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Moving to Romania

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.   


Fast facts

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.

Weather in Romania

Romania has a continental climate with four distinct seasons, including mild springs and autumns, sunny summers and chilly winters. Expats moving to Romania will be able to practice their skiing in winter, with snow typically falling from December through to March throughout the country. Winter temperatures average 84ºF (-3ºC), with the potential for heavy winds that can make the cold rather unpleasant. 

Spring, from the end of March through to June, has cool mornings and nights. This gives way to warm summers, during which expats may experience some rain. Generally, they can look forward to summers spent in the sun, enjoying the Romanian countryside, especially as daily temperatures range between 77°F (25°C) and 86°F (30°C).

Finally, autumn begins at the end of September, bringing both cool and dry weather.

 

Embassy Contacts for Romania

Romanian embassies abroad

  • Embassy of Romania, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 332 2935

  • Embassy of Romania, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7937 8069

  • Embassy of Romania, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 3709

  • Embassy of Romania, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6286 2343

  • Embassy of Romania, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 460 6941

  • Embassy of Romania, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 668 1150


Foreign embassies in Romania

  • United States Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 200 3300

  • British Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 201 7200

  • Canadian Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 307 5000

  • Australian Consulate, Bucharest: +40 374 060 845 

  • South African Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 313 3725

  • Irish Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 310 2131

Public Holidays in Romania

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Second Day of the New Year

2 January

2 January

Union Day

24 January

24 January

Orthodox Good Friday

30 April

22 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Orthodox Easter Sunday

2 May

24 April

Orthodox Easter Monday

3 May

25 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Children's Day

1 June

1 June

Orthodox Whit Sunday

20 June

12 June

Orthodox Whit Monday

21 June

13 June

Dormition of the Virgin Mary

15 August

15 August

Feast of Saint Andrew

30 November

30 November

National Day

1 December

1 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Second Day of Christmas

26 December

26 December

 

Safety in Romania

Romania is a safe country, with the worst crimes being petty and non-violent. Corruption remains an ongoing concern, however, and is an unfortunate reality across many aspects of life in Romania. Despite this, expats who familiarise themselves with the country will feel secure in their new home.


Crime in Romania

Like in most countries, crime does occur Romania, but it's generally opportunistic in nature. The most common forms of crime in Romania are petty theft and pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas and on public transport in the larger cities.

Institutional crime, such as corruption, continues to be a problem and new arrivals are advised to be wary of officials demanding bribes or issuing fines. Due to this, there are certain areas within cities that expats should avoid. The most notorious in Bucharest is the Ferentari district, which is a predominantly socially disadvantaged area in the southern part of the city.

The Romanian government has tried to crack down on all forms of crime, including corruption and institutional crimes. Although the anti-corruption measures have not always been effective, there is evidence of some high-profile arrests in recent years. 

Racial prejudices are also sometimes an issue in Romania, particularly with regard to the Roma people, who are often stereotyped as being thieves.


Credit card fraud in Romania

Credit card fraud is an ongoing problem in Romania, with foreigners being specifically targeted. Although most services in urban centres offer credit card payments, many expats prefer to use cash when making purchases in the country. 


Stray dogs in Romania

Although the number of dogs roaming the streets has decreased dramatically in recent years, stray dogs are common in Romania, especially in Bucharest. Many people like to feed them and, as a result, dog bites do happen. The Romanian government has made a concerted effort in recent years to control the stray dog population, but it has come under increasing criticism for the cruelty of its campaign, with thousands of dogs being culled.

Expats are advised to avoid stray dogs where possible as some can be aggressive and may have rabies. 


Emergency numbers in Romania

If expats find themselves in an emergency in Romania they should dial 112. Many operators do speak English.  

Working in Romania

Expats planning to work in Romania may find the job market difficult to enter. Competition for jobs is high and salaries in Romania are relatively low.

Foreigners wishing to work in Romania need to have a relevant work permit. Although EU nationals are exempt from this, they will still need to apply for a residence permit. Work permits are related to a specific job and the employer will usually take care of all the details for the application. To employ a foreigner, the hiring company needs to demonstrate that there are no EU or EEA candidates able to fill the role.


Job market in Romania

Romania has a wealth of relatively untapped economic potential. Large areas of the country are undeveloped or dedicated to agriculture. Paired with its natural beauty, a wide selection of cultural attractions underscores a tourism industry that is open for development and investment. 

Other areas in which expats may find opportunities in Romania include the resource and energy sectors, the industrial sector and the manufacturing industry. The country also has a formidable services sector with potential for growth and a demand for qualified expats with experience in finance, business services and retail. There has been growth in the area of human resources too. Many HR agencies look to hire expats in executive positions at some of the larger companies and multinationals. 

