If you’re planning to make Romania your home, then you should definitely do a bit of research and choose the best city for you to live in, based on your personal requirements.
Today, I am here to help you make that choice by listing the top places to live in Romania based on safety, infrastructure, air quality, entertainment options and how people already living there generally feel about the city.
Apart from the cost of living – which is mostly the same all over Romania – there are a few other important factors that influence the decision of choosing a city over another – the ones mentioned above.
Starting 2017, various studies and surveys have been made in regards to the quality of life in various major cities in the country.
Using them as a reference, but also my personal experience living in Romania, I will offer you what I consider to be the best cities to live in right now. And you will probably be surprised to see some of the entries on the list.
If you don’t want to go through the entire article, my top 5 cities to live in Romania right now are:
- Cluj Napoca
- Alba Iulia
How to choose your best Romanian city
We’ll get more in-depth with each of these top cities (as well as others) below. But before that, I want to make some things clear.
First and most important is the fact that such lists are completely subjective. Sure, safety, air quality and infrastructure are easier to measure, but it depends who does the measuring.
Results will vary if the person ranking cities has lived in a single city their entire life vs. one who has traveled and seen multiple ones, both large and small, both local and foreign.
Second, it’s all about the things that you want from a city. As you will see, Bucharest is not topping any lists here – yet it’s Romania’s top destination for tourists and locals alike simply because it has more to offer.
Better jobs, better quality of living, more opportunities in general – these are enough to make some ignore the abysmal air quality, the horrible infrastructure and all the other cons.
So, as I was saying, it’s pretty much subjective. But it’s better to have a list and know a thing or two about your options – and that’s exactly what I am trying to offer today.
Note: I have mentioned a few studies and surveys that have been made in the past. One such study is Storia’s, which concluded that the top cities here are Brasov, Oradea and Cluj Napoca.
A more recent one (available here) resulted in Oradea, Sibiu and Targoviste grabbing (surprisingly, I would say) the top three spots.
But these studies were made by asking the opinion of the people living in the said cities, and many probably had nothing to compare said cities with.
Best cities to live in Romania
My huge intro hopefully helped paint a better and clearer picture of the situation here. But now it’s time to get to the actual rankings and see which are the best cities to live in.
I have chosen these places based on my personal experience and opinions from living in these cities or visiting them, but also took the results of the studies mentioned above into account.
This is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and one of my favorites for several years now. It is also ranking really well in the surveys I have mentioned.
Oradea has grown tremendously over the years, but it’s still somewhat of a hidden gem. You won’t find as many expats living here and prices for apartments and houses have not exploded (yet).
However, Oradea is beautiful, has plenty of opportunities and, despite the fact that it is a larger city, it’s pretty much walkable. A great choice overall.
Selected as the European Capital of Culture in 2023, Timisoara is also one of those Romanian cities that grew nicely in the past several years.
Actually, I have to admit that some 10-15 years ago, Timisoara was one of my least favorite cities in Romania, as it was dirty, chaotic and unimpressive. How much things have changed!
As a result, Timisoara is now a vibrant city with plenty of opportunities for students, entrepreneurs or those looking to retire or get a regular job here.
3. Cluj Napoca
I personally believe that this is the city that Oradea is going to be in a few years. Cluj Napoca is now one of the trendiest, coolest (but also most expensive) cities in Romania.
Its growth was fueled by the fact that it became the IT hub of the country. Better paying jobs drew in plenty of people who also demanded a higher quality of life. And that is what they got.
A bit more crowded than other cities on this list and definitely the priciest, Cluj Napoca remains a great option, especially for those working in the IT field.
Brasov is located in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, surrounded by lush green forests and majestic peaks.
Living here, you’ll never run out of hiking trails, skiing slopes, or stunning landscapes to explore – making it a perfect choice for those of you who are passionate about the outdoors.
But Brasov is much more than just a pretty place to live in. It’s a city with a rich history, but also with a vibrant entertainment scene and a pretty large expat community.
It’s actually the city that an US family calls home since 2015 – and it was a pleasant experience for them from start until now.
Have in mind that this one’s a bit colder overall, since it’s up there in the mountains. But the air is fresher as a result. Read more about the best areas to live in Brasov if you’re planning a move there.
5. Alba Iulia
It might shock a few people to see Alba Iulia listed here, but lately this city has grown a lot – similar to Oradea, although it’s not quite there yet.
But I believe Alba Iulia to be one of the biggest opportunities in Romania for those looking to secure their spot while the city is still relatively unpopular among expats, so there’s plenty of cheap accommodation to enjoy.
One of the first things that strikes you about Alba Iulia is its rich history. The city’s 18th-century fortress is a testament to its long and storied past. It is also the place where the modern state of Romania was born, with impressive celebrations being held here every December 1st.
Although smaller that all cities on this list, I think Alba Iulia is worth checking out – it might be that hidden gem some are looking for.
Similar to what happened with Timisoara, Sibiu grew a lot after being Europe’s Capital of Culture several years ago.
I feel that the city’s growth and expansion has halted a little bit in these last few years, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad choice – on the contrary, better than others.
Its main problem, in my opinion, is the fact that it’s not very well connected to other cities in Romania – but this shouldn’t be a big con for those who don’t want to travel a lot.
We have focused mostly on Western and Central cities, but Iasi comes to save the Eastern parts of Romania.
A popular university center in the country, Iasi has a rich history and, for such a large city, is an extremely cheap one to live in. I would recommend sticking to the central areas, as that’s where most of everything happens.
What about Bucharest?
Well, Romania’s capital is definitely a love it or hate it type of city. It is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. It ranked, back in 2020, together with Brasov and Cluj Napoca in the top 10 of the cities most polluted by vehicle traffic, for example.
However, some people love it and there are reasons to do so: it is huge, vibrant, growing and has a lot to offer – sometimes more than a few other cities combined.
It is a city of highs and lows, of Pros and Cons and it could be perfect for some and a nightmare for others.
The reason why it’s not on the list is the fact that the air quality is probably the worst in Romania here (although there are plans to fix that), the infrastructure is a nightmare and the place itself is pure chaos.
It’s easier to paint a picture of the best places to live in by looking at the geographical areas: by tradition, the Western and North-Western areas are considered better choices than others.
We then have Transylvania which is even more charming to people coming from abroad due to the natural beauty (no surprise here that Brasov or Sibiu rank so well), while the poor regions: Moldova, Oltenia and Dobrogea generally fight for the bottom spots.
But all in all, I hope that this list of the best cities to live in Romania helps paint a better, clearer picture about the country and what it has to offer.
I am sure that if you choose any of my top three cities: Oradea, Timisoara or Cluj Napoca, you will not be disappointed.
If you think other cities in Romania should be considered the best places to live in, let us all know by sharing your thoughts below.
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- Where in Romania Is Transylvania? (And Dracula’s Castle) - September 14, 2023