Costs to Retire in Bucharest Romania

 

When I was first in Eastern Europe 11 years ago, I decided to go to Transylvania to see Count Dracula’s Castle. Dracula is not real, but Vampire Dracula’s name was taken from the most notorious killer in 15th-century Transylvania, Romania. Real Dracula.

Once in Romania, I decided to stay longer because it has some of the most beautiful well-preserved medieval cities in Europe. I fell in love with Romania as I traveled around her almost 11 years ago.

So, it was only natural for me to return to show you my two favorite places to retire here. The video I have been showing you so far today was to whet your appetite for Brasov, Romania, which I will show you next week, so subscribe if you like it.

But hereafter today, I will show you only the video we took of Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

As I show you Bucharest, I will share my estimated costs of living here if the two of us move to Bucharest, Romania, year-round on a tight budget. I will also include middle-range costs of living estimates so you have another data point.

But first, I will share my retirement desirability factors and overall score for Bucharest, Romania. Okay, here we go.

Bucharest Romania Retirement Desirability Factors

Before you move anywhere outside your home country, create a list of things that you must have for your happy retirement. Here are my retirement desirability factors and I will rank each as high, medium, or low before assigning an overall retirement desirability score to Bucharest, Romania.

Walkability: High. We stayed only about 15 minutes walking from the old town area of Bucharest. In fact, we walked everywhere in central Bucharest. We found all of our daily needs within a 5 to 15-minute walk of our apartment in Bucharest. We rode public transportation to and from the Bucharest North train station when we took the train to Brasov. We also took a Bolt Taxi (APP) to and from our Airbnb apartment when we arrived in town and departed. So we would not need a car if we lived in Bucharest.

Internet: High. The wifi in our Airbnb was 60 MBPS up and 42 MBPS down. It’s good enough for us to do Zoom calls, upload YouTube videos, and watch Netflix.

Food: High. There was a grocery store just one block from our house and a Lidl grocery store just 15 minutes by trolley from our house. Both had decent prices and selection so we found everything we needed. There is also a large selection of various foreign restaurants in Bucharest since it is a capital city with prices running from $8 to $16 USD. There are also local family food places around with meals starting at around 5 USD.

Weather: Medium. Monthly highs in Bucharest average from 37 F (3 C) in January but monthly highs increase to 86 F (30 C) in August. Monthly lows in Bucharest average from 25 F (-4 C) in January but lows increase to 65 F (18 C) in July. The best weather runs from May through September. It rains on average about 5 days per month except in April, May, and June when the rain falls about 8 days per month. Snow in the cooler months, like January and February is not uncommon in Bucharest but it is generally not heavy.

Things to Do: High. Bucharest is the capital city of Romania so it hosts many cultural events, such as concerts, classical music, opera, symphony, fashion, museums, festivals, and marathons. It also has great nightlife in the old town area and visiting talent like international DJs, rock stars, and musicians. There are coffee shops, shopping malls,

Social Considerations: High. Romanian people who work at hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and other public-facing occupations speak English. Additionally, about 40% of the general public speaks conversational-level English. About 90% of young Romanians speak conversational English because it is taught in schools. Plus, Romanians are generally fascinated with foreigners from other parts of the West so they are helpful when they realize that English is your first language. In general, Romanians of any age are kind people and will help you when you ask questions. However, in remote areas, English is less likely so you may need to rely more on Google Translate and universal hand gestures and pantomime.

Safety Considerations: High. The US State Department webpage for Romania published the lowest level 1 risk for Romania– “Exercise normal precaution.” Numbeo surveys report that crime is lower and life is safer in Bucharest than in Phoenix Arizona, for example. But, you can compare Bucharest to other cities in the world at that link. We have been out late in Bucharest and it felt safe to us. You can also review my report, How to Travel the World Safely, which is how I have remained safe traveling the world for 17 years.

Expat Community: High. Here are a few Facebook pages that cater to English-speaking expats living in Bucharest Romania: 1, 2, 3. These online expat communities are great for learning all about things that expats want to learn when they first move overseas. They are more likely to answer questions they have not answered recently. So, make sure to scroll down and/or search for previous questions asked and answered before posting any questions to the group.

Medical: Medium. This healthcare international comparison index ranks Romania 72nd in the world, three spots better than the United States at 69th. There are different ways healthcare is rated, but this one seems to be considering quality of care in relation to what patients are charged.

Ranking.

You may decide to seek treatment in Bucharest, or in one of the other countries in the world on this or any other ranking. I have had a great experience with Thailand 31st and Malaysia 42nd. It is also true that there are very good doctors in Romania. So, make sure to ask around for referrals and establish relationships with doctors based on the feedback you have gotten from others who have used their services. The above Expats Facebook pages may be a good source for that information.

Tourist Visa: High. Romania is a member of the Schengen Visa countries. Citizens of many countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, USA, and many many others, are given 90 days of visa-free entry upon arrival. Plus, we can stay in any Schengen member country for no more than 90 days cumulatively of any 180-day period.