Expats looking to work outside a corporate environment should consider working in the NGO sector or teaching in Romania. The ESL industry has also been growing in recent years. Regardless of industry, however, most expats in the country work in the capital, Bucharest. 


Finding work in Romania

Romanian companies are often quite insular and would rather hire locally than deal with the process of trying to obtain a work permit for a foreign employee. At the same time, the Romanian government is keen to attract foreign business and establish the country as a strategic base for businesses trying to invest in the Eastern European market.

Expats can search for employment via online job portals. As the state requires that Romanian companies announce their vacancies, many jobs are also listed on the Romanian National Employment Agency. Otherwise, expats should consider approaching a recruitment agency, as many focus on placing expat workers. 


Work culture in Romania

Romanian business culture is formal and hierarchical, with an emphasis on respect for seniors and elders. Decisions are made from the top down and are rarely questioned by junior associates.

Despite the layers of formality, relationships are central to success in the Romanian workplace. Partially as a result of its communist heritage, the collective is valued above the individual.

Direct communication is valued but expats should also be sensitive and patient, especially when providing an opposing viewpoint. Part of this is maintaining eye contact, which is a sign of respect and interest. Formality tends to soften as individual relationships form, but this isn't a process that can be forced or rushed. Expats should allow their Romanian associates to set the tone of discussions.

Doing Business in Romania

Expats doing business in Romania are often attracted by its large domestic market, its young and educated workforce, and its prominent position in Eastern Europe. Functioning for many businesses as a gateway to the Balkans, the country is expected to continue growing at a steady pace.

The attractiveness of Romania's business environment is reflected in its positive rankings in international business surveys. Most notably, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020 ranked Romania at 55th out of 190 economies. The country ranked first for trading across borders and also scored well for enforcing contracts (19th). That said, there is room for improvement when it comes to dealing with construction permits and getting electricity, where the country ranked 147th and 157th respectively. 


Fast facts

Business hours

The Romanian working week is from Monday to Friday, with business hours typically being from 9am to 5pm.

Language of business

The language of business is generally Romanian, although many people also speak other major European languages such as English, French or German.

Greeting

Shaking hands when meeting business partners is customary. Neglecting to do so would be seen as an insult.

Business dress

Dress code varies according to the situation. In formal business settings, dressing conservatively is recommended – suits for men and a skirt that falls below the knee for women. Business casual is acceptable for more relaxed settings.

Gift giving

Giving small gifts to business partners is considered polite and is fairly common. A traditional gift from the expat’s home country is usually a safe bet in a business context. Being invited to a colleague’s home is a special honour, and a gift of chocolates or wine is customary. Gifts are often opened in the presence of the giver.

Gender equality

While gender equality is guaranteed by Romanian law, most executive and management positions are still held by men.


Business culture in Romania

Romanian business culture is formal and hierarchical, with an emphasis on respect for seniors and elders. Decisions are made from the top down and are rarely questioned by junior associates.

Communication

Interactions in business are usually formal and associates address each other using formal titles. Should an expat develop a more informal relationship with a Romanian associate, it's still expected that they would address them appropriately in formal situations. The most common formal titles in Romania are domnul (Mr), doamnă (Mrs) and domnişoară (Miss).

Meetings

This extends to meetings in Romania, which often follow a strict protocol. Expats should wait to be seated and only take off their jackets after the most senior person in the room does so. Small talk should be avoided unless initiated by local associates. Punctuality is important, especially in the private sector, although expats should be prepared to wait.

Direct communication is valued but expats should also be sensitive and patient, especially when providing an opposing viewpoint. Part of this is maintaining eye contact, which is a sign of respect and interest.

Formality tends to soften as individual relationships form, but this isn't a process that can be forced or rushed. Expats should allow their Romanian associates to set the tone of discussions.

Relationships

Despite the layers of formality, relationships are central to success in the Romanian workplace. Partially as a result of its communist heritage, the collective is valued above the individual.

Attitude to foreigners

Romanians have a reputation for being hospitable and are generally known to be friendly towards foreigners. Locals who live in urban areas are often able to speak foreign languages such as English, French or German, making communication a lot easier for many expats. At the same time, many Romanian businesspeople are wary of being taken advantage of by foreign companies, meaning that expats will have to work hard to build trust.


