The cost of living in Romania is growing steadily, but fortunately not too fast. However, compared to 2013 when I first started to track our expenses and follow some prices of various products, prices are obviously higher. And since my previous article about the cost of living in Romania is published in 2016, it’s time to update this article and bring it to the 2019 numbers.

I recently wrote that prices are increasing in Romania, and that seems to still be the case. Some very recent factors have had an effect over the prices, such as a sudden and significant increase of the minimum wage in Romania, but more measures taken or to be taken by the actual government are expected to increase inflation in 2019.

Inflation has been a problem in Romania in 2018, with an average of around 5% (the biggest value in the European Union) and some experts fear the worst for 2019, when new taxes will hit, combined with new increases in the population’s earnings. However, since the grimmest predictions come from critics of the actual government, it’s difficult to know how biased they are with their predictions. Time will tell if they are right or wrong and until then we have the actual numbers to look at and see how expensive it is to live in Romania.

Before checking out some of the numbers and monthly expenses estimated for living in cities like Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov and all other larger cities in the country (since prices are mostly the same except for real estate), I want to add a few things:

First of all, Romania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and also one of the cheapest, despite the increasing prices. Second of all, if you are getting your income in a foreign currency, this shouldn’t affect you as much. For example, the price of an US dollar last year was 5.64% lower than it is today. So you’d not only beat the average inflation in the country, but also have more money by 0.64%.

With these in mind, we’ll check out some of the prices for various things in Romania, then talk about my family’s monthly expenses here. I have detailed our monthly expenses in a previous article – but that needs updating as well (I will do it later on this month).

Cost of living in Romania in the major cities

In my opinion, there are two major expenses when it comes to living somewhere: rent or mortgage and food costs. 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), but I’ll try to do it anyway, keeping the costs somewhere in the middle. So here they are:

Accommodation prices in Romania

Although rent remains mostly the same as it was a few years ago, the prices for purchasing an apartment have skyrocketed. 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) would probably cost now around 35,000… so prices have indeed jumped up a lot lately when it comes to buying.

When it comes to renting, the prices didn’t increase that much. 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 and you can expect to pay around 500 Euros per month for a 2 bedroom unit. You will also find cheaper apartments in areas that are farther away from the city center, while more expensive options are always available.

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. In a smaller city, you can pay as little as 200 Euros per month for a 2-bedroom apartment. (Check Romanian website OLX.ro for tons of listings)

Costs of utilities in Romania

If renting, the utility prices are usually not included in the rent, so you will have to pay these for yourself. If you’re renting an apartment, most of these will be included in 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. The prices below are for a 2 bedroom apartment:

Intretinere: Prices here vary a lot based on how much water you use. If heating is included, expect to pay a lot more during the winter months. So the numbers here vary greatly from as low as 20 EUR per month during the summer (when no heating costs are needed) to 200 EUR per month during the winter.
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 25 Euros per month.
TV & Internet: These usually go hand in hand and the prices for the combos are generally low for a decent amount of channels and high quality internet. 14 Euros per month.
Mobile: The costs can be added on the same bill with the TV and Internet. Expect to pay around 10 Euros per month for unlimited calls and text messages and around 2GB of internet per month.

Food prices in Romania

Some food prices have seen insane increases. The farmer markets, where you were usually able to buy very cheap, locally grown products from individual farmers have been slowly taken over by companies and resellers (not to mention the supermarkets). 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.

