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An Expat Talks about Living in Bucharest, Romania

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Bucharest

How long have you lived there?

1 1/2 years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

The International Women's Association is a great place to meet female expats from all walks of life, including from the host country. IWA is extremely involved in charity work and hosts an annual bazaar in December, which is the highlight of the organization's year.

Moms with small children have several baby groups from which to choose, both in the suburbs by the American school and in the city.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Romanians are not the most accepting of other cultures. That is not to say they are prejudiced--my personal belief is that they don't have a lot of knowledge about other cultures because this society was completely closed for 40 years under Communist rule. With Romania's new president, Traian Basescu, I imagine Romanian society will gradually become more accepting to people from all walks of life.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Romania's major industries are furniture and beer. Renault has a major plant that produces Dacias and the new Logan. Most expats in Bucharest are with major European corporations with smaller operations in Romania. Several NGOs have offices here--but for the accompanying spouse, chances of work on the economy at western wages are few and far between I am sorry to say.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

Expats are here because of work, period. I don't know anyone who comes to Bucharest because they love the city. Having said that, most people here have good travel schedules. While travel in Romania is difficult because of the poor condition of the infrastructure, Romania is a short and relatively inexpensive plane ride from nearly all of Europe. Direct flights are available to nearly every European capital, as well as some of the larger Asian and North African capitals as well.

On weekends, Bucharest's clubs are full of young people who love to stay out dancing until 4 a.m. The restaurants continue to open and improve by the week. There are a lot of good ones from which to choose, and that are not too expensive.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

My advice would mostly depend upon the person's situation. Most single men I know love Bucharest. Most families with small children like Bucharest because of the affordability of domestic help. Nursery schools are plentiful and inexpensive. But the life in Bucharest can wear on you. I know many people who have spent their life living overseas and are frustrated by this city. The traffic and the blatant disregard of the rules of the road are frustrating. While the traffic here is no worse than any major city (and certainly not worse than WDC or New York City), the drivers seem to care only about where they need to go and what they need to do to get there. Lane patterns, the color of stop lights, pedestrians in the road, tram tracks all mean nothing to most Romanian drivers. Service in restaurants is unbelievably slow. At some point you get used to being ignored. Trying to find someone to help you in a store with a question you have is impossible. The general attitude of seeming to not care is frustrating. Yet Romanians are genuinely nice people, which seems to contradict all of what I have just said. They have big hearts if you have a relationship with them.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Feb 8, 2011 10:02

Very helpful, thanks!

AdiGri
Jun 1, 2014 10:43

Coming from Bahamas, I found the restaurant service extremely fast. It's not at New York level but way above many European cities. The only problem is that smoking is allowed virtually in all restaurants and very few of them have a non-smoking section.

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