Dos and don’ts of doing business in Romania

  • Do be direct but sensitive, and focus on business, unless otherwise prompted

  • Don’t talk or make jokes about the communist regime or Roma people

  • Don’t be late for meetings, or call ahead and apologise if it is unavoidable

  • Don’t boast about achievements or make exaggerated claims

  • Do display courtesy at all times

Visas for Romania

Although Romania is an EU member, it has yet to adopt the Schengen visa. Until this situation changes, expats may need to apply for a separate visa for Romania.

Expats have various options for getting a visa to suit their specific needs. Whether planning a business trip or moving to Romania to join family or to work, there is a process that applicants have to go through to get their Romanian visa. This can be time-consuming, but organised expats with the right supporting documents should get through the process quite smoothly.

Holders of a multiple-entry visa for, and legal residents of, Schengen area countries are allowed to enter Romania without a visa and stay for 90 days in a 180-day period.


Short-stay tourist visas for Romania

To apply for a short-stay tourist visa for Romania, expats must have a valid passport with at least two blank pages. EU citizens and nationals of selected countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, do not need a visa to enter Romania as a visitor.

Though Romania isn't a Schengen visa country, expats with a multiple-entry Schengen visa don't need to have a separate visa for Romania for stays of less than 90 days.

Nationals of non-exempt countries will need to apply for a Romanian tourist visa. There are different categories of short-stay visas which cater to different travel purposes, most of which limit visits to a maximum period of 90 days.

Expats should apply for a visa at their closest Romanian embassy or consulate. A variety of supporting documents need to be provided. This includes application forms, passport photos, bank statements, proof of health insurance and proof of onward travel. The embassy will return the original documents to the applicant, in case they are requested by Romanian border police upon entry.

The process can take up to 30 days and application fees can vary for certain countries. More detailed information can be found on the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.


Long-stay visas for Romania

There are several long-stay visas for Romania which fall into different categories based on the purpose of the stay, including economic activities, employment, studies and family reunification. The validity of a visa varies depending on the category. Expats will have to pay an application fee.


Employment visas for Romania

Applying for a work permit in Romania requires that an expat's prospective employer prove to the Romanian government that they have been unable to fill the position with a Romanian national. Once the government has approved this and granted a work permit, expats will need to apply for a long-stay visa for employment purposes.


Residence visas for Romania

Expats moving to Romania with the intention of staying permanently will need to apply for a temporary residence permit. This allows individuals to stay in Romania for longer than 90 days and can be obtained from the Romanian Embassy. It's also advisable for expats to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the area in which they plan to live before moving to Romania. 

Expats who aren't married to a Romanian citizen can apply for permanent residence after living in the country for five years. Applicants for permanent residence permits for Romania will need to undergo health checks, criminal clearance and provide documents relating to their civil status, financial situation and medical insurance.


Family-joining visas for Romania

Family members wishing to join an expat living in Romania need to apply for a long-stay visa for family rejoining. To do this, they'll need to fill out an application for each person wanting to travel to Romania. Documents such as passports, photos, police clearance and medical checks will be required. The expat living in Romania will also need to get approval from immigration authorities.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Romania

The laws governing work permits for Romania are similar to most European Union member states. After securing a work permit, non-EU citizens need to obtain a long-stay visa for employment purposes, which is also known as the D/AM employment visa. To start this process an applicant first needs to have been offered a job in Romania.

The Romanian government has a quota system in place that regulates the number of work permits granted to foreign employees each year, which may limit an expat's opportunities. 


Applying for a Romanian work permit

In most cases, a work permit has to be applied for by a business in Romania on behalf of its prospective employee. It is the employer’s responsibility to prove that the position could not be filled by a Romanian or a candidate from another EU/EEA country.

The employer must also prove that the candidate has the qualifications and experience for the position, and these documents must be provided by the expat. The process for obtaining a Romanian work permit can take several weeks.

Once an expat receives their work permit from their employer, they need to apply for a long-stay visa for work purposes at the Romanian embassy in their home country. To get the visa, a number of documents will have to be submitted.

After arriving in Romania, a non-EU expat will need to register with the Romanian Ministry of Finance and get their Cod de Identificare Fiscala (CIF), a tax registration certificate with similar functions to a personal identification number. Again, this will require several documents.

An expat’s long-stay visa is tied to their work permit, which is valid for a maximum of one year. Provided that they still work for the same employer, an expat would need to renew their long-stay visa at least 30 days before it expires, and the work permit would be renewed at the same time.

Expats travelling with their families will have to apply for a separate visa for each family member. Family members are not allowed to work in Romania unless they also have their own work permit. Those already in the country on a temporary residence permit would have to apply for a work permit if they want to take up employment in the country.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Romania

The cost of living in Romania is a relative bargain for expats. Ranking 174th our of 209 cities in the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Romania is more affordable than Hungary and the Czech Republic, but more expensive than Bulgaria and Serbia. 

