In late June, we have decided to purchase our own apartment here in Romania. It was an old two bedroom apartment that hasn’t been renovated since its initial purchase back in 1977… so we knew that there was a lot of work to be done.

And today I am here to share with you the costs for renovating an apartment in Romania, as well as the results of the work Romanians on a budget can do.

Please note: This article was originally written back in 2014, when we actually bought our apartment. However, it was updated in 2020 with new mentions, notes and prices to better reflect the current state of the property market in Romania.

The updated prices were possible thanks to a friend of mine who recently purchased an apartment and had it renovated as well and shared the costs with me.

Back in 2014, we purchased the apartment you can see in the original article here, with the photos showing the 1977 apartment in its entire glory. Back then, it only cost 25,000 Euros ($33,850) as we were lucky enough to buy after the recession that affected the world and the housing market was at its lowest.

Even back then, with the price being so low, for us it was a huge expense that saw us spend all our savings and even get a bit of a debt to afford the purchase and the remodeling. And we were lucky enough to afford it thanks to one very successful blog that I managed to build and sell back then.

The entire purchase/remodel thing took us just a couple of months (after finding the deal on OLX, which is recommended in my article about renting in Romania).

We basically had to replace and repaint everything everywhere, including the electrical wiring, doors and windows, water pipes… everything.

And although we did hire a team to do this – as it was clearly a job for somebody with a lot of experience and man power compared to me – it still proved to be extremely tiresome and fund drenching.

The result? The costs for renovating and apartment in Romania were higher than we had anticipated at first, and you can check them out below for our 2014 project. Please red on afterwards, to see some updated prices and how much they have grown in the mean time.

$2,460 / 1,863 Euros: payment for the team who spent almost an entire month taking the apartment down and building it up from scratch (2 to 4 people worked Mon-Fri on it)
$1,350 / 1,020 Euros: replacing all the old windows with double glazed panels (balcony included)
$3,300 / 2,500 Euros: Initial Material costs
$200 / 150 Euros: Additional material costs (mostly the electrical stuff)
$500 / 380 Euros: Changing the bathroom appliances and purchasing the kitchen sink
$990 / 750 Euros: Kitchen furniture & installing it
$69 / 52 Euros: Miscellaneous (usually coffee for the workers)

GRAND TOTAL: $8869 / 6715 Euros

We were initially anticipating extra costs of just $6,600 / 5,000 Euros, so having to put an extra $2,300 / 1,715 Euros on the table didn’t feel good at all, especially since we still had a lot of other purchases to make, including most of the furniture.

But I personally can sleep on a blanket on the floor for now and I wouldn’t mind! I’m at home and it feels great to own your little place in the world, no matter how cheap the country you live in is.

What matters the most is that we have our own place and we’ll soon turn it into our home. There’s no hurry, now that the basics were done – and that was the most difficult step.

Do have in mind that when it came to renovating our Romanian apartment, we were on a pretty tight budget. This means that we didn’t go for the most expensive things available, meaning in turn that we’re not talking about top quality stuff here.

The electrical part was top notch since you don’t play with this, but otherwise everything was in the medium-low range price-wise.

Despite that, I can say that everything did last well and apart from the kitchen furniture that lost a few doors and needed some maintenance over the years, everything else is still in shape and looking good. So even if the products we bought weren’t the best on the market – it mostly was all design-related and not necessarily of low actual quality.

How does the apartment look like now?

I didn’t take any high quality photos of the apartment after it was finished, but my wife did some nice before/after shots on her mobile phone and even though the quality of the images is pretty poor (and the place is still pretty dusty), it shows the huge improvement our apartment has seen over the two months months. And I promise it looks even better in reality!

So here are the before and after shots of the apartment renovation here in Romania:

before after 01
before after 03
before after 10
before after 09
before after 04
before after 05
before after 02
before after 06
before after 07
before after 08
Baby Romanian already enjoys his new room 🙂

How much would it cost to renovate an apartment today?

Unfortunately – for those looking to buy now – the amounts we spent are nothing but a sweet dream today. While costs in smaller cities like ours are still lower than the ones in the larger cities, you should still expect to pay more for a complete remodel like we did.

Thanks to the data I received from a friend who has recently gone through a similar ordeal, the costs this year would be as listed below (please note that he did the remodeling in a larger city, Timisoara):

Team cost: 3,000 Euros
Materials: 4,200 Euros
Changing windows: 1,900 Euros
Kitchen furniture & Equipment: 2,350 Euros
Furniture for living room: 1,700 Euros (still not complete)
Furniture for bedrooms: 1,250 Euros (just the beds)
___________
TOTAL: 14,400 Euros (around $16,000)

While this is not really an apples to apples comparison, it’s pretty obvious that the prices now are much higher than they used to be. My friend also didn’t go for over the top products, but not the cheapest either.

Still, in the expenses above, he did not change any electrical wiring or pipes (his building was newer and there was no need for that). Also, equipping the bathroom is not included in those costs.

In my case, there was no kitchen equipment included (oven, stove and so on – which can easily add up to 1,000 – 1,500 euros alone), nor we had any furniture included.

But I would still consider my friend’s expenses closer to the reality today – especially when it comes to the costs of the team and the materials for the renovation. Everything else depends on your taste and budget.

Also, the apartments themselves are much more expensive nowadays and even in my city, for 25,000 Euros – the amount we paid for our two bedroom – is now considered a good price for a one-bedroom. Although even those sell for around 30k to 35k thousand.

