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.

Brasov – the best city to live in Romania, according to the research

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:

1. Brasov
2. Oradea
3. Cluj Napoca
4. Sibiu
5. Pitesti
6. Ramnicu Valcea
7. Miercurea Ciuc
8. Slobozia
9. Timisoara
10. Targu Mures
11. Sfantu Gheorge
12. Craiova
13. Alba Iulia
14. Targu Jiu
15. Deva
16. Baia Mare
17. Bucuresti
18. Drobeta Turnu Severin
19. Piatra Neamt
20. Slatina

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:

37. Resita
38. Calarasi
39. Braila
40. Focsani
41. Alexandria

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!

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21 COMMENTS

  1. “WE’RE NUMBER ONE!!! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!!! Having the good fortune to live in Brasov, I accept this award on the behalf of…” Oh. Uh. Perhaps I should begin again… and try to be more humble this time.

    I truly love Brasov. This is a gorgeous city filled with wonderful, proud, sophisticated people; gentle summer weather; and spectacular opportunities to enjoy dining, entertainment, shopping, nature, and a host of other amenities. However, having gotten to visit a good number of cities on the list, I find that in reality, a person could be happy in just about any of them. Sibiu, Piatra Neamt, Alba Iulia and Iasi (which isn’t even on the list quoted here) stand out to me as cities where I would have enjoyed living. Perhaps one should ignore the opinions of others and just choose what suits them.

    But Brasov really is the best. 😉

    • Most of the larger cities in Romania are pretty much the same, indeed. I personally believe that many of the ratings were actually heavily affected by the poverty numbers: cities in Moldova and Oltenia are by tradition poorer and probably this is why the number of unhappy people living there is higher than in other areas. Iasi is, in the end, one of the largest cities in the country and extremely beautiful, and I was also surprised it didn’t make the top 20.

      Overall, I am really happy to hear that you enjoy Brasov and that you have such a good opinion about the other cities in Romania.

  2. I’ve only been to Bucharest and Brasov, both places that l really, really liked. I think to live, I would prefer Bucharest to be honest. Brasov is so pretty, but l think after a while, I would be bored, at least l think so..but who knows. There are so many other places I would like to visit in Romania. Hopefully someday soon.

    • I also believe that there’s no other city better than Bucharest when it comes to entertainment and options to spend your free time. There’s always some sort of an event happening somewhere in Bucharest and the entire place is so huge!

      Next time you visit, you should choose the Moldova area (if you want to add some more monasteries to the list of places you’ve seen) or the Ardeal area, with beautiful cities and important attractions nearby.

  3. Hi Calin,
    Very interesting article, and I agree with your assessment that the top four are spot on, especially for most people’s priorities. Also, as you say, foreigners coming in are more blown away by the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside of the Transylvania area, and no surprise, three of those cities are close to it. From the time I first started considering retiring overseas, it was Romania that quickly rose to the top of my searches, and to this day, both Sibiu & Brasov are still my favorites there, though based strictly on research, as I still haven’t physically made the trip yet. Cluj has appeal too, but may be too busy & modern, and is definitely more expensive, as far as cost of living by Romanian standards. For me, Bucharest, the capital, is too far from the mountains for one thing, and has too much pollution for another, as that’s a major problem for me and my chronic bronchitis.

    Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I do read most of the articles here Calin, and still enjoy the site. My plans have been delayed several times, and now looks like spring of 2019, that I’ll be coming over to that area. Still haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do, but it’s pretty likely I’ll travel between Romania & Ukraine every 90 days for a while, to put off filing for long term residency until I’m more certain what I’d like to do long term. Hope you are well Calin, and you’re doing a fine job here on the site! Take care, John C.

    • Thank you, John! There’s no rush here – Romania won’t change much in the next few years, most likely. Probably taking your time and visiting multiple places before making your decision is the best thing you can do. There’s no such thing as “too much research” when deciding where to live.

  4. Hello Calin:
    A very well-documented, and well-written article!
    I appreciate the fact that you present the list with your caveats. You are most honest.
    As you say, the list, as presented, is an opinion poll. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or as Dirty Harry remarks about opinions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2_AiQLCb3U
    I see Oradea is #2. (That’s still my preference for a place to live.) Hopefully, they will rebuild after this terrible fire. https://www.romania-insider.com/landmark-building-oradea-fire/
    Your city, Drobeta Turnu Severin isn’t too bad at #18. Still, it must be a real pain having to make the slog to Bucaresti for better shopping. (Me, I just go to the local Wal-Mart for my shopping–I’m a member of the proletariat–well, the retired proletariat, anyway.;-))
    Is the fall and winter weather in Romania predicted to be normal or abnormal? Good or bad for the ski slopes?
    The Seattle-Tacoma area, where I perch, is getting hotter and dryer, much to my chagrin. At least Trump is chiming in that climate change may not be a hoax. But with him, it could change back (both his opinion and the climate.)
    Thanks again for your well-presented post!
    ~Teil, rainless in Seattle (and Tacoma)

    • The Oradea fire was indeed a very sad moment, proving once again that spending priorities should change in this country: development and safety should be top of the list.

