These Are Our Average Monthly Living Expenses in Romania

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It’s time for the new year to kick off here at Romania Experience! It’s been a long period of silence because real life happened, but hopefully the new year will bring a bunch of great articles on this blog for those interested in relocating, moving to or visiting Romania. And since my cost of living articles have always brought in a lot of people interested in this aspect of life (because, in the end, many matters a lot when you choose the place where you’ll live), I have decided to offer a slightly different point of view: my family’s average monthly expenses in Romania over the past 12 months.

We’re tracking all our expenses for various reasons, but I realized that this also can be used as an article here on Romania Experience. The truth is that Romania is an extremely cheap country and you can live on a lot less, but you should not always expect for the costs to be low. My personal case proves that and even though I am sure that our average monthly living expenses are way lower than those of most families in Western countries, it’s not always dirt cheap to live here and it all depends on how you want to live your life.

Before we go to the actual numbers, it’s worth saying for those who are not regulars of this blog that the average monthly expenses for living in Romania below are for a family of three (my wife, my 1.5 yo son and myself) who eats mostly at home, self-made food. We rarely go out especially because we have nobody to leave Baby Romanian with (babysitting is still far from a reality here) and we can’t take him with us either. We are moderate spenders, usually, even though we go crazy every now and then and throw away money on things we don’t necessarily need. Also, we try to eat as healthy as possible and foods of a quality as high as possible, including organic food or healthier options (like whole grain pasta rather than regular one, Basmati or wild rice instead of white rice and so on), so in many areas there’s a lot of room for cost cuts if you really want or need too.

Finally, we have purchased our first home in 2014 (an apartment, actually) which had to be completely renovated and resulted in a ton of misc costs. And even though we don’t have the major expenses related to the apartment in the list below – like the apartment’s price, taxes, renovation costs and furniture, a lot of related expenses are in our “House” and “Miscellaneous” categories, inflating the averages one family would normally pay.

So without further ado, here are the average monthly expenses for a family of three living in Romania, for the past 12 months:

Food: $375 or 313 Euros / Month
Utilities: $130 or 109 Euros / Month (this includes electricity, internet, cable, water, garbage, heating and mobile phone costs)
House: $204.50 or 171 Euros / Month
Gifts: $70 or 58.50 Euros / Month
Entertainment: $37.50 or 31.50 Euros / Month
Car: $130 or 109 Euros / Month (This includes a full set of new tires that I had to purchase in 2014)
Baby-related: $104 or 87 Euros / Month (this does NOT include the baby’s food, which is included in our family’s “Food” category)
Health: $90 or 75 Euros / Month
Beauty & Toiletries: $30.50 or 25.50 Euros / Month (we’ve created this category in October, so it’s not completely accurate)
Miscellaneous: $200 or 167 Euros / Month
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TOTAL: $1,371 or 1,146.5 Euros per month

I won’t say if these numbers are high or low, this all depends on the lifestyle choices that you make. Remember, though, that a LOT of people in Romania live on a lot less, while many others would consider our monthly averages less than what they would need to make a decent living. So, in the end, your way of living matters the most.

Also, don’t forget that we don’t pay any rent (nor have any debt repayments), and that is something that you should take into consideration. Also, in 2014 we rarely ate out – maybe an average of 2 times per month, so that should matter as well. Finally, most of our House and Misc categories are a bit inflated because of the new apartment purchase, while the Health costs have always been higher because I have been diagnosed with a fatty liver and all the extra tests and investigations were pretty expensive.

However, I believe that our monthly averages prove that one can easily live on $1,000 per month in Romania, as I have already said and I also believe that, with rent included, a family of three could live a decent life here on $1,500 per month.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Nice and helpful post. It is bound to be useful to anyone considering the big move. It’s amazing that we are living in Spain for roughly the same amount of money even though it’s just the two of us. The crisis really has affected things here, and l wander if it will shoot way up if they ever recover. It would suck on one level, but it would be better for the country. I am still waiting to hear about your New Year celebration.. :-). Here’s to a great, trouble free 2015!!!

