Renting in Riga

With my unpacking taken care of…



…it’s, unfortunately, almost time to start repacking again. The lease on my current flat is up at the end of the month, so it’s time to find somewhere new.

This is a real shame as it seems that they are finally starting to do something about the exterior of the building I’m currently in.

Why do a job properly when you can do it half-assed?

Yes, they are finished.

The new, highly secure gate that's about 2 inches smaller than the frame

The new, highly secure gate that’s about 2 inches smaller than the frame

I didn’t really want to leave this flat though, as it’s in a great location and, if you’re not scared by the ramshackle entrance, it’s lovely inside.

Welcome to Chez Linda

Welcome to Chez Linda

My only problem with it was the bills. Bills, bills, bills – especially in winter. In Latvia, in the older apartment blocks (which most of them are), the heating is run by the state. It comes on (usually in November) when the temperature drops to an average of 8 degrees, three days in a row. And it doesn’t go off until the temperature rises again to an average of 8 degrees a day, usually in April.

As a result, you’re stuck paying for it for around 6 months a year, whether you want it or not. You can’t turn it up, down or off. You open a window if you get too hot (unlikely) and put on some extra layers if you get cold (far more likely). It works out at around 1 lat per square metre which meant that I was paying almost 70 lats (€99) a month.

It might not sound like much, but then you need to add on the cost of gas, water, electricity, management fees, security (!), waste charges, substation maintenance, yard keeper (!!), TV and internet – oh, and the actual rent. I developed a twitch in my eye when I opened the invoices, and I started thinking of my bank account as my landlady’s, since I basically transferred the entire contents of it to her every month.

As I, like most people, prefer my eyes twitch-free, I decided enough was enough. So now it’s time to start scouring the net and pounding the crumbly pavements. It’s possible to get a pretty nice flat, close to the centre of Riga for around 250 lats (€355) a month, and this is as high as I’m willing to go.

Today I went to view two apartments. The first one was actually really nice. It’s a little smaller than my current place but totally renovated and only a short walk from where I am now. It also has a boiler, which comes in handy when Riga decides to turn off the hot water for days or weeks on end. Amazingly, the heating is self-controlled, but the best part is that it has an oven, which is pretty rare. Even if I only use it to ‘cook’ pizzas, it’s still a nice thing to have.

Words failed me when it came to the second place. I mainly went to see it just to see if it was really as pink as it seemed in the photos.

How do you say 'tasteful' in Latvian? (Image swiped from

How do you say ‘tasteful’ in Latvian? (Image swiped from

It was. It was like somebody had let Barbie (or a Russian) decorate it. If I took it, I’d imagine it would be a bit like living in a giant, rundown wedding cake, with extremely dangerous wiring. And a dog barking incessantly next door.

My appointment was for 5 o’clock and I think I was out of there by 5.04. I sent the agent that had shown me the first flat an email saying that I would take it – on condition she provides me with a recent winter and summer bill, just so there are no nasty surprises down the road.

She hasn’t emailed me back yet, so I’m hoping I haven’t missed out by going to see that second flat, mainly for the giggles.

If I do get it though, I imagine there will be a lot of this happening to celebrate.

A workout in a glass

A workout in a glass

Wish me luck!

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Accommodation, Humor, Humour and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Renting in Riga

  1. Kaufman's Kavalkade says:

    My, what a big glass you have.

  2. i think i snorted when i saw that ‘sorted’ picture. fingers crossed you get the spiffy one!

  3. Anita says:

    Hmm, as ex-Rigan I must say that the location doesn’t look like the best one unless you have a car. It doesn’t feel safe to walk around in that area when it’s dark… I highly suggest you to recheck it with somebody who is still living in Riga.
    And if it’s 250 LVL for unfurnished apartment in that area – jeez, you are overpaying! You should check ads in Latvian as rental agencies (and owners) tend to make the prices higher for foreigners. Post on Facebook, in your school, ask the friends to ask around etc.

    • Expat Eye says:

      It’s furnished! And I have a lot of stuff myself anyway. I asked some people on Friday night about the area and they said it used to be quite dodgy but isn’t so bad now. And I’d definitely take a taxi at night. I’ll take it for a while anyway and see how it goes. The building is totally renovated which is nice – and it has pretty much everything I need! The big stuff like bed, sofa, tables, chairs, oven, fridge etc is all there. I have all the extras myself 😉 Don’t worry – I’ll be grand!

  4. gina4star says:

    Good luck! Amazed that you found a flat with only two viewings! The heating situation (and cost) sound insane! I was chuckling from your very first picture of your unpacking, all the way to the Barbie pad (which I rather liked) and your giant beer! Hope it works out! x

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks! Pretty sure I won’t be chuckling until mid-next week when it’s all over! Will also have people traipsing all over this flat while they try to find a new tenant! Can’t believe you liked the Barbie pad… for shame 😉

  5. 1WriteWay says:

    Pink is my favorite color, but that room was too pink even for me! Best of luck with your preferred flat. It will be good to know that you’re settled and can focus on the more important things of life, like blogging and drinking beer 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I know! Just looking forward to getting into some sort of routine now! I have potential students coming out my ears at the moment – partly because of this blog! Trying to fit them all into some sort of manageable timetable at the moment and flat-hunt as well – ARGH!