Rural areas and smaller cities such as Pitești, Cluj-Napoca and Iași are cheaper than the larger urban areas that are more popular with expats, including the likes of Timișoara, Sibiu and Brașov. Bucharest is significantly more expensive than any of these but, as it’s also where most opportunities and infrastructure are centred, most expats settle there.


Cost of accommodation in Romania

The cost of accommodation in Romania is not as low as expats may expect. Many of the blocks of apartments in cities such as Bucharest are old and in need of repair, so expat families with children often prefer to live in more expensive gated communities consisting of new-build houses. 

In addition to rent, expats will need to include the cost of utility bills in their budget. On the upside, most foreigners can afford a cleaner and/or babysitter as domestic help is relatively plentiful and cheap. 


Cost of food in Romania

Locally sourced food, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy is affordable, but the kind of produce available is seasonal. Conversely, branded Western goods, which are often stocked in supermarkets, can be expensive.


Cost of transport in Romania

Expats who choose to live in a rural area and commute to town to save on accommodation costs may find that the transport costs of such a choice can be higher than anticipated. The state of Romanian roads is sub-par and petrol is only slightly cheaper than in most of Europe.

On the other hand, Romanian public transport is inexpensive, routes are fairly extensive and there are many options in the form of buses, trains and taxis. 


Cost of healthcare in Romania

Expats working in Romania have free access to public healthcare services. Despite this, expats are also required to have private medical insurance in order to secure their residency status. Although private care incurs a variety of small and possibly trivial costs, it's still cheaper than many other European countries, as well as the US. 


Cost of education in Romania

New arrivals with children who speak Romanian may benefit from sending them to a Romanian public school, which is free for all residents. 

As the language of instruction in these schools is Romanian, most expats send their children to international schools. Tuition for these schools is expensive and often doesn't cover extra expenses such as uniforms and school books. Education may form the highest expense for expats in Romania.  


Cost of living in Romania chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider and the table below is based on average prices for Bucharest in May 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre 

RON 1,500 - 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre 

RON 1,000 - 1,900

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

RON 2,700 - 5,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

RON 1,800 - 3,500

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

RON 5.10

Eggs (dozen)

RON 10.80

Loaf of white bread

RON 3.10

Rice (1kg)

RON 5.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

RON 21.75

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

RON 21

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

RON 20

Coca-Cola (330ml)

RON 6.40

Cappuccino

RON 10

Local beer (500ml)

RON 8

Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant for two

RON 150

Utilities

Mobile call rate (minute-to-minute)

RON 0.40

Internet (uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)

RON 40

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

RON 485

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

RON 30

Transport

City centre bus fare

RON 1.50

Taxi rate per km

RON 2

Petrol (per litre)

RON 5.15

Culture Shock in Romania

The culture of Romania has been shaped by a difficult history, which includes its communist occupation. As a partial result of this, many locals may seem guarded and abrupt when it comes to dealing with foreigners, but this should be seen in context. After getting past some initial tensions, expats will find that most Romanians are warm, friendly and welcoming.

The country has opened up to the world at large, meaning that the challenges expats face when adjusting to life in Romania are diminishing as it becomes increasingly Westernised. Despite this, there is much that makes Romania unique and that might inspire some degree of culture shock. 


Language barrier in Romania

The country’s official language is Romanian, which is closely related to Italian and influenced by a mixture of Baltic and Slavic languages. The second most common language is Hungarian, which is mostly spoken in the Transylvania region.

Expats will be relieved to find that the major cities have a lot of English speakers who are generally extremely helpful when a foreigner gets lost. English-speaking expats sometimes find they can shop and complete basic transactions by saying no more than “hello” (bună ziua) and “thank you” (mulţumesc) in Romanian.

Finding a job, on the other hand, will likely require a few months of language training. The good news is that there are several language schools in Romania. 


Bureaucracy and corruption in Romania

The largest cause of culture shock for expats often comes from the country's inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and the high levels of corruption. 

Corruption is practised on a spectrum and can be as inoffensive as offering a bouquet of flowers to a nurse in the hospital or as blatant as delivering an envelope full of cash to a doctor to prevent negligence.

Expats navigating the channels of government and the business world often struggle to adapt to this. It’s recommended that expats who regularly negotiate business deals or interact with the government receive cross-cultural training to become more adept at navigating Romania’s bureaucracy and incidences of corruption.


Lack of convenience in Romania

Expats moving to Romania should prepare themselves for a few everyday inconveniences. For example, 24-hour stores are rare and, while supermarkets are well-stocked, there is a lack of choice between brands.

