Can You Live on $1,000 per Month in Romania?

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One of the questions that I get asked the most by the readers of Romania Experience is “will $1,000 per month be enough for me to live well?” And today I decided to answer this question publicly and hopefully decrease the number of e-mails asking it personally. So… can you live on $1,000 per month in Romania?

Before we get into the specifics, here are a few things to have in mind, things that will actually help you understand that it can be done:

– the minimum wage in Romania is 850 RON / $255 / 192 EUR
– the median wage in Romania is 1760 RON / $530 / 400 EUR

This means that there are families living off a minimum wage income ($510 per month), while we can consider a family with an income of $1060 middle class. These numbers alone should prove that yes, $1,000 for a person should be enough for somebody living in Romania.

However, it is important to know that as a foreigner retiring to Romania, relocating here or coming here for studies, you won’t have the benefits that most of these families do. In other words, most of these families don’t have to pay rent. Probably all low income residents are living in very small studios or apartments in a terrible state, maybe lacking common things for the modern person, like washing machine, microwave oven and so on. Also, most families have relatives living in nearby villages which help them with food, so their yearly food costs will be lower than those of a person who has to buy everything from the market. Finally, they might also run small errands here and there for some extra money.

Still, despite the “bonuses” that these families have, a $1,000 budget per month should be enough for a person renting in Romania, as long as you can accept the fact that you won’t live like a king and dine out in fancy restaurants every day. Below is an estimated monthly budget for a foreigner living in Romania on a $1,000 budget:

– Rent as low as $225 (170 EUR) for a studio. Add $100 more if you want it in a central location.


– Food: $300 (225 EUR). This number could go waaay down, though, depending on your spending habits. For example, my family (my wife, 1 year old kid and myself) are spending about $400 per month in this category and we’re not cutting back on everything.
– Utilities & Maintenance (usually, not included in the rent): $100 (again, I am using something that I consider a maximum)
– Cable, TV & Mobile phone: $45
– Transportation: $50 (includes monthly public transportation pass and occasional cab rides)
– Private Health Insurance: $30 (it’s pretty basic and includes unlimited visits to your personal physician, complete blood tests once per year and discounts on other blood tests and consultations. But if you need to get hospitalized, you’re on your own!) There might be better deals available here, it’s not my strong area, though!

All in all, the monthly costs listed above would add up to $750. This would leave you about $250 to play with: eating out, entertainment, buying clothes and other products or maybe spending more for a better apartment. A pretty nice sum nevertheless and it offers you a lot of options. Check out my Cost of Living in Romania article with data for 2014.

So… to answer (again) the question in the title: can you live on $1,000 per month in Romania? You sure can!

Goods from a local supermarket
Goods from a local supermarket

I have recently read on a Romanian blog about a family of 4 adults and 2 toddlers making ends meet on a budget of about $600 per month. They are struggling a bit, but they make it work, purchasing in bulk and only discounted items. However, that’s an insanely low budget!

My family, for example, has been spending since the start of the year, on average, $990 per month (I did not include here the costs for our newly purchased apartment and all the costs that followed this purchase). However, this is a budget that allows us to live a more than decent life, eating out every now and then, enjoying high quality food that we cook at home and being happy with what we have.Β Last year, when we didn’t really care how much we spent monthly, we were close to $1,400 per month. So $1,000 for one person? More than enough!

20 COMMENTS

  1. Calin:
    So, can I live on $1000 a month? Just kidding! Great post! This pretty much covers it all.
    Do you have “Dollar” stores? These stores carry a wide variety of goods at a single price point–$1. Of course, I’d assume it would have to be something more like the “3.32 Lei” store. There are great deals to be had at those stores (Chinese made products for the most part, but quality improving).
    Also, do you have thrift (resale) stores like “Goodwill,” Value Village,” etc?
    I hope the apartment rehab is going along fine. Have you given Baby Romanian a junior toolkit so he can help?
    Also, off point a bit: Have you noticed specific climate changes in your area? More rain; less rain; hotter, colder, etc?
    Take care, and thanks for this informative post!
    Your American reader,
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      We don’t have any “Dollar” stores for food but we have something similar for clothing: for 12 RON (about $4) you can buy any clothing product – pants, tops, shoes and so on. We do have thrift stores, but they are privately owned and not part of big chains. Actually, we have a ton of them since most of the people are really poor…

      The apartment rehab is going on slowly, but it’s happening. My wife made some “before and after” photos and I hope I’ll be able to use them in the upcoming article.

