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Moving to Moldova

Far from being the obvious choice for an expat destination, green and hilly Moldova is a small and rather inconspicuous landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Though easily overlooked, adventurous and open-minded expats may see Moldova as an opportunity to experience life in a relatively untouched part of the world. That said, it's important not to underestimate the challenging aspects of moving to Moldova.

There are few expats living in Moldova, most of whom can be found in the country’s capital, Chișinău. The expat population of Moldova is largely made up of those employed by NGOs, embassies and multinational companies.

The country's economy is dominated by the service sector with agriculture and industry also being major sectors. A former Soviet state, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, though it is showing significant economic growth year by year. Poverty is especially evident in the rural areas and unemployment within the country is high, so expats should only plan on moving to Moldova once they have secured a job.

Compared to locals, expats tend to be high earners and as a result, the cost of living in Maldova is low, especially if choosing to shop locally. This allows expats the opportunity to enjoy some of Moldova's best assets, like its excellent wine farms.

The official language of Moldova is Romanian, but Russian is also widely spoken. Expats who have a basic grasp of either of these will find it much easier to settle into life in Moldova.

The standard of healthcare in Moldova is poor when compared to those that Western European or North American expats are accustomed to. Therefore, expats should invest in a fully comprehensive health insurance policy which covers them for treatment elsewhere in Europe. Those considering bringing a family to Moldova should note that it can be difficult to find an appropriate school, as most teach in Romanian.

It would be inaccurate to claim that Moldova is an easy expat destination – on the contrary, life here can be challenging in many ways. Still, those who open themselves up to the Maldovan locals and their way of life are sure to have a culturally rich experience like none other.

Fast facts

Population: 4 million

Capital city: Chișinău

Neighbouring countries: Bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south

Geography: Moldova is landlocked and surrounded by its neighbours, Romania and Ukraine. Most of Moldova lies between the Prut and Dniester rivers.

Main languages: Romanian (also known as Maldovan) and Russian 

Major religions: Orthodox Christianity 

Legal system: Parliamentary republic

Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from the last Sunday of March to the last Sunday of October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used. 

Currency: The Moldovan Leu (MDL) can be subdivided into 100 bani. ATMs and card facilities are widely available in all major urban centres. 

International dialling code: +373

Internet domain: .md

Emergency numbers: 112 and 902

Drives on the: Vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road. Public transport can be unreliable, and expats are advised to use their own transport whenever possible.