Is Moving to Romania Still a Good Idea for Living on a Budget?

I was looking at the prices in Romania and how they’re starting to close in to those in Western European countries, and I was ready to start ranting about how unaffordable the country is.

But then I took a few deep breaths and looked from a different angle. The country is growing, it is getting more expensive… but so are the other countries in Europe and from all over the world.

Therefore, despite everything, I believe that Romania remains one of the best countries in the European Union when it comes to a cheap cost of living… but there’s a catch I’m going to talk about today.

Romania is still attractive for expat life

view over Brasov city center
Brasov, one of the most popular expat destinations in the country

This is just a personal opinion – and I might be completely wrong here – so don’t take this article as anything else than entertainment. It will probably fail at that too, since English is not my native language.

But I digress…

It was 2018 when I first published an article titled Prices and Cost of Living Are Increasing in Romania. This was way BEFORE the massive inflation that hit the country after the 2020 pandemic (as it hit the entire world).

Today, my family’s monthly expenses are higher than ever and I recently watched a popular Romanian Youtuber analyzing how a budget of at least 10,000 lei (around 2,000 Euros) would be required for living a decent life here.

Apartment prices are exploding in the country, prices keep going up and apparently everything is less affordable than ever.

Despite all these, I believe that Romania remains (but probably not for long) an excellent opportunity for those looking to live a more affordable life than back home.

But if you secure your house right now (since this would be one of the biggest expenses ever) – only if you buy though, you’re all set in my opinion.

Here is what makes me say this:

Ever since joining the European Union in 2007, Romania received tons of money that were invested in its infrastructure mainly, resulting in massive growth over these years.

The start was very slow and there are various reports of improper use (or plain stealing) of the European funds, that the corrupt politicians were keeping their feet on the brakes for personal gains and I personally believe that, more or less, this did happen.

BUT despite all these, at least some of the money started pouring into the infrastructure, into rebuilding the country, and in the past few years, it looks like things have picked up nicely.

As a result, today, Romania is more attractive than ever.

It’s still far from your big European countries like Germany or France or Spain in terms of… well… everything, but it’s growing nicely. Its people are growing nicely too – and this is extremely important.

And what I believe to be the most important aspect: it’s not going to stop growing.

Romania will grow, and so will the prices

blogs author playing the guitar in a communist era apartment
Yours truly in a communist-era room (fortunately, just in a museum)

Unless there is another unexpected event to really mess things up, everything in Romania should improve tremendously and faster than ever in the coming years.

And this is what should make the country, right now, extremely attractive.

I don’t think that prices will go down. Not for food, not for apartments and houses, not for anything else.

I’ve been watching financial gurus since 2020, all of them announcing the implosion of housing prices, the horrible incoming recession… but somehow, for four years now, nothing happened.

I am not saying that this means nothing WILL happen: eventually, there will be a correction. But the big picture won’t change a lot, in my opinion and Romania will keep growing.

The same will happen with the other countries in Europe, meaning that the current differences will remain more or less the same.

I was talking to my wife about us buying our apartment in Drobeta Turnu Severin back in 2014 for 25,000 Euros. We were lucky as that was the bottom of the market (we had no idea about it back then).

Today I am seeing apartments similar to ours (which ended up costing close to 40,000 Euros after renovations) put on sale for at least 60,000 Euros. Most of them are already at 75,000 Euros.

To me, this is mind blowing and mind boggling at the same time.

To many, this might appear to be the peak of the bubble. “Prices HAVE to go down.”

But I doubt they will.

Inflation is still really high in Romania (around 7.4% in January 2024 compared to last year, after record-breaking inflation).

Salaries are growing like crazy in the country too and, even though all the other prices are going up too, people are generally living better than they ever did and most importantly, they have more money than ever.

Romania’s economy is growing and the country will, in turn, become more and more attractive to foreigners (investors or simply people looking to move here for a better quality of life).

Based on all these important factors, I doubt that prices can go down. I’ve been looking at them and waiting for them to go down since 2018… but they kept going up.

I had friends who bought apartments our houses over these past 6 years and I called each of them crazy for not waiting for the imminent drop. Nowadays, in some cases, the value of their homes has doubled.

And, despite the increased prices, if we look at the property prices in Romania (price per square meter), we can see that the country is still towards the bottom in the EU. You can check them out here.

There’s no discrepancy between the property costs and the earnings here. Quite the contrary – the demand is still high and, as a result, prices are going up. And unless crazy things happen in the next 10 years, they will keep going up.

Romania has officially surpassed Hungary in GDP per capita already, and the politicians here claim that the country will also surpass other bigger countries in the EU soon – like Poland.

While this can be nothing but campaign talk, as we’re having elections this year, it could also be true. And even if it won’t be true, this doesn’t mean that the country won’t grow.

And then we have this massive thing coming soon: Romania joining Schengen. Many people probably ignore the massive effects this will have once it happens.

