There has been a lot of talking – on this blog inclusively – about a recent increase of prices and that of the cost of living in Romania. And although I will only publish a new cost of living article in 2019 in order to have a complete understanding of the data available, I decided to write this quick article to confirm what some people were afraid to hear: yes, the prices have increased and are increasing in Romania in 2018.

If you want to check out my previous article about the cost of living in the country you can do so here. The article itself is a bit outdated since it was published back in 2016, but most of the prices are still close to what you’re getting today.

Then… what prices are increasing in Romania in 2018? How much did the cost of living increase?

As I said, it’s difficult to look at my numbers and get an average because the year is not over. But it’s pretty clear to me that we are spending more as a family although our quality of living hasn’t improved. In other words: we’re living about the same life as two or three years ago, but we’re paying more.

And it’s not just our solitary case: some of the people I could talk to about this are feeling a slight increase in their monthly cost of living. But things could look a bit worse for those looking to move in here today because of one major increase that those already living here are not feeling yet: a huge increase in rent prices and property purchasing prices.

Actually, most of the prices have increased and are now similar (if not larger) than the prices before the recession that started back in 2008.

Prices increasing everywhere!

The major cities are leading the pack with huge increases: Cluj Napoca, for example, is becoming one of the most expensive cities in the country, even above Bucharest in terms of rental prices. A fellow blogger moved from Bucharest to Timisoara recently and she was shocked to find out that rent prices were similar to or larger than those in Bucharest.

Buying an apartment or a house is also getting a lot more expensive. For example, we bought the apartment we’re currently living in for 25,000 Euros back in 2014 (I wrote an article about it here). A similar 2 bedroom apartment has asking prices starting at 30,000 euros, but usually a lot higher based on what I saw on a real estate website. I am actually seeing many 1 bedroom apartments with asking prices of over 30,000 euros, even though they still need at least a bit of renovation. That is pretty insane.

Romania is following suit with fellow EU countries that have all seen an increase in prices over the past year, but it’s leading the pack!

However, not just property prices have increased over the past year – everything else did. Some prices have increased a lot actually – food is more expensive than it was, although you can still find deals and prices similar to those of the past couple of years. However, it’s not that easy anymore.

There are a ton of examples that I can offer, but we’ll take some seasonal fruits to show the huge increase in some areas: watermelons are selling now for about 1 or 1.5 Romanian Lei per kilo, while last year the price was 0.80 lei during the same period. So you’re sometimes paying almost double!

A similar thing has happened to melons – last year you used to pay about 2 lei per kilo, this year it’s 3 lei. Tomatoes were easy to find at 2 lei per kilo, now the average is about 4 lei.

I actually found a graph showing the price increase of the prices for groceries and store-brought products:

According to the data published by Romanian website Adevarul, over a 12 month period, prices have increased by 3.86% when it comes to food items, 7.82% for non-food items and 2.58% for services.

The biggest gainers were 15.99% for vegetables (canned and fresh), 14.33% for fresh fruits and 10.43% for natural gas. Even more, the inflation rates in Romania are really high. In May, the inflation rate was 5.41%, a record high since February 2013.

How do these percentages feel in real life?

I know that following percentages and trying to imagine what that means in actual cost of living increases is not that easy or fun to do. Also, the listed increases of 3% to 7% don’t seem that much when talking about a budget of $1,000 per month.

But for some reason, our family’s cost seem to have grown a lot more than that. It is true that we have been trying to eat healthier at home and a bit more often at restaurants, but still everything seems to be a lot more expensive overall. Other families that keep track of their monthly expenses seem to agree that life is indeed more expensive in Romania.

One of the main reasons why prices in Romania are increasing is that Romanians are simply making more money and have more to spend. In 2014, the wages in Romania were a lot lower than today: the minimum wage was 850 lei and today, it is 1900. The average wage also increased – even though not as spectacularly – from around 1,750 (take home), close to 2,500 in 2018.

This whole increase in the cost of living makes things a bit more difficult for those relying on foreign currency. Strangely enough, the Euro and the US Dollar haven’t increased in value at the same rates, meaning that $1,000 now have a much lower purchase power than they did a few years ago.

For example, $1 was selling for 4.17 lei in January 2016, while in August 2018, the same dollar gives you about 4 lei (but it went all the way down to 3.7 for a couple of months this year). Similarly, 1 Euro was selling for 4.53 lei in January 2017 and today it’s about 4.64 lei.

In conclusion, Romania is indeed getting more expensive and I personally don’t think that there’s anything that could take the prices lower at the moment. Inflation is pretty high right now and some analysts claim that it will only get worse over the next few years – which might actually make things better for those relying on foreign currency to live their life here, but until then, this is the fact: Romania IS more expensive than it used to be.

