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So many people have asked me, “What does it cost to live in Romania?” since coming here a year ago. My answer was always, “Not much!” Romania is an extremely affordable country if you are getting paid in US Dollars or Euros. For those living in Romania and earning income in Romanian currency, it’s not quite as ideal. This makes it an excellent destination for digital nomads or other remote workers who get paid in USD or EUR.
There were a number of reasons that I added Romania to my itinerary when planning my long-term travel route through Europe. I’d heard excellent things regarding Romanian people and their friendliness, safety, WIFI, traditional Romanian food, and natural beauty. But one of the biggest draws for myself (and other expats & digital nomads) is the cost of living in Romania. So, what does it cost to live in Romania?
ROMANIA COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Here’s an overview of what it costs to live in Romania compared to other countries popular with digital nomads and expats, as well as my home country, the United States. Individual cities will certainly vary – these prices are average across the country. All data sourced from 2020 Numbeo estimates.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 46.66% CHEAPER than the United States.
Average rent in Romania is 74.16% CHEAPER than the United States.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 39.69% CHEAPER than in Spain.
Average rent in Romania is 54.01% CHEAPER than in Spain.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 50.36% CHEAPER than in Germany.
Average rent in Romania is 63.46% CHEAPER than in Germany.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 4.66% CHEAPER than in Vietnam.
Average rent in Romania is 23.01% CHEAPER than in Vietnam.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 11.59% MORE EXPENSIVE than in Mexico.
Average rent in Romania is 2.04% CHEAPER than in Mexico.
Average consumer prices in Romania are 5.60% CHEAPER than in Ecuador.
Average rent in Romania is 10.84% CHEAPER than in Ecuador.
WHAT CURRENCY IS USED IN ROMANIA?
Romanians use the Leu (singular) / Lei (plural). The word literally translates to lion / lions. 1 USD is approximately 4 RON (the official currency code – same as lei), 1 EUR is approximately 4.88 RON. For current currency calculations, or to convert from a different currency, visit XE Currency Converter.
For the purpose of this post and the demographics of TRAVELING TRANSYLVANIA, I will display prices in lei / EUR for apartments, and lei / USD for all other costs.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO LIVE IN ROMANIA?
Monthly rent in Romania is far less expensive than in many other countries across the globe. Proximity to city centers is a factor in determining the price, as is which city you choose. Most apartments will be listed and paid for in EUR instead of lei.
One great thing about apartments in Romania is that most include a terrace or balcony to enjoy a bit of your own space outside.
My 4-room / 1-bath apartment in Sibiu, situated directly in the gorgeous Old Town, was 300 EUR monthly plus gas & electric, WIFI and cable included. This was when I got ‘stuck’ in Romania due to COVID, and my Airbnb host kindly adjusted my rent in light of the circumstances. I was blown away by the cost of living in Romania when I first arrived!
A little while later, I moved to another city, Cluj-Napoca – one of the most expensive cities to live in Romania (it’s worth it, though because there are SO many things to do in Cluj!). My current 3-room / 1.5 bath apartment in Cluj-Napoca is 430 EUR monthly plus all utilities. My apartment in Cluj is in the Zorilor neighborhood, one of the nicer neighborhoods in the city, a 20-minute bus ride from the Old Town.
|TYPE OF APARTMENT||AVERAGE||RANGE|
|Studio in City Center||1385 lei / 280 EUR||900 – 2200 lei / 185 – 450 EUR|
|Studio Outside City Center||1000 lei / 200 EUR||690 – 1500 lei / 140 – 300 EUR|
|3 Room in City Center||2400 lei / 590 EUR||1500 – 4000 / 300 – 820 EUR|
|3 Room Outside City Center||1780 lei / 365 EUR||1200 – 2900 lei / 245 – 600 EUR|
|TYPE OF APARTMENT||AVERAGE||RANGE|
|Price per Square Meter in City Center||6650 lei / 1360 EUR||4500 – 10000 lei / 920 – 2050 EUR|
|Price per Square Meter outside City Center||4850 lei / 995 EUR||3400 – 7450 lei / 700 – 1530 EUR|
Utilities in Romania are generally kept in the landlord’s name and paid directly to him (or her). It saves a lot of hassle when it comes to moving into a new apartment and not having to put everything in your own name! Utilities may or may not be included in the price of rent, depending on the specific apartment.