Overall, food prices in Romania are still low compared to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world, even though – in supermarkets or not – they have grown a lot lately. Many prices are influenced by the season as well (as it is the case everywhere), so you might be able to find them a lot cheaper or more expensive, depending when you buy. Here are some examples in euros:

Tomatoes (1 kg): 0.86 – 1.30 (depending on the season, cheaper during summer/autumn)
Potatoes (1 kg): 0.45
Lettuce (1 head): 0.45 – 1
Apples (1 kg): 0.45 – 1.30
Oranges (1 Kg): ~1 Euro
Cheese (1 Kg): 6.5
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): 0.40
Milk (1 Liter – no name brands): 0.65
Bottle of cheap local wine: 2.20
Bottle of better local wine: 4.20
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, inexpensive restaurant, Three-course (tip included): 25 Euros
Meal for two, better restaurant, Three course (tip included): 45 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: 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 300 Euros if they don’t eat out a lot. We currently spend more than that per month, but there’s a lot of room here and it all depends on the type of food you eat.

Other costs in Romania

Bus ticket: 0.40 Eur (1 trip)
Monthly bus pass: ~12 Euros (unlimited trips) โ€“ not all cities have something like this!
Gas: 1.1 per liter
Pair of regular jeans: 25 Euros
T-shirt: 10 Euros
Cinema ticket: 4.30 Euros

Can you still live in Romania for 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 not as a single person. If you’re a couple and you have 2,000 Euros per month, you’d live a good life in Romania at 1,000 per person.

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 better.

Still, there are many families in Romania living on way less – although not a good life. Remember that the minimum salary in the country has recently increased to 270 Euros per month, while the average salary is around 580 Euros. So having even 1,000 Euros per month would put you well ahead of most people in the country. Also, choosing to live in a cheaper, smaller city, would also come with lower costs.

Looking at 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 good life – nothing to eccentric, but not tightening the belt 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.

We are a family of three (our son is 5) and we live in a 2 bedroom apartment, owning a locally-made second hand car (a Dacia Logan). We don’t go out that often – although we did go out a lot more this year than we used to – and we started to be extremely careful with what we’re eating, trying to eat organic food as much as possible. Therefore, our food costs are way higher than a non-organic diet would cost. We also 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… as well as unexpected expenses related to our car’s maintenance).

All in all, our average expenses living in Romania were, for 2018, close to 1,500 Euros per month (a bit over 100 Euros per month more than our average expenses last year).

So hopefully all these details manage to paint a better picture of the anticipated costs for living in Romania in any of its beautiful cities.

Further more, 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.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Nice! I have been updating the grocery prices in Spain so l could update as well. Your bottom line for the 3 of you is slightly less than ours. We have been going out a bit more and have added to my beauty regime much to his amusement (massage, facials๐Ÿ˜‚). Like you say, if you donโ€™t need to work in Romania, itโ€™s a pretty good deal. Nice uptick for your investment even though you donโ€™t plan on selling. Itโ€™s amazing how much the price has crept up. I canโ€™t wait to compare prices with yours. Happy New Year!๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ†

  2. Happy New Year!

    I am glad that we don’t have to buy a house now, that’s for sure ๐Ÿ™‚ We were lucky purchasing when we did! If we would’ve purchased in any other major city, the increase would’ve been even higher. Probably a correction is coming soon… but you never know.

    Regarding our expenses, the main difference would be that we live in a small city in Romania, while you do in beautiful Valencia ๐Ÿ™‚ I always have the feeling that we’re spending more than we should – but at the same time when I look at the things that we spend the money on, I don’t see many options where it would make sense to cut down the costs… so as long as we don’t start spending money on useless things (my wife started to constantly browse a Chinese deals app called Wish and always gets pretty much useless cheap nothings), we’re fine ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. My father died recently and I am in the process of emptying out his apartment. It is amazing how many things people can accumulate in a lifetime. I have encountered many presents that I had given him and my mother over the years. Obviously you can’t take anything with you when you “go.” Furniture which he generously left to my sisters and me has to be donated to charities because there is no room in our houses. One of my sisters is dissolving her household because she and her husband are retiring to Portugal. Everyone is downsizing. Maybe it is a generational thing. My parents belonged to a post-war generation which built up an American economy based on over-consumption. Most all of these purchases are headed for the dumpster. It makes me want to never buy anything except for life’s necessities ever again.

