Cost of living in Romania: Your guide

Zorica Lončar
12.11.20
6 minute read

Some may only know it as Dracula’s homeland, but Romania deserves way more recognition. This diverse Eastern European country is a gem the world hasn’t fully discovered yet, but it’s bound to.

When it comes to nature, Romania has it all - mountains, plains, and a seaside. When it comes to the people, they’re some of the friendliest you’ll encounter. Along with the great food and culture, it’s a land you definitely want to spend some time in.

Whether you’re temporarily relocating, retiring, or moving there for good, you’ll need some help at first. If you want to be smart with managing your money, it’s necessary that you learn a thing or two about the cost of living in Romania.

This guide should cover all your doubts and questions. We’ll inform you on the average monthly expenses, salaries, and give you advice on making the most of your money. We’ll also point out how you can avoid high fees when doing currency exchanges, with the help of TransferWise.

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The currency in Romania

Let’s talk about the basics of money in Romania first. The official currency is the Romanian leu. You might encounter its code more often (RON) or see it written in the plural (lei). They haven’t started using the euro yet, but they’re planning on changing that in the future.

Here’s the Romanian currency compared to the worth of some major world currencies (at the time of writing):

$1000 = 4,095 lei

£1000 = 5,387 lei

€1000 = 4,866 lei

A$1000 = 2,977 lei

If you haven’t used the Romanian leu before, it might be hard to adapt at first. That’s why you should have a currency converter on speed dial at all times. It informs you of the exact worth of your money, so you know you’re not overpaying for things.

Also, banks and money exchange services always add a markup, so you’re not actually getting a good exchange rate. TransferWise has zero hidden fees and sticks to the mid-market exchange rate only, which is the rate banks use when trading with each other. This assures you get the best deal possible for your money.

Get your Romanian leu card for free. Manage over 50 currencies at once.

If you want to manage your money in a transparent way while living in Romania, you should consider TransferWise as an option. You shouldn’t pay hefty markups and lose money on unfair rates when there’s a great alternative.

With the free multi-currency Borderless account, you can handle over 50 currencies, receive and send money worldwide, and do conversions. You get a guaranteed mid-market exchange rate and no monthly fees whatsoever.

If you’re a resident of the UK or Romania, you can open a Romanian leu account and get your own bank details. That means SWIFT/BIC and IBAN details. You won’t have to stress about converting from British pounds and you’ll know you’re always getting the best exchange rates.

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Cost of living in Romania compared to the UK

When it comes to the cost of living in Romania, Bucharest is the most expensive city. Still, the Romanian capital is at number 174 on Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking, while London is at number 19.¹ That alone paints a picture of the difference you can expect.

So, when moving in from the UK, you’ll definitely notice lower prices. To show you what that exactly means, here’s a comparison of transport, restaurant prices, and average rent in Romania and the UK:

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
London, UK²9,320 lei324 lei809 lei
Manchester, UK³4,498 lei324 lei376 lei
Edinburgh, UK⁴4,326 lei324 lei302 lei
Bucharest, Romania⁵1,992 lei150 lei70 lei
Timisoara, Romania⁶1,480 lei100 lei90 lei
Cluj-Napoca, Romania⁷1,902 lei130 lei70 lei

Major cities in Romania

Bucharest is an authentic mix of many clashing things. Starting with the architecture, which ranges from Parisian to communist, up to its quiet riverside and loud nightlife. The friendly and easygoing locals make it one of the greatest places for expats in Romania.

Timisoara has a fresh and youthful spirit, yet its history dates back to the 1200s. Throughout the centuries, many cultures have left a mark in this city, which made it one of the most unique spots in the country. Even though it’s not big, there’s always something going on.

Although it’s the capital of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca is everything but spooky and dark. You’ll realize that as soon you see its charming streets and green spaces. It’s known for its growing art and festival scene and a large student population. It’s also one of the best places to enjoy the cafe culture this part of Europe is known for.

What are general living expenses like in Romania?

