If you’re planning to make Romania your home, my list of the best cities to live in will surely come in handy.
While I am ranking all major cities in the country below, if you don’t want to go through the entire article, here are my top 5 places to live in Romania this year:
- Cluj Napoca
- Alba Iulia
Apart from the cost of living – which is mostly the same all over Romania – there are a many other important factors that influence the decision of choosing a city over another.
We’re talking mostly about the infrastructure, the air quality, but also safety and the number of restaurants, events, and generally options for enjoying life.
Starting 2017, various studies and surveys have been made in regards to the quality of life in various major cities in the country.
Using the data experts found 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.
Best cities to live in Romania
I am choosing these as the best places to live in Romania based on my personal experience and opinions from living in these cities or visiting them, but also based on everything I heard and learned about them over the years.
The best city in Romania to live in is Oradea. It’s 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 above (and talking about more in-depth below).
Oradea has improved 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.
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. I have a list of the best things to do in Iasi here, in case you need some inspiration.
And remember: Iasi was, for a very short while, Romania’s capital city… so you know that you’re up for a treat if you choose it as your next home.
I’ve been living in Constanta for almost two years now and I can safely say that it’s one of the best cities to live in Romania, although it does have it’s fair share of problems.
But no place is perfect, and I believe that overall the PROs of living here outweigh the CONs.
For example, the weather is the most pleasant in Romania, including warmer winters and cooler summers thanks to the Black Sea’s breeze.
Being more touristy, it’s offering a TON of things to do (although mostly during the summer), with plenty of restaurants, expats, and events.
Even more, starting 2024, the newly renovated central area can be enjoyed – as well as various other improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
Overall, Constanta is a great city to live in Romania, and we definitely fell in love with it since moving here.
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.
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How to choose your best Romanian city
Have in mind that when it comes to listing “best cities,” the rankings are highly 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 saw, Bucharest is not topping any lists here – yet it’s Romania’s top destination for tourists and locals alike simply because it has a ton 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, the traffic jams and all the other cons.
So, as I was saying, these rankings are pretty much subjective. But it’s better to have a list and know a thing or two about your options.
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 since many Romanians live in the same city their entire life without traveling a lot, I would take their responses with a pinch of salt.
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 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.