The cost of living in Romania is a relative bargain for expats. Ranking 142nd out of 227 cities in the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Bucharest is slightly pricier than neighbouring capitals, such as Budapest, Hungary (161st) and Sofia, Bulgaria (168th). It's still well below the cost of Western European giants such as London, UK and Vienna, Austria.

Rural areas and smaller cities such as Pitești, Cluj-Napoca and Iași are cheaper than the larger urban areas that are popular with expats, including the likes of Timişoara, Sibiu and Brașov. Bucharest is significantly costlier than any of these, but as it's also where most opportunities and infrastructure are centred, most expats settle here.

Cost of accommodation in Romania

The cost of accommodation in Romania is not as low as expats may expect. Many apartment blocks in cities such as Bucharest are old and in need of repair, so expat families with children often prefer to live in more luxury gated communities comprising newly built houses.

In addition to rent, expats must include the cost of utility bills in their budget. On the upside, most foreigners can afford a cleaner and/or babysitter, as domestic help is affordable and easy to find. 

Cost of groceries in Romania

Locally sourced food, such as fruit, vegetables, and dairy is cheap, but the availability of produce is based on the season. This means that produce will cost significantly more out of season. Conversely, branded Western goods, which are typically stocked in supermarkets, tend to be expensive.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Romania

The cost of eating out and entertainment in Romania can vary depending on the type of establishment and location. Generally, it is relatively cheaper compared to most Western European countries. Alcohol is also reasonably priced in the country, but drinks in tourist areas can be pricier.

As for entertainment, Romania has a vibrant cultural scene with a rich history, and expats can expect to find a variety of activities and events. Bucharest is known for its thriving nightlife, with many bars, clubs, and music venues to choose from. Additionally, there are cinemas, theatres, and museums to visit, as well as parks and outdoor spaces for relaxing and enjoying the city's scenery.

Cost of transport in Romania

Expats who decide to live outside the city and commute to town to save on accommodation costs may find that the transport costs of such a choice can be higher than anticipated. Romanian roads are subpar, and petrol is only slightly cheaper than in most of Europe.

On the other hand, Romanian public transport is inexpensive, routes are fairly extensive, and there are many options in the form of buses, trains and taxis, particularly in Bucharest, where the metro is widely praised.

Cost of healthcare in Romania

Expats working in Romania have free access to public healthcare services. Despite this, expats must also have private medical insurance to secure their residency status. Although private care incurs a variety of small and possibly trivial costs, it's still cheaper than in many other European countries, and the US. 

Cost of education in Romania

New arrivals with children who speak Romanian or those who intend to remain in the country for the long term may benefit from sending them to a Romanian public school, which is free for all residents. 

As the language of instruction in these schools is Romanian, most expats send their children to international schools. Tuition for these schools is typically expensive and often doesn't cover extra expenses such as uniforms and books. Although these schools are pricey, they typically offer excellent educational standards and globally recognised curricula that are easily transferable to other countries.

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 April 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreRON 4,430
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreRON 3,120
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreRON 2,620
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreRON 1,760
Food and drink
Dozen eggsRON 15
Milk (1 litre)RON 8
Rice (1kg)RON 9
Loaf of white breadRON 6
Chicken breasts (1kg)RON 30
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)RON 26
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantRON 250
Big Mac MealRON 35
Coca-Cola (330ml)RON 9.40
CappuccinoRON 14.40
Bottle of beer (local)RON 14
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and dataRON 43
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)RON 42
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)RON 702
Taxi rate/kmRON 3
City-centre public transport fareRON 3
Gasoline (per litre)RON 7.10

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