Other small inconveniences include people ignoring smoking bans in public places, drivers disregarding the rules of the road (and even driving on the pavement), and the large population of stray dogs in Bucharest.

Traffic can especially be a nightmare for expats living and working in Romania, which has some of the worst road safety statistics in Europe.


Food in Romania

Romanian food is not known for being especially healthy, but it certainly is worth sampling. Fatty meat, cheese, double cream and oily sauces are local staples. Expats who plan to indulge will need to keep an eye on their cholesterol levels.  

Some of the best-known Romanian specialities include mici (grilled meatballs), sarmale (minced meat rolled in cabbage leaves) and papanasi (Romanian doughnuts with cream and soft cheese). 

Local beer and wines are also worth trying. Expats who enjoy a drink should be sure to sample țuică, a strong and fragrant plum brandy aperitif.


Roma people in Romania

While expats from Western Europe or North America may hold a romanticised view of the Roma people, most locals don’t share this idea. Expressing positive or even neutral attitudes toward them will often garner stern looks or even flat-out hostility. Many Romanians attribute their distaste towards the Roma to the perceived high levels of criminality in this group. That said, it is important to bear in mind that crime exists in all communities, especially socially excluded or disadvantaged groups.

Accommodation in Romania

There is a good supply of real estate in Romania and enough variety to suit almost any budget. Expat housing in Romania is roughly divided between living in the city or staying in outlying suburbs.

Many expats arrive with their accommodation in Romania already secured by their company, as housing is typically something that is already included when expats negotiate their contract. If this is not the case, then it is not unreasonable to request that the employer helps with securing accommodation.


Types of accommodation in Romania

Accommodation within cities is usually limited to either modern or old Soviet-style apartment blocks, while housing beyond the city limits varies but tends to be more spacious.

Accommodation for expats moving to Romania includes furnished and unfurnished one- to three-bedroom apartments, as well as small cottages and larger villas. The price is largely the determining factor, and a general rule of thumb is that the more a person pays, the more they will get in terms of housing. 


Finding accommodation in Romania

New arrivals whose employers have not already secured their accommodation often find accommodation through online property portals.

Apart from this, many expats also use the services of English-speaking and reputable real estate agents who are familiar with the local market. Foreigners are often assumed to be wealthy and are therefore frequently targeted by scammers, unscrupulous landlords and dubious real estate agents. Hiring a reputable real estate agent to assist with paperwork and lease negotiations can help to guard against this. Utilising estate agents is also useful in negotiating with prospective landlords who don't speak English.

When looking to renting property in Romania, it is also important to note that phrases such as ‘three-roomed apartment’ in property advertisements usually refer to the total number of rooms in the entire apartment, not the number of bedrooms (this applies to houses too).


Renting accommodation in Romania

The cost of renting in Romania makes up the bulk of most expats’ living expenses. This cost is on par with, or even cheaper than, accommodation in other Eastern European countries. Renting accommodation in a city will generally cost more than smaller towns and outlying areas.

Pre-arranged housing takes the hassle out of lease negotiations in a foreign country. It also means that if something goes wrong, an expat could ask their company to intervene.

Leases 

Lease agreements in Romania tend to last for 12 months, but shorter leases can be negotiated. Leases can be terminated early, if need be, but this will require a month's notice. Rent is paid monthly and usually includes basic utilities. Furnished accommodation is also available at a higher price.

Deposits

In order to secure a lease, expats typically pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent. The deposit must be held at the landlord’s bank. At the end of the contract, the landlord may deduct expenses from the deposit for repairs to the property and for unpaid bills.

Costs and fees

Expats who secure their lease through estate agents will have to pay agency fees based on the monthly rent cost.

Those with a car should make sure where they can park and what the fees involved will be. Not all accommodation automatically includes a parking space.

Utilities

Utility fees may or may not be included in the monthly rental fee. This usually depends on the landlord. Expat should ask which items (for example, gas, water or electricity) they would have to pay themselves before signing the lease agreement.

Healthcare in Romania

Healthcare in Romania is universally free for those working in the country, but it may not be up to the standards that expats have come to expect in their home countries.
 
Owing to structural problems, the country has been dealing with a mass exodus of medical professionals and the quality of care in government facilities is sub-standard. Hospitals in Bucharest and other cities are better equipped, but supplies in small-town hospitals are limited.
 
Most common over-the-counter and prescription medications are available in Romania, but expats who prefer a specific brand should bring a supply with them, as generics may be the only option in Romania.
 
Stressful conditions and low salaries mean that bribery is common among the nurses and doctors who do stay in the country. Patients often give medical staff gifts or money in exchange for better service. That said, this is less likely to occur in the private sector.


