Finding accommodation in Bucharest can be straightforward with patience, research and professional assistance. In the right areas, expats will find neighbourhoods with cobbled streets, vibrant markets selling locally grown vegetables, parks with flowering linden trees and outdoor terrace cafés.
Areas and suburbs in Bucharest
Bucharest is divided into six sectors, each with its own municipal council and mayor responsible for its administration. Each of these sectors has charming neighbourhoods from which expats can choose.
One of the most essential aspects for expats to consider when choosing a base is proximity to public transport networks. Bucharest is infamous for its traffic congestion, which can turn a short trip into a long commute.
Most expat families will find themselves living in Bucharest's northern suburbs; these areas are home to a selection of excellent international schools and some of the city's best parks. Wealthy and diplomatic families will usually live in Primăverii, Kiseleff and Dorobanți, some of the oldest and most affluent neighbourhoods in Bucharest. Domenii and Cotroceni boast tree-lined streets, green spaces and cultural experiences that make them perfect for expat families.
The Old Town and Bucharest's central neighbourhoods are best suited for young and single expats looking to be where the action is. Piața Romană, Lipscani and Icoanei have a plethora of exciting and chic cafés, bars, pubs and boutiques for expats to enjoy. There is also plenty of Romanian culture and modern amenities to be experienced in central Bucharest.
See the page on areas and suburbs in Bucharest for more on the best places to live in the city.
Types of accommodation in Bucharest
Expats have many options when it comes to housing in Bucharest. The city is divided into six districts, stretching from the city centre to the suburbs. Apartments are most common in the city centre, while larger villas are available in some of the neighbourhoods in Bucharest.
Foreigners can search for furnished and unfurnished houses or apartments, with parking places, building security and other facilities. Expats should note, however, that a 'three-roomed apartment' in an advertisement means that there are three rooms in total and not three bedrooms.
Refurbished old townhouses and apartments offer the luxury of living in a beautiful central area with coffee shops, parks, museums and art galleries. Some complain that Bucharest still has an unpleasant appearance due to the Soviet-era apartment blocks primarily found in the city's east and west sides. But unique architecture can be found in central and northern Bucharest, including art deco, art nouveau, Brâncovenesc (local design) and classic French styles.
Expats will have no trouble finding housing that suits their budget. Rent outside the Bucharest city centre tends to be cheaper, but prices vary depending on size and proximity to public transport and shopping malls. Buying or renting accommodation in Bucharest is expensive compared to other Romanian cities, but it is also often cited as being relatively cheap by European standards. Flatsharing may be an option for students and young professionals who want to live in the city centre but who cannot afford to rent in Bucharest on their own.
Finding accommodation in Bucharest
Although supply is high and there are options for every budget, it's advisable to use a real estate agent when looking for accommodation in Bucharest. The language skills of real estate agents, along with their market knowledge, can assist expats in finding the right property. Agent fees may be charged as a percentage of the buying price when purchasing, or the equivalent of one month's rent if signing a lease.
Foreigners who are familiar with the areas in Bucharest and have already decided where and in which type of housing they would like to live can search online for the options available. They can then establish when viewings are available and negotiate rental prices with the landlord or real estate agent.
Renting accommodation in Bucharest
Refurbished small apartments in Bucharest cost less than larger new apartments. That said, expats should consider renting in a newly developed residential complex due to the good value for money and modern utilities. These also offer more space but aren't usually close to the city, which could be an issue during rush hour or cold winters.
Making an application
To apply for a rental home, expats may need to provide proof of employment and income. They may also be asked for their visa or residence permit for Romania. Some landlords or rental agencies may request references or recommendations of character. Without a history of renting in the country, references from an employer can be a good substitute.
Leases and deposits
The lease period is usually at least 12 months, but shorter leases may possibly be negotiated. Leases can be terminated early, if needs be, but this will usually require two months' notice. Shorter notice may result in one to two months' rent being deducted. Rent is paid monthly.
In order to secure a lease, expats typically pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent. The deposit must be held at the landlord's bank. At the end of the contract, the landlord may deduct expenses from the deposit for repairs to the property and unpaid bills.
Utilities aren't typically included in the rent, and expats will need to budget for the extra expense monthly. The landlord or agent should be able to advise on when to expect utility bills, what format they will come in and how to make a payment.
The General Council of Bucharest manages waste removal, while Apa Nova supplies Bucharest's water. A variety of state and private companies offer gas services (including Romgaz and OMV Petrom) and electricity services (such as Electrica, Schneider Electric and Enel).
For more in-depth information, see Accommodation in Romania.
►For more on finding the right place to live in the city, read Areas and Suburbs in Bucharest
►For an overview of medical care in the city, read Healthcare in Bucharest
"I recommend using a realtor. There are so many considerations to take in when finding an apartment in Bucharest. Many apartments are in big communist-style blocks. However, there are a lot of smaller buildings with more unique layouts. These smaller buildings can be in varying states of repair. If you move to the northern edge of the city, there are modern, compound-style buildings." Read about Jessica and how she's adjusted to expat life in Bucharest.
Are you an expat living in Bucharest?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bucharest. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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