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. If you’re planning to make Romania your home, then you should definitely do a bit of research on this matter and not take it lightly.
Fortunately, back in 2017, a Romanian website called Storia conducted a study with the intention to rank the major cities in Romania based on a multitude of factors that affect quality of life, including safety, pollution levels, healthcare options, cleanliness and entertainment, among others.
In other words, they basically have a list of the best cities to live in Romania and I am here to share their findings with you, as well as add some comments of my own.
Before we start, though, it’s worth saying that this study is based on the opinion of people living in the said cities. And although most of the ones taking part surely tried to be as honest as possible, we should have two important things in mind:
First and most important in my opinion is the fact that when you know that your city is competing in a “best city in Romania” kind of event, you tend to forgive and forget more than you would otherwise.
Second, many of the people in this study have probably seen just a small number of the other cities in the country so they don’t really know what they’re up against. Sure, the general impression matters and as long as people are happy where they are it’s all good and a better indicator of the quality of life there than nothing else, but it might still not be completely accurate.
For example, the city that I live in – Drobeta Turnu Severin – ranks 10 in Romania under the “Recreation” category above major cities like Timisoara or Craiova where you definitely have a lot more options.
Even more, in the “shops and restaurants” category, the city is ranked as the number 5 best option in Romania, better than Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj Napoca and… well… most other cities in the country. And no, that’s definitely not the case in a city with just a handful of restaurants available and shops that are so well stocked that we always go to Bucharest to shop for clothes (and most of our friends do the same or travel to Timisoara instead).
In conclusion, this list of the best cities to live in Romania should be taken with a pinch of salt. But it’s still better than nothing else, for sure.
You can check out the entire list here and sort it based on the category you’re most interested in. I personally used the average numbers for the cities listed below, from the best to the worst:
3. Cluj Napoca
6. Ramnicu Valcea
7. Miercurea Ciuc
10. Targu Mures
11. Sfantu Gheorge
13. Alba Iulia
14. Targu Jiu
16. Baia Mare
18. Drobeta Turnu Severin
19. Piatra Neamt
And the list goes on all the way to 41 – you can check out the article I linked to above if you want to see them all. The bottom five cities that you can choose to live in Romania are, according to the study:
My thoughts about this list
Are these really the best and worst cities to live in Romania? I have to admit that I haven’t visited them all, while some I visited for just a few hours, so I can’t really say that I can talk based entirely on what I saw with my own eyes.
But I know a thing or two based on news reports, stories, internet and so on, so I probably have a more educated opinion that people who have never visited the country.
And, despite the strange results that some cities get in some of the listed categories, I can say that it all ends up pretty accurately when you draw the line and look at the averages.
The top 4 cities are definitely spot on in my opinion (the exact order doesn’t really matter), while the bottom ones are also generally considered the not-so-great cities in Romania. I must admit that I have only seen Alexandria and Resita from the bottom five.
What surprises me is seeing Pitesti and Miercurea Ciuc ranking so high, while Constanta is a bit lower that what I had anticipated.
It’s even 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 that others and apart from Arad and Satu Mare which are not doing that well in the charts, all the major cities in that area are in the top 20, most of them in the top 10.
We then have Transylvania which is even more charming to people coming from abroad due to the natural beauty (no surprise here that Brasov took the first spot), while the poor regions: Moldova, Oltenia and Dobrogea generally fight for the bottom spots, with a few notable exceptions (and surprises for me): Ramnicu Valcea or Pitesti.
What about Bucharest? Well, Romania’s capital can be found at #17, which is both a deserved spot and an undeserved one. It all depends on what you’re looking for – as it is the case with most things in life.
Bucharest is huge, it’s crowded, it has the most to offer in terms of entertainment and opportunities, but it is also one of the most polluted cities in Europe and living there is not only expensive, but usually hectic. It is a city of highs and lows, of Pros and Cons and it could be perfect for some and a nightmare for others.
But all in all, this list of the best cities in Romania to live in is more accurate than a list that I would create based on my own opinions since there are tens of thousands of people who took part in this research. So if you have no other place to start with, this is the best it can get!