  6. Pecora Nera says:

    Good luck with the flat hunting. Will you be having a house warming party??

  7. polyglotfun says:

    By ye gods! I’ve heard of central heating, but never THAT centralized. Good luck with your next abode! 🙂

  8. Mr Kev says:

    Basically, we have the same system here, whereby they turn it on after a period of significant and prolnoged cold (says the sign in my cupboard in an angry font!). The good thing, though, is that our flats are insanely well insulated after a huge local government cladding programme over the last 10 years and we have dials on our radiators, so when it’s on on a “warm” day, you can turn the blasted thing down. 😉
    As it’s my first year of paying the bills myself, I’m more than a little nervous about how it works out!
    Good luck with the flat! 😀

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks! Seemingly he’s sending the bills on Monday so I’m going to be cutting it awfully fine if everything isn’t ok – will be a real rush to find somewhere in 5 days! Good luck with your first winter shock 😉

  9. I’m glad we are both on the workout kick. Those are some impressive curls at the end.

  10. Good luck with the apartment hunt, and I really hope you’ll get the right one you’re out for.
    Talking about heating prices in Vilnius, in many cases one old apartment block might be twice cheaper than the seemingly identical one just across the street in terms of heating and other bills, and this difference usually comes from the fact the the pricier one is maintained by some house administrator (aka some company), which naturally has a goal of doing business and often max on the original suppliers’ and service providers’ invoices to get some profit for themselves. Meanwhile a building run by owners’ association, if the said association is doing a proper or at least a decent job, only add some small extra to the original costs. I live in such a building and have a friend who lives in a building run by administrator, and in terms of bills when heating is on for the identical 47 square meters place I pay max 80 EUR/month, while her bill sometimes is double that amount. Same for the other charges for different services- waste charges, yard keeper, etc. – our bill is like 10 EUR, while hers like 20 EUR and more. Of cause, it is still not very cheap, but not so bad also. Only gas, water and electricity cost are pretty much alike since price is the same per unit and depends on the actual consumption.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yes, I’ve found that too! I was paying 120-180 lats a month, while my friend was paying 40-90 for pretty much exactly the same size flat – it’s crazy! It was my management fees and security charges etc that added on all the extra money – but I never got any benefits from it! That’s why I’ve asked to see actual bills this time – my landlady told me the bills would be around 50-60 lats cheaper than they actually were. A hard lesson!

  11. Martins says:

    I find the heating part interesting. I’ve wondered before if they do that in some buildings, but i never expected it would happen for a whole city. Assuming this is a legacy from the Soviet era, in Baltic Latvia, you don’t control heating, heating controls itself (or something like that anyway). This is the sort of thing you’re unlikely find out about on other websites.
    The only thing missing from that list of bills, is PPI.

    I like the idea of the pink flat. As a guy, it would give me a good excuse and say “hey i didn’t paint it, i just rent the place”. I think i’m least fond of orange though and not sure i could handle orange walls, bright orange outfits, and orange fake tan. It’s all a bit too orange for me.
    It could be far worse though, it could be leopard print wall-paper.

    I like your blog by the way. I was wondering if there might be a Lithuanian equivalent as well, but there doesn’t seem to be one.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Maybe you could start one 😉 The only Lithuanian blog I know is but it’s written by a local girl – worth a look though!
      Oh god, that image of a leopard-print flat will be with me for a long time! I’m sure there probably is one though!
      Glad you like the blog! Are you Lithuanian? I was in Palanga last week and had a great time 😉
      What’s PPI by the way? Linda.

  12. Good luck, I hope you get it! And if you don’t, you always have the pink place to fall back on 😉

  13. pollyheath says:

    Good luck! I’ve definitely lived in such a lovely “street art” decorated apartment building.

    Hope you get your first apartment, though I would like to see you posing seductively in a leopard print dress in that pink apartment. True Eastern European art!

  14. Marianne says:

    Good luck, Linda, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Fancy the state controlling the heating! Wow!

  15. bevchen says:

    Good luck!!

    All that pink in the second flat hurts my eyes! Maybe the decorator secretly wanted to design Barbie houses but got stuck with real-life flats instead…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I like that idea! Maybe you could work it into your next stitching effort! Yeah, I’m not sure I could have looked at those walls for very long. The location was perfect so I was willing to give it a look. The landlady was a bit shifty when it came to saying how much the bills would be though!

  16. Good luck Linda! We’re in for some first-rate entertainment, I can tell…

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