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With an enticing Mediterranean-style climate, thriving entrepreneurial culture, and emerging-market opportunities, relatively low cost of living, vibrant capital and beautiful countryside – not to mention a path to citizenship for Brits suffering from the Brexit blues – there are plenty of reasons why moving to Romania is a great idea. However, the post-Communist bureaucracy and cultural differences can make it a hard place to navigate at first, but don't worry we are here to help!
Romanians are tech-savvy early adopters and have embraced social networks, particularly Facebook. There are numerous groups to help foreigners planning to move here, with everything from tips on the Bucharest neighbourhoods popular with ex-pats, English-speaking schools and nannies, get-togethers and nights out for young foreigners or businesspeople, to how to register a car and even finding a job. Good places to start are MOMS Bucharest (for, unsurprisingly, mothers) and Cs and Expats in Bucharest (for anything and everything; many use it to job hunt). Some ex-pats have also set up specific groups for their compatriots –Britons in Bucharest, American Expats in Romania etc.
The local bureaucracy can be bewildering for those used to simpler systems. If you’d rather avoid the hassle when moving to Romania, local companies can assist with the practical aspects of your move. One of the longest on the market is British-run Moorcroft Services, which can help newcomers with such tasks as importing a vehicle, getting residency and setting up a company.
This is not a country where the locals will sniff at you if you fail to master their tongue. In the capital, Bucharest, and the major cities at least, almost everyone under 45 speaks some English, and many are fluent. English is firmly the language of business. I’ve sat through meetings with 15 people, held entirely in English to accommodate the one or two ex-pats in the room. That’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt to learn – Romanians love it when outsiders manage to say at least a few phrases. But it won’t impair your employment prospects if you arrive here with nothing more than “Va rog” and “multumesc” (please and thank you).
Romanians are plain-speaking Latin people. Don’t take offence if anyone addresses you directly. “Do you believe in God?”, “How much do you earn?”, and “Do you want children?” are considered conversational fair game by many. This is not rudeness; rather, Romanian culture hasn’t traditionally encouraged the practice of small talk and people simply ask if they are interested in something.
Along the same lines, capitalism and consumerism are still relatively new to Romania. The service culture is developing, but you may encounter waiters, shop assistants, civil servants and the like who seem to think they’re doing you a favour by serving you. Again, don’t take it personally: under Communism, jobs were allocated by the state-based in part on your favour within the Party, rather than merit, so there was little incentive to work hard and go all out to please customers.
Moving to Romania, you'll realise its still an emerging market, bursting with business opportunities. You can take an idea that’s tried and tested in your home country, and be the first, or one of the first, to do it here. Living costs, start-up costs and barriers to entry are generally low (excluding the bureaucracy). Romanians complain (rightly) that Bucharest is more expensive than it used to be, but overall, and particularly with rent and travel, costs are much lower than in Western Europe. If you’re looking for a place to hunker down for six months and finally write that novel, or work on your start-up idea, it’s possible with modest savings or Western freelance earnings.
Romanians know their country