If you’re a regular reader here at Romania Experience, you know that Wife Romanian, Baby Romanian and I live together with my mother. Although that’s not very uncommon here in Romania, I always felt the need to go away. One reason for that was found this winter when I realized that heating costs only make it better to rent than to own a house. So the plan was to rent for the winter and see how that goes.
Then, a few days ago I wrote an article here about best rental and property prices in Romania, and I realized one thing: right now, this country is a buyer’s market. Even more, with over 160,000 properties up for sale and just half of that number available for rent, it’s pretty obvious that if you have the money, buying is the right thing to do right now. So I decided to just look a bit at houses and apartments on sale in my city, and not just rental properties. And this is how we found our own Romanian apartment to buy!
If you recall, last year I sold my main blog for a five figure sum. The plan was to buy a house with that money, but it just wasn’t enough. Since my income fluctuates a lot and my wife is not working at the moment, going for mortgage wasn’t an option either (plus, we hate loans). So we’ve decided to just keep the money, raise some more and buy when we can afford a house. And then I realized: why wait for the money, when we can purchase an apartment now, carry on saving and whenever we have enough, we just sell the apartment, add the extra money and buy our house. At least this way we have a property and if somehow the market goes up a lot (although I don’t believe it will in the next 5-10 years), we’ll get some nice profits too.
Apartments are really cheap in Romania. We were looking in the $34,000 – $37,000 area, based on our budget. For this amount you can get a really decent 2 rooms apartment in my city, or even 3 rooms waaay outside the city center in need of some repairs. After looking at over a dozen apartments, we found the perfect one: three rooms, 15 minutes walking distance from the city center and within walking distance to: 2 kindergartens, Non Stop store, peasant market, 2 super markets and a high school. One kindergarten and the Non Stop store are actually across the street and the others are a 3-5 minutes walk away.
The apartment was on sale for $36,500 (or 27,000 EUR) but after some negotiations, we shook hands for $33,850 (25,000 EUR). Actually, tomorrow we’re supposed to meet and sign the papers!
Compared to other three room apartments, this one that we found was really cheap (especially since it was in such a great area). Why? Because of these two reasons: first and creepiest – it’s right behind a cemetery. Actually, one of its balconies has a complete cemetery view, fortunately blocked by a bunch of trees. Still, during the winter, we’ll probably see the graves if we decided to spend time on the balcony. However, this also means that it’s in a really quiet area. Ha!
Second thing: the apartment hasn’t been renovated since forever, so we’ll have to do a complete make-over. The good thing about this: we’ll make it our own and exactly as we like it (based on what we can afford, of course). Most properties on sale still need adjustments and extra money spent on them, so getting one where you know exactly what changes you have to make is a bonus. Plus, you won’t get “modernized” bathroom with green tiles, as it was the case in one of the apartments that we visited. It will increase the final cost, of course, but we’re not in a hurry to update everything immediately.
This apartment is small if we are to judge it by US standards: 700 square feet, but that’s actually a decent and somewhat standard size in Romania and Europe. We’ve actually visited a couple of 600 square feet 3 room apartments and they still seemed to be pretty nice. Actually, the largest we’ve seen listed was 800 square feet, but it was well out of our budget.
So, yeah, I guess that this is it! We’re buying an apartment in Romania and we’re pretty excited about this. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong in these next 24 hours and we’ll have a deal. It will also be extremely interesting to follow, as I’ll make sure to share all the photos of the apartment with you, from its current state to the final state, whenever that’s ready. And the costs, to see exactly how much a complete Romanian make-over costs!