  2. Calin: You’re back!!! I was afraid you either became a human popsicle, or you moved to Nassau in the Bahamas for the winter;-)
    Very surprised baby-sitters are at a premium! You’d think some responsible teenager would want to earn a little money tending to toddler Romanian. (I mean he’s not Damien from “The Omen,” right?) What about your mother?
    I forgot, did you say you were on the national health plan, or do you use private insurance? It’s an expense for sure, but getting new tires for your car is money well spent–especially as a safety precaution.
    I trust your new president is living up to expectations.
    Off-topic (sorry!) What do you think about this? What do your fellow Romanians think about this? I just hope your country is well-compensated!
    “The US Navy commissioned its new missile defense base in southern Romania in October 2014, one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield vehemently opposed by Russia. (This will piss off old Vlad in Russia;-()
    The base represents a rare expansion of the U.S. footprint in Europe, and the even rarer construction of a new Navy base from the ground up.
    The base in Deveselu is the first to feature the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, a land-based version of the sophisticated radar tracking system installed on U.S. warships since 2004. Scheduled to become operational by the end of 2015, the base — which is housed within a larger Romanian military installation — will be staffed by several hundred U.S. military, civilian and contract employees. A second site, in Poland, is scheduled to become operational by 2018.”
    Anyway, it’s great hearing from you! Your budget breakdown is most helpful. Any cinemas, yet, in your city? I imagine you do A LOT of video streaming, otherwise;-)
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello Teil, unfortunately, no Bahamas for this fellow here. Not even some Bulgaria :))

      The whole concept of babysitting is missing here in Romania, the only persons that you could easily get to care for your baby are older, usually retired ladies who would be hired on a monthly basis. And my mother would not be a good fit and either way, she takes care of my grandmother now who is very, very sick.

      Regarding the insurance, I’m on public insurance which is mandatory, but all the investigations and everything were done at a private clinic, hence the costs. However, relying solely on the public health sector in Romania is not a winning tactic for now. And yes, we’re still doing a lot of video streaming and there are no hints that things will change anytime soon…

      Regarding the missile defense in Romania, the opinions vary. Many Romanians are actually happy with this because they see it as a proof that Romanian – US relations are at an all time high, and most Romanians are pro-America. Of course, there are many other who normally see that it puts a massive target on the country anything bad should happen. Regarding the compensation… I have no idea about that, but knowing how Romanians do business, I’d say things were greatly underpriced 🙂

  3. That is super low for family to live on, however I am surprised the food part is pretty high. I would have expected it to be lower, but like you say, depends on the choices you make. In Guatemala I spend about $150 per person on groceries because we eat imported products which are expensive, but if you eat rice and beans and fruits you can eat for $1 or $2 a day I guess.

    • After kemkem’s comment, I did a quick comparison between Romania’s food prices and those in Spain and I was shocked to find out that ours are slightly higher (which makes no sense to me since the average wage in Romania is waaaay below the one in Spain). Still, we plan to be a bit more careful with our spending on food and I am sure that we can lower it by a lot – our goal for 2015 is $300 per month.

  4. Our budget is similar. We don’t have debt / rent and also have a baby. Many families live on 600 dollars/month, some have bigger budgets, some smaller, depending on the income, where they live etc.

    I do agree that even a smaller pension for someone in the US or other countries in the EU could be enough to live here, though.

    • The thing is that most of these families who live on really low budgets also have some family members living in nearby villages, sending them some food and helping them as much as they can, while we’re 100% on our own – as would be the case of most foreigners coming to Romania. Glad to hear that we’re not the only ones with such a monthly budget, some people would call us crazy for spending so much 🙂

  5. Calin ,
    Happy New Year !!
    Glad to see you are back and hoping all is well.
    Your articles are always interesting and full of information.
    The monthly expenses seem within reason honestly , but then again i live in a high cost of living area.
    Smart move with the apartment purchase last year. Thats a large monthly expense you save on.
    Be well & i look forward to upcoming articles

  6. Interesting! A lot of your expense categories were similar to ours, percentage-wise. We spent roughly $500 on food each month (for our family of six), $60 on entertainment, and $65 on toiletries. While our numbers are quite low compared to many average American expenditures, it goes to show, I think, that much of what we spend on stuff here, our debt included, doesn’t have to be spent. Although, I’m guessing housing prices, both for rent and own, are much higher here. I know you’ve talked about this in the past.

    • That’s true, Laurie! Most prices here are extremely low here compared to the US (not gas, though :D) and that’s why our costs might seem lower. I still think we can do better and if all is well, we will hopefully be able to report a few hundred less per month next year.

  7. Really? I must say it is a truly interesting article but here, in Romania according to the minimum wage too, the prices are pretty high. My family of four (including me) is not doing very well. We are romanian. My mother can’t find a suitable job and she is a cook/baker, and my father too. They are barely 45 and the hipocrisy in this country amazes me. They won’t hire old people. Let me ask you: Does 45 yrs old seem old? no. As long as he/she does a great job, no. My parents were born in tthe comunist era, so you might know that then the schools were brilliant.
    So let me, a romanian, tell you the truth: Do not come here! Maybe for foreigners it is pretty cheap here, but for us the people who live here since birth and are 100% romanian, it is not so good. We can barely pay for our utilities such as electricity and food just to keep on living, but going to the movies and having fun for yourself, no.

    • This is indeed really sad to hear and unfortunately true for a lot of Romanians – and probably the reason why more and more people leave the country to do jobs they are not qualified for, but which bring them more money.

