Cost of Living in Romania

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The cost of living in Romania is still a relative bargain for expats: cheaper than Hungary and the Czech Republic, but more expensive than the Philippines and Brazil.

Romania is a relatively inexpensive country for expatsThe 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Bucharest at 172nd out of 209 cities. 

Rural areas and smaller cities such as Pitesti, Cluj and Iasi are cheaper than the towns that are more popular with expats like Timisoara, Sibiu and Brasov. Bucharest is significantly more expensive than any of these, but it’s where the jobs are (and the infrastructure), so most expats will settle there.

That said, if one is willing to live more like a local, it is possible to live comfortably in Romania on a much lower budget. 

Bear in mind that exchange rates can fluctuate dramatically and prices can increase at short notice in Romania.

Because Bucharest is the most popular expat destination, the following information relates more specifically to this city.

Cost of accommodation in Romania


The cost of accommodation in Romania is not as low as expats may expect. Many of the blocks of apartments in central Bucharest are old and in need of repair, so expat families with kids often prefer to live in gated communities of new-build houses on the outskirts of town. 

Expats of each respective nationality tend to live in close proximity to their corresponding international school – German expats tend to group around Chitila, the French around Herastrau, and English speakers around Pipera and Pantelimon.

Expats who choose to live in a rural area and commute to town to save on accommodation may find that the transport costs of such a choice can be higher than anticipated. The state of the roads is sub-par, traffic is stressful and petrol is only marginally cheaper than in most of Europe and more expensive than in the States.

Additional household costs in Romania


On top of rent, expats will need to add the cost of utility bills to their budget. On the upside, most foreigners can afford a cleaner and/or a babysitter; domestic help is relatively plentiful and cheap. 

Communication costs in Romania


All the big providers for mobiles are represented and occasionally have special deals, so shop around.

Internet and cable packages (sometimes including phones) are available although most television stations will be in Romanian. International calls can be very expensive, but there are deals offering a set amount of free minutes.

Skype or Vonage are also good low-cost alternatives.

Shopping costs in Romania


Supermarket shopping is not necessarily cheaper if buying branded Western goods, and Romanian equivalents are affordable (but not easy to find). Marketstall fruit, vegetables and dairy are much cheaper, but limited to seasonal offerings (and unpasteurised).

Cost of living in Romania chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider and the table below is based on average prices for Bucharest in November 2016.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Furnished two-bedroom apartment RON 2,500
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment RON 1,800

Food and Drink

Milk (1 litre) RON 4.50
Dozen eggs RON 8
Loaf of white bread RON 1.60
Rice (1kg) RON 4.50
Pack of chicken breasts (1kg) RON 19
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) RON 16

Eating Out

Big Mac Meal RON 19
Cappuccino RON 7.30
Three-coursee meal at mid-range restaurant RON 50

Utilities

Mobile call rate (minute-to-minute) RON 0.54
Internet (uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) RON 33
Utilities (average per month for standard household) RON 300
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner RON 20

Transport

City centre bus fare RON 2
Taxi rate per km RON 1.70
Petrol (per litre) RON 5.05