But despite all these, Romania remains one of the poorest and cheapest countries in the European Union and Europe in general.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Calin,
    Well I’m glad the salaries are increasing to make the costs more bearable! (That would s*ck if that wasn’t the case!)
    I expect if/when the Euro is finally adopted, costs will go up as was the case in Portugal.
    Oh well, that’s life.
    Are you still rehabbing your “getaway” cottage? I imagine that would keep you busy.
    Thanks for the CoL in RO update,
    ~Teil (USA–still more expensive than Romania;-)

    • Yes, Teil, probably the costs would go up even more. I still doubt that the Euro will be adopted any time soon though 🙂

      Regarding the village house… I should’ve created the article after more work was invested in it :)) We haven’t been there at all this year so I guess it looks a lot worse than it did before starting my “renovation” project :))

  2. That’s amazing about the minimum wage going so high. I can understand why prices are higher then, the more disposable money people have, the more the prices are going to rise because they know the market can bear it. Exchange rates does make a huge difference when it comes to quality of life. We know of at least 3 bloggers who have moved back to England when the exchange rates dropped so much..the pound and the euro are almost even and most were drawing pension which was great a while back at like 1:1.65 and now it’s like 1:11 . Things will only get more interesting. Rent prices here are also increasing as more people discover the city. Go away l say :-). I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since you purchased that condo! Time flies..

    • Yes, time does fly! And we weren’t aware at the moment, but it seems that we bought it at the perfect time with all time low prices 🙂

      The real problem with the increase in wages is that – according to many voices – these are not sustainable and they’re just to keep votes going one way. They are now promising that pensions will double and the measure will go in effect – big surprise – 2 months before the elections in 2021. So things might go downhill very fast eventually…

  3. Yes I have noticed the price increase myself when in Romania the past 2 years. Especially when I am gone for one year and return the increase is very noticeable. The increased wages have created some inflation it appears. It is always good to make higher wages and more money but the inflation takes a toll on those who are on a fixed income such as pensioners.

    • The pensions have grown a bit as well, but not by the same rates. As I was saying in the comment above – pensions are planned to double by the end of 2021… let’s just hope that there will be money to cover the increase and sustain the economy.

  4. Thanks for the update and we look forward to the detailed cost of living. I am sure it will be a challange to do and it sounds like it may be a bit depressing but important to understand that things are more expensive. Best to know so you can figure out how to deal with it. I wish you the best in tackling these higher costs. It is unfortunate that prices are increasing but for many the wages may not be keeping up. It would make things most difficult. I have always been impressed with Romanian self subsistance and resilience. A dozen chickens a garden and you are good to go? Romania should not be one of the weakest in the EU and it is just a matter of time before it moves up. Price and wage increases are going to be necessary in order for that to happen. Being selfish (as most people are) i just worry that my fixed pension will not keep up with this move and so I look forward too and worry about your final cost off living numbers. Best of luck living with these changes C. Hope your income increases beat inflation.

    • I too preferred it when the prices were lower, for sure. But you are correct to say that, for most people, an increase in costs is not that tough to handle as long as it is correlated with an increase in income – ideally greater than the former.

      I personally don’t think that all the revenue increases are sustainable and some upcoming measures are making things seem even more dangerous. They’re cutting taxes and raising salaries – which does make everybody happy. But can that last? Only time will tell.

  5. Hi,
    I am glad I stumbled on this website, a lot of info about Romania. I remember sometime ago I saw some pictures about Chrismas pictures about Romania, looks like Christmas markets in Germany, are there Christmas markets in Romania around Christmas time that you can sample local foods, which city market is the best?

    I will visit Romania next month, what is the best way to from Constantine to Odesa Ukraine?

    THANKS,

    Bin

    • There are indeed Christmas markets similar to those in the larger European cities. You can find them in all major cities – Bucharest, Sibiu, Brasov, Cluj etc.

      Regarding your travel plans, you’re probably talking about Constanta… and unfortunately I can’t help a lot. Probably the best way would be to get from Constanta to Bucharest (around 2 hours) and take a plane from there to Ukraine.

      • Thanks for your response, love your blog. I also like to check supermarket prices when I visit cities. My impression is that West Europe food price is close to that of us, eastern Europe food prices actual higher than West Europe, Prague price higher that of Berlin, also I read online eastern European also complain the food standards are lower than West Europe.

        In us food price is lower than many other countries, but healthy food is kind expensive. You can live on 250 to 300 dollars for a family 3 if you don’t eat out.

      • Food prices in Eastern Europe (or at least Romania) are indeed comparable with those in Western Europe, but based on my own experience, most are a bit more expensive in the West. Some cheaper, some more expensive, but when you draw the line, it’s still more expensive in the West.