Romania Residence Permits: Medium. A residence permit allows foreign citizens to legally stay in Romania beyond the 90-day Schengen period. There is more than one kind of residency permit, but I will only discuss two here and then give you a link to an immigration specialist who has a YouTube video on this subject. The two I will discuss are both be for people that want to retire in Romania. The first is for people 65 or older who want to retire in Romania. Technically, it seems there is no retirement visa at all. But if you are 65 or older, you just overstay the 90-day Schengen period. Then this immigration specialist says they can help you apply for residency including paying for health insurance (400 Euros per year) and filing your Romanian taxes. The present Romanian Immigration policy is to allow you to stay because you are past working age. So, they issue a residence permit so long as you keep paying your health insurance and paying your Romanian taxes. I learned this technique from watching videos by an immigration lawyer R&R Partners Bucharest that you can reach by email here (office@rrpb.ro) or their YouTube Channel. For people under age 65, the same specialist suggests getting the same health insurance and then setting up a corporation in Romania to obtain the first-year permit, and then reporting an income of at least 3000 Euros each year to obtain residency extensions. But this second corporate residency permit may vary based on your home country. Also, things change so contact them directly to learn any changes to these two residency methods. And, make sure to do your due diligence to verify that this immigration specialist is properly qualified and properly licensed.

Real Estate: High. The sale of apartments to foreigners in Romania is allowed, so foreigners can purchase, rent out, and sell properties. But foreigners can not buy land in Romania. Land with a house can be bought for a legal entity if it’s a Romanian company. However, I do not recommend buying real estate in a foreign country until you have lived there for an extended period of time making sure you love it. If you decide to buy, you should also get your own lawyer who has no conflict of interest with you. For example, do not use a lawyer recommended by your real estate broker or local lover.

Bucharest Romania Retirement Desirability Score: Medium. I like warmer year-round weather. It is not terrible weather here but cool enough in the winter to make me want to fly south to warmer weather for 4 months of the year. But if you like city life are comfortable with 4 seasons, and are attracted to the cultural aspects of being in one of the most beautiful capital cities in Eastern Europe then Bucharest would likely be highly desirable for you, especially when compared to some of the more expensive culturally rich cities in Western Europe.

Estimated Costs to Retire in Bucharest Romania

Rents: I found this furnished 1-bedroom apartment for rent for 330 Euros (359 USD) monthly in Bucharest. If you rent for a shorter period on Airbnb it would be much more expensive.

A larger flat with more space could cost twice as much per month. So for the middle range expenses, I estimate $700 USD per month or more depending upon area and size.

Here is the process we use to find great apartments. So, we will show you a table of all expenses in a moment. We will use 359 USD per month for our lower rent estimate and $700 per month for the middle cost of living estimate for expats who want more space.

Utilities: We estimate that the year-round average for our utilities would be about $100 USD per month. The utilities would cost more for the larger space, starting at around $160 USD per month.

Groceries: We would shop in the grocery stores for fresh food, nonperishable foods, and other things like shampoo and detergents. We estimate about $360 per month for groceries. Other expats are likely to spend more on imported groceries they miss from home spending more than $450 per month on groceries.

Restaurants: We would eat out twice per week mostly in more local-style restaurants averaging about $5 to $8 USD per meal per person and one or two splurges per month of $10 to $15 USD per meal per person. If you add all that up, we would spend around $220 per month for the two of us. We may have a beer here and there, but that is covered below in alcohol.

Other expats are likely to eat more Western-style foods in expensive expat-style restaurants and less in local-style restaurants, so they would likely spend more like $300 per month for 2 people in restaurants. It is lifestyle-dependent.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to get a prepaid Orange Brand sim card for your unlocked smartphone is about $7 USD per month with about 66 GB per month of data. My Android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Other expat couples are likely to buy two prepaid SIM cards so they would send $14 per month.

Laundry: The apartments all seemed to have clothes washing machines. The above grocery estimate includes laundry detergent.

Drinking Water: We read online that the water is clean here and many people drink water from the tap but we would be more careful. We didn’t see reverse osmosis delivery in 20-liter jugs here so we would probably get a Brita water filter. The filter refills would be about $5 USD per month.

Internet: 60 MBPS up and down is about $10 USD for in-home wifi.

Public Transportation: Each public transportation ride is about $0.66 USD. We would average two round trips per week for the two of us, which is 8 per week or 32 per month, or about $21 per month in public transportation. We would probably take another 4 Bolt Taxi App rides per month averaging about $4 USD each, or $16 USD. So total transportation would be about $37 per month for the two of us. Other expats might spend more on taxis and less on public transportation, so I estimate $100 per month for them.

Alcohol (Optional): Domestic beer in grocery stores in Bucharest is about ($1.03 USD) for 500 ml. In bars and restaurants, half-liter draft domestic draft beers are about $3 USD. We estimate about $100 per month on alcohol for the two of us.

Many other expats would spend a higher amount for imported foreign or craft beers in expat bars, so about $180 USD per month for 2 people assuming they are not into imported whiskey or wine.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $200 per month for entertainment for the two of us. We enjoy doing more do-it-yourself kinds of entertainment so expats would spend a little more, maybe $300 per month, for 2 of them?