As you can see below, cell phones and home cable / internet are SUPER cheap in comparison with other countries of Western Europe or the States. My cell phone bill at home was never less than $70 USD.
|General Utilities (Electric, Gas, Water)||470 lei / 115 USD||300 – 750 lei / 75 – 185 USD|
|Pre-Paid Cell Phone||39 lei / 10 USD||25 – 60 lei / 6 – 15 USD|
|Cable & Internet (60 mbps or more)||37 lei / 9 USD||28 – 62 lei / 7 – 15 USD|
Despite living in a relatively expensive city, groceries are very cheap in Romania compared with the USA and the rest of Europe.
On average, our weekly grocery bill for two people is around $60 USD. My grocery bill also includes a couple of bottles of mid-range wine and a few six-packs of Heineken. Over the summer, we’d also usually get a bottle of vodka. What can I say, it was during lockdown *shrugs*.
For my fellow Americans – 1 kg = 2.2 lbs
|1 Loaf Bread||3 lei / 0.73 USD|
|1.5 L Bottled Water||2.7 lei / 0.66 USD|
|1 Bottle Mid-Range Wine||20 lei / 4.90 USD|
|6 Pack Domestic Beer||16 lei / 3.92 USD|
|6 Pack Imported Beer||23 lei / 5.63 USD|
|1 kg Onions||2.7 lei / 0.66 USD|
|1 kg Potatos||2.6 lei / 0.64 USD|
|1 kg Apples||4 lei / 0.98 USD|
|1 kg Bananas||5.5 lei / 1.35 USD|
|1 Dozen Eggs||10 lei / 2.45 USD|
|1 kg Local Cheese||24 lei / 5.88 USD|
|1 kg Chicken Breast||23 lei / 5.63 USD|
|1 kg Ground Pork||22 lei / 5.39 USD|
|1 L Milk||4.7 lei / 1.15 USD|
In Sibiu, I took a taxi maybe once or twice. I walked everywhere else, and not once in three months did I use a bus or any other form of public transportation (I lived in the Old Town).
Now, living in Cluj-Napoca (a much larger city), I use the bus maybe six times per month, so not really enough to justify a monthly pass. I use Uber on average once or twice a week. We are still under COVID restrictions, so perhaps once those are lifted I’ll be using the bus more frequently.
|1-Way Bus Ride||2.50 lei / 0.61 USD|
|Monthly Bus Pass||75 lei / 18 USD|
|20-Minute Uber/Bolt Ride||20 lei / 5 USD|
|Taxi Fare per 1km||2.50 lei / 0.61 USD|
|Gasoline per Liter||5.28 lei / 1.29 USD|
I love going to restaurants, and was so excited upon arriving in Romania to find how affordable they are! The average restaurant prices in Romania allow us to go to nicer places and still spend far less money than going to an average restaurant in the USA.
One aspect of leisure activities in Romania I found to be not much cheaper at all than in the States – gym memberships! Granted, I was going to Planet Fitness back home, so not the most luxurious of gyms.
|Activity / Item||Average Price|
|Monthly Gym Membership||140 lei / 34 USD|
|Movie Theatre Ticket||25 lei / 6 USD|
|Museum Admission||7 lei / 1.70 USD|
|Meal for 2 at Mid-Range Restaurant (with drinks)||150 lei / 36 USD|
|Fast Food Meal||20 lei / 5 USD|
|Cappuccino||7 lei / 1.70 USD|
WHAT ARE THE MOST AND LEAST EXPENSIVE CITIES IN ROMANIA?
The least expensive major cities to live in Romania are Craiova, Arad, Oradea, and Suceava.
The most expensive major cities to live in Romania are Bucharest, Constanța, Timișoara, Iași, and Cluj-Napoca. That being said, even the most expensive cities to live in Romania are among the cheapest cities to live in Europe!
Cost of living is a huge draw for many expats and something you need to consider when contemplating moving to Romania!