Public healthcare in Romania

Public medical care in the country is managed by the National Health Insurance House (NHIH), which provides free or subsidised care to all Romanian residents, including expats. Those working in Romania will have their public healthcare contributions automatically deducted from their salaries.

Many expats find that the standard of public healthcare in Romania is inadequate. Public medical facilities tend to be understaffed and have outdated equipment. Long waiting times to receive treatment are another common complaint. 

During short visits, EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access public healthcare in Romania, provided it was issued in another EU country. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.


Private healthcare in Romania

Private healthcare is an ever-expanding industry in Romania. Private hospitals are the best option for expats looking for world-class healthcare in Romania, while private clinics are a good option for less serious conditions. Private medical facilities are usually restricted to urban areas and staff are typically well-trained and can usually speak English.

Patients at private hospitals are usually expected to pay for medical services in cash and then claim back from their health insurance company afterwards.


Health insurance in Romania

In order to be issued a visa, expats moving to Romania need to have private medical insurance. This should provide comprehensive cover and allow patients to use private facilities.

As public facilities aren't up to the standards of most Western countries, it is recommended that expats ensure that they are covered by an extensive private health insurance policy when moving to Romania.


Pharmacies in Romania

Pharmacies are available throughout Romania. They can be found attached to some hospitals and should stock most medicines. Expats should be aware that medications available over-the-counter in their home country may be prescription-only in Romania, and vice versa.


Emergency services in Romania

A complimentary emergency service is available in Romania and is called SMURD (Serviciul Mobil de Urgenţǎ, Reanimare şi Descarcerare), which translates to Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication. It deals with serious emergencies and can be reached by dialling 112.

Emergency response times can vary depending on the area in Romania. In some cases, and if possible, it might be faster for patients to make their own way to medical treatment facilities.

Education and Schools in Romania

The Romanian educational system faces challenges such as student underachievement and low state expenditure. As public education is taught in Romanian, most expats choose to send their children to international or private schools, especially as the quality of education is higher in these schools.

The Romanian school year is typically split into summer and winter semesters. The first semester begins in September and lasts until February. The second semester is from February to June. Vacation times are generally scheduled over Easter, Christmas and in the summer.

All children in Romania must attend school from the age of five, but many children also attend kindergarten at three or four years old.


Public schools in Romania

Public education in Romania is free for residents. There aren’t many first-class schools in the country and those schools with a good reputation often have long waiting lists. As a result, overcrowding at these schools is common and results in classes being split into morning and afternoon shifts to accommodate more students. 

Schools in Bucharest and other large cities are often better than schools in rural areas since they are better equipped and adequately staffed. Rural schools might only offer certain years of schooling and have a limited amount of teachers.

Given that students are taught in Romanian, public schools might not be the best option for expats unless their children are young and the family intends to stay in the country for the long-term. 


Private schools in Romania

The number of private schools in Romania has increased since the fall of communism. Private education is available from kindergarten level through to high school and does not usually follow the national curriculum. Romanian private schools can be expensive.


International schools in Romania

For expats in Romania, international schools are the most popular schools. All of these schools are situated in Bucharest. Although there isn’t an extensive selection, there are a few to choose from. Tuition is expensive, but these schools all offer quality education for the expat community. 

International schools in Romania can benefit parents too, as they can be useful for making new acquaintances and forming social connections.

International schools usually offer the International Baccalaureate programme, the British IGCSE programme, or a combination of these. In order to enrol in a Romanian international school, expats will have to provide a selection of documents including application forms, school records, references and the child’s birth certificate.


Special-needs education in Romania 

Children with special needs, depending on the severity of their needs, can enrol in either specific special-needs schools or mainstream schools. The Romanian government implemented a policy of inclusion with the aim of integrating special-needs children into mainstream schools, and therefore providing all children with the same educational opportunities. 

The majority of the schools in Bucharest and other big cities, including international schools, have facilities and teachers that can assist children with a variety of special needs. Many schools also have specialised occupational therapists and other special needs professionals in place to help these children. Only if a child is not able to adapt to mainstream schooling, will they be transferred to a special needs school. 


Tutors in Romania

Private home or online tutors are available in Romania to assist children with particular subjects and additional school support. Expats moving to rural areas will most likely struggle to find a tutor, however. Those living in Romanian cities may find it useful to hire a tutor to help their child adapt to their new school curriculum, if different from their schooling at home, as well as the language of instruction. Romanian can be a difficult language to learn and it may be useful to have extra Romanian lessons with a tutor. 

