Apartment in Romania: It Could Look Like This

22

Last Friday we signed the papers and bought an apartment here in Romania, making one of my dreams come true: that of affording to buy a home for my family. Of course, I would’ve loved to have a house and not an apartment, but this is better than nothing 🙂

The apartment was built in 1977 and inhabited, since then, by a single lady. Like most Romanian apartments inhabited by single, older person or old couples, this one hasn’t been renovated too much. Actually, in one of the rooms, the original paint (from 1977!) is still standing. The flooring is also the original one, just like the cement floors of the hallway and kitchen. I also believe that the kitchen sink and cabinet that are left there haven’t been changed ever since. The windows? Yup, same old, same old!

Right now, the apartment doesn’t look nice at all. It’s old, it’s dated and it is empty. However, the condition of the walls is really good, so we have some positives. A lot of negatives, but we knew about them when we purchased it. And if you’re curious to see how a Romanian apartment looks like – one that hasn’t been reconditioned for 37 years, you have the photos below. Have in mind that this is a decent size apartment by Romanian standards and does not feature an open space kitchen/dining and/or living area, just like most of the apartments in the country (probably all that have been built before the 2000s).

Romanian apartment 1
This is the large hall area with the cement floor and decades-old door.
First thing on the left is the small kitchen. Some apartments in Romania have even smaller kitchens.
First thing on the left is the small kitchen. Some apartments in Romania have even smaller kitchens.
The living room, large by Romanian standards. The original flooring is in decent condition. Yup, that's Baby Romanian who's starting to learn how to walk.
The living room, large by Romanian standards. The original flooring is in decent condition. Yup, that’s Baby Romanian who’s starting to learn how to walk.
A large balcony, accessible from the living room.
A large balcony, accessible from the living room.
The view fro the balcony. The trees fortunately block the cemetery which is right behind them.
The view fro the balcony. The trees fortunately block the cemetery which is right behind them.
The other bit of the hallway, leading to the bathroom and the bedrooms
The other bit of the hallway, leading to the bathroom and the bedrooms.
The first and smallest bedroom. Really tight indeed!
The first and smallest bedroom. Really tight indeed!
The view from the small bedroom. Not enough trees to block the cemetery view.
The view from the small bedroom. Not enough trees to block the cemetery view.
The master bedroom. This one still has the original, '77 painting.
The master bedroom. This one still has the original, ’77 painting.
The master also has a nice window to bring in some light.
The master also has a nice window to bring in some light.
The view from the master. This is not an apartment of spectacular views. Better than graves, though.
The view from the master. This is not an apartment of spectacular views. Better than graves, though.
Right in front of the master, a small storage area. That black thing is, fortunately, not mold.
Right in front of the master, a small storage area. That black thing is, fortunately, not mold.
The really outdated bathroom. You dotta love them tiles!
The really outdated bathroom. You dotta love them tiles and the fish-shaped sink holder.
And some really well done plumbing work in the bathroom...
And some really well done plumbing work in the bathroom…

Believe it or not, for an old apartment, this actually looks good. I am personally pleased with the deal that we’ve made and I can only hope that we’ll be able to turn it into our dream home.

One small bathroom, a really tight kitchen and small bedrooms might be a complete No No for people living in the US, but in Romania and generally throughout Europe, apartments are really tight. Ours was actually considered a “good size, large living room apartment” by one of the contractors that we brought in yesterday.

But the thing that makes it perfect? It’s ours! 🙂

22 COMMENTS

  1. I think it looks really nice..no BS! It’s like a clean slate that you get to make your very own. I can see why the Mrs. Wants to go with edgier colors. I actually think the kitchen is a good size. Since moving from the U.S, l have come to appreciate smaller and more used spaces. What use is a 4500sq ft house when you only use like 1/10th of it? I spy the heaters too…nice! Can’t wait to see the progress! Congratulations once again!

