Things can get pretty crazy when you start adding the numbers and actually looking into your expenses. That’s what I was shocked to find out over the weekend when I took a look at the numbers of our housing bills over the winter (which seems to be over now in Romania as we’re getting to 68 degrees for the past few days). To put it short, I realized that renting would be cheaper for us over the winter than living in our house. Absolutely incredible.
I called it the Romanian paradox. I don’t know if it could be the same in other countries.
So here’s the current situation: we live (my wife, my 8 months-old son and I) in a house that we share with my mother, but we pay for all our expenses. We have two rooms – the nursery and one that’s the master bedroom slash office slash living room, one bathroom, one decent size kitchen and a couple of hallways (yeah, pretty strange!) Just like most houses here in Romania, we use wood to heat the house during the winter. We don’t have central heating, but terracotta stoves (I really don’t know if this is their correct name but). One per each room, plus electrical heating for the bathroom and kitchen.
I don’t know if you are aware, but apart from the actual costs per month to heat the house, splicing wood isn’t the nicest activity in the world. I did this the entire winter – and for two terracotta stoves, I needed to splice a ton of wood, then carry it to the rooms, then take a break and do it again. I have to climb 26 stairs in the process and since I usually start the fire around noon, I never got to nap a single day during the winter (because you have to take care of the fire, obviously). It was an activity that ate my soul and didn’t help at all with my back pain problems. It was horrible and this thing alone made me hate winter in my house.
But it was cheap, I said, so it was worth it. This weekend, I decided to check out just how cheap it was and found out it wasn’t at all that cheap by Romanian standards: about 1,600 EUROS ($2227) for the entire winter. Why I though it was a lot cheaper? Because the wood that we purchase for heating is extremely cheap – at about 185 EUR ($260) for the WHOLE WINTER, for two rooms. However, the electrical heating is killing us. Not only that we use it exclusively in the kitchen and bathroom, but we also use it for a couple to a few hours per day in our rooms, because terracotta stoves don’t give you a constant temperature and as soon as you stop feeding the fire with logs, it gets cold (and if you feed it too much wood, it gets insanely hot).
So I said to check out some rental offers in the city where I live in. I was shocked to find out that for 200 EUR (about $278) per month we could find a two bedroom apartment for rent, that would leave us about
$560 for the heating of our apartment, which might be just enough for the whole winter (maybe slightly lower than the actual costs). But for this price, we’d get more rooms, better overall heating and no more steps for me to climb carrying tens of kilos of wood, no more starting fires and some extra naps for me during the winter. A deal that sounds absolutely awesome!
And absolutely incredible. I find it outrageous that owning a house is more expensive than renting a flat. Why is this happening? Mostly because we, unlike many other houses in Romania, use electrical heating a lot (and it’s very expensive) and second because part of the costs for heating are supported by the government (which is not the case for house owners).
So… this year we might rent out a place and leave our house out in the cold.
What about you? How are your winter costs and do you think it would be cheaper to rent instead of owning?
Photo source: Historias de Cronopios