Expats living in Romania talk about moving to Romania, what they wish they had brought (and left behind), visas, culture shock, cost of living and more. It's a must read for anyone thinking about moving to Romania.
If you're moving to Romania, read these tips from expats living Romania. From what to bring (and leave behind) to culture shock, visas and more, their insight is invaluable.
What to Bring When Moving to Romania (and What to Leave Behind)
When we asked expats living in Romania what they wish they had brought when moving to Romania and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:
One expat advised that they wished they had brought: "More books in my language (there are none here), a computer mouse (spending more time alone made me use my laptop more), ice skates."
And they wished they had left behind: "Creams and all those body care products, a dress that I hoped to get into again after miraculously loosing some weight, suit," said one expat who moved to Bucharest, Romania."
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Health Care in Romania
As with elsewhere in the world, Health Care in Romania is an important aspect of life as an expat.
One expat wrote about health insurance in Romania: "I have spoken to my HR. I explained them that it's their job to inform me about these issues beforehand and not when i have to see a doc for what reason ever. My HR went to CNAS and registered me there herself. Everything is sorted now. Depending on the company you work for it's really advised to check if you are registered!. They will be paying the fee but they won't register you themselfs (Unless multinational, or Private insurance)."
Another expat added that "...the best thing I've found so far is CIGNA expat insurance. It covers you both in Romania and in America"
Expat Health Insurance in Romania
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Advice for People Moving to Romania
Here are some examples of general advice expats have for others moving to Romania:
"Expect bureaucracy at every turn! Romanians love to make themselves feel important by holding their ink stamps and having you come back for something 5 times, mostly because they're just too lazy to get off their rears and do their jobs. It's never their fault, it's yours and you're disturbing them that you should even expect them to do something faster than 3 months time. Be prepared to have your patience pressed to its limits, and then some," mentioned another expat Living in Iasi.
"Think very carefully about the move. Ask your company to provide details of their expat support program before you move. Come on a familiarisation visit before you come. Constanta is a lot better developed than I imagined but there is limited expat activity. I spent 3 months before I came here trying to get detailed information on the town and not a lot of information is available," commented one expat who moved to Constanta, Romania.
"You absolutely need to be speaking Romanian to some descent level or you'll struggle. This is the country side, not much English spoken or anything else. You will find some English spoken in Bran and far more commonly in Brasov," remarked another expat in Moieciu de Jos, Romania.
Culture Shock in Romania
We asked expats about the culture shock they experienced when they moved to Romania. They replied:
"The pattern referred to below, next box, is descriptive of my experience. Most of my experiences were after I settled in; most were in relationship to political stands from years past, people from other countries coming in and changing things not ready for change by citizens," said one expat who moved to Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
"It really hit me hard at about 6 months. I've been here a year now and I'm trying. I hope I can make it," mentioned another who moved to Bucharest, Romania.
"The culture shock was gradual in my case. Since I spoke some Hungarian, and English of course, I didn't think it will be a big deal. In Oradea that was mostly true but as I explored deeper in Romania it was a different story," commented one expat who moved to Oradea, Romania.
Deciding Where to Live in Romania
When we asked expats living in Romania to offer newcomers advice about deciding where to live.
"I enjoy the Obor area, because it has all I need, including the biggest grocery market in the city, but has fair prices for the accommodation. I would suggest searching for a place both next to metro stations and parks. Because public transport is doomed to be trappet in rush hour trafic and parks, such as Herastrau, grant an escape from the busy streets, especially for those who come from smaller cities. The far North of the city, above Herastrau park, has the richest area with new apartments. The rest of the city is filled with communistic buildings with simple flats," said one expat who moved to Bucharest, Romania.
In response to a question about moving to Iasi, Romania, an expat wrote: "I would advise against it. I like to travel all over Romania, it is a beautiful country. Lasi, however, is like being in a totally different country from the rest of Romania. It's a very dirty city, very poor, with very little to offer in the form of entertainment. Absolutely nothing here for families. I would suggest Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara or Bucharest," said one expat who moved to Lasi, Romania.
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I found my place "through aquaintances. Met some international exchange students and kept in contact with them through social networks," said one expat who moved to Bucharest, Romania.
Typical Housing for Expats
When we asked expats in Romania about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:
"I live in a rented flat on the 9th floor. It's a renovated 3-room apartment in a communistic block and I share it with 2 other expats, one of which is a colleague of mine, the other - a friend of a colleague. It's quite typical to share apartments, because most expats work in a more or less international environments with other expat folks. Also, compared to food prices at a market, for example, I find apartments to be disproportionately expensive. Especially when renting a studio," said one expat who moved to Bucharest, Romania.
