There is a good supply of accommodation in Romania with enough variety to suit almost any expat's budget. Certain factors will have to be taken into consideration, including size, cost, transport options and distance from work or school.
Bucharest is home to the largest enclave of expats in Romania, and although it has the country's priciest accommodation, it's still fairly cheap compared to the US and Western European capitals. No matter where in Romania they end up, expats can save a few pennies by living in outlying suburban areas rather than city centres.
Types of accommodation in Romania
Accommodation within cities is usually limited to either modern or old Soviet-style apartment blocks, while housing beyond the city limits varies but tends to be more spacious. Accommodation for expats moving to Romania includes bachelor and multi-bedroom apartments, as well as small cottages and larger villas.
When looking to rent property in Romania, it is important to note that phrases such as 'three-roomed apartment' in property advertisements usually refer to the total number of rooms in the entire apartment, not the number of bedrooms (this applies to houses too).
Furnished or unfurnished
Expats can find both furnished and unfurnished accommodation in Romania. Short-term accommodation is typically fully furnished and serviced, while it's somewhat rarer, but not impossible, to find fully furnished homes in long-term accommodation. The extent of furnishing available can vary widely – sometimes everything down to bedsheets and cutlery is included, while other times, furnishing is limited to basic appliances and large pieces of furniture such as couches and beds.
In some cases, the tenant may be able to choose whether to rent a particular house or apartment with furniture, without furniture or partially furnished. Including furnishings does push up the rent, but if an expat is staying for a limited period of time, it's more cost-effective to rent rather than buy furniture or ship goods from home.
When first arriving in Romania, it's a good idea to first rent short-term accommodation. In doing so, expats will have time to explore the city's various neighbourhoods and will be able to arrange everything in person. Short lets can last from a few days to a few months, allowing expats flexibility and convenience. Airbnb is a popular option for short lets, or expats could use a property management company.
Finding accommodation in Romania
Online property portals provide a good starting point for finding accommodation in Romania. They can give a broad idea of cost and availability in various areas. Real estate scams can occur on these portals, however, so expats should always view the property in person before handing over any money.
Another option is to use the services of reputable English-speaking real estate agents who are familiar with the local market. They can assist with paperwork and lease negotiations and are also useful in negotiating with prospective landlords who don't speak English.
Renting accommodation in Romania
The cost of renting in Romania will make up the bulk of most expats' living expenses. This cost is on par with, or sometimes cheaper than, accommodation in other Eastern European countries. Renting accommodation in a city centre will generally cost more than in smaller towns and outlying areas, and the rent will obviously be much higher in a modern apartment block than in a 1950s communist building.
Lease agreements in Romania tend to last for at least 12 months or can have an indefinite length, but expats may be able to negotiate shorter leases. Rent is paid monthly and may include basic utilities. Furnished accommodation is also available at a higher price.
Expats may need to undergo a background check or supply references as part of the application process. This can be tricky when one is new to the country with no rental history. If an expat can convince their employer to act as a reference, this will be to their advantage.
In order to secure a lease, expats typically pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent – the legal maximum is three months' rent. The deposit must be held at the landlord's bank. At the end of the contract, the landlord may deduct expenses from the deposit for repairs to the property and unpaid bills. Unless otherwise stipulated, there may be a penalty for terminating the lease with less than 1–2 months' notice.
Costs and fees
Expats who secure their lease through estate agents will have to pay agency fees based on the monthly rent cost.
Those with a car should make sure where they can park and what the fees involved will be. Not all accommodation automatically includes a parking space.
Termination of the lease
If the contract has a defined period, such as 12 months, then the tenant can terminate the lease for any reason as long as they give notice. Landlords can only terminate a defined lease early to meet their or their family's personal housing needs. Contracts without defined periods can be cancelled by either party. In all cases, each party must give at least 60 days' notice to the other party.
Utilities in Romania
Utility fees may or may not be included in the monthly rental fee. This usually depends on the landlord. Expats should ask which items (for example, gas, water or electricity) they would have to pay themselves before signing the lease agreement.
The electricity in Romania is managed by the mostly state-owned company, Transelectrica. Romania's water services and garbage removal are both managed by various private companies, so expats should ask their landlords for a recommendation.