must be submitted on behalf of the legal entity employing. The document is issued for the duration of the employment contract. Armenian law obliges employers to create jobs for local resident citizens.

Residence permit and permanent residence in Armenia through employment: required documents and fees

According to the current legislation of Armenia, obtaining a work permit can take only 13 working days.

An employer or employee must pay the mandatory fees for obtaining a work permit (AMD 25,000 or about USD 52) and, if necessary, obtaining a residence permit in Armenia (AMD 105,000 or about USD 219).

The employer submits the following documents to the MLSA, which are then stored in the state authority (except for the passport):

  • the established application form;
  • foreign passport of the future employee;
  • documents on education (for example, a diploma) or awarded qualifications with mandatory legalization at the consulate (or apostille);
  • photos 3×4 2 pcs .;
  • receipts for payment of duties to the treasury of Armenia.

The Code of Administrative Offenses provides for fines for violations of immigration rules and work permits. Failure to obtain a work permit / temporary or permanent residence permit in Armenia is punishable by a fine in the amount of 100,000 to 150,000 drams (from 208 to 313 US dollars). Exceeding the deadlines for an open visa or other violation of immigration status is subject to a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 drams (approximately 104 to 208 US dollars).

If, after obtaining a work permit, the employer is unable to indicate the position for which the permit was obtained, the employer must cover the travel, living and personal expenses of the employee and accompanying family members.

About tax system in Armenia

Tax system In Armenia, individuals and legal entities are forced to pay taxes such as:

  • Excise
  • Individual tax
  • Income tax
  • On the property
  • Land.
  • Value added tax.

Value added tax is paid on the import of goods. Both legal entities and individuals must pay it. But if the profit of a legal entity is less than 30 million AMD ($ 60.000) per year, then the taxpayer pays 20%. If the profit of a legal entity is more than three million drams per year, then 20% is paid to the state budget. If the amount of income is less, then the individual does not pay tax. 

The amount of excise tax directly depends on the category of goods. So, if an entrepreneur sells 1 liter of beer, he must pay 70 AMD ($ 0,15) to the budget. An entrepreneur must pay 100 AMD ($ 0,20) for wine, and 150 AMD ($ 0,30) for champagne. For 1 kg of tobacco products you will need to pay 1,500 AMD ($ 2,50). Income tax is payments made by citizens and residents of the Republic of Armenia.

If a foreigner stays in the territory of the Republic for more than 180 days, he is already considered a resident of this country. For citizens of the republic employed in agriculture, the income tax is 10%.

Income tax directly depends on the size of a person’s salary. So, if the monthly income of a citizen of the Armenian Republic is less than 80,000 AMD ($ 190), then he will pay 10% tax. If the monthly profit exceeds 80,000 ($ 190), then the citizen of Armenia is obliged to deduct income tax of 20%.

Also, if the amount of annual profit is less than 960 thousand drams ($ 2000), income tax is 10% of the profit. If the amount of annual profit is greater, then the income tax will be 20%. Property tax is 0.6%.

Income tax is paid by the owners of enterprises and organizations that were established by foreign representatives and citizens of Armenia. The amount of income tax is calculated from the monthly profit of the organization, which is why the income tax is different for each company. On average, income tax is 20%.

Armenia is a very beautiful country with very kind and hospitable people, here you will never feel alone or sad. Armenia is trying to self-develop and become a modern place for a lot of expats and it works well as by walking in the streets you will meet a lot of foreigners here who travel, work or study in Yerevan. 

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Adam Fayed financial consultant WhatsApp