      However, for an expat who is not depending on income generated in Romania (aka has a location-independent job or is retired), this country is indeed a great place to be in because of the low prices.

  8. What is in your 204.50 housing cost? Is that just repairs? or taxes etc..

    I am married to a Romanian and will have Romanian residency. Can i get health insurance is it worth it?

    Hope you enjoying your trip.

  9. My husband and I are considering living in Romania. Cluj area is the prefered one, but not only. We like cultural cities and nature, so we are open to other suggestions.
    Since it is difficult to find work there, I was wondering if you knew what would it take to open a small salon/shop/cafe. What is the process, how long will it take and how much money should I expect to spend?
    Your help is much appreciated 🙂

    • Hello Claudia,

      It’s very difficult to answer your question as many factors are in play here costs-wise. Also, depending on what you want to open (store, cafe), the process is slightly different as you need more papers filled for the latter and less for the first. However, generally, it shouldn’t be too difficult to open anything in Romania – keeping them alive and doing well would so you should invest a lot of thought in choosing the right area for the right kind of business because otherwise it might fail. I would not expect you to need a budget lower than $10,000, though, to start any type of business.

      Sorry I can’t be more specific.

      • Thank you for your reply. I have a pretty good capital to invest. However, my concern was not with the type of business, but the process of opening it. I remember that when I was growing up there, it was a pain in the neck to open anything. I’d like to believe that it has gotten much better by now.
        Since you have a business, I wanted to see how long will it take to open one and the overall process. Such as fees to register, rent for the space (very small), license needed, etc. Feel free to reply to my personal email. Much appreciated.

  10. Your blog is great , it helped me to decide… In 6 months more or less Im moving to Romania for a year …or for good , who knows .Now I just have to chose the city 🙂 Greatings from Poland:)

    • Thank you, Carl! I am really happy to hear that! Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail with your impressions about our country – I would love to publish stories from expats moving in Romania!

  11. Greetings, C.
    I didn’t know where to post my question so here it is. Because of the new U.S. FACTA law many banks do not want American customers. Are there any in Romania that do not object to American customers?

  12. I am concerned like John that it will be difficult banking in Romania. I am 90% sure I can live permanently in Romania and bank in the united states via phone and internet. I am just a little worried some day I may need to stop in for some reason and that just would NOT be possible. I was in Romania last week looking at trying to get a lone with my wife who is Romanian. We were at BRD and they basically said they could not consider my american assets in granting a lone. I would suggest trying to avoid European banking in general until our government wakes up to the times and changes the crazy laws applying to U.S. citizens living overseas. It is the tax laws that have me most concerned as it sounds like I will need both a Romanian and an American tax preparer. I am low income planning on living off savings of less than 20k a year but will have to file taxes anyway. Working hard on how to avoid having to deal with that.

    Sorry for my personal rant, but if you have any advice i am all ears. But john is right to be concerned as our government has made it very difficult to be an American living overseas. Romania has been most welcoming… my government has found a way to be a pain in my ars even from 5000 thousand miles away.

  13. I am moving to Bucharest soon, how much would a normal sized apartment cost including deposit and enough money for food and fun stuff for one month? Thank you

  14. Hi C.the Romanian, Thanks a lot for informative post. I am an Expat and planning to shift to Bucharest. We are family size of 03 including me, spouse and 5 yrs old kid. As per your post, cost of living including everything, it is 1.1K Euro. Have noticed that you considered house rent. But still wanted to re-confirm. Is this including of 2 BHK house in a safe complex? Also could you please share info on kid’s schooling fees?

    • Hello Saikat,

      Our costs don’t include any rent or anything similar as we have bought and paid fully for our apartment. School is free for kids in the state system, but they only teach in Romanian. Private school options are available, but they are expensive – I don’t have the costs though you can expect them to go up to 1,000 Euros per month in Bucharest. However, your kid is not of school age yet and he would have to go to kindergarten – a private one in Bucharest would cost starting from 250 Euros and upwards (I am not sure if the kid would qualify for free state kindergarten).

      I am not living in Bucharest, so the schooling fees for our kid are way, way lower (we’re paying about 60 euros per month for private kindergarten). And just to keep things accurate, this article was published in 2015. Our 2016 monthly expenses have risen a bit to about 1250 Euros per month, but again it all depends on one’s style of living.

  15. I am a disabled veteran that gets a tax free VA payment and social security disability payment. I found out that I do not have to pay U.S. taxes when I move. Do​ I have to pay taxes on it there? Where would you suggest I look at? I would prefer to go to a place that the people would be accepting of me.

  16. I visited Romania while on deployment in 2012, and I always thought that it could be a great place to retire. It’s beautiful and cheap.

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