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 more expensive than neighbouring capitals, such as Sofia, Bulgaria (168th) and Budapest, Hungary (161st). 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 more popular with expats, including the likes of Timișoara, Sibiu and Brașov. Bucharest is significantly more expensive 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 of the 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 expensive gated communities comprising newly built houses.

In addition to rent, expats will need to 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. Conversely, branded Western goods, which are often 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, but generally speaking, it is relatively cheaper compared to most Western European countries. Alcohol is also reasonably affordable 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 also 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 choose to live outside of 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. The state of Romanian roads is 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 are also required to 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, as well as the US. 


Cost of education in Romania

New arrivals with children who speak Romanian or 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. Education may form the highest expenditure for expats in Romania.


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 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

RON 4,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

RON 2,800

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

RON 2,300

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

RON 1,630

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

RON 15

Milk (1 litre)

RON 8

Rice (1kg)

RON 8

Loaf of white bread

RON 5

Chicken breasts (1kg)

RON 29

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

RON 23

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

RON 220

Big Mac Meal

RON 27

Coca-Cola (330ml)

RON 8.40

Cappuccino

RON 12.80

Bottle of beer (local)

RON 11

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

RON 0.38

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

RON 40

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

RON 600

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

RON 3

City-centre public transport fare

RON 3

Gasoline (per litre)

RON 7.20

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