Sure, at the moment, Austria is still opposing this, but it will happen. If not this year, next year. Or the next one. Romania has already joined Schengen partially, so it is happening soon.

All of these combined mean that Romania will keep growing as a country. While this will make it less and less affordable for most, it also means that it is, at the moment, offering a massive opportunity for investment.

Buying a house or apartment here – especially in one of the larger cities, in a good area – is probably the best option for those who have some money set aside.

It’s also, most likely, a great idea for those who were already looking to buy a house to just do it. (I repeat – I am not giving any financial advice here, it’s your money and your decisions).

But based on everything that has been happening in the past few years, I don’t see prices going anywhere but up, overall, for the next 5-10 years. And they kept going up – as they did in the entire world – for a few years now.

What about renting?

This is a completely different thing. Going in line with what I wrote above, I believe that rental prices will keep going up in the next few years, making Romania less and less affordable for those who plan to rent.

When I was an University student, I was renting a small studio in the heart of Bucharest and I was paying $120 per month for that.

Four years later, I was paying 200 Euros/month for a studio next to the Cismigiu Park, which is also centrally located.

Nowadays, renting in the same are would cost you around 300 – probably more, depending on how modern the place is. And prices are going up.

It does make sense: Back when I was a student, the minimum salary in Romania was €140 per month. Now, it is close to €420 (and growing). As a result, property owners will ask for more money.

Therefore, if you are moving here and paying rent, expect it to keep crawling up. I doubt it will get as big as it is in Germany or the US, but it will keep going up for sure.

What about all the other costs?

enjoying the botanical garden in Craiova Romania
Don’t forget another important thing: Romania is beautiful too!

Usually, the main expenses one has each month are rent (or mortgage) and food.

There are plenty of other things we spend money on – how much depends on your spending habits – but covering the basics, once rent is out of the way, is really affordable in Romania when compared to other countries.

Yes, it is true that food costs have gone up a lot and many items in the stores are similar to those in Western EU countries, but at the same time, many are a lot cheaper.

And, at the end of the day, you’ll still spend a lot less for the same products here than in other European countries.

The same goes with restaurant prices. Road tolls, taxes, entertainment options, private health costs, all sorts of services and so on.

Everything remains cheaper in Romania than in other parts of the world. So if you were to move from the US, for example, and live the exact same life, you would spend A LOT less. Same goes for most EU countries out there.

The problem with moving to Romania

The biggest problem I see with moving to Romania – but it’s only for those who are not already EU citizens – is the fact that there’s no easy way to retire (eg. no retirement visa option).

This makes it almost impossible for non-EU citizens to retire here and it’s the biggest problem you could face.

I have written more about getting a residence permit in Romania but also How to Get a Registration Certificate as an EU citizen, so you can read those more in-depth to see your options.

But if you want to retire here… it won’t be easy, no matter what, if you are a non-EU citizen.

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Moving to Romania Pinterest Pin

Wrapping up

OK… I will stop blabbering now. You get the idea – this is what a person living in Romania for his entire life thinks and feels.

If you manage to solve the retirement problem (or if it doesn’t apply to you), then Romania is, with certainty, still an amazing place to live in, especially if we look at how much it costs to live here.

If you manage to move here and buy a house or apartment – and ideally if you earn your income outside of the country (aka have a higher than average income), you are all set in my opinion.

I am curious to see what others think about this though – so please share your thoughts in the comments section below and let me know if you believe that Romania still is a good place to move to.

And if you still need a bit of convincing, you should read the previous article written by our reader, JC, explaining why you should make Romania your home. Or read what Angela (also a Romania Experience reader) thought about spending a summer in a Transylvanian village.

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2 thoughts on “Is Moving to Romania Still a Good Idea for Living on a Budget?”

  1. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the impression that the Romanian government has made any progress against corruption. The current unholy alliance between the PSD and PNL seems to backtracking on democracy and corruption. The Romanian media landscape is firmly controlled by the same as is the Romanian Constitutional Court which has been packed with partisan judges. The AUR Party openly flirts with Putinism.

    The only truly democratic party, the USR, remains far behind in the polls. The relative cost of living in Romania may still be favorable when compared to other European countries but this consideration has to take a backseat to the negative political climate in the country.

    Frankly, the winds of fascism are blowing everywhere in Europe and the USA. Those around the world who value democracy must wake up from their stupor and fight back. I will always have a soft spot for Romania in my heart. But retiring there is the furthest thing from my mind right now. Thanks for these insightful articles.

    • It really depends on the time frame used for comparison. Compared to the last 2-3 years? Indeed, not much progress has been made (maybe the opposite) against corruption. Compared to 10-15 years ago (or more)? Things are much better.

      I do agree with the fact that nationalist parties are gaining a lot of ground – and it’s something I did not consider in my analysis, although it is important. In 2024, there will be elections in Romania and I do believe that AUR will get a great score. Probably not enough to win and rule, but a great score nevertheless. USR, unfortunately, has entered into a cone of shadow since the previous elections and they might do even worse than they did 4 years ago.


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