I came here with exactly the same question, the answer appears to be just below.
Staking for your own node needs to be high enough to incentivise maintaining its operation, but low enough that it doesn’t risk centralising the network with too few nodes. Anyone who can’t pony up the $FLOW for their own node can always stake with another.
But yes, the current node staking cost in fiat is astronomical and not healthy.
And that’s only for a Verification Node. I’m figuring out what the minimal installation is to validate blockchain state. That might be by running a Consensus Node, but I’m not postive. (Also, the number of Consensus Nodes seems to be limited to 100 globally, so I’m not sure how viable that is.)
@eleck would you be able to weigh in on these questions?