        But you are correct – there have been numerous investigations about the quality of the ingredients used for products in Eastern Europe and they are apparently worse than those used in the West, even when produced by the same company. However, I know that the EU is at work to prevent this from happening.

  6. The latest hot retirement destination! Forget Romania, think Albania! And if you can’t afford Albania, there’s always Kosovo! Just kidding. The Romanian government is trying to make every economic mistake in the book. Yes, it trying to buy votes. Great to hear that they now want to hike the pensions too! I also heard that tax revenues have plummeted despite the wage increases because of some poorly thought-out tax reforms. Romania will be printing money soon. Hello inflation, Venezuelan style. Now the government has begun attacking protesters with tear gas and water cannons. Hmmmm…

    • Things are not looking good for the future, that’s a fact. Many of the measures they have taken are good for the people, but only short term because they’re not sustainable as things are right now.

      Regarding the attacked protesters… there are some conspiracy theories that seem very believable that the violent people who pushed the authorities’ hand to attack the protesters were actually sent there by the government itself and it was all planned. I refused to believe this (or, better said, I had hopes that they can’t go that low), but there is one thing that really makes you double think everything: for the protests on the 10th of August, the police came prepared for war with shields, grenades and the whole thing (and there was violent behavior from the protesters), while on the 11th of August, they had dropped all shields and protection and even dropped massively in numbers. How could they possibily know that the protests will be peaceful when the previous day was completely different?

      The real protesters are always talking about peaceful protesting and no violence. Those who have caused mayhem were the so-called Romanian hooligans (violent members of football team supporter groups) and some believe that people in the government can control them. Either way, it is extremely strange to see how things looked – on both sides on two consecutive days of protests.

      • You are a lot closer to the events there than I am. I have been following a man named Malin Bot who frequently posts YouTubes on the #Rezist movement. He had his left shoulder dislocated by a jandarm who kept pushing his arm up his back higher and higher. He said he felt like he was intentionally being tortured. PressOne has a feature on a retired doctor who got the same treatment, his right shoulder was dislocated in the same manner. There were mothers with their children at the protest who were indiscriminately gassed. A 62 year old man has died from his exposure to the tear gas. I think the the difference in the two days was easy to explain: on August 10, the jandarms came prepared to do battle. Some protesters reacted that day to the heavy-handed tactics but by and large they were the same people on both days. Perhaps because of the outcry against the brutality, the jandarms did not come out in full battle regalia the next day and left the protesters alone. Surprise, surprise, the demonstration was peaceful that day. But what do I know, I live in Japan…

  7. I am surprised by the prices here in Brasov to be honest a lot of stuff seems pretty expensive especially when it is off season… vegetables and fruits can be really expensive… Tuna is more expensive here than in Denmark! it still is cheap somehow to eat out but i like to make my own food and i wonder how the restaurants can be so cheap 😛 i guess they mostly grow their own stuff… i know that is probably not true hehe just baffles me how they do it. Another sad thing is to see all the International supermarket chains that have settled in Romania… it is like the Romanians are getting sucked dry by EU i almost see no Romanian owned grocery stores or supermarkets 🙁

    • That is correct, the supermarkets have almost entirely killed the smaller markets – mostly because of their lower prices. However, many supermarkets still sell products made in Romania, so it’s (still) not a huge blow for the industry.

      Regarding the grocery prices in Romania, it really depends where you buy your stuff from. These large supermarkets usually have the lowest prices. There’s Lidl for example, with some of the cheapest offers in terms of food items.

      But overall, I also had a similar feeling when visiting other countries: that prices are mostly the same in Romania as in Western Europe, when it comes to groceries.

  8. Very shocked to hear that grocery prices in Romania are the same as the rest of Europe. It must be very hard to live on the lower wages in that case. The biggest living expenses are food and utilities once you have paid for your housing. I still expect we will be smart and buy most at the outdoor farmers markets where prices are probably much lower but i would like you to confirm that they have not had to increase their prices as well. Quite concerned that inflation could really rock Romania hard. It is very hard to get away from inflation. But typically the native Romanians are VERY resilient in they have chickens in the back yard and all have gardens so when push comes to shove they just do not buy groceries. Not a “good life” but is GOOD in the sense that you are self relient and well protected from outside insanity.

    • Yes, I was surprised to see this too. We’re talking about prices in supermarkets, though. If you buy from the peasant markets, you can still find some very good deals, especially if you buy from local farmers (fewer each year) who sell fruits and vegetables.

      In Romania, you can still spend 2 Euros at a peasant’s market and get back home with two bags full of groceries and eat a few solid meals out of them. I don’t think that is possible in most other countries in Europe.

      But if you’re shopping at supermarkets (which is easier since you have everything in one place), then prices are similar.

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