Total living expenses in Bucharest⁵Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)2,256 lei
4 person family, per month (without rent)7,976 lei
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment437 lei
Total living expenses in Timisoara⁶Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)2,032 lei
4 person family, per month (without rent)6,994 lei
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment512 lei
Total living expenses in Cluj-Napoca⁷Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)2,105 lei
4 person family, per month (without rent)7,427 lei
Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment402 lei

What are the average salaries in Romania?

The cost of living in Romania is rather low, and the salaries are in line with that. Try not to fall into the trap of comparing them to the richer European countries, since it can’t be observed separately.

Here are the average salaries for some positions in Romania:

Salary averages for Bucharest⁸Average salary
Web developer89,648 lei
Waiter22,618 lei
Marketing manager98,031 lei
Financial analyst82,054 lei
Copywriter42,496 lei
Physician47,412 lei
Graphic designer63,742 lei
Architect67,098 lei
Salary averages for Cluj-Napoca⁹Average salary
Web developer99,392 lei
Waiter19,417 lei
Marketing manager66,171 lei
Financial analyst55,946 lei
Copywriter28,331 lei
Physician42,843 lei
Graphic designer54,460 lei
Architect93,937 lei

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Romania?

Rental cost in Bucharest⁸Average monthly cost
Large apartment2,356 lei
Medium apartment1,893 lei
Small apartment1,429 lei
Rental cost in Cluj-Napoca⁹Average monthly cost
Large apartment2,434 lei
Medium apartment1,893 lei
Small apartment1,391 lei

What about healthcare and dental costs in Romania?

If you’re a contribution-paying resident in Romania, you have the right to use the services of their national healthcare system. Those that are self-employed pay the contributions themselves and take care of it alone. Those that have employers will automatically get a part of their salary deducted.¹⁰

The categories that don’t have to pay are minors, students, retirees, and those who receive benefits. In case someone doesn’t have insurance, they can still receive emergency care. If you’re a posted worker, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Romania and get necessary treatments.¹¹

Dental care is not free of charge. Unless you’re dealing with an emergency, you’ll have to go to a private dentist and pay.

How much are travel and transportation costs in Romania?

Almost a third of Romanians walk when getting from point A to point B, but the rest either drive or use public transport.¹² Public transport in Romania is rather good. Bucharest is the only place that has a metro, but other cities have buses, trams, trolleybuses, and taxis. When it comes to monthly passes, in Bucharest (and other cities) they’re less than 100 lei.⁵

When it comes to domestic transportation, trains are the most popular option. You can check the schedule and ticket prices here. If you need information on the bus timetables and reservations, this website will be of great help. Although Romania has a couple of airports, it’s not too common to have this as your primary way of travel.

Study costs in Romania

According to the Shanghai ranking of world universities list, Romania’s highest ranked university is the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca.¹³

Out of 243 bachelor programmes, 14 are in English. They’re mostly related to mathematics and computer sciences. There are more options when it comes to master’s degrees.¹⁴

Tuition fees in Romania depend on your passport. If you’re coming from a country that’s not a member of the EU, they will be significantly higher - up to 9,000 €/year. Those from the EU pay as much as Romanians, which is usually 400€-1,000€ for one year.¹⁵

Since the cost of living in Romania is low, being a student there won’t break the bank. Also, your degree will be recognized all across the EU and EEA, which opens more job opportunities.¹⁶

Send money to and from Romania with the real, mid-market exchange rate

When enjoying your time in a new country, the last thing you want to do is think about the extra fees you might be paying on money exchange. TransferWise guarantees you always get the mid-market rate and the fairest deals.

Transfering money and exchanging currencies has never been easier. Top up your account in pounds, convert to RON and forget that hidden fees are even a thing.

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Sources:

  1. Mercer’s Cost of Living 2020 Rankings
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in Manchester
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in Edinburgh
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in Bucharest
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Timisoara
  7. Numbeo - cost of living in Cluj-Napoca
  8. Teleport - cost of living in Bucharest
  9. Teleport - cost of living in Cluj-Napoca
  10. Europa.eu - health insurance
  11. Gov.uk - healthcare in Romania
  12. Numbeo - traffic in Romania
  13. Shanghai Ranking of World Universities
  14. Babes-Bolyai University - university programmes
  15. Europa.eu - study in Romania
  16. Studying in Romania

All sources checked on November 8, 2020


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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