Living in Romania

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

One of the questions that I get asked the most by the readers of Romania Experience is “can I live on $1,000 per month in Romania?” And today I decided 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… will $1,000 per month be enough for you to live well in Romania?

Note: This article has been originally published back in 2014, but since the situation here in Romania (salaries and prices) have changed a bit over the past 5 years, I decided to rewrite it and bring it up to date.

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. I have written an article about wages here (which I update regularly) so make sure to look at it every now and then.

If you don’t want to check out the article itself, the numbers are listed below (they might change slightly from year to year, but I doubt that they will go up a lot now, after the huge increase in salaries in 2018/2019 that some experts claim has no valid economic grounds).

– in 2019, the minimum wage in Romania (take home) is 1263 RON / $304 / 267 EUR (it grew by around 70 Euros over the past 5 years or 36%, mostly thanks to some major increases in 2018)
– also in 2019, the average wage in Romania (take home) is 2720 RON / $655 / 576 EUR (a whooping 176 EUR more than in 2014, or a 44% increase)

But looking at the wages in a country lets you anticipate how far your money would go. Looking at the numbers above, we could say that your $1,000 would actually be over 3 minimum wages in the country or one and a half average wage. This would further mean that you would be living much better than the average Romanian does, looking at the numbers alone.

But the whole picture is a bit more complex than it looks on paper at first. Have in mind that in Romania, despite the recent increase in salaries, there are many people living off less than the minimum wage. There are still families living of $500 per month and they manage to make ends meet.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is inflation at the moment. Even though salaries have increased greatly in 2018 and 2019 (or maybe just because of that), inflation went up as well. In 2018, Romania had one of the highest inflation rates in the EU, somewhere between 4 – 5 percent.

This affects people looking to live on $1,000 per month in Romania more than the actual salary structure. Although the USD/RON exchange rate has gone up as well, the inflation was greater so your $1,000 now are worth less than they did back in 2014 when I originally wrote this article.

It is also important to know that as a foreigner retiring to Romania, relocating here or coming here for studies, you won’t be in a similar situation to a family that’s living off minimum wage, for example.

The main difference is that most of the families in Romania don’t have to pay rent (or mortgage). Probably all low income residents are living in very small studios or apartments in a terrible state, lacking in comfort or even basic necessities – or at least “basic” stuff by western standards (like a washing machine, microwave oven or things like that).

Also, most of these families have relatives living in nearby villages. These families help them with food – sometimes enough to cover most of the daily meals, so their food costs will be lower than those of a person who has to buy everything.

I would say that your typical Romanian family looks like this: the adults and children live in the city, while their parents (or grandparents) live in a village where they cultivate the land and grow animals. The older relatives living in the villages grow more vegetables and animals than they need, and they do so to send the surplus to the children. And this surplus is, often times, covering maybe over 50% if not over 75% of the food required for the family living in the city.

What I mean is that simply looking at the wages and thinking that $1,000 is 150% more than what the average Romanian makes is not correct, all things considered. But it still doesn’t mean that you can’t live a comfortable life on that amount if you are a bit careful with your expenses. You won’t live like royalty, but you can live a lot better than you would in many other countries in Europe or over the globe.

Below is an estimated monthly budget for a foreigner living in Romania on $1,000 (without making many sacrifices):

– Rent as low as $225 (200 EUR) for a studio. We’re talking about larger cities here and decent areas. You can find cheaper in smaller cities or areas that are very far away from the city center.

– Food: $350 (310 EUR). 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. If you are very frugal and can live on rice, pasta & potatoes, you can 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 can spend a lot 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: $40 (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: $45 (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).

All in all, the basic needs listed above would add up to $760. This would leave you with about $240 to play with: eat out and have some fun, buy clothes and other consumables and put some money aside for a rainy day. And those $240 give you plenty of options too, having in mind that it’s almost an entire minimum wage here.

