Retiring in Bucharest, Romania | Local Spotlight

Retiring in Bucharest

By Monica R - Bucharest Resident

Retiring in Bucharest means taking an exciting journey in an Eastern European capital that is in a continuous transformation process. The city carries along with a tumultuous history and develops modern features each day. Home for several million people, Bucharest adapts to a cosmopolitan lifestyle and provides a fascinating and challenging environment.

At the end of the 19th century, thanks to French-inspired architecture, the capital of Romania was called “The Little Paris”. It was a bohemian destination where a fresh new culture was emerging. Combining Western philosophies with Asian influences, Bucharest was a touristic attraction on the way of the famous Orient Express. 

But these are just reminiscences from the past, Bucharest then experienced the Second World War, long communist domination, a violent revolution, and over 30 years of modern Western influence. Nevertheless, the history gave us the best features of the city: the mix of neoclassical, modernist, and contemporary architecture, a rich and unique artistic expression, and a cosmopolitan cuisine.

What to Expect from Retiring in Bucharest

Bucharest is a city of many contrasts. It hosts one of the most famous classical music festivals in Europe (Enescu Festival) but at the same time, it has a rich underground culture of rock, punk, and jazz. The first one is held in a neoclassical building from 1888 (the Romanian Athenaeum), the last ones are held in redesigned old factories and industrial buildings.

Bucharest is very proud of Romanian cuisine and local farms markets but offers endless possibilities to enjoy international cuisines from French to Japanese and Mexican. It has luxurious shopping malls with any brand you like but continues to be one of the cheapest European capitals in terms of the cost of living.

Getting Around Bucharest

Like any large metropolis, Bucharest is challenged by the increasing number of commuters, traffic jams, and lack of green spaces. Economical development came with a price. Business centers attract thousands of people every morning and the city can hardly keep up with the increasing flow of people and cars. Rush hours and how the traffic evolves during the day are the first things a newcomer has to learn. 

But bad news for car drivers is good news for pedestrians. Because Bucharest was designed at times when Romania had very few cars, the entire city is equipped with sidewalks. For those retiring in Bucharest, you can easily walk from one side to another. And you really should because the temperate continental climate offers four splendid seasons. 

How is the Weather in Bucharest?

Here you get to experience everything from blizzards and white Christmases to springs with blossomed trees, hot and dry summers, and golden and colorful autumns.

Fun Fact

Bucharest is referred to as "Little Paris" because of the beautiful architecture. 

What Language is spoken in Bucharest?

Don’t worry about getting along with the locals. The primary language spoken in Bucharest is Romanian, a Latin language similar to Spanish and Italian. However, most of the people under 45 know English. During the last 30 years, Romania was strongly influenced by Western culture and raised a cosmopolitan and modern young generation.

Is Bucharest Dog Friendly?

You can always take the dog with you for a walk. Dogs are allowed in parks, public transportation, and rented apartments. You can see people walking dogs everywhere. Usually, you can’t get dogs inside indoor restaurants and shops but they can accompany you to open-air events and terraces.

What Do Locals Like to Do In Bucharest?

Bucharest tries to offer fun things to do to every one of you. During the summer, many people enjoy spending a day in Regele Mihai I Park (also known as Herastrau Park). The park is perfect for running, cycling, walking, kayaking on the lake, and relaxing on the grass. It has plenty of kids and dog playgrounds and an open-air cinema in the evening.

You can also spend some time discovering handmade and traditional fairs that take place all around the year, visit the always changing temporary exhibitions at the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History or the National Museum of Art, walk around the old city enjoying stylish bookstores such as Carturesti and Humanitas, or attend concerts and theater plays.

Fun Fact

Bucharest if the 6th largest city in the EU. 

Eating in Bucharest - Top 5 Dishes You Must Try

  • Papanasi
    Dumplings with sour cream and jam
  • Sarmale
    Minced pork with sour cabbage or vine leaves
  • Ciorba
    Meat or vegetable borsch
  • Tochitură
    Pork stew with internal organs served with polenta.
  • Bulz
    Grilled polenta with cheese, sometimes served with sour cream or fried eggs.

Top 3 Bucharest Restaurants Locals Love

The restaurants listed all offer delicious, traditional Romanian food at decent prices. You can't go wrong with any of them.

What You Won't Find in Bucharest Travel Guides

Travel guides can't capture the charm of belonging to a small community in a big city. Locals enjoy enrolling in free training groups that get together regularly to run or fitness walk in parks. They watch European or independent movies in small cultural spaces such as Elvire Popescu Cinema and Muzeul Taranului Cinema, and go to local markets to get fresh fruits and vegetables and then cook at home using old family recipes.

Here are 3 more top tips from a Bucharest local:

  • You have to use the local currency, RON. Even if Romania is an EU member, you can’t pay in euro.
  • Bucharest is a large city; learn to navigate the rush hours.
  • Take advantage of cultural events and festivals. It’s a young generation of moviemakers, musicians, and artists that don’t always get to perform abroad. They’re vibrant and profound and will definitely impress you.

Retiring in Bucharest, Romania Cost of Living Chart

Data from Numbeo



Cost of Living Rank

365th out of 558
#1 is most expensive

1 Bdr Apartment in City

$500 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City

$335 per month

Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line

Bucharest has a turbulent history but it's an up and coming European city. Retiring in Bucharest can be a great opportunity. Its beautiful architecture and warm people make it a very interesting option for retirees around the world. 

If you'd like to find a low cost European city that is in the Mediterranean, Berat, Albania may be the place for you. 

Quick Facts about Retiring in Bucharest, Romania






240 ft


Warm, clear summers and winters that are quite cold, dry and cloudy. Temperatures range from 24°F to 86°F. 

Flight time to U.S.

12-14 hours by pane to New York


Romanian Leu (hasn't adopted the Euro yet)

Retirement Programs


Retirement Visa

Public Transportation

Trains, trolleys, trams and busses. 

  • Please speak with a legal representative in regards to residency requirements, taxes and healthcare options for the location of your choice. 
About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.