Wondering how expat life in Bucharest is? Thinking of moving to Bucharest on your own or with a new job opportunity, and trying to find useful information on living in Bucharest? Here’s a short look on how life in the city of Bucharest is.
Bucharest is Romania’s capital, the largest and most prosperous city in the country. With almost 2 million people living here, Bucharest is considered the country’s cultural, industrial, and financial heart, and it offers plenty of opportunities for expatriates who are looking to change their life and settle here.
Indeed, the city is one of Eastern Europe’s major industrial as well as transport hubs. Those who are choosing to move to Bucharest will enjoy an unparalleled quality living with their families, in a dynamic environment. Let’s have a short look at how expat life in Bucharest is.
Cost of living for expat life in Bucharest
In case the question “how is expat life in Bucharest?” is not new for you and you have been wondering on this topic for a while now, the following information will surely help you make the right decision for you and your family: the cost of living in Bucharest is a lot lower than in most major cities in the other EU countries. It may be outperformed by Sofia (the Bulgarian capital), but still very close.
Here are just a few examples for food prices:
Although living is still cheap compared to other central European countries, the quality of life is good and under continuous progress. Food is of good quality, the city is green with many parks, and transportation is getting better and better.
On the other side, if compared to other smaller cities in Romania, Bucharest is much more expensive. Living expenses, such as rent, utilities, groceries, can be two times higher. But compared to most of the other Romanian cities, simply by living in Bucharest you have the chance of earning a salary that could be double or triple than in the other cities.
While food and transportation in Bucharest is still affordable, the accommodation costs are growing from year to year, with more affluent areas of the city being off limits to regular locals. Thus, there are areas of the city where only the most well-off Romanians and expats can afford to buy or to rent a house. Nevertheless, the city of Bucharest is still more affordable than other larger cities in Europe, such as Prague or Warsaw.
The largest expense will most likely be the monthly accommodation. Excellent accommodation can be found in the city center (the Unirii – Universitate – Romană zone), although most of the buildings are old, but with interiors well refurbished. Alternatively, you can find apartments in newer buildings in some other neighborhoods such as: Aviatorilor (which is one of the most expensive), Floreasca, Baneasa, Stefan cel Mare, Tineretului, Timpuri Noi.
Most of the apartments you can find in Bucharest are in old style buildings (Soviet style), whereas housing beyond the city limits can be a lot newer. Property prices can vary between 800 Eur – 1,500 Eur per square meter, depending on the type of home and the area as well.
If you choose to live in the city center, then you will most probably pay around 400 – 500 euros a month for a one-bedroom apartment. On the other hand, the rent for one-bedroom apartments located outside the center is around 250 – 350 euros.
For more information on accommodation and renting an apartment in Bucharest, you can also read:
Utilities and transport within the city
When it comes to the cost of utilities, the average per month for a standard household is around 90 – 100 euros. Whether you choose to live in the suburbs or in the city center, the public transport within Bucharest is comprehensive and includes a light rail, a subway system, trams, buses, and trolleybuses. Plus, Bucharest also has a private minibus taxi system.
If you’re used to using the subway, then you should look for finding a place close to one of the main subway stations in the city. The subway lines are currently covering the most important areas of the city, while plans for expansions are underway in some other parts.
Therefore, from this point of view, you certainly don’t have any reason to worry about. The public transport is quite cheap, but if you are choosing to travel by taxi, then you should expect to pay more. Nevertheless, taxi cost in Bucharest is much cheaper than in other cities such as Budapest, Prague, or Warsaw. The cost for an average route of 6 to 7 km through the city during the day with Uber is around 25 lei.
As for taxi choices available, you can easily use Uber, Bolt, or Free Now. They all have smartphone apps easy to install and use, and you can always call for a taxi wherever you are in Bucharest. Most of them are also available in other Romanian big cities, such as: Cluj, Iași, Constanța, Timișoara, Brașov.
If you’d rather drive your own car, that’s ok as well, but you will have to prepare with steel nerves and tons of patience, as the traffic in the city is sometimes very crowded.
Goods and entertainment
When it comes to the cost of goods, it is important to know that cost of food in Bucharest is relatively cheaper than in other big European cities. Clothing tends to be a bit more expensive than in other cities, but the food is definitely a lot cheaper. The cost of entertainment depends on where you actually go.
If you are a shopper passionate, you can find shopping malls in most parts of the city. However, the biggest shopping malls in Bucharest are Băneasa Shopping City (located in the north part, towards the airport), and AFI Cotroceni Mall, located in Cotroceni neighborhood.
For those who love entertainment and going out, the Old Center caters to lots of tourists, expats, as well as locals, and this means that the prices are at the higher end. On the other hand, prices in a neighborhood bar or restaurant are usually half the cost. Movies are reasonably priced, and the city hosts several times a year plenty of attractive events such as exhibitions and concerts, many of them taking a decent fee for admission.
Those who are moving to Bucharest with family and children must know that schooling in this city can range from free (in public schools) to very expensive (in private schools). Romania’s capital boasts several international schools, and most expensive of them are located in the north part of the city. Fees vary from 2,000 lei to 4,500 lei per month, or in some schools can go even higher, which can be expensive for most of the expats. And in many cases tuition fees do not cover costs such as uniforms, lunch, or bus fair.
So I advise you do a thorough research and have these costs in mind before accepting a job offer and moving to Bucharest together with your family.
You can find more in-depth information on the Romanian education system and the types of schools your kids can attend in our article: About Romanian education system.
This is another advantage that expats have. If you are wondering how is expat life in Bucharest from a professional perspective, then the good news is that this city has plenty to offer. Romania has a variety of job opportunities, especially when it comes to the capital. There are at the moment lots of expats who are doing much better in Bucharest than they would be back in their native countries.
This might be due to the advantage offered by Western business experience or by English-language skills. Whatever it is, there is no doubt that the career boost is a big selling point, and expats who want to live and work here will easily find the job they need.
Bucharest is a beautiful and green city
Besides the above advantages that expats have, Romania’s capital is also a very beautiful city. It is true that there are Western European cities that look a lot better, but Bucharest certainly has something special and unique. Once you get to the center you will see an intriguing spot of architectural sculpture that is quite impressive. Such impressive building is the Romanian Athenaeum, a landmark of the city which many tourists love to photograph.
Plus, there are several wonderful parks and a wide range of cafes, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. No matter what your hobbies are, you will always find interesting things to do here. The nightlife is vibrant, especially in the summertime. Living in Bucharest is one of the best choices an expat can make due to the many advantages that this city has.
If you were curious on expat life in Bucharest, then all this information will certainly satisfy your curiosity and you will be able to make the best decision.
For even more guidance on life in Romania, you can also read our article: 5 reasons why you should move to Romania.