Living in Romania

Can a Family Live on $1,500 per Month in Romania?

Romania is a cheap country… but how cheap is it? Could a family live on $1,500 per month in Romania?

I wrote this article initially back in 2013, when our budget for August was $1,567. Our son had just been born (at a private hospital – read here about it), so we were expecting costs to be a bit higher than usually, but I was honestly worried (just a bit, it’s true) that the $1,500 we had for the month would not be enough.

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry back then and even with a newborn, our expenses ended up under $1,500. At that time, we were in Bucharest which is the most expensive city in the country and also had a lot of post-natal controls that my wife and son had to go to. And yet, it all ended up costing us just under $1,500.

But what about today, when the cost of living is going up? Can a family still make ends meet – or even live a good life on “just” $1,500 per month?

The short answer would be yes, it is completely doable. In my opinion, $1,500 (or, even better, 1,500 Euros) would be enough for a family of three to live a modest, but decent life in most European countries. But with Romania remaining one of the cheapest in the EU, your dollars (or Euros) will take you farther.

Based on my personal experience, since 2013 when I first started tracking our monthly expenses, we have very rarely spent more than $1,500 per month – even though we’re getting closer and closer to that amount these days. We did have some major purchases (like furniture or even a new car) that I did not include in these averages, but usually we’re spending about $1,300 per month and living a pretty good life, I would say.

However, the amount of money that we spend does not include rent or mortgage (we paid for our apartment back in 2014), but at the same time we spend a lot on food, mainly because we prefer to eat as much organic food as possible – and that is usually extremely expensive, even by Romanian standards.

However, rental prices here are still low, and you can still find a decent place (1 bedroom) with around 300 Euros per month in most cities.

What kind of lifestyle to realistically expect on $1,500 / month in Romania?

1500 dollars per month in romania

Living on $1,500 per month can be completely doable in a country and very difficult to pull off in another. Romania is one of the cheapest countries in Eastern Europe, with the average salary being somewhere around $800 per month at the moment of writing. This means that your average family should do with around $1,600.

But the truth is that most people in Romania live on a much lower budget. Back in 2013, for example, the average salary was just $450 – and it didn’t grow as fast for everybody. In other words, most Romanians would consider you rich if you had a family budget of $1,500.

At the same time, foreigners coming to live in Romania will have expenses that locals will most likely not have. For starters, they will have to pay rent (or a monthly mortgage), which could eat up a huge chunk of that money.

If you’re thinking about a private school or private kindergarten, you’ll have to spend at least some $100 per month per child, but usually it’s around $300 a month.

And then you will most likely need health insurance (especially if you’re not from the EU). That won’t be expensive, but it would be around $100 more per month. So these costs do add up – you won’t necessarily have them all, but you always have to consider these “hidden” costs.

This means that, for a family, a $1,500 budget will be stretched to the maximum in Romania if rent, health insurance and school have to be paid from the pocket also. But, even though you won’t live like royalty, I still think it would be doable, especially in a smaller city.

If you agree to live a modest life – not a lot of eating out, not a lot of fancy clothes and expensive entertainment – most of your other costs would be food and misc expenses. If you cook at home a lot, you will eat great for $500 per month, maybe even less, for example.

But you can’t expect to live the big player life on a budget of $1,500 in Romania. Not anymore. Back in 2013 when I first wrote this article, it was more than doable, but things have changed a lot in these past several years and it will be a real challenge to make it work on such a budget.

family budget for living in Romania

But it’s still doable, although I personally recommend a minimum budget of $1,000 per month, per adult (so $2,000 per month). This budget would give you much better options to actually enjoy the country, to eat out, to have some entertainment that’s more than watching Netflix at home, maybe even travel a bit around the country.

One’s lifestyle back home matters a lot too. If you want a huge house, if you want to eat out mostly and you want top private education for your kid, then not even $2,000 per month won’t make it.

But, in conclusion, I would say that a budget of 1,500 dollars in Romania, for a family of three is doable (but very challenging), while $2,000 per month give you a bit more room to play. (I am assuming here that you will have to pay rent – if no rent, then the amount in this article’s title should be enough for most).

Unfortunately, like most countries over the world and especially in Europe or, better said, in the European Union, Romania is becoming more and more expensive each year. There’s still the advantage of the country using its old currency – the Romanian leu – which bleeds out constantly, making Euros and US Dollars a stronger currency that would take you farther.

But if things keep on going like this, I think that by 2025, foreigners would have a really tough time living on $1,500 per month in Romania.

What do you say though? If you were to only have $1,500 per month as a family, would it be enough to live a decent life? Or you’d like to play it safe and budget a bit more, like I strongly recommend you to?

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13 Comments

  1. We live in very expensive Seattle and outside of housing costs, we are barely over the $1,500 threshold so it’s very doable. Living somewhere even cheaper would bring that possibility even closer.

    1. I guess that in the end it’s all about how you handle your finances and this is why we’re all here doing this blogging thing – to get better at it. We will have to do this with housing costs included, but I am sure we will have no real problems!

  2. I live in NYC and my rent is more than $1500. I’d love to live in a lower cost of living area, but most of my family is here. We are only on one income too. I need to get my wife to start some side hustles too…although she does have her hands full with the baby. Romania has maternity benefits? Sadly my wife does not have any from her work and the government does not provide any.

    1. Yes, Romania offers maternity benefits which is 80% of the salary, but not greater than $900. However, my wife had her own business (a small coffee shop) and her accountant made all he could to keep her profits close to zero and under the minimal wage (it is something that is done here in Romania to prevent giving too much too tax, without doing illegal stuff :D). What she hadn’t told us then was the “80% of the salary” as help during the 2 years she is allowed to spend at home and receive the money, which resulted us in expecting to get a huge sum of $240 per month. These are the kind of mistakes that you make when you’r not fully aware of what’s happening around you…

      1. If you “are not fully aware of what’s happening around you” why in the world are you writing and disinforming people with this blog??? Most of the information that you provide is incorect.

      2. The nature of my comment automatically implies that it was something I wasn’t aware of – but became aware of afterwards. Otherwise, I couldn’t have said I wasn’t aware of it. 🙂

        If you find any inaccuracies on the website, a comment righting the wrongs would do a lot of good – or at least send me a message through the contact page and I will immediately adjust the information to be correct.

    2. There is no “side hustle” in Romania… all youth, 5 million , have emigrated, as there’ re no jobs. The largest wave of migration in peace time. Romania is a hopeless fallen country, , no economy, kept alive on foreign debt. Try Hungary or Poland instead.

  3. I am hoping to live in Alba Iulia on 1500 a month. We own the house so no payments. Are you talking $2500 a month in Bucharest? Or is that rural romania?? I am hoping the monthly bills.. internet.. phone..heat.. taxes etc come in at under 1,000 per month. Your $2500 number actually has me re-evaluating viability of retiring in Romania. I can live well in rural Minnesota on $2500 a month with no home payment. I would sure hope i could do it in Romania.. but will now double check our numbers.

    1. Hello Otto,

      I was actually talking about $1,500 and not 2,500. Most Romanians live on a budged of under $1,000 per month so $1,500 is certainly doable in Alba Iulia and Bucharest too. The monthly bills will surely be well under $1,000 per month (internet, tv and phone is $20 per month, heat would be a maximum of $200 in the coldest months but generally much lower so yes, $1,500 should be enough to live a good life here)

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