Estimated Costs to Retire in Bucharest Romania

Bucharest

Lower

(USD)

Middle

(USD)

Rent

359

700

Utilities

100

160

Groceries

360

450

Restaurants

220

300

Cell Data

7

14

Laundry

0

0

Drinking Water

5

5

Internet

10

10

Transportation

37

100

Total

$1098

$1739

 

 

 

Alcohol

100

180

Optional Total

$1198

$1919

 

 

 

Entertainment

200

300

Optional Total

$1398

$2219

The above lower estimated cost of living would be if the two of us lived in Bucharest Romania on a tight budget. The middle estimate is just an example of what other expats might spend if they moved here.

To understand what it would cost you to live here, you must put your feet on the ground, see how you would choose to rent, eat, and entertain yourself, and add it all up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else spends because we are all different.

Bucharest Romania Old Town Walking Tour

Make sure you walk this path while in Bucharest’s old town to get a feel for some of the most interesting architecture and history.

Google Map

Where we stayed in Bucharest

We stayed at this Airbnb for $44 USD per night with the weekly discount before adding Airbnb fees. It was a great location. Everything we needed was within walking distance and I have listed all of that below under restaurants, shopping, and services.

How we got to Bucharest Romania from Varna Bulgaria

From Varna, Bulgaria, Central Bus Station, we bought our bus tickets to go to Bucharest Romania online at Pegasus online which was 49.50 BGN ($28 USD) per person. The ride was 6 hours. The bus dropped us in front of this Harp Bakery, where we had lunch and then took a Bolt Taxi (APP) to our Airbnb apartment.

Restaurants, Bars, Services

Restaurants (prices in Romanian Lev (LEI) (divide LEI by 4.57 to get USD))

When they take your order or bring your food in Romania, they will ask questions like, do you want bread with that, or a salad with that, etc. Always ask, “How much more is that,” before saying yes, so you are not surprised when the bill comes.

Rossetya 2.0: (Takeaway Only): take away: pork + corn 24, vegetarian soup + potato 19

Bodega “La Mahala”: Pork T-Bone 49, Iahnie de fasole (bean spread) 22, Ursus 400ml 13, Pilsner Urquell 500ml 20 , Service 10%

Caru’ cu bere: Best Lunch menu 35 Mon-Fri, 11 am – 5 pm. Must eat childhood cake 12

The Harp Bakery: (Expensive): Penne pasta 22, wild berries Smootie 20, Mash potato 12, Chicken strips 29, Tomatato onion salad 21, ketchup 3, service charge 10%

ARTO Restaurant: Delicious Pasta with Truffle 55, Chicken with salad 59, Lemonade ginger honey 22

Bars, Lounges (prices in Romanian Lev (LEI) (divide LEI by 4.57 to get USD))

Beer Station: Good craft beer 28-32 lei

St. Patrick: Bucur local draft 18.9

Oktoberfest Pub: Staropramen Craft 400ml 12, tonic water 10, only good for beer

Services:

Public Transportation: Information webpage. Whenever you buy a public transportation ticket, for 2 people, ask for “2 separate tickets.” Then make sure to validate each ticket when you enter the bus, subway, or street car. Otherwise you will be fined. If you let them sell you a single ticket that two people can use to ride at the same time together, you won’t be able to figure out how to validate the single ticket for both of you, and they will fine you $20 USD.

Exchange Amanet: We had Bulgarian money left over when we arrived in Bucharest and this place had the best exchange rate.

Cervus Barbershop: Nice haircut for 60 LEI.

Local Train schedule: The train schedule for moving around Bulgaria.

DM Drogerie market: Beauty products and face cream.

Good Grocery Store Near Us: Just 2 blocks

Lidl Grocery Store: 3 km. Our favorite grocery store in the world.

What would it cost you to live in Bucharest Romania?

To get a better understanding of things you should add to our estimated cost of living watch this video: 9 Reasons You Can’t Retire on $1000 Month Overseas.

Most people will likely be unable to retire for the lower range estimate above. I give example reasons why in this report. Plus, this other report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

Also, if you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpectedly large expenses.

You should also add anything to the above table that you spend money on in your home country that is not listed in the above table. Presumably, you find those things necessary in life. To do that, visit the Numbeo Bucharest and add anything not mentioned in the above table.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Many of the expats we meet living overseas are self-insured for medical care. That means that not everyone buys health insurance when they move overseas. That probably sounds crazy to many of you.

I didn’t carry medical insurance for most of my first 17 years living overseas. But last year I bought medical insurance. If you are wondering what it costs and what it covers, watch my medical insurance video at this link. This is not an affiliate link.

More typical expat living costs in Bucharest range from about $1500 to $3000 per month. But people spending that much often have higher savings, incomes, or pensions. They often report spending more on accommodations, entertainment, eating out more, traveling, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

Make sure to grab a free copy of my eBook, How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 17 years (and how I pay for it all).