Housing Costs in Romania
According to Numbeo.com, the cost of monthly rent for an apartment in Bucharest is roughly $330-$560.
Advice for People Seeking Visas to Move to Romania
Here is some advice expats in Romania offered to others considering Moving to Romania:
An expat considering moving to Romania was given advice about getting a visa:
"I'm American. There is no retirement visa. I needed to have one of three contracts: 1. Employment, 2. Volunteer 3. Marriage. I was able to arrange and Volunteer Contract with a local high school I had history with. I commit three days a week as a English Conversation Tutor and I received a one year visa. I would suggest a similar tact for you with some British NGO that is established in Romania."
Another expat shared this advice:
You don't need a lawyer. You need:
1. An employment contract (or like me, a volunteer contract with an approved non-profit)
2. Apartment lease.
3. Health insurance.
4. Note from a local doctor.
5. Pay the fees of about $200
Both of the threads linked above contain more advice about moving to Romania.
Meeting People in Romania
Expats living in Romania talked about meeting people in Romania and local clubs and organizations:
"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," said one expat who moved to Bucharest, Romania.
"Timisoara is an old city in the west of the country, 100+km from the country borders. You can meet many romanians, sirbs, hungarians, germans, although most germans have migrated back to their homeland after the comunist regim fell. The city revolves around a few centers of interest like: Iulius Mall (very big mall, shopping center, etc.) , the student area of dormitories where there are many clubs besides dorms, the city center with the cathdral, the opera, liberty square, unity square, the old (greco)catholic dome. Unity square has free wireless if you got a laptop."
"ADVICE: use known company taxi like CITY, GRUP, TUDO. Driving in the city is a mess. Plan your GPS for major streets, no shortcuts," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Romania.
"I have met very few Americans, the rare businessman passing through, a few students. You are more likely to encounter Brits or other foreigners," commented one expat who made the move to Romania.
"There's the American corner, though I've never visited it. Social networking sites can be a great resource also, you'll find many curious Romanians that will seek you out if you're friendly and intelligent," remarked another expat in Lasi, Romania.
"There are no clubs or anything. It's very hard here to meet Expats and even Romanians. I am alone all day. Some tourists come to Mamaia in Summer but it's so run down, only some Romanians from Bucharest are visiting," said another expat in Romania.
"To be honest the expat community in Constanta are not very obvious. I know a couple of people who I have net through work but otherwise there doesn't seem to be nay organised meetings. My company does provide some information on groups and meetings but they are all for Bucharest. The ex-pat support for Constanta has been negligible," remarked another expat who made the move to Romania.
What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture
We asked expats in Romania what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:
"1. The positive attitude of the children.
2. Most people have strong family ties.
3. Most people are more than simple hospitality.....families are gracious and welcoming.
4. People do the impossible....even if it takes years," said one expat who moved to Cluj Napoca, Romania.
"First of all yes everything must be done there in Romania. Secondly you don't need any employment contract if you get a business Visa. Simply register a business. Still need health insurance and an apartment but it's really easy to do this. I had a consultation company help do all the leg work. Was very easy. As an American you don't need to show any proof of funds for living support or any bank account with money. They don't care."
"Romania has come a long way and at least from what I seen is very "Westernized!" Many speak at least two languages unless you deal with the less educated or the country folks," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Romania.
Diversity in Romania
We asked expats about diversity in Romania and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:
"It's mainly Orthodox, but Romanians have an open mind about religion. There are a lot of Catholics too. Brasov, by its history, have a lot of German influence," said one expat who moved to Brasov, Romania.
"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 president, Traian Basescu, I imagine Romanian society will gradually become more accepting to people from all walks of life," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Romania.
"Timisoara is a city with many nationalities, most important being romanians, many hungarians, germans, sirbs. It was teh capital of the austro-hungarian empire for a very short time even. Having this history the city is inhabited by very tolerant people. The two main religions of the city are greco-orthodox and greco-catholic," commented an expat in Romania.
"There are some very disturbing anti-semitic attitudes in Lasi. Also, racism against Roma (gypsies) is prevelant here. Very little cultural diversity here," remarked another expat in Lasi, Romania.
"IMO people are pretty intolerant of gypsies, non-white races, and those that are not orthodox Christian. I've been scoffed at more times than I can remember when someone discovers I'm not Orthodox and don't follow their "rules," said another expat in Romania.
"They are not accepting any other religion then theirs but nobody has asked me about it so far. I try to stay away from questions like this," remarked another expat who made the move to Romania.