In other words, prices have exploded here in Romania and are at an all time high right now. There are voices claiming that a major bubble burst is coming – but these voices have been around since 2018 and the prices still went up since then. So you never know what’s going to happen.

My advice in this case? Buy and start your renovation project if you have the money now – you can never guess how the market will be one month or one year from now.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Oh wow! Quite the difference!!! It is coming along very nicely. I bet you are excited, and don’t blame you. Congratulations once again. Many years of happiness with the family. It sucks to go over budget doesn’t it? 🙁

    • Thanks, Kem! Indeed, it sucks to go over budget, especially when you’re already low on funds AND you thought you used an inflated budget in the first place. But at least we like how it looks so far and from now on we know that we don’t have to rush stuffing it with furniture 😀

  2. WOW Calin. What a transformation. I can understand that you might be a little peeved to dig deeper into your pockets to get the job done, but how much extra would it have cost if you did it yourself. After all, you did say that you were not the greatest on the tools. I bet that Wife Romanian is very happy with the overall result, and getting excited to move in.

    • If a team of four trained people needed almost a month to get the job done, I would’ve certainly pushed the completion date to 2015 and certainly it wouldn’t have been as good. :)) We are all really excited to move in – it’s our first real house, it’s our own, so the feeling is great, after so many years spent living either at my mum’s place or her mum’s place 🙂

    • We are very excited to move and settle in. We always had a house, and even if it was our house too, we always had to share. Now this is our home, and everybody else can visit. I’m ready to sleep on the floor if needed, as long as Baby Romanian has everything he needs and we have the bare necessities.
      Best regards,
      A.

  3. Nice transformation. It always always cost more than buyers plan, even when you have past experience. Simply because you improve your ideas as you go. The worst thing you can do is underspend because it either will need redoing again or will devalue the apartment.

    Also, make sure no one uses water to clean the parquet laminate! It comprises paper & wood dust & is not waterproof. The top coat is a plasticised lawyer & is waterproof, but the joints are not. This is why when you look at every Romanian home with this flooring, you see raised sidesies and edges. I have yet to see an installation where it has not been ruined by water ingress, having seen hundreds of properties. It costs 400 to 1000e per room to replace every 5 years making it a very expensive long term solution. If you use a mix of woodglue (PVA) & water on 100% of the joins when assembling, which is a very time consuming add on, it is waterproof so you would only do this on your own place due to the time and labour cost factor.

    • Exactly, having a place to call home is what matters the most to us. The place is not very fancy, everything is pretty basic in terms of decorating as we didn’t want to, nor did we afford to go over the top. But it looks new and it surely is an improvement!

  4. Calin:
    Like night and day! The pictures tell the whole story. I had to laugh at that B4 picture with you in it. You look like you were either deliriously happy, or ready for the loony-bin;-)
    For some reason, I pictured you, Wife Romanian, and even Baby Romanian on your hands and knees toiling away all by yourselves on the renovation. I am so glad you could afford professionals (not that you couldn’t have done it–eventually).
    You all definitely have a lot better sense of color than we Americanos! Most of our walls are just shades of beige–meh.
    The bathroom looks so much better without those 1960’s fixtures. I could not believe the differences in the kitchen and the enclosed terrace, either.
    BTW: Prince George has NOTHING on “Baby Romanian.” You ought to take him and submit his pictures to an agency. First comes catalogs, then TV…. He could support you in your old age;-)
    Thanks for sharing your pictures and your story.
    ~Teil

    • Haha, Teil, indeed I look pretty groovy in that photo. I promise I had taken no pills prior to my wife shooting it 🙂

      If it were just cleaning that had to be done, we would’ve done it without hesitating (as we did and keep doing so far and it’s extremely difficult too). However, we had to completely change all the electrical wires, take down the walls and put new ones, replace the wooden floors – things that required an expert hand and tools – things that we didn’t have. But from here on, it’s our job to do 🙂

      Thank you so much for your nice words about Baby Romanian. I am sure that my wife will try to follow your advice now that it’s here 🙂

    • Thank you, Teil, for your suggestion about Baby Romanian, and for the compliments as well. It’s just that we always felt he is SO beautiful, but I always thought it was because it was mine, you know? Every mom sees her kids the most beautiful things on Earth, or at least they should! Maybe we will go for it, if the opportunity arrives. I wouldn’t know where to start sending photos, there are a lot of scammers out there. Maybe he will be discovered by someone important on his own. I post A LOT of photos of him on facebook, after all, maybe we’ll get lucky!
      Have a nice day!
      A.

  5. It is great that you improved that pigsty that you bought. It is also great that you promote Romania as a place for cheap living. Still, you bought a third rate apartment in a pretty nasty area and in a small town. Most young people in larger towns in Romania live in nicer apartments than you and spend less on food (probably more on good alcohol).
    My point is that if you try to promote living in a cheaper third world country, at least say that is cheaper to live well here.

    • The area is really good, actually, just minutes away from everything you need to have close by: two supermarkets, a peasant’s market, the city center and non stop shops.

      And if you read more articles on this blog, you will see that I am actually talking about Romania as a cheap place to live in!

  6. You’ve done a great job on it. I need to re-do my folks’ apartment and it’s something I dread, since it will cost A LOT. Maybe next year, our new baby has drained our ‘paychecks’ so far 😀

    • It does cost a lot and even worse, it eats up a lot of time too. I know what you mean about the baby draining the funds – we rushed to finish this while we still had the money, because we were slowly but surely starting to dip our fingers into the savings :))

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