If you’re a regular reader here at Romania Experience, you know that Wife Romanian, Baby Romanian and I live together with my mother in her house. Although that’s not very uncommon here in Romania, I always felt the need to go away.
One reason for that was this past winter when I realized that heating costs alone 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 are a regular reader, you know that last year I sold my main blog for five figures. The plan was to buy a house with that money, but it just wasn’t enough, in reality.
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, save some more and buy when we can afford a house.
But then I thought a bit more about the plan. why wait for the money to buy a house, when we can purchase an apartment instead, continue saving and whenever we have enough, we just sell the apartment, add the rest of the money and buy our dream 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.
Because the best time to buy, in my opinion, is when you have the money for that!
Apartments are really cheap in Romania right now, especially in the small provincial city we live in. We were looking in the $34,000 – $37,000 price range, based on our budget (we’re also getting a relatively small but highly useful loan from my mother as well). For this amount, you can get a decent 1 bedroom apartment in my city, or even a 2 bedroom waaay outside the city center and in need of some renovations.
After looking at over a dozen apartments, we just fount the perfect one: two bedrooms, 15 minutes walking distance from the city center and within walking distance to: 2 kindergartens, one Non Stop store, a 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. We’d basically have everything we need close by, even though we’re not smack down in the middle of the city.
But this apartment was on sale for $36,500 (or 27,000 EUR) and after some negotiations, we shook hands for $33,850 (25,000 EUR). Actually, tomorrow we’re going to meet at the notary and sign the papers!
Compared to other two bedroom apartments on sale at the moment, this one that we found was really cheap and in a good area too. Why? Because of these two reasons: first and creepiest – it’s right behind a cemetery. Actually, two of the rooms have a full view over the cemetery, and even though it’s partially blocked by some trees, it’s still a bit creepy. Looking at other peoples’ graves is not the dream view one has in mind, but at least this means that it’s in a really quiet area. Ha!
Second thing: the apartment hasn’t been renovated since the late 70s when it was built, 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, but they are more expensive. Plus, you won’t get “modernized” bathroom with horrible green tiles, as it was the case of one of the apartments that we visited.
Having to renovate will increase the amount that we have to spend, but I still estimate that it will be under the price of some similar apartments on sale right now. Also, 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 and large enough for us. 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 it. 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 version, whenever that’s ready. And the costs, to see exactly how much a complete renovation of an apartment in Romania costs!