      The weather is, so far, very dry here as well and warmer than it normally was. This whole year, the weather was completely off and unpredictable, unlike anything we’ve had so far. And regarding october, somebody was saying that each day is Spring in the morning, Summer at lunch, Fall during the evening and Winter over night – so that’s pretty much how the weather looks like right now in Romania 🙂

  5. Sighisoara is the headline picture for this article but it didn’t make the top 41? Perhaps it’s too small. I’ve visited ten of these 41 cities. I’ve never been to Resita. I saw an article about the mayor of Resita at PressOne.ro. He was a businessman who sold his Monte Banato pasta business to the Italians and then decided to run for mayor. He immediately “encouraged” 200 of 900 city employees to leave and hired 20 people who only concentrate on applying for EU funding. They have submitted 40 proposals to the EU and expect to get at least half of them approved to the tune of 70 million euros! I guess that’s one way to get around the lethargic government in Bucharest.

    • Haha, spot on with Sighisoara, Stuart! Indeed, the survey was only for the capitals of each of the counties in Romania.

      Putting EU funds to work is what this country has to do a lot more of and it has indeed helped many villages or cities. All that’s required is the desire to do it. Oradea is also one of the cities in Romania with the highest EU-backed projects (but I must admit I didn’t know Resita is one of them too – certainly, it will climb up the list in a few years now). I’ve also seen articles on villages that have been completely rebuilt and look amazing thanks to young mayors who focused on getting EU funding, so it’s definitely doable!

  6. I have visited Calarasi as I have a friend who moved back there from the U.S.. I would say it is placed in the correct spot at 38.

    • Haha, thanks for confirming that, Timothy! That’s one of the cities that I haven’t visited, although it’s relatively close to my city. It seems that I shouldn’t be in a rush to check it out.

  7. Hi Calin,
    I’ve been doing some research about Romanian web pages and I’ve found your site. Very nice, thanks so much for the info. I’m from Spain, software developer, I work online all the time and I’m tired about how cost of life is rising in Madrid. I would like to hear your advise to choose a good place to buy an studio there. The only thing I need is a good Internet connection and I’d prefer a nice neighbourhood, a safe and no trouble area. I like arts, music -I play guitar-, and drinking a beer at evenings. I can learn some Romanian if needed too, I like it. Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hello Oscar,

      Prices are rising in Romania too, but they’re still way below the general prices in Spain and I believe Madrid too. I spent a month in Valencia this year and the prices for food and entertainment were indeed higher (but not very much so).

      Regarding recommendations… I believe it would be best to rent a place first as you might not like the country after all. One thing is sure: it’s definitely colder than Spain, especially during the winter. As for the cities themselves, you should choose any of the larger ones to meet your demands. I would go for cities like Brasov (colder than most), Cluj, Sibiu, Oradea, Bucharest or Timisoara… There is a website (in Romanian) called olx.ro where you can search for some real estate listings.

      • Thanks for answering so fast! 🙂
        Yeah, renting should be first thing I’d do it, I agree with that. I lived in Chicago for a while and I have an idea about how winter could be in Romania. It’s not a problem, I can stay isolated for long time as long as I have my laptop, some electricity and some water… I only eat once a day… I don’t like driving either, it’s getting more and more dangerous, and I’ve read about your ‘driving style’ 😉 so it would be better to me getting around just by public transportation. I’ve read that summer is very hot too, I remember it was the same feeling while I was in Chicago because of the Michigan’s Lake.
        Thanks for the olx link, yesterday I found a bunch of property sites, but didn’t like them, best to me seems to be wizmo, pls let me know if you disagree with this site, I was using the google translation, I believe, still don’t know a word in Romanian, but I’m sure I could learn, I like the way it sounds a lot.
        Thanks a lot for your help 🙂
        Dude, you’re site really rocks, please keep doing the good job, thanks a bunch and God bless U! XD

        • Thank you, Oscar for your kind words! Winters shouldn’t be that bad in the end so that you end up isolated (at least not in the cities), but you never know with that climate change. Now it’s November here and we’ve had some days where you could walk outside wearing nothing but a t-shirt. Last year, heating was running at maximum power, we had our winter coats on and it was COLD.

          And yes, driving in Romania is pretty reckless, so it’s a good thing that you don’t mind using public transportation. Most of the cities (except for Bucharest, which is huge) are pretty much walkable, too.

  8. olx is ok, but wizmo is better. wizmo is very good filtering, but it lacks filter by proximity to the city (walking to bus and train stations near by). I could do it even better, honestly 🙂 The search part is vital.

  9. C – Pitesti, Slobozia, and Ramnicu Sarat among the top cities in Romania? Is this some kind of joke (the ranking, not your article! I appreciate the caveats:).
    I agree that Piatra Neamt is an undiscovered gem which might attract a certain type of Romanian or foreigner, if you don’t mind living in a pretty but provincial town unchanged much since the 19th century, but these 3 have really nothing I can think of that would appeal to anyone. In Pitesti one may have to live for working at Dacia but what the heck is there to do in Slobozia or Ramnicu Sarat?

    • Robert, I agree that there are some strange entries there, due to the subjectivity of the people involved in answering for that poll (most likely people living in these cities, maybe not that well traveled, who love their city). The only small correction would be that it’s Ramnicu Valcea and not Ramnicu Sarat… but apart from that, it’s all based on one’s opinion which is not necessarily something we’d all agree with.

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