The cost of living in Romania is growing year-to year, but it slowed down a bit in 2020 and it doesn’t seem that 2021 will see a massive increase either.
Still, compared to 2013 when I first started to track our expenses and follow the prices of various products, they are a lot higher.
Actually, some prices grew at alarming rates in 2020 – at the beginning of the year, a product that I tracked cost almost 9 Lei (1.85 Eur) and now at the beginning of 2021, it costs 10.5 Lei (2.15 Eur).
Fortunately, not all prices are following this trend, but for the most case we see price increases that beat the inflation. In other words, the cost of living is increasing yearly.
I actually wrote an article saying that prices are increasing in Romania back in 2018, and that is still the case.
The main reason for the increase of prices in 2019 was the sudden and significant increase of the minimum wage in Romania, but also increased inflation. From that moment on, prices seemed to just keep going up.
Therefore, the cost of living in Romania in 2021 is much higher than it was 5 years ago.
Comparing my actual living costs with those that I was tracking back in 2013, we are actually spending twice as much, which is a bit scary (sure, we now have a child and that increases the costs a bit, but still…)
Anyway, let’s leave these details and statistics for later and instead let’s check out on the estimated cost of living in cities like Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Braso, Sibiu and so on.
These estimates are pretty much valid for all cities in Romania, actually, but you should still expect the smaller ones to be a bit cheaper than the larger ones, especially when it comes to rental prices.
What’s the cost of living in Romania in 2021?
In my opinion, there are two major expenses when it comes to monthly costs: rent or mortgage and food. Then, we have things like entertainment, house-related expenses, health related expenses and miscellaneous ones.
It is difficult for another person to estimate how much you will spend in each category since everybody has a different approach to living their life (as well as different budgets to accomplish their goals), but I’ll try to do it anyway, keeping the estimated costs somewhere in the middle.
But remember that in some very specific situations, my estimates could still be way off.
But since having something to compare your expectations to (or at least to have a starting point when it comes to budgeting your next trip to Romania or your move here) is better than nothing, let’s check out my estimates for 2021, which I consider to be somewhere in the middle.
Accommodation prices in Romania
Both rental prices, as well as the costs for buying property in Romania are, right now, at all time highs, similar to the prices before the recession in 2008.
The 2020 pandemic didn’t slow down the construction industry, Romania building more houses than it did in 2019. They are also more expensive in 2021 compared to 2020 and previous years.
While rent remains in most cases similar to that of the previous couple of years, the prices for purchasing an apartment or a house in Romania have skyrocketed and some of them are so high that I wonder if anybody will ever buy.
I personally saw studios in the center of Bucharest being on sale for prices as high as 90,000 Euros (which I consider insane).
An apartment like the one that we bought in 2014 for 25,000 Euros (in a smaller city) now sells for 40,000 if you are lucky… so prices have indeed jumped up a lot lately when it comes to buying.
Average rent in Romania
When it comes to renting, the prices remain pretty much stable. You can still be able to find a decent 1 bedroom apartment in a good area in a large city in Romania for around 300 Euros per month and you can expect to pay around 500 Euros for a 2 bedroom unit.
But these usually are taken as soon as they pop up and they’re definitely not as common as they were back in the days.
You will also find cheaper apartments in areas that are farther away from the city center, while more expensive options are always available and the lower priced ones are not that common anymore.
Bottom line: If you want to rent in Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Brasov, Sibiu or other large cities, budget between 300 Euros to 500 Euros per month for a 1-bedroom apartment. In a smaller city, you can pay as little as 200 Euros per month for a 1-bedroom apartment.
Some cities have seen price increases that are above the average: Cluj is, for example, one of those cities, pushed up by the number of higher paying jobs in the city. I saw many estimates these days showing that Cluj is actually more expensive to live in than Bucharest, which is a first for Romania!
(Check Romanian website OLX.ro for tons of listings for properties available for rent or on sale.)
Costs of utilities in Romania
When renting, the prices for utilities are usually not included in the rent, so you will have to pay these as an extra.
Fortunately, these numbers are generally extremely low during the summer and still somewhat low during the winter (when heating costs hit).
If you’re renting an apartment, most of these will be part of something called Intretinere (which translates as “maintenance”) and it usually includes garbage collection, water, a fund for minor repairs and heating.
If you have gas (we don’t), that’s paid separately, as well as the electrical bill.
And even though prices have also increased a bit here, most of the services have remained competitive and there were no increases in costs (heating, for example).