    • I am really sorry to hear about your father, Stuart. I remember reading about him in some of your previous comments and I feel like he was part of the blog as well. My condolences!

      But regarding the material things… you are indeed right! We do tend to fall in love with bits of furniture and stuff like that that our children won’t appreciate as much as we do. Regarding furniture… I always prefer the most modern looking things out there and, no matter how valuable and well made they are, furniture pieces that are a couple of decades old (or older) simply look… old and unappealing to me. And all the furniture in my mother’s house falls in that category, although she definitely loves it.

      We do have to try and find what really matters at the end of the day and focus on that alone.

  4. Hello Calin,
    A pretty comprehensive overview of costs in Romania. (BTW: That winter intretinere could hurt.;-() I know during the hot summers, this boy needs a/c, so the summer intretinere would be a high, too–or at least the electrical bill would.)
    Noticed medical and dental care, not covered. For those non-EU people expats over 65, I reckon one better have a good health plan. I know I visit the doc. once a year, and a dentist every 6 mos. I’ve got 3 prescriptions I need to refill every 90 days. Fingers crossed it stays that way.;-)
    Since you brought it up… what do you do in your very expensive, fashionable, new clothing? Oh, is K through 12 free in Romania, or do you have to pay for your son’s schooling?
    Hope 2019 will be great for you and yours!
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      I did think about health care indeed, but the truth is that prices could vary here a lot. The cheapest option would be to go with state insurance, which is about 20 Euros per month, but there are also other private options as well… up to a few hundred Euros per month. However, a visit to the doctor would be at most 40 Euros at a private clinic, and a visit to the dentist would be as low as 12 Euros.

      School here is free until the 12th grade, but there are private options as well. I have a very poor opinion about the whole school system in Romania, which could use a modern upgrade and complete revamp.

      Regarding the clothes… they are definitely not very expensive and probably not very fashionable either ๐Ÿ™‚ I lost a lot of weight over the past several years and kept delaying getting new clothes, but I was starting to look funny in some of them. Plus, I’ve been a huge hip hop fan since forever, but decided that I should dress up my age a bit more often, which also required some new purchases. But we usually wear our clothes until they start getting holes in them – and even when that happens, most are downgraded to “clothes to wear inside only” :)))

  5. Hello Calin, interesting article. It’s a bit disappointing the local market squares are getting smaller by the month, in fact we really noticed it at the Meva Piata in your town. It’s now tiny to how it was even as recently as five years ago, ten years go it was heaving with every table full pretty much throughout the year. But it has to be said this is a consequence of multiple supermarkets opening up everywhere all selling fresh(ish) produce, we all know its not the same quality, normally a bit more expensive, but its convenient and we compromise most of the time.

    Regarding the Intretinere, for comparison at our house in Romania we pay around 60 euro per annum, this covers the water, rubbish collection and local tax. But obviously we don’t have communal heating costs as we are not in a block and are situated in a small village not a large or even small town.

    Dental treatment for me at least being from the UK is just a small fraction of the cost at present in Romania. Here’s an example: In November I paid ยฃ40 for a dental x-ray in London and ยฃ3 (15ron) for one in Romania (Cicero, DTS actually Calin), UK Dentist quoted ยฃ800 – ยฃ1,000 for root canal work and I paid 70 euro for the same work in Romania. This being said though, I fully appreciate the impact of a 70 euro dental bill could have on most Romanians.

    Nice article and always looking for the next.

    • Hello Shane,

      My apartment is some 5 minutes away from the Meva Market (near the Stomatologie, since you mentioned dentists). So whenever you’re around and you’d like to meet, just let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

      Prices in villages are indeed very low. We also pay, in our village, a fraction of our monthly costs – but per year ๐Ÿ™‚ But for most people coming from Western countries, I think it would be very, very difficult to adjust to living in a village in Romania full time.

