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)
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) – 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.