Situated along the western edge of the Black Sea, Romania encompasses the beaches on its eastern shores and the Carpathian Mountains, which give way to rolling hills, forests, farmlands and rustic villages. Romania’s capital, Bucharest, stands on the banks of the Dambovita River and is the most popular destination for expats moving to the country.
Expats are sure to find the move to Romania both challenging and rewarding. For many, Romania conjures images of snowy mountains, medieval castles and, of course, Dracula. A relatively safe country, new arrivals soon learn that Romania has far more to offer, especially as the country grows as an international tourist destination and a gateway to business in Eastern Europe.
Living in Romania as an expat
Expats looking to work in Romania often move to its capital. They generally find employment in construction, engineering, IT, communications, software development or teaching English. Expats will need to obtain a work permit to work in Romania. As with many ex-communist countries, the process involves a fair amount of bureaucracy, but EU citizens will find it easier than expats from other parts of the world.
Accommodation in Romania is varied enough to suit any expat's needs and budget. Options range from new and modern apartments, to soviet-era blocks, to beautiful villas situated outside of city centres.
The country is a key transport hub for Eastern Europe. It has a comprehensive transport network with air, water, road and rail transportation available. Large amounts of money have been invested in the national infrastructure.
Expats moving to Romania are treading off the beaten track when it comes to worldwide expat destinations. That said, as an EU-member state, it welcomes business and trade, and is eager to make its mark on the business world. Despite this, there are some adjustments that new arrivals will have to make, as most expats experience elements of culture shock.
The official language in the country is Romanian, while a small proportion of the population speaks German, Hungarian and Vlax Romani. English-speaking expats will need to get used to how scarcely spoken their language is. That said, it is spoken more often in larger cities such as Bucharest, Constanta and Brasov, as well as tourist destinations.
Cost of living in Romania
Although salaries in Romania are some of the lowest in Europe, this is offset by the country's low cost of living. Accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense for expats in Romania. Local produce and public transport are relatively cheap throughout the country, although big urban centres are typically more expensive than the smaller towns and cities.
Public healthcare is free to all residents, and expats would therefore also save on healthcare if deciding to make use of the public system. Most expats choose to use private services.
Expat families and children
Although public education is free in Romania, the majority of expats send their children to international schools. These schools are expensive, and expats should therefore make provisions in their budget for this, or negotiate a school allowance into their salary.
Climate in Romania
Romania has a continental climate with four distinct seasons, including mild springs and autumns, sunny summers and chilly winters. Expats will be able to practise their skiing in winter, with snow typically falling from December through to March throughout the country. Generally, expats can look forward to summers spent in the sun, enjoying the Romanian countryside, although they may experience some rain.
Romania offers expats a range of outdoor destinations to explore, interesting cuisine, fantastic cultural sights and opportunities, and the chance to explore a meeting-point between Eastern and Western cultures.
Population: Over 19 million
Capital city: Bucharest (also largest city)
Other major cities: Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara and Iași
Neighbouring countries: Romania is bordered by Moldova and Ukraine to the east, Bulgaria to the south and Serbia and Hungary to the west.
Geography: This Eastern European country sits on the Black Sea and is a mountainous country, with the Carpathian Mountains dominating the country's interior. Romania is dotted with lakes. The Danube River, which forms part of the border with Serbia and Bulgaria, flows into Romania, ending with the Danube Delta (the second largest river delta in Europe) in southeastern Romania.
Political system: Semi-presidential republic
Main languages: Romanian is the official language. English is sometimes spoken in tourist centres and major cities.
Major religions: Christianity is the largest religion in Romania, with Eastern Orthodox being the largest denomination.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 for daylight savings, from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. 'Type-F', rounded two-pin plugs are used
Money: The Romanian Leu (RON), divided into 100 bani. ATMs are widely available in the country's urban areas and credit cards are accepted at the majority of establishments.
International dialling code: +40
Emergency numbers: 112
Internet domain: .ro
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right side of the road. Getting around Romania is relatively easy thanks to its developed public transport system.
►See Culture Shock in Romania for information about things in the country that might take some getting used to.
Expat interviews"There are so many things to do in Bucharest! Most weekends, and even a lot of weekdays, we struggle to choose something to do." Read more about Jessica's expat experiences.
"It’s beautiful and tranquil, surrounded by hills, not far from the mountains, yet it offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle not unlike any large Western city." Read Matt's expat experience here.
Are you an expat living in Romania?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Romania. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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