what does it cost to live in romania?

Bicycles riding through the Old Town of Cluj Napoca, Romania

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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.

usa


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.

spain


Average consumer prices in Romania are 39.69% CHEAPER than in Spain.

Average rent in Romania is 54.01% CHEAPER than in Spain.

germany


Average consumer prices in Romania are 50.36% CHEAPER than in Germany.

Average rent in Romania is 63.46% CHEAPER than in Germany.

vietnam


Average consumer prices in Romania are 4.66% CHEAPER than in Vietnam.

Average rent in Romania is 23.01% CHEAPER than in Vietnam.

mexico


Average consumer prices in Romania are 11.59% MORE EXPENSIVE than in Mexico.

Average rent in Romania is 2.04% CHEAPER than in Mexico.

ecuador


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?

Romanian currency - lei (leu) know before moving to 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

Dog looking out 8th floor balcony with prayer flags in Cluj-Napoca, 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 APARTMENTAVERAGERANGE
Studio in City Center1385 lei / 280 EUR900 – 2200 lei / 185 – 450 EUR
Studio Outside City Center1000 lei / 200 EUR690 – 1500 lei / 140 – 300 EUR
3 Room in City Center2400 lei / 590 EUR1500 – 4000 / 300 – 820 EUR
3 Room Outside City Center1780 lei / 365 EUR1200 – 2900 lei / 245 – 600 EUR

purchase apartment

TYPE OF APARTMENTAVERAGERANGE
Price per Square Meter in City Center6650 lei / 1360 EUR4500 – 10000 lei / 920 – 2050 EUR
Price per Square Meter outside City Center4850 lei / 995 EUR3400 – 7450 lei / 700 – 1530 EUR

Oradea city center on river

utilities

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.

UTILITYAVERAGERANGE
General Utilities (Electric, Gas, Water)470 lei / 115 USD300 – 750 lei / 75 – 185 USD
Pre-Paid Cell Phone39 lei / 10 USD25 – 60 lei / 6 – 15 USD
Cable & Internet (60 mbps or more)37 lei / 9 USD28 – 62 lei / 7 – 15 USD

groceries

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

ITEMAVERAGE COST
1 Loaf Bread3 lei / 0.73 USD
1.5 L Bottled Water2.7 lei / 0.66 USD
1 Bottle Mid-Range Wine20 lei / 4.90 USD
6 Pack Domestic Beer16 lei / 3.92 USD
6 Pack Imported Beer23 lei / 5.63 USD
1 kg Onions2.7 lei / 0.66 USD
1 kg Potatos2.6 lei / 0.64 USD
1 kg Apples4 lei / 0.98 USD
1 kg Bananas5.5 lei / 1.35 USD
1 Dozen Eggs10 lei / 2.45 USD
1 kg Local Cheese24 lei / 5.88 USD
1 kg Chicken Breast23 lei / 5.63 USD
1 kg Ground Pork22 lei / 5.39 USD
1 L Milk4.7 lei / 1.15 USD

transportation

Red trolley going through the streets of Cluj Napoca with masked passengers on board.

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.

Average Cost
1-Way Bus Ride2.50 lei / 0.61 USD
Monthly Bus Pass75 lei / 18 USD
20-Minute Uber/Bolt Ride20 lei / 5 USD
Taxi Fare per 1km2.50 lei / 0.61 USD
Gasoline per Liter5.28 lei / 1.29 USD

leisure

Szilard at an outdoor restaurant in Transylvania sitting next to the fire to keep warm.

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 / ItemAverage Price
Monthly Gym Membership140 lei / 34 USD
Movie Theatre Ticket25 lei / 6 USD
Museum Admission7 lei / 1.70 USD
Meal for 2 at Mid-Range Restaurant (with drinks)150 lei / 36 USD
Fast Food Meal20 lei / 5 USD
Cappuccino7 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!


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