    • Thank you! Indeed, the place we’re currently living in is way larger than the apartment, but the space is not put to good use at all so we just have a lot of wasted/unusable space. The heaters are indeed really good, they are old heaters but everybody agrees that they are better than the modern ones in terms of actually heating up a place 🙂

  2. Congrats again on the new place! Similarly, the place we are hoping to buy was owned by an older lady who had lived there for 20 years and kept it in good condition though she didn’t really do much renovations. The building was built in 1928 but I’m sure they’ve updated it since then. I’d love to see the pictures of the place after you’ve painted and fixed it up!

    • Yes, Andrew, as we agreed previously: we seem to be following a similar route 🙂 I can’t wait to see the final results as well, but the people we have contacted so far say that it will be about 5-6 weeks before things are ready. Apparently we have to change all the electrical wires too since they are also really old and wouldn’t be good enough for modern day electricity consumption.

  3. Hello Calin:
    I guess it’s official: Baby Romanian is now a toddler! He won’t mind the small bedroom. As he grows up, he may get a kick out of the view, too^^(**)^^ (that’s a bat or an owl;>) (When my time is up, I am taking the cremation route with scattering on an ocean, or a river. There’s no need to take up space in a cemetary when you’ve checked out;-)
    As we say in the USA, your new place is quite a “fixer-upper”! It has definite possibilities. Of course it’s sad the previous tenant wasn’t able to keep it up better. (I wouldn’t be comfortable living in the current conditions. I hope she is in a nicer place–maybe heaven?)
    What floor are you on? I got a kick out of the bathroom plumbing, as did Baby Romanian, it seems. It look like something out of a motel in Weeki Wachee, Florida, USA;-)
    I forgot: did you use a broker? Also, did you have a contractor check the place out?
    What sort of costs will be incurred for the common areas?
    I imagine Wife Romanian has plenty of great ideas for decorating. I will be most interested to see how you and yours progress with your new apatment.
    Take care, and thanks for sharing your life!
    ~Teil

  4. Hello Teil,

    It’s my pleasure to share my life here, as long as it has something to do with living in Romania. I am sure that our cost analysis will be really useful for people willing to relocate here – they are hopefully way lower than the costs in the US.

    Now to answer your questions:

    1. We’re on the third floor in a 4 floors building. Most apartment buildings in my city are 4 floor buildings and unfortunately there’s no elevator.

    2. We discussed everything personally directly with the owners. We had a contractor check the place out – after we bought it. We knew what to expect and we wanted to go on with a quick deal. The apartment already had a few other offers.

    3. The costs for the common areas are extremely low in Romania, somewhere around $10-$20. There is one payment made, roughly translated “maintenance” but it also includes garbage collection, water consumption and heating. That is about $45 – $50 per month for a two bedrooms apartment with two people living there, higher during the winter.

    We both have a lot of ideas for decorating the place, but we’ll have to stick to the minimum for starters as everything that we have left will go into renovating and kitchen/bathroom items.

    • Calin:
      Yes, it looks like you need a stove, a refrigerator, and a washing machine.
      (Me, I make do with just a microwave for cooking. I can cook everything I need in one;-)
      I hope you can get a good deal for the appliances. You’ll want a reliable brand. Do you have a Consumer’s Guide book for reference? They come in quite handy.
      Good aerobic exercise to climb the stairs. I dislike elevators, as they are claustrophobic for me. It is a bit of a hike, though, with Baby R’s stroller.
      So is heating (radiator?) from a main water boiler in the basement? Your mother’s house has electric heat and that was why the costs were so high? You chopped wood for your own area’s heat? I am so confused!
      Here, the rent payment normally covers water, garbage and sewer. Maintenance is also included. (If an appliance goes on the fritz, the landlord fixes it. If there is a plumbing or water issue, the landlord takes care of it, etc. Of course, that assumes the renter is taking care and not being negligent.) Electricity is a separate payment, and during the winter, the bill goes up due to the electric heating.
      You have a lot of possibilities, now.
      Best of luck!
      ~Teil (USA)

      • Teil, I will reply here.