      Regarding the overall prices – they are indeed cheap if you’re not looking at them from the point of view of somebody earning their living in Romania. Things change otherwise ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hey Calin,
    Yes for sure, I apreciate that prices are cheap if you make comparisons to income levels from other countries. The example was really just for reference, you covered this part well in your previous article regarding health tourism.

    My personal feeling about Westerners adapting to village life is that it all depends on the individuals and what they are looking for, not forgetting of course the actual village chosen. We were exceptionally lucky and the one we chose has really worked for us, we did a lot of research first and I already had some local knowledge and experience of living in Romania. But you are right, most westerners would perhaps struggle to adjust. We have seen this when family and friends have visited.

    Yes for sure we must meet, we are there next in mid Feb (shool half term week here in the UK) and for sure will need to come to Dedeman so will keep in touch.

  7. $2,000 euro a month for two is a lot. We can live in the United States on $1500-2000 dollars family of four if you take out housing. I am surprised costs have gone up as much as they have. This is my favorite post as i enjoy crunching financial numbers. I think your estimate is high side for sure. I run numbeo and they estimate almost half your number but numbeo could be behind and catching up with your inflation. I will surely keep a closer eye on things as if they are going up a lot we will need to find more resources before we move to Romania. I had always mentally set $1,000-$1500 for our family of three with no house payment as I expected costs in Romania to be significantly less.

    • Hello Otto,

      I always hated reading those articles that said you can live somewhere for $300 a month, then got there and found out that was the price of a meal :)) I am exaggerating a bit, of course, but it’s good to be safe.

      For a family of 3, your budget seems totally doable. For somebody who spends at least a few months here in Romania and learns how prices work, what should be bought and when, and who is also thrifty and doesn’t spend on useless stuff, $1,000 could be doable.

      It all depends on the extras: in my estimates, I thought of a rent around 500 Euros just to make sure (while you can still find something for as low as 150). There are also some “hidden” expenses that most people don’t really take into account, but they add up. The biggest expense is health insurance: it’s between 22 to 44 Euros per month, per person – and we’re talking about the mandatory state insurance here.

      As I was saying in the article, there are many people who manage to live of less than $1,000 per month (even families larger than 3), but it’s not easy. It would be without eating out, without entertainment, without some comfort items. But in the end, it all depends on how a person wants to live and what money they have on hand.

      I found Numbeo’s numbers to be very different from the reality in some cases, and mine might be a bit on the safe side as well. Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hi Calin,

    first off…i love to read your blog about RO. Very informative and highly appreciated:-) I myself am Dutch (living aswell in the Netherlands) and I am thinking about moving there OR to Bulgaria. Right now i am still undecided. First off I lived in Romania back in 1996/1997 (my first ex wife was RO) so I know a bit of the country. I still can understand Romanian pretty well…but i lost over the years the aibility to speak it. I also was in Bulgria…but that also was a long time ago in 2001 on the Black Sea coast for a 2 week holiday (Varna area)…so that was not realy a long period to get an idea whats it is like to live there.

    I have been reading the story about your German friend…well in the Netherlands a 1000 euro nett a month also would NOT be a good salary. I earn almost double here and even I have problems to manage live. Problem in Western-Europe is that fixed costs are very high. And mind you I live alone..!

    My experiences with Romanians are indeed that they are friendly and open….but if you do not know the language they try to cheat you in various ways…I dont know if this is still the case? They all think people from the west are very rich..LOL. I am sure you know what i mean.

    I met to understand that RO internet is quite fast and reasonably cheap…is this correct?

    I lived there in Sibiu…so that is hardly comparable with Bucharest. Picking up the language is quite easy (for me it was..)…as its a latin language and has much similarity with Italian and Spanish imho. Offcourse everything goesd faster if you have a partner from there,-) Back then it was that Romanians hardly spoke English. Some of them spoke German (in Sibiu area…being populated by German immigrants back in the 16th centruy). Hence the german name of Sibiu is โ€žHermannstadtโ€œ…Aparently more romanians speak english now…well thats a good thing to know.