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

It is a bit more difficult than it was back in 2014 when I initially wrote this article, but I believe you can still make it work. Plus, if you’re traveling as a couple or a family, $1,000 per person would mean a lot more because some of the costs wouldn’t double in price (you can still live in the $225 studio, for example, you’d still spend the same amount for heating the room and you’d only add $5 more per month for a new mobile phone sim card).

So, while $1,000 per month in Romania is doable and with a bit of planning can help you live a more than decent life, $2,000 per month for a couple or a family of up to 4 members total would be even better and allow you to live a good life.

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 might not be able to make it work.

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.

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  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,

    1. 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.

  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?

    1. 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! 🙂

    2. I can make $900 for a family of three last for several months by bulk shopping, meal planning, cooking at home, and having a deep freezer. It seems to be a skill the average United States citizen needs awareness of. My grandmother who had parents that immigrated from Romania taught me many of my frugal and cooking from scratch skills.

  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 🙂

  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! 🙂 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,

    1. 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 🙂

  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 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, 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

    1. 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.

  11. Hi Calin:
    Wow! Deja vu.;-)
    The updates are appreciated!
    I think it’s nice that family members help each other out.
    (This is lacking in the USA.)
    How’s the weather? Did you get snowed in? I know Bulgaria was
    hit hard. What is Romania doing to help avert climate change?
    I assume your leaders believe in climate change and its potential dire
    effect on the Earth. (Unlike the idiot Trump, who thinks it is all a hoax!)
    Sorry for the diversion.;-)
    Still hoping health insurance for the over 60s won’t take up too much of the monthly budget. One has to stay healthy. Also, do you drink water from the tap, or do you feel it’s necessary to use a filter, or to drink only bottled water?
    Great update!
    ~Teil (Needs his A/C in the summer and his heat in the winter!:-)

  12. Hello Teil! Yes, I did start to update most of the older articles (published more than 2 years ago) since I felt that was needed. Most receive a solid makeover, but some which are basically rewritten get re-published with a new date to make it easier to find them 🙂

    Just yesterday, Kevin who moved to Brasov a few years ago, was telling me about the huge increase in the health insurance cost: it grew by 334% since they mover – it was 700 lei per year per person back then and it is now a whooping 190 lei per MONTH. The “problem” with the health insurance is that it is related to the minimum wage, which has grown like crazy lately. It will stop now and probably it will stay at around these values for a long time… but this still makes many prices a lot higher than usually.

    The weather here is decent, it snows a lot, but it’s winter so no surprises here. It seems to be a bit more snow than in other years, but nothing to complain about yet.

  13. Hi everyone

    I am so glad to have seen this site. My wife (who is A dua Romanian/US citizen) and I (US citizen) are planning on retiring soon and living in Brasov where we own a very nice apartment. My chief concern is how much should budget for quality private healthcare, dental and prescription drug costs. I saw an earlier post of about $45 USD per month per person is this for high quality insurance? Thanks

    1. Hello Rick,

      I consider Regina Maria to be a very solid option as a private healthcare provider – and they are operating in Brasov as well. Their most expensive plan is about $70 per month. You can check it out here:

      These rarely include dental, but going to a private clinic to do some dental work is very cheap here: around $35 for a consult or some minor work done to your teeth, for example. In the end, I would say that yes, it is possible to find cheap high quality services in the large cities like Brasov.

      Edit: I just looked at all the services included in the plan I recommended and there’s some dental stuff included as well: 1 free visit to the dentist, 1 brushing and 1 scaling, as well as a 20% discount to all other procedures. So things are looking even better than I had anticipated 🙂

  14. Excellent, very informative website and blog. Thanks a bunch Calin. The info on the private health insurance it’s helpful and of interest to me in particular. Your other articles on Romania s subjects are also great. Keep doing the excellent job !

  15. Thank you a very interesting article . Gave me the most details too on actual cost of lining in Romania. I was very interested as I want to travel Europe and stay couple of months in Romania. I will be sure to find suburbs around Bucharest to rent!

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