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Bucharest is one of Eastern Europe’s emerging cities, blending centuries of tradition with modern, dynamic IT and manufacturing industries. The city has the highest cost of living in Romania but is considered one of the most affordable in Europe. It scores 42.84 on the Numbeo.com cost of living index, placing it in the bottom 25% of European cities.

🌎 This article is part of our Budgeting Around the World series, a comparative look at how people around the world manage their money.

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Did You Know?

  • The average take-home salary in Romania in December 2020 was 3620 RON (Romanian Leu) or about 741€ or US$881.89 [2]. Salaries in some industries, notably IT, are significantly higher.
  • Romania has a flat income tax rate of 16%. Social security contributions (pension, healthcare and unemployment) amount to to 15.5% for employees, and up to 32.6% for employers[3].
  • Romania has universal health coverage. Healthcare is officially free of charge, though some patients do incur out-of-pocket costs.
  • Bucharest’s unemployment rate is only 0.8%, according to the European Commission.

What Does It Cost in Bucharest?

  • 3-course meal for 2, mid-range restaurant: 150 lei (30.69€, US$36.46)
  • Beef round, 1 kg: 34.91 lei (7.14€, US$8.51)
  • Domestic beer .5 liter: 8 lei (1.64€, US$1.95)
  • Broadband Internet: 40.51 lei/month (8.29€, US$9.87)
  • Cinema. 1 seat: 30.00 lei (6.14€, US$7.31)
  • Monthly public transport pass: 66 lei (13.50€, US$16.09)
  • 3 bedroom apartment, city center: 3,611.99 lei/month (739.02€, US$880.31)

On the “Big Mac Index” Romania ranks 48th out of 56 countries surveyed, with the iconic burger costing the equivalent of US$2.47.

📘 If you’re interested in budgeting but not sure where to start we’ve got you covered. Read our guides on how to start budgeting and choosing the right budgeting method.

Getting to Know the Household

We started our interview with some basic questions about the household, their lifestyle, and their approach to managing their finances.

Introduce yourself – Tell us a couple of things about yourself so we get to know you better.

33 years old, working in IT. My wife is an accountant and we have 2 children. We traveled abroad a few times per year, active social lives. Interested in history, programming, and personal finance.

Location – Where do you live (city, country)? What kind of place is it? How do you like living there?

Bucharest, Romania. Great place to live, there is a lot of room for improvement but if you compare the prices with western European cities it offers a great value for money.

Household structure – How many adults, kids, what ages?

2 adults, 2 kids (infant and 5-year-old)

Occupation – What do you and other adults in the household do for a living?

Software development
Accountant

Net household income – What is the take-home pay of your household (income after taxes and other deductions)?

4000€ (~4745 USD[1])

Sources of income (monthly and annual) – List any sources of income other than your salary.

Investments (dividends + coupons). Just 2% in 2020. I plan to increase this every year.

How would you describe your standard of living? – Based on the place you live in, your income, compared to other people around you…

Very good. We can afford a few holidays abroad per year, monthly weekend trips, regularly order food, go out to restaurants and save money each month. I live in a nice neighborhood. Not too crowded, there are 3 parks nearby, 2 subway stations etc. Prices are much lower compared to western Europe.

What is your approach to managing your finances? – What is your general approach or personal philosophy on managing your finances? Do you use a budget, and if you do – do you generally stick to it? How do you make financial decisions in your household?

I used some mobile apps to see how I use my money but after 2 years I switched to Excel. I have designed the categories relevant to me and I also do some visualizations to compare budgets from one year to another.
I keep a budget. When I receive my paycheck I save 40%. This is the main goal I have. After that, I just check my Excel sheet to see if some categories went crazy.
Only important decisions are taken together, the kind of decisions that can impact our family long term

Let’s Break Down the Expenses

Now we’ll break down our respondent’s monthly household expenses into different budget categories.

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🏠 Housing

100€
(2.5%)

We paid our apartment in advance so we have mortgage/rent. Taxes are extremely low, about 100€ per year for a big apartment close to the center.

Unless you want to invest something in the house like redecorate a room etc you can’t break a 100€/month average.

🔌 Utilities

250€
(6.25%)

This includes top internet connection and cleaning services 2 times per month.

🍕 Food

800€
(20%)

About 60% spent in the supermarket and the rest in restaurants or takeout. We don’t cook that much.

🚗 Transportation

175€
(4.38%)

Taxi is cheap, Uber as well. We own a car that we use once per week for shopping and a for a few trips per month.

🏦 Debt & loans

0€

Due to COVID19 we had no travel expenses in 2020 so we were able to pay off our house faster that we expected (under 5 years compared to 7 as we estimated).

👶 Kids

700€
(17.5%)

500€ for kindergarten. Pampers (diapers) and other baby necessities, toys for both children don’t exceed 200€.

👗 Clothing and personal care

200€
(5%)

Cosmetics, spa, salon visits for my wife.
Since COVID19 and working from home we haven’t invested that much in new clothes.

🧹 Household supplies

50€
(1.25%)

The house was renovated 5 years ago, not that much left to invest in.

🛡 Insurance

170€
(4.25%)

Life and car insurance. This reminds me, I forgot to renew the property insurance (insurances are not very popular in our country).

🏥 Healthcare

40€
(1%)

Our workplace gives us private medical insurance for free. We just buy standard medicine when we need it (colds, superficial injuries etc.).

🎮 Entertainment

100€
(2.5%)

Because of COVID19 most of them were/are closed so it is hard to spend even if you want to. Before COVID119 I would estimate 400€/month.

💻 Subscriptions

0€

We think Netflix is too addictive so we avoid it.

⛪ Charity/Donations

100€
(2.5%)

Organizations helping poor children to integrate.

🏦 Savings

1500€
(37.5%)

500€ in the local stock market
500€ in savings
150€ retirement
350€ either in stocks or saving for an investment opportunity

* All figures are as reported by respondents. Totals may not add up to 100%.

📘 We only included the categories in which this particular household has any monthly expenses. View the full list of budget categories we used for this survey, along with what’s included in each of those categories: 110 Budget Categories.

More Budgeting Around the World