    Bulgarian is another ballgame in that aspect. As for the women…well what can I say?? Personaly i tend to think that RO ladies are way prettier then Bulgarian..but thats just me. Is it?? hahahaha.

    On the HDI List on wikipedia i noticed both countries are almost equal. Also costs of living would be fairly the same,allthough living at the sea side is somehow more costlier even on par with the capital i would say. So making a choice will be difficult. In Romania i would like to explore Constanta a bit more…as I love to live nearby the sea. In Bulgaria I would definitaly head for Varna area.

    Keep up the good work!!
    best regards,

    Johan.

    • Hello Johan,

      Thank you for your message. Romania has, fortunately, changed a lot since ’96 – back then, it was just several years after the revolution, hence the people not speaking English. In the larger cities, you wouldn’t have a problem with that these days.

      You are correct to assume that most Romanians consider all foreigners as rich and, no matter if you speak the language or not, they will try to sell you things at higher prices or something similar. Fortunately, though, with all the markets and price tags around, the risks of having to overpay or get tricked are minimal.

      But yes, you might still meet some people trying to cheat in a way or another ๐Ÿ™‚

      Regarding the internet, it is indeed very cheap and very fast. For example, you only pay ~8.5 Euros per month for a plan with 940 / 450 Mbps transfer speeds (download / upload) with unlimited traffic.

      If you enjoy being by the sea, it would definitely be a great idea to try out both countries during the same month to get a feel on how life is over there. Apart from Constanta, which is the largest city, you could also look at Mangalia and even Eforie Nord (if you’re interested in smaller towns by the sea). I hope making the choice will be easier than you consider now ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hey Calin,

    The prices you listed in the article are quite accurate. I’m currently living in Bucharest with my parents and we spend about 10-12k lei per month. That being said, we live in a house that is 240 square metres and live comfortably. We built the house five years ago for 200k euros, excluding the price of land. In Toronto, an average house costs over 1 million euros, so I’d say houses are more much affordable in Romania, overall.

    We moved from Canada to Romania five years ago and our living expenses are 2.5 times lower in Romania compared to Canada. However, our income has remained the same. Romania offers really good value for money, in my opinion.

    Your articles are pretty cool. Keep it up!

    Peter

    • Hello Peter,

      Thanks for sharing your first-hand insights. Happy to hear that everything is going well and expenses are lower than in Canada. Building your own house from scratch has become a bit more expensive recently (buying one also), but I still think that getting such a large one as yours could still be done for around 200,000 euros.

      • The real estate market in Bucharest has become quite expensive over the past couple years. The biggest issue isn’t the cost of building a house, but rather buying a piece of land. The price per square meter for land in a decent neighborhood in Bucharest is about 600-1000 euros. I’d say 300-400 sqms is the smallest piece of land that you can build a house on. So, right off the bat you’re looking at 200-300k euros just for land. We live slightly outside of Bucharest (Ilfov) and we still paid about 100k euros for the land. I think the price was about 120 euros per square meter. Building costs from what I know usually range between 400-800 euros per sqm, depending on what type of materials you want to use. Overall, building/buying a good house in Bucharest easily costs between 350-600k euros. No wonder apartments are so common…

  10. Thanks for giving the information in detail.I want to work in Romania but i have some confusion about wages and expense . According the salary of Romania is average 1200 leu (Romania currency) and expense is nearly 2800 to 3000 leu. How is suitable to live there. I Hope you will clear my Question

    • Hello. The average salary in Romania is close to 3,000 lei. The minimum salary (take-home) is a bit over 1,200 lei. Obviously, living on minimum wage would be very difficult for a single person, so a budget of at least 1,000 Euros per month would be recommended (especially if you have to pay for accommodation).

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