There are many websites and companies that advertise private online or home tutors in Romania. These companies include Verbling, Tutoroo and TeachMe2. 

Transport and Driving in Romania

There are several options when it comes to transport and driving in Romania. Buses and trains can be used for cross-country travel. These are also popular means of travel within cities. 

Although some expats drive in the country, the roads and driving culture can be hazardous in Romania. 


Public transport in Romania

Public transport in Romania is well developed, especially in Bucharest. Tickets are affordable and a combination of bus and rail travel means that most of the country is accessible via public transport. 

Buses

Bus services in Romania are widely available. Tickets should be bought before boarding and can usually be purchased at bus stations. Buses can be crowded during peak hours and petty theft is common. Expats should guard their valuables at all times.

Privately run express buses are a good option for inter-city travel. Once-off as well as monthly tickets are available. Terminals are often located close to city train stations. Euroline buses can be faster than trains when travelling to other parts of Europe. 

Trains

Trains are an inexpensive way to travel in Romania. The rail network is dense and covers most of the country.

There are three types of train lines operating in Romania. InterCity trains are the fastest, most expensive, network which connects Romania's main cities and which also travel to other European countries. InterRegio trains are fast and serve to connect Romania's important towns and cities. Finally, Regio trains are older, slower and connect Romania's smaller towns and villages. 

Trains are an efficient means of travelling to Romania’s neighbouring countries. There are daily trains to Budapest and less frequent trains to Belgrade, Sofia, Chisinau and Kiev. Tickets can be bought online or at stations before boarding. 


Taxis in Romania

Taxis in Romania are affordable. Expats should be careful not to use unauthorised taxis because they regularly inflate their fares. Authorised taxis usually have the name and phone number of their company on the car. It's best to use metered taxis and to insist that the driver switches it on at the beginning of the journey.

Some rideshare and taxi-service apps operate in Romania's main cities. Local apps include Clever Taxi, while Uber and Taxify also operate in the country. 


Driving in Romania

Some expats, especially those living in rural areas, buy cars to get around Romania. The driving laws in Romania are strict. Expats should stick to the speed limit and follow road rules. This includes having the correct documents in the car at all times.

Driving in Romania can be hazardous as the driving culture can be reckless, and roads in some areas may not be well maintained. 

Winters in Romania can be especially treacherous for drivers. Ice on the roads is not always cleared away regularly, so expats should ensure that they have fitted winter tyres or snow chains when necessary. Romanian law also requires cars to have their lights on at all times. 

Parking is also a problem in Romanian cities and reserved parking is usually expensive.

Keeping in Touch in Romania

Although far from home, new arrivals will soon find that keeping in touch in Romania and staying connected with loved ones abroad is relatively hassle free.
 
Expats living in Romania can expect access to all of the amenities of modern communication. Signing up for cellular subscriptions is easy and there is a range of service providers that offer internet packages.
 
Those who prefer more traditional forms of communication will find that the Romanian postal service, although slow-moving, is highly dependable. 


Mobile phones in Romania

Aside from RCS & RDS, the largest mobile providers in the country are Telekom Romania, Orange and Vodafone. Customers are able to access a range of services through these operators, including 3G and 4G coverage.

Stores are widely distributed and expats will have access to both prepaid and contract options. Expat customers may be asked to provide documentation proving their identity, place of residence and financial status.


Internet in Romania

As the industry is highly competitive, accessing the internet and connecting to a broadband service provider in Romania is cheap and easy. Expats can enjoy some of the highest connection speeds in the world, and subscribers can negotiate a connection package that suits their budget and needs.

Some of the main providers include RCS & RDS, Telekom Romania, Skynet, Ines Telecom, GTS Telecom and UPC Romania. Service provider contract prices differ depending on the area, cable speeds and type of internet access (such as wireless, ADSL or fibre lines).


Postal services in Romania

The Romanian postal service (Poșta Română) is usually reliable but tends to be slow. Expats in areas outside of Bucharest can expect even slower postage times. Express services are available, but they tend to be less efficient than Western expats might be used to.

Frequently Asked Questions about Romania

Expats considering a move to Romania will naturally have many concerns about life in this culturally rich country.

From transport concerns to queries about the expat community, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Romania.

Is there a sizable expat community in Romania?

While Romania is not the most popular expat destination, there are pockets of expats in the larger cities, particularly in Bucharest and Brașov. There are even some expat clubs in Bucharest. The Diplomat Bucharest and Nine o’ Clock are great English news and media sources within the country.

Is Bucharest the only large ‘expat city’ in Romania?

