No, unfortunately this is not the apartment we're buying :)

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!

18 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations!!! That is great news indeed. When l saw your past post, l wondered if you were going to do that! I think it will work out best for you to own. My first rental in Houston cost $25,250 for a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath 1100 sq ft duplex. It wasn’t in the greatest neighborhood, working class, but we still have it. A little elbow grease, and l am sure it will be perfect!!! :0) well done!

  2. Hello Calin:
    You are quite the whirlwind! I NEVER know what to expect from you next;-) Congratulations and jubilations!
    You and Wife Romanian must be quite handy to restore your apartment on your own. Maybe, you can buy a junior tool kit for Baby Romanian to help out;-) Do you have “Home Depot” like stores you can buy all the needed items?
    Dare I say you then won’t be going to Venus?
    I am glad you are able to buy your own place. You are right, a cemetery close by will keep out the partiers. The place seems centrally located to all needed services, so that’s a big plus.
    I know you’ll keep us all updated with the restoration as it progresses.
    Take care,
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Haha, we’re now completely out of money and this move will actually put us into a bit of debt (towards my mom), so there won’t be any unexpected moves from us for a while. I am usually a planner and I stick to the plans, but this just happened. 🙂

      Don’t worry, we’re still going to Venus even though the weather in Romania has been so far in June the worst I’ve ever seen – it rains daily for a lot of hours per day, it’s all cloudy and pretty cold. Summer’s not here yet 🙁 But we’ve paid for the booking of the room and I really need that break!

      And yes, we have a Home Depot-like store in the city and we should have no problems getting everything we need. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

  3. Hi Calin (hope you don’t mind calling you by name)
    Congratulations on purchasing your first home. It doesn’t matter that it is an apartment, it is YOUR home. I bet Wife Romanian is happy too with the purchase. I wouldn’t be able to live with the mother-in-law. I would have to walk around on egg shells (ha-ha).
    So, the apartment has not been renovated? Doesn’t matter. As long as it has clean running water and the plumbing is OK, there are no problems with the electrical circuits, and the all important heating for winter is OK, then it will be good. Home is what you make of it Calin, and like you said, when you can afford it, you’ll be able to give it a make-over. In the mean-time, make it clean and presentable, and learn how to renovate. Watch some home improvement shows, read some magazines for ideas, and go for it. You’ll be amazed to look back over all the work that you and Wife Romanian will have put into the apartment once the renovations has been completed. Not to mention the added re-sale value that you will make from it. Then you will be able to buy a house later on down the track.
    It is also great that the apartment is centrally located. It would be a bit of a head-ache if the apartment was out in the middle of nowhere, and public transport may have been of a concern.
    Also, with the apartment backing onto the cemetery, that’s not a problem. You’ll have some peace and quiet at night, when I am sure you will want a good nights sleep after all the renovating you do through the day. Just hope there are no “Goths” or vampire worshippers that hang out at cemeteries at night (Lol).
    Take care mate
    Shawn (Australia)

    • Thanks for the nice words, Shawn! Indeed, as long as we have the basics covered, everything else should be just fine. Baby Romanian is still young and doesn’t need much and hopefully we’ll be ready with everything else when he’ll be older. We did some basic home improvement in my mother’s house in the past so we know that even though there’s a lot of work, it can be done by people who haven’t trained for this. And it’s true that all the videos available over the internet will help us quite a bit. Tomorrow is the day when we’ll meet to sign the papers and we’re really excited to make this house our own.

  4. Hi everyone! Hi husband! I am really happy for this appartment. And I hope you will let me choose some colors and trust me with some paintings in the baby’s room. You know everytime I suggest a color that is out of the ordinary, like orange for our kitchen, and you don’t agree cuz you don’t like orange, you change your mind when it is too late. We will make it our home, and give it a personal touch to every room, that is what I hope for, to not play safe with the colors. To make the renovations fun and exciting, not boring 🙂
    Looking foward to this new begining 🙂

  5. That’s awesome that you’re purchasing the apartment, and if you can own, owning is almost always a better financial decision because, like you said, when you’re ready to go bigger, you can trade up using the equity you didn’t build as a renter.

    • Yes, that’s the plan. Let’s hope that it will also work out because everybody seems to be leaving the city and right now there’s a ton of apartments/houses for sale and few people to actually buy.

  6. WONDERFUL NEWS!

    I am so happy for you. We cannot get apartments this cheap in my city, so it’s indeed a steal. Good luck with it and congratulations for this 😉

    • Thank you, Dojo! Indeed, there are some advantages about living in a smaller city – I was just talking with a friend from Timisoara and he said the same thing about the prices here. Anyway, we’ll still have to spend a lot of money on renovating it, but the price remains acceptable.

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