In 2015, despite the fact that VAT on foods in Romania was reduced to 9% (a price reduction that was only felt during the first month, prices getting back to normal in the following months because Romanian companies would never say no to some extra money and the buyers don’t seem to care) and despite the fact that our work on renovating our apartment were almost over, we spend obscene amounts of money per month to cover our living expenses. This means that the cost of living in Romania went up by a bit, right?
Fortunately, NO! It was just us being extremely careless about our spending and never really sticking to our budget (which, by the way, will change in 2016!). But just to make sure that the information on this blog is up to date and to give you a better overview of living expenses in Romania, I decided to do this once more and share with you the cost of living in Romania in 2016. I added all the cities in the title for people searching for a particular one and I must admit that cost of living is pretty much the same throughout Romania, with the larger cities being slightly – but just slightly – more expensive than the smaller ones.
The big question is – can you still live in Romania, in 2016, on a budget of $1,000 per month? Since the minimum wage in the country is around 235 Euros ($255) and I’ve already shared with you the story of this family living in Romania on $500 monthly budget, I have good news: yes, you can still live a decent life in Romania for $1,000 or as low as $1,500 per couple if you are careful with your spending!
Cost of living in Romania in 2016
We’ll start with accommodation prices in the country: Bucharest and other large cities (Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj etc) are slightly more expensive in this area, but you can still find some great deals. The prices below are for furnished apartments that are in a decent state, but might need some improvements – especially if you like your luxury. Also, renting a house in Romania is even more expensive than that, as we have recently found out when we connected with a family from the US moving to Brasov.
Renting a studio: starting from 100 Euros, going up to 350 Euros in the heart of Bucharest with luxury furniture and in a new building. I think that 150-200 Euros can find you something nice in a good area.
Renting a 2 bedroom apartment: starting from 200 Euros (outskirts or smaller cities), going up to 500 Euros (for luxury, central locations). I think that around 300 Euros would find you something really nice.
Where to find great deals on housing? Try OLX – it’s all in Romanian language, but the good news is that you won’t get any foreigner-priced offers which are usually overpriced!
Utilities costs in Romania 2016
Usually, rent does not include utilities, which have to be paid separately. Most of them (like garbage collection, water, heating etc) are paid as a single payment (called Intretinere), while electrical bills are usually paid separately. Here are estimates:
Intretinere: prices vary based on consumption and time of the year: we usually pay more during the winter because of the extra heating costs. Expect to pay as low as 11 Euros during the summer months to as high as 135 Euros during the cold winter months.
Electricity: Again, it all depends on how much you use. We pay between 15 – 25 Euros per month and we’re at home all day.
TV & Phone combo: About 7 Euros
Mobile phone plan: 12 Euros (Unlimited calls and text, 3GB of internet)
Internet: 6.5 Euros (300 Mbps plan)
So housing costs, rent included, could start at as low as 180 Euros per month (expect something very basic in terms of your house) to… well… sky is the limit. If I were to estimate, for decent living, I would say that around 275 Euros should be considered here (for one person living in a studio).
Food costs in Romania in 2016
Last year’s prices are still pretty much accurate, so you can check them out. I have a few examples for you below, plus an estimated budget for food at the end. The budget is for somebody eating mostly at home, quality products, with occasional nights out. Of course, you could go lower or a lot higher than that! The prices I use below are usually the minimum prices you can (easily) find. You could still go even cheaper for some products as well, but it’s safe to consider these the minimum.
All prices below are in EUROS:
Tomatoes (1 kg): 0.66 – 1.30 (depending on the season, cheaper during summer/autumn)
Potatoes (1 kg): 0.45
Lettuce (1 head): 0.45
Apples (1 kg): 0.45 – 1 (depending on season. Local products)
Oranges (1 Kg): 0.66
Cheese (1 Kg): 6.5
White cheese (1 Kg): 3.50
Eggs (1 egg): 0.18
Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless (1 kg): 4.40
Fresh fish, local (1 kg): 6.50
Loaf of Bread (300 grams): 0.20
Milk (1 Liter): 0.65
Bottle of cheap local wine: 2.25
Bottle of better local wine: 4.00
Beer (0.5 liter): 0.50 (in stores)
Beer (2 liter bottle): 2
Mineral water (1.5 l): 0.50
Bottled water (5 l): 0.90
Bottle of natural juice (1 liter): 1.00
Restaurant prices in Romania
Meal for two, inexpensive restaurant, Three-course (without drinks): 18 Euros
Meal for two, mid-range restaurant, Three course (without drinks): 30 Euros
Beer (0.5 l): 1.30 Euros
Coke (0.25 l): 1.30
Wine (0.75 l): 10 Euros (but can easily go up)
Fresh lemonade: 2.20
Food is extremely cheap in Romania if you compare it to other countries and I believe that if you budget 150 Euros per month, you’d get a nice mixture of good quality food to cook at home and occasional nights out. If you are really strict about this, you could surely go for 100 Euros per month (I know families of three having a monthly food budget of 100-150 Euros). For example, we (family of three) spent about 350 Euros per month in 2015 for food, but I consider that heavy overspending. For 2016, our monthly budget is 220 Euros.
Other costs in Romania
Bus ticket: 0.30 Eur (1 trip)
Monthly public transportation pass: ~13.50 Euros (unlimited trips) – not all cities have something like this
Gas: 0.95 per liter (about 3.60 Euros per Gallon)
Pair of jeans: 22 Euros
T-shirt: 10 Euros
Cinema ticket: 3.50 Euros
Prices in Romania are still among the lowest in Europe and especially in the European Union. In the EU, comparable prices can be found in Bulgaria and Hungary, while other countries in Europe with similarly cheap include Moldova, Serbia, Macedonia or Albania.
I believe that a budget of $1,000 for a single person would be enough to warrant a decent lifestyle in Romania – but have in mind that if you like to overspend, you go and eat out a lot and you like the more expensive things in life, you can easily find that $1,000 might not be enough for you.