Alright Everyone… here’s the biggie topic I see on the web a lot and I have thought quite a bit about this post, as I want to give some good tips and pointers to people asking this question, but will keep it strictly lodging and food for now…
Let me start off by saying that I have lived quite a few places around the World, and Bucharest, although perceived at first as one of the more expensive cities, actually is not. Now a few things have changed since the US screwed the planet and the “crisis” hit, but this is going to be a “snapshot” of how Bucharest is (in my opinion) at exactly this moment in time.
First off is the apartment/lodging/hospitality category of expenses. Bucharest has it’s share of pricey hotels, no doubt. I would say that one would expect a “good deal” or reasonable price on a room for a night would be sub-100 euros with taxes included. Well, if you kick out the Radisson, Marriot, Howard Johnson, Intercontinental, and some other uber-nice hotels here, you can actually find many “boutique” hotels that offer excellent amenities around the 70-90 euro a night rate. They will probably have wi fi in the lobby only, furnishings won’t be to die for, but you should get a decent nights sleep in a quiet clean environment. I will look around for my recommendations on “budget” lodging shortly. Hotels are an inherently expensive way to travel anyway, so with that being said, even the more expensive hotels are still on par with the international average.
Apartments (both long term and short term rentals) actual rival what I’ve found in some of the “cheapest” places around. An example is Buenos Aires, Argentina. BA, notable for its low cost of living, is actually quite high compared to Bucharest, like other cities, because of what I’ll call the “hidden costs”. Buenos Aires typically requires upfront payment of all your rent for the term, 2 months commission and 3 months deposit (anyone who argues this about BA, you have yet to learn). In Bucharest, if done properly, is not this way. Expect a long term rental in a decent area to average 450-500 euros per month for a one bedroom, 650-800 per month for a two bedroom, and so on. The absolute nicest areas in Sect 1 and city center should be more. With the short term “turn key” rentals you’ll be on par with the rest of the large European cities at weekly prices starting at that. An interesting point to follow is the point of diminishing returns for investors on larger units. When I first moved here I was in a rooftop penthouse that was extremely large with a huge terrace. It was located in the center in Unirii. I was paying 1,200 euros per month. As an investor, you’ll reach a ceiling on the rental amount you can receive on your unit, so your buying solely for appreciation as opposed to ROI at that point. This works out great for us renters if we need a lot of space or are okay with roommates! Something to keep in the back of your mind. Apartment purchases should be around the 80,000.00 Euro price starting out. This is decent areas, but small size. I will create a separate post on purchasing. Let’s move on, I would love comments and discussion and opinions on all of this so far…
Food here can be had very inexpensively if you know where to go. The highly trafficed tourist areas will jack the prices up a bit, but here’s the average:
A large pizza – 8 Euros (35 Ron)
Coca Cola – 1-2 Euros (5-8 Ron)
Great Sandwich for Lunch with Chips – 5 Euros (22 Ron)
Nice Dinner at decent restaurant (per plate) – 8 Euros (34 Ron)
Cappuccino or Double Espresso – 1.5 Euros (8 Ron)
Tipping here is typically ten percent, and is dependent on quality of service. I found the most expensive place I’ve been to eat was Madrid or Paris, with prices easily 50 % higher than this, during the crisis. Buenos Aires still wins on the food prices, but all in all, for both lodging and dining, I would compare Bucharest to cities such as Atlanta, Seattle, Barcelona, basically the “almost biggest” cities in any given region. The New Yorks, Madrids, Londons, Tokyos, Paris’ and Moscows, still stand in a league of their own as “really expensive”.
Keep an eye out for my “off the beaten path” sections that will be coming up on here next week… you’ll get a kick out of the cheaper trendy places around here as well.