Last week I started writing about how much it costs to live in Bucharest. Now, it is time to look at the first category of expenses for basic survival.
So let’s get some ideas about how much it costs to live in Bucharest:
In Bucharest, accommodation cost is usually (significantly) lower than in any other big city in Romania and lower than in any other capital in the European Union.
Students in state universities may expect to pay something between 30-50 €/m for shared dorms. In a shared dorm, there usually are 2 to 5 people. There may be private dorms, and their price may be up to 100 €/m, but I haven’t seen or heard of such a thing. I lived a few times in students’ dorms in Grozăveşti and Regie for a few months. The conditions were awful. There are all sorts of bugs, and your personal belongings are not safe – there is a lot of stealing even if the doors are “officially” locked and anyone can come in or out of the buildings (cămine), even if officially there is doorman and/or an interphone.
The toilets are in common. Most often, the WCs are only holes in the ground, the doors aren’t lockable, and the water is either too hot or too cold. The colleagues are noisy, and if you choose this option, sleeping pills and earplugs are necessary. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Some money may be made if you own a washing machine in the room. This is the way the students wash their clothes. The regular cost for 1 washing is 1 euro.
Even if you are not a student, you may also try to bribe someone into “selling” his or her dorm place, but this could also get you in some sort of trouble, not to mention the risk of being evicted at any time.
The appropriate moment for buying a dorm place is in the spring when many students are disappointed by the “cămin” experience and prefer to get rent. KEEP IN MIND IN STUDENT DORMS, COOKING IS FORBIDDEN. So even if you pay less for the accommodation, you will pay more for the food.
Small studio/”garsonieră” (1 room)
Theoretically and most often, this is the first choice for someone with a tight budget. Some even extend the concept of a “student dorm” to a studio, which can be shared by two persons. The idea of “garsonieră” may vary depending on what you expect to find more than the actual living room: bathroom, small kitchen, balcony, storage closet. The monthly prices of the small studios vary depending on these 5 significant factors:
– position in the city and vicinity of the metro – (central or near metro 100-200 €/m – outskirts 50-70 €/m)
– dimensions: 6 mp (square meters) – 30 mp and, of course, the facilities and the furniture
– do you look for it through a real-estate agency or using specialized user sites (read more about it here, in Romanian). The first option costs twice.
– when do you look for it – the highest prices are in the fall (especially September-October, when the students move in). The lowest prices are in spring.
– Who will you share it with (do you pay for it alone, or do you have someone to share it with?)
Usually, the cost of a 2-room apartment can be surprisingly close to that of a big studio. And the price of a 3-room apartment might be remarkably close to that of a 2-room flat. Using the same criteria as above, the cost of the rent of an apartment (2 rooms or three rooms) is between 100-250 €/m. I lived for half a year in a 20 mp room in a 3- room semi-central apartment for 67 €/m. With some negotiation and networking skills, this is achievable by anyone.
Theoretically, there is the possibility of co-renting a house with a few people, but this is quite difficult, as there aren’t so many houses in Bucharest as there are in other EU countries where that might be usual (such as France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany). Therefore, renting a house in Bucharest certainly has its privileges and skyrocketing costs, especially if you expect it to be in a central area.
Maintenance and upkeeping (întreţinere).
The price is sometimes included in the rent. During the winter, it may be higher than during the summer, with about 20-30 €/m.
The prices vary, the bottom being in the summer: 10-25 €/m and the highlight of the winter: 50-90 €/m. It depends very much on the conditions of the building and the surface of the studio.
Apartment with 2/3 rooms
The prices vary, the bottom being in the summer: 20-30 €/m and the highlight of the winter: 100-150 €/m. It depends very much on the conditions of the building and the surface of the studio.
It depends on the heating source: wood, gas, or central unit, in Bucharest, usually higher than the maintenance cost for an apartment.
If you buy a place to stay in Romania, get a bank loan, and personalize the apartment yourself, the monthly cost of paying the bank rate instead of rent is approximately DOUBLE. People who have bought apartments in the last 5 years in Bucharest will tell you that the cost rate and the cost of rent are roughly the same, but that is NOT TRUE since the rent prices have dropped by a third in the past years. The idea that it costs the same to own your own place and rent it is a common delusion of Romanians not knowing which planet they live on.
The cost of food in Bucharest is at least twice as much as in any other city of the country and comparable to that of food in any EU capital except for maybe London and Paris. Good nutrition is expensive. Junk food is also expensive. Cheap good food is scarce and requires time to look for from different sources and to cook it. Generally, the quality of food in Romania is low (especially the meat and the milk) – that doesn’t mean that it isn’t tasty, on the contrary. The healthiest food can be generally bought from the peasants in the markets – but not ANY food, not in ANY market and not from ANY peasant, so mind you, be careful!
The minimum budget for food: is 100 €/m. That means that you have no special preferences, can eat anything, aren’t on a diet/regime, and are willing and able to buy this food from at least 5-6 different sources (some markets, specialized stores, hypermarkets) and to cook it at home. For this operation, it may be necessary to use a big backpack for weekly buying, facilitating your transportation of the groceries throughout the city.
The food can be expected to cost up to 200-250 €/m if you:
– frequently eat in the city
– eat junk food
– don’t have time, space, or abilities to cook, and you eat semi-prepared food
– don’t have time to shop from more places
– don’t do the shopping at the hours when the stores are regularly opened
– have a tiny place in the fridge and can’t buy more food in each shopping visit.
The food costs less per month if you buy a bigger second-hand fridge for about 50-100 euros because you won’t be obligated to shop very often. You can store food for longer in the refrigerator, which is essential to consider if you cook and/or are hunting for special offers and discounts in hypermarkets.
If someone cooks for you or sends you food, this cost can be dropped to 50-60 €/m.
Other accommodation expenses
Internet in Bucharest is very cheap and of very high quality. Depending on your needs (speed, number of users, surface, connection type), the internet can cost up to 10-20 €/m.
TV cable. I see no good reason for any healthy young person to use the TV in Bucharest. Almost all televisions can be watched online in Romania. Still, if you have such an unhealthy habit, it may cost you 10-20 €/m.
Electricity. For regular domestic use, it is about 15-25 €/m.
Garbage. Tops, 5 €/m.
If you are hired with a contract by an organization/institution, you aren’t obligated to pay anything. Still, you could find that private insurance may come in handy (even something like 50 €/year).
If you have to pay monthly state health insurance, the price may be at least 10-20 €/m.
Also, any analysis, or investigations you may need to do for a diagnosis, incredibly complete blood analysis, are not wholly covered by any insurance and need to be paid partially from your pocket.
Also, anything related to dentistry is not covered mildly by any insurance. Though you will find the cost of teeth care and treatments in Romania significantly lower than in any other country of the EU except for maybe Croatia.
The cost of alimentary natural supplements (such as minerals, vitamins, and immune system), plus the medicine for rarely, mildly occurring sickness, is about 20-30 €/m. If you don’t buy this to maintain your health, you will eventually get sick after 35 years, mainly depending on the quality of the food. And that will cost you more.
The quality of your health depends on how much sport you do. A beneficial method for saving money, time, and health is using your bicycle for transportation.
Clothing and shoes
I have absolutely no idea how much that costs in Bucharest, as I usually get the most significant part of my wardrobe as a gift because I have a lot of relatives and friends. Occasionally, when I buy something in this apartment, I believe it from Obor or second-hand stores, which have pretty acceptable prices, in my opinion, for good items.
Please keep in mind to keep an eye on Analytic Vision to read further on the topic of how much it costs to live in Bucharest.
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2014-present