One of the questions that I get asked the most by the readers of Romania Experience is “can I still live on $1,000 per month in Romania?” Sometimes, it’s “can I live on €1,000 per month in Romania?” Almost the same thing.
Today I am here to answer this question publicly on this blog and help all those who were asking the same question, but didn’t send it over via email. So…
Can you live on $1,000 / Month in Romania?
Yes, you can still live in Romania and only spend 1,000 USD or EUR per month. It won’t be as easy as it was years ago and you won’t live a very luxurious life, but it’s still possible.
First off, I would recommend anybody who’s interested in the cost of living in any country on earth to look at the minimum and average salaries in their chosen country.
An least in theory, having an amount that’s similar to the average salary would allow you to live a decent life in that country. Sure, there is a bity of variation here, but I still consider this a solid starting point.
If you don’t want to check out the article itself, the numbers are listed below (they still change each year and go up by at least a bit, but don’t expect major differences on a yearly basis).
– in 2023, the minimum wage in Romania (take home) is 1,863 Lei or around 1,863 Lei 375 Eur per month.
– also in 2023, the average wage in Romania (take home) is around 4,000 lei or 811 EUR (this has increased A LOT in the past few years).
Looking at the numbers above, we can say that your $1,000 (or €1,000) equals to almost three minimum salaries in Romania and it would still be around 200 above the average wage.
In other words, based on this information alone, we can say that you would live much better than the average Romanian does if you have at least $1,000 per month.
Understanding the big picture
The big picture is a bit more complex than it looks on paper at first. Have in mind that in Romania, despite the constant salary growth, there are many people living off less than the minimum wage.
There are still families living on $500 per month and they manage to make ends meet.
We (my family of three) spend around $1,900 per month, on average, for example, even though our costs have increased a lot over the years.
So if you’re wondering where in Europe can you live on $1,000 per month – Romania is one of the few answers that you can get.
But it’s also important for you to understand that, in most cases, as a foreigner living in Romania, you will have some additional expenses that Romanians don’t.
Most likely, you will want to be covered by a private health insurance (which is still cheap at around $60/month) and you will have yearly costs related to visas and permits.
This really depends on your situation (if you are employed, for example, you won’t have to worry about these as the company will take care of everything).
But you will also want to live in better conditions than those living off $500 a month do. In most cases, they live in overcrowded, deplorable spaces that most people coming from Western countries would consider atrocious.
You might want to have a microwave, an A/C unit during the hottest days of the summer, a warm temperature during the winter days… all these are things that many of the people living on very low amounts don’t afford.
Also, most families will have relatives living in nearby villages and providing them with at least some of the food (therefore reducing one of the most important costs each month). But in many cases, these families can receive 50 – 75% of their monthly food for free.
But let’s see how things would actually look for you if you had just $1,000 per month to live in Romania! (I am using USD from now on, but it would be almost the same thing in Euros based on recent exchange rates).
Estimated living style on $1,000/month in Romania
Even though you won’t live like royalty on this monthly amounts, you will still live a much better life that living on the same amount of money in most places in this world.
Just imagine living on $1,000 per month in the US! Probably, this would barely cover the rent. But here, you can get a huge bang for your buck.
Below is an estimated monthly budget for a foreigner living in Romania on $1,000 – for a frugal person that understands what they can afford and what they should spend their money on.
This won’t be an amazing life, but as you will see, it will offer more than just the basics and definitely more than you would get for the same amount in most countries in the world.
– Rent: $250 for a studio. Probably it won’t be the most modern apartment that you have seen, nor will it be in the heart of the city, but still in a good area. It might be on the outskirts of a large city or in a better area in a smaller one.
In smaller cities, you can even find a 1-bedroom apartment for this amount, or even be able to score a really good looking studio.
– Food: $350. This number is very difficult to guesstimate. I am basing it on my own family’s costs, and it includes decent, varied food without eating out a lot.
If you are very frugal and can live on rice, pasta & potatoes, you will spend a lot less. At the same time, if you don’t like buying store brands or shopping at lower priced markets (like Lidl), you might end up spending more.
– Utilities & Maintenance (usually, not included in the rent): $100 per month, on average (more during the winter and less during the summer unless you keep the AC unit always on).
– Cable, TV & Mobile phone: $30 (these are usually really cheap in Romania. We’re paying around $25 per month for this, but we have some benefits since we’re with the companies for many years, so I decided to use a higher number just to be sure)
– Health Insurance: $60 (we’re talking about state insurance here. There are Private Health options as well, but they’re a bit more expensive and the prices vary a lot depending on what the package offers).
These would be the basic things that you would have to pay every month, no matter what.
All these end up totaling $790 per month. This leaves you with some $210 for other costs, to cover entertainment, unexpected expenses, buying clothes and toiletries and so on.
While it’s not a lot for sure, have in mind that $210 is still more than half the minimum salary in the country, so you have some options for the money.
Not a lot, but if you’re on a tight budget, you’re surely getting more for your buck in Romania that you would in the US, for example, for the same amount.
Just remember that you can pay as low as $1 for a coffee (takeaway), $6 for a daily menu, $35 for a monthly gym membership and a beer if you go out to a pub ill be around $2.20.
So… to answer (again) the question in the title: can you live on $1,000 per month in Romania? You sure can!
Prices are increasing on an yearly basis and it is getting more and more difficult to make ends meet on this monthly budget.
But it will probably be at least several years (hopefully more) before we could say that $1,000 isn’t enough for a person to live a decent life here.
Living on $1,000 per month as a family in Romania
What makes things even better is the price per person when families or couples are involved. If you’re a young couple, you can really make things very cheap and also increase the quality of life in most areas.
A couple could still easily live in a studio, reducing the rental costs by half. Also, the utilities wouldn’t double, either.
This means, in the end, that a couple with $2,000 available each month (so $1,000/month/person) would live a really good life here, affording a bit of luxury in their life.
Remember! My family of 3 had monthly expenses, last year, close to $1,900 (as we moved to a new city), but until then, they were close to $1,500 per month. For three people!
So even if you have a child and you don’t want to enroll them in a private school, your $2,000 per month you allow you to live a decent life here.
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 and if you’re not used to living thrifty, you will probably not be able to make it work.
But it’s encouraging to know that you will be able to do more since you have a bigger budget.
If you’re looking for some more up to date numbers and estimates on how far would your $1,000 take you here, you can also read my cost of living article.
The conclusion is that Romania remains one of the few countries in Europe where you can live on just $1,000 per month.
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