      This year was crazy and it indeed shows that climate is changing: we’ve had a lot more rain than usual and our summer months June and July were mostly rainy. Now August has been incredibly hot, but things seem to get back to normal a little bit.

  2. Hi Calin
    Hope you are well mate. You must get a lot of inquiries regarding this subject. You’ve touched on it before, and yes, you get more for your dollar in Romania. But this is only one reason to live in Romania. I know money and the cost of living is always a touchy subject, but all the money in the world won’t make us happy. To be with the ones you love is well on the way to being happy.
    Take care Calin. I’ll catch up again.
    Shawn

  3. Good summary. Helpful post. It is importent to note that this is regionally affected.

    I live in 3 places continuously and the prices differ greatly. Bucharest has the cheapest car fuel but more expensive food than some smaller cities. . Car repairs, handymen and eating out costs are also nearly double that of Brasov, which has dearer fuel but wine is 6 lei per glass in a simple Pizzeria. In Bran, local stores can be very expensive for things like milk, pasta sauce etc but rent is cheap.

    But as a rule, living in a capital city is always going to be slightly more expensive than provincial cities and towns.

  4. I just love hearing about life there, Calin. Man, are we spoiled brats in the US or what? Average FOOD costs alone for a family of four in the US is like $900. Frugal Rules had an infographic on that once. You guys have a great handle there on what’s important, which is why I love reading about life there. How’s the whole foods eating going?

    • Indeed, costs are really low here in Romania, but so is income and probably the income/costs ratio is worse here.

      Ever since I started eating healthier and had to quit all the processed foods (stopped eating out too), I am feeling a lot better and even though sometimes I drool thinking about a slice of pizza or a juicy hamburger, I can make it work. And it’s a LOT cheaper too! πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks a lot for this detailed information.
    Do you think its possible to rent a studio for 300-400 dollars per month in Bucharest? And how and where to search for a foreigner who doesn’t know Romanian?

  6. Hello, Julien! I think that you can find a nice studio for that price range in Bucharest. Most of the people speak English here in Romania, so you should have no problems with that. I see that you found my other article about places to start your search, so it’s pretty much settled πŸ™‚

  7. Hi C,
    First of all congrats for your website! Amazing compilation of info for people willing to move to Romania!
    I was there last December and I found the country amazing! πŸ™‚ Indeed I’m moving to Bucharest this month (september).
    Thank you very much for this post about the 1000 US$. Really very useful. I was reading lots of other websites and I think they all tend to distort the real image of Romania!
    Keep doing this good job! As soon as I start working I’ll also start a blog about my adventure in Romania. It will be in Portuguese.
    Best regards,
    Alberto

    • Hello Masoud,

      I really hope that this article answers your question. We’re talking about $1,000 per month here and I have explained where you would spend this money. Decide if you could cut on anything, and you’ll get your sum.

  8. I am so glad to find your website. I would like to visit Romania and stay about 3 months, but getting information has not been so easy. So, I am glad to see this information. I will become an avid reader of yours!

  9. Just a quick question. We are a family of five. 2 adults and 3 kids. If we wanted to rent a place with 3 bedrooms for example in Cluj or Dej what kind of price range are we looking at? Or even Baia Mare? Thanks πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Andrada,
    Even though this is a question best reserved for Calin, let me jump in and tell you what my research shows. Not knowing how soon you may need this, and whether short term or maybe some months away and for an extended period of time, let me offer this; In Cluj for example, through a reputable service like airbnb.com you could find a nice three bedroom furnished apartment for the month of October for between $1k-$1.5k. This is for a place that you can have a level of comfort about, and verify it has good reviews from the comfort of your home now. If you want to go there and stay some place similar to that for a month, while you do a local search around after you’re there and becoming familiar with the area, you may find a decent 3 bedroom apt. for your family of five for as little as $450 or so, or possibly less, based on a long term lease.

    From what I can see, Baia Mare, which is about 90 miles from Cluj, would be considerably less. Maybe $250 for a place long term from a local after getting there and looking around. If not familiar with numbeo.com, you should definitely give it a try, as you can get a fairly accurate idea of costs for your living expenses, including rent in most any country, and in their larger or more popular cities. I’m sure Calin will be along shortly with more info than I could possibly provide. Best of luck Andrada! Take care, JC

    • Hello Roxanne,

      Housing in Bucharest is extremely expensive when compared to other cities in Romania. For a studio, you can pay 15,000 – 50,000 Euros. You should expect to pay for a studio in a top, central location, around 38,000 euros.

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