Basic Survival Expenses in Bucharest, Romania

Last week I started writing about how much does it cost to live in Bucharest. Now, it is time to take a look at the first category of expenses – the ones for basic survival.

So let’s get some ideas about how much does it cost to live in Bucharest:

Basic survival

(keep reading ↓)


In Bucharest, the cost of accommodation is usually (significantly) lower than in any other big city of Romania and lower than in any other capital in the European Union.

Student dorms/”cămine”

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 for a few times, for a few months in students’ dorms in Grozăveşti and Regie. The conditions were awful. There are all sorts of bugs, 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 a 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 a must. 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 any time.

The appropriate moment for buying a dorm place is in the spring when a lot of students disappointed by the “cămin” experience prefer to get a 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 who has a tight budget. Some even extend the concept of “student dorm” to a studio, which can be shared by two persons. The concept 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 big factors:

– position in the city and vicinity to 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 are you going to 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 cost of a 3-room apartment might be surprisingly close to that of a 2-room apartment. 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). Renting a house in Bucharest most certainly has its privileges, but also sky-rocketing costs, especially if you expect it to be in a central area.


Maintenance and upkeeping (întreţinere).

Student dorms/”cămine”

The price is sometimes included in the rent. During the winter, it may be higher than during the summer with about 20-30 €/m.

Small studio/”garsonieră”

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, central unit. In Bucharest, usually higher than the maintenance cost for an apartment.

If you choose to 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 of rate and the cost of rent is approximately the same, but that is NOT TRUE since the rent prices have dropped to a third in the past years. The idea that it costs the same to own your own place and to rent it is a common delusion of Romanians not knowing on 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 the food in any EU capital except for maybe London and Paris. Good food is expensive. Junk food is also expensive. The cheap good food is scarce, 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: 100 €/m. That means that you have no special preferences, you can eat anything, you aren’t on diet/regime and you 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, which will facilitate 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 really small place in the fridge and can’t buy more food in each shopping visit.

The food actually costs less per month if you buy a bigger second-hand fridge for about 50-100 euros, because this way you won’t be obligated to shop very often and you will be able to store food for longer in the fridge, which is something important to consider if you cook and/if you are hunting for special offers and discounts in the hypermarkets.

If there is someone who cooks for you or who sends you food, this cost can be dropped to 50-60 €/m.


Other accommodation expenses

Internet in Bucharest comes very cheap and of very high quality. Depending on your needs (speed, number of users, surface, connection type) 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 the 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, but you could find out that private insurance may come in handy (even something like 50 €/year).

If you have to pay monthly state health insurance, then the price may be at least 10-20 €/m.

Also, any analysis, investigations you may need to do for a diagnosis, especially 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 but 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 different 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 in order to maintain your health, you will eventually get sick after 35 years, especially depending on the quality of the food. And that will cost you more.

The quality of your health depends on how much sport you take. A very useful method for saving money, time and health is to use your own bicycle for transportation.


Clothing and shoes

I have absolutely no idea about how much that costs in Bucharest, as I confess I usually got the largest part of my wardrobe as a gift because I have a lot of relatives and friends. Occasionally, when I bought something in this apartment, I bought it from Obor or second-hand stores, which have pretty acceptable prices in my opinion, for acceptable items.

Please keep in mind to keep an eye on Analytic Vision to read further on the topic of how much does it cost to live in Bucharest.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2014-present

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