The post-Soviet economy
Money lets the world go round but it is not a very welcome subject of conversation in Lithuania. I have taken a look at Lithuania`s recent economic growth and asked around for people`s experiences.
For young people, the economic situation in Lithuania has drastically improved since it gained independence from the Soviet Union. Earning money has become easier and, for now, it doesn`t seem like a lot of money is wasted on trivial luxury items. A house, car, travelling project and studies are considered the best investments, but buying a house is not an option for everybody.
`Life got better in Lithuania in the last few years, but housing is almost unaffordable`
Auguste (21, photo) tells me that buying real estate is difficult for many Lithuanians, even when they are married and earn double incomes. Massive speculation has driven housing prices to multiples of what they were a few years ago. Many workers, including for example teachers, are likely not to earn enough salary to get a mortgage for a complete house. Their options risk being limited to a flat in the outskirts of the cities or renting an apartment.
In all other `investment areas`, the standard of living has improved a lot. Many families have access to a car, a washing machine and mobile phones. Young people have up to 4 or 5 simcards to benefit as much as possible from the tight competition between the three mobile operators Tele2, Bite and Omnitel. They switch when they get called to collect a small pay-out on incoming revenues and use another card to send out text messages.
Auguste herself is studying financial management. Her parents pay for her studies. Which is good, because her studies are complicated and take lot of energy. She would not have time for a job next to her studies. Also Auguste considers living abroad for a short while. In Sweden, to obtain her masters degree. Once that is done, she would be happy to come back to Lithuania. She thinks she will be able to find a good job, possibly as accountant, because accountants are in high demand at this moment.
Milda (19) mentions that people have become more materialistic over the last years and that especially family ties suffer from that. One of her friends spends so much time working that she has hardly got any time left for her family. And that`s just one example. Many people emigrate, temporarily or forever, to earn a better wage than they could in Lithuania.
For older people, the situation is a little different. They were used to a system where everything was taken care of by the state. Under the new system, all the rights they had constructed over the previous years virtually evaporated. No more job safety and pensions hardly worth a penny. Instead of a static mentality, flexibility became the most valuable asset for success at work. And it still is nowadays. With an unemployment rate of only 5%, there are opportunities for everybody. Especially for young graduates and if they don`t find what they are looking for, they are not afraid to look for it abroad.
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