        We’ll fortunately bring the fridge and stove from our current place – we just bought them new in December, so fortunately that’s a cost we don’t have to cover. For now, climbing the stairs with the stroller hasn’t been that bad, but I believe it will get annoying pretty soon 🙂

        The heating is provided by the city as in most in Romania – there is a huge network of pipes transporting the hot water used for heating the radiators. It’s really cheap and, for now, a great source of heat.

        Regarding our past situation, my mother indeed used electrical heating exclusively for her side of the house and the costs were huge. We used, in our side of the house, mostly terracotta wood stoves which are a lot cheaper, but you can’t control temperature and when you stop feeding wood to the fire, you stop having heat. We were usually at around 86 degrees in the evening and waking up to 65 degrees. We supplemented them a bit with electrical heating, because the stoves also need some time after you start the fire to radiate heat. It was really nightmarish! Difficult to find a way to dress properly for such temperatures :))

        • Calin: Thanks for making me understand. I am glad you already have the main appliances! Hopefully, you’ll find a way to work the stairs. At least you’ll get some free exercise;-) Also, I am jealous of your command of the English language!!! I wish I took the time to learn a second language;-(
          Regards,
          ~Teil

    • Yes, we’re actually very excited to get this all started up and finally move to our own home.

      Fortunately, neither my wife, nor myself are too bothered by the cemetery situation, even though some of our friends were surprised by the choice.

  5. I’m very happy for you guys. Although the apartment clearly needs work, you seem to be incredibly excited to have it…as you deserve to be. I couldn’t imagine that being considered a “good size” though. Then again, it’s also to see how people on the other side of the water live some times. The world is full of amazing cultures.

    • Thank you, Joshua! Indeed, there are a lot of differences between Europe and the US. I am a huge fan of House Hunters International and I used to get shocked seeing when buyers from the US looked at a 300 square foot bedroom and said that it was too small. Same with the double sinks… you have some great spaces in the US and it’s natural for anything smaller to seem… well… small :)) Our bathroom is 33 square feet, for example and I really don’t mind. We could indeed use some extra space there for the washing machine (which will now be in the storage area), but apart from that I really consider it enough 🙂

  6. Good for you Calin! I hope you turn it into a nice little haven of your own.
    I am often amazed at the small sizes we live in in Europe, especially in Paris, sometimes they sell you 20sqm with a separate bedroom and bathroom!
    I got used to living in more space in Guatemala, just my room is 20sqm but I could make it work in less.
    A friend of mine was looking for a place in Bucharest a couple of years ago and prices were crazy, often for run down buildings, but it is what you make inside that really matters.

    • Indeed, Bucharest is very expensive, while most of the buildings are in pretty poor conditions in the country. I am currently living in a 20sqm bedroom right now, so there will be a bit of adjustment involved in my case too, but I am sure we’ll make it into something that we’ll get to love and enjoy!

  7. YOu have a lot of work ahead of you, but it’s OK. You’ll make it as you please. The views are actually pretty OK, even the cemetery. 🙂

    • Yes, and the people doing the work seem to really want to make things even more difficult, as if I needed the extra challenge 🙂 But we’ll take it slow and make it our in the next few years.

  8. It’s not bad really. We bought our house here in Costa Rica and by US standards it is tiny. When people here ask me how big it is, they think it is large. Only 57m2, 613 sq ft. When we bought our house it was four walls and a roof, didn’t even have a ceiling. We have slowly added and added to it. It doesn’t look like the same house anymore. We even added more square footage by adding a patio and enclosing it. We are almost done with it, then thinking of flipping it and coming to Romania. We have been doing on project at a time as to not get overwhelmed with the cost of materials and labor. Something to remember, only one thing at a time. I am sure you will make it your dream home in no time. We had to take a year off from doing anything to our house, otherwise we would be done by now. Good luck!

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