Bucharest is not the only expat city in Romania, but it is the most popular. Many jobs available for expats are situated in Bucharest. Brașov is also a large city, and does have some expats living there, though not as popular as Bucharest.

What is the general attitude toward the Roma people in Romania?

Most Romanians do not like the Roma people. There is a significant amount of racism directed at the Roma, who are generally blamed for any crime or unsavoury occurrences that happen in Romania. Known pejoratively as 'gypsies', the Roma are a sore point with most Romanians and, as such, it is a topic that is best avoided in conversation. 

Will I need to buy a car to get around Romania?

The public transport network in Romania is extensive and generally works well. The road network also extends across the country and is easy to use, but some roads aren't paved, and many of the roads fell into disrepair during the communist era. Owning a car in Romania is tricky, as the maintenance costs are escalated by the state of the roads in many parts of the country. Unless living in an isolated part of the country, it's better not to have a car and to rather make use of public transport.

Is it necessary to have both a work permit and visa to work in Romania? 

To work in Romania, expats will need both a long-term stay visa and a work permit. These are valid for a year, and will need to be renewed at least 30 days before they expire. After living in the country for five years, expats will be able to apply for permanent residency. 

Banking, Money and Taxes in Romania

Expats will find that banking, money and taxes in Romania are relatively straightforward. There are a number of options when it comes to managing expat finances in Romania, with both local and international banks operating in the country.


Currency in Romania

Despite being a member of the EU, the country is only scheduled to adopt the Euro in 2027 or 2028. The national currency is still the Romanian Leu (RON). Each leu is divided into 100 bani

The Romanian currency is available in the following denominations:

  • Banknotes: 1 RON, 5 RON, 10 RON, 50 RON, 100 RON, 200 RON and 500 RON

  • Coins: 1 ban, 5, 10 and 50 bani


Banking in Romania

Banking in Romania is relatively easy. Expats will find all the services that they are familiar with, such as internet banking. 

To open a bank account, expats will need their passport, proof of residency, previous bank statements and an initial deposit. Sometimes copies of an employment contract or salary slip are also needed. Requirements may differ between banks.

Some of the more popular expat-friendly banks in Romania include Alpha Bank, Bancpost, UniCredit and BRD (Groupe Societe Generale). International banks with branches in Romania include Citibank, BNP Paribas and ING. 

Banking hours are usually from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs (bancomat) are widely available in larger cities, especially at bank branches and shopping centres. They are far scarcer in rural areas and villages. 

Stores in larger cities accept cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Star and Plus. Romania is largely a cash-based society, and some shops in smaller towns and villages are unlikely to accept cards as credit fraud in Romania is an unfortunate reality. Expats should take appropriate precautions to avoid being scammed.


Taxes in Romania

The tax system in Romania is a great incentive for expats wanting to move to Eastern Europe. Romania has a flat personal income tax rate of 10 percent.

For tax purposes, an individual is considered a resident if they reside in Romania for at least 183 days within a 12-month period. Romanian residents and companies are required to pay tax on their global income as well as their income within Romania. On the other hand, non-residents are taxed only on their income in Romania.

Romania has double-tax avoidance agreements in place with several countries. So, expats should check with their local tax office to see whether their home country has such an agreement in place with Romania. Employers are required to deduct tax payments on behalf of their employees.

Expat Experiences in Romania

When considering a move to a new country, there's nothing more useful than hearing real-life stories and reading first-person experiences from other expats who've been living there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Romania and would like to share your story.


Jessica Powers works in the education sector. After spending four years teaching in South Korea, and getting married, she and her husband decided to move somewhere with a better work-life balance. They now live in Bucharest where they enjoy the various social events available. Read more about Jessica's life as an expat.

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Oana Barker worked as a pianist in Germany, where she developed an interest in trading and investing. In 2009 she moved back to Bucharest, Romania and became a trader. She still lives in Bucharest, working as a private trader in the financial markets. In our interview with her, she gives us a repatriate’s perspective on living in Romania.

Elizabeth Searles is an American expat who has spent the past few years living in various countries across the world. She's lived in India, China and Poland, and has now settled in the small Romanian town of Tulcea. She shares her experiences of living in Romania

Matt is a Canadian expat living in Transylvania, Romania. Although he moved to Romania for work, he was actually returning to the country of his birth. Matt loves life in the tranquil city of Cluj-Napoca and has found that he was able to rediscover his culture by interacting with the warm and friendly locals. Read more about Matt's life in Romania.

Odessa is a Louisiana native living in Romania. She moved there in 2004 with her husband and three young children. Odessa wanted her children to grow up in Romania and learn the value of hard work and the importance of family. Read about her expat experience in Romania.