Even more, starting 2021, the costs for electricity are expected to go down by as much as 30% as the free market was finally implemented and prices are no longer regulated by the government.
The price estimates below are for a 1-bedroom apartment:
Intretinere: Prices here vary a lot based on how much water you use, mainly. If heating is included, expect to pay a lot more during the winter months (the warmer you want your room to be, the more you will have to pay).
So the numbers here vary greatly from as low as 25 EUR per month during the summer (when no heating costs are needed) to 200 EUR per month during the winter (with solid heating).
The most we have ever paid (2-bedroom apartment) here was close to 200 Euros (during a very cold winter month a few years ago), but we’re usually paying around 100 each winter month and we keep some steady temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius in the apartment.
Bottom line: The average costs for Intretinere should be around 100 Euros per month.
Electricity: Again, this depends on how much you use. I saw that foreigners generally use a lot more electricity than Romanians so it’s difficult to estimate.
I am making these estimations based on our own consumption and average the costs out to around 30 Euros per month. (We do use A/C in the summer and also have a drier which we use during the winter months).
So I really don’t think that you would spend much more on electricity.
TV & Internet: These usually go hand in hand and the prices for the combos are generally low for a decent amount of channels and the super fast internet Romania is known for.
Expect to pay around 13 Euros per month for this.
Mobile: The costs can be added on the same bill with the TV and Internet and if you do so you get further discounts.
Offers here start with as low as 2 Eur/month with unlimited calls and texts, as well as tens of GB of Internet. But I would still budget at least 5 EUR / Month for a plan with around 30GB of included data.
Food prices in Romania
The prices of food in Romania have increased at an alarming rate. The farmer markets, which were the places where you usually could buy cheap, locally grown products have been taken over by companies and resellers, resulting in higher prices.
As a result, even farmer markets are more expensive than they used to be – and sometimes more expensive than supermarkets, although the products are similar in quality.
Actually, many farmers use so much fertilizer (because nobody controls then) that it’s probably unhealthier to buy from them than from supermarkets. What a crazy world!
Take watermelons as an example (I love them!) Some 3-4 years ago, the cheapest you could buy them was 0.80 lei per kilo. The cheapest I was able to find in 2020 in high season was 1.5 lei/kilo.
You were able to buy locally grown, garden tomatoes with as low as 3 lei per kilo a few years ago. In 2020, prices for the garden tomatoes was between 7 – 10 lei.
As a result, food prices in Romania are usually on par with those in the rest of Europe. Many are still way lower so overall you will still be able to pay less on food in Romania than you would in other EU countries.
We personally found them to be on par with those in Hungary, Spain and even Germany (although there are some products here in Romania that are way cheaper, as I said).
Many prices are influenced by seasonality as well (as it is the case everywhere), so you might be able to find them a lot cheaper or more expensive, depending on when you buy.
Here are some price examples in Euros:
Tomatoes (1 kg): 0.9 – 2.50 (depending on the season, cheaper during summer/autumn)
Potatoes (1 kg): 0.5
Lettuce (1 head): 0.5 – 1
Apples (1 kg): 0.60 – 1.30
Oranges (1 Kg): ~1 Euro
Cheese (1 Kg): 5 – 7 Eur
Eggs (1 egg): 0.20
Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless (1 kg): 4.70
Fresh fish, local (1 kg): 6.50
Loaf of Bread (300 grams): 0.50
Milk (1 Liter – no name brands): 0.65
Bottle of cheap local wine: 2.50
Bottle of better local wine: 4.50
Beer (0.5 liter): 0.60 (in stores)
Beer (2 liter bottle): 2
Sparkling water (1.5 l): 0.60
Bottled water (5 l): 1
Bottle of natural juice (1 liter): 1.20
Restaurant prices in Romania
Meal for two, generic restaurant, Three-course (tip included): 28 Euros
Meal for two, better restaurant, Three course (tip included): 50 Euros
Beer (0.5 l): 1.30 Euros
Coke (0.25 l): 1.30
Wine (0.75 l): 12 Euros (but can easily go way up)
Cappuccino / Coffee: 1.70
Fresh lemonade: 2.70
All in all, I believe that a family of two (or even 3, with a younger child) could keep the monthly food budget to around 350 Euros if they don’t eat out a lot and cook at home from base ingredients.
We currently spend a lot more than that per month, but we’re not making the best choices – plus, we’re trying to eat as much organic food as possible.
In our case, food costs are the biggest expense each month, close to 450 Euros (eating out included – but we eat out a maximum of 4 times per month).
Other living costs in Romania
Bus ticket: 0.40 Eur (1 trip)
Monthly bus pass: ~12 Euros (unlimited trips) – not all cities have something like this!
Gas: 1 Eur per liter
Pair of regular jeans: 25 Euros
T-shirt: 10 Euros
Cinema ticket: 4.30 Euros
Private health insurance: As low as 20 Eur/month (but prices can vary a lot here, depending on your needs).
Most of the things here – from transportation to clothing is generally cheaper (to much cheaper) when compared to other Western European countries.
Things to consider about the cost of living in Romania
First of all, Romania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and also one of the cheapest, despite the recent increase in salaries, followed by the increase of the cost of living.
Second, it really depends how you earn your income. If you earn in a foreign currency, you will usually earn a lot more than the average Romanian. Also, the exchange rates will work in your favor as Euros and US Dollars are worth a bit more ever year, generally.
But still… how much should you realistically budget in order to live a good life here?
I have detailed our monthly expenses in a previous article – so if you want to know exactly how much my family of 3 is spending each month, make sure to read that as well.
Can you live in Romania on 1,000 Euros per month?
This is a nice, round number and I said a while ago that you can live in Romania for less than 1,000 per month. I think that you can still do, but it’s not as easy as it was a few years and you have to be really thrifty to do so.
But as a couple, with 2,000 Euros per month, you’d live a pretty good life in Romania at 1,000 Euros per person. Even in USD, you’d still have a nice amount for a decent life in all cities here.
But with rising rent prices and increasing food costs, I think that it is getting a bit more difficult to live a good life in a good area for 1,000 Euros per month as a single person. So if you’d have somebody to share these important costs with, it would be much easier!
Otherwise, you will probably have to cut costs by either living in a small city or well outside the city center and eat cheaper food, while cooking more at home. But it’s still doable.
Let’s make some estimative costs, just for the sake of proving a point:
Rent: 350 EUR (1-bedroom or studio)
Food: 250 EUR
Intretinere: 100 EUR
Electricity, phone, tv & internet: 50 EUR
TOTAL: 750 EUR / month
This would still leave you with 250 Euros to pay for any health insurance (if needed), local transportation and other things you need to buy to make your life decent.
Don’t expect to live like a king or queen for this money, though. It won’t be a daily party for sure, but it is doable, as you can see.
Have in mind that there are many families in Romania living on way less – although not a good life! Remember that the NET minimum salary in the country has recently increased to around 280 Euros per month, while the average salary is around 650 Euros.
So having even 1,000 Euros per month would put you well ahead of most people in the country (almost half of the employees in the country are on the minimum wage!)
Also, choosing to live in a cheaper, smaller city, would also come with lower costs, offering you even more bang for your buck.
Check out our monthly expenses in Romania
I will update the article where I detail in depth our expenses living in a smaller city in Romania, but until then, I want to share the bottom line here since you can take our expenses as a guidance for how much you’d expect to pay.
Regarding our way of living, I would say that we live a decent life – nothing to eccentric, but not tightening the belt too much either.
We’re not really part of the consumerist mentality, but we won’t always choose the lowest priced item especially if a higher priced one offers better quality and value for the money.
So I would say that we live an average life here by Western standards, allowing ourselves to have a treat every so often, but not splurging on Starbucks coffee each day (fun fact: there’s no Starbucks in our city anyway).
We are a family of three (our son is 7) and we live in a 2 bedroom apartment, owning a new Dacia Logan.
We don’t go out that often – as I already mentioned earlier – and we started to be extremely careful with what we’re eating, trying to eat organic food as much as possible and as healthy as it gets otherwise.
Therefore, our food costs are higher than a regular diet, I would say. But on the bright side, we don’t pay any rent or mortgage.
Overall, we had some unexpected or long-delayed expenses this year (new laptop, new smartphones and due to my line of work I need something new aka very expensive, new clothes…).
All in all, our average expenses living in Romania were, in 2020, close to 1,350 Euros per month (or around $1,500 per month). Not really bad, I would say, all things considered – and having in mind that it’s three of us living on this!
Hopefully all these details manage to paint a better picture of the anticipated costs for living in Romania in any of its beautiful cities: expect the larger ones to be more expensive, though, mostly due to higher rent.
Furthermore, if you are already living in Romania – and have been here for a while to at least have an estimate of your total monthly expenses, don’t hesitate to do so (you can even use a fake name in case you’re a regular of this blog and you don’t want me or the readers to know who you are).
But this would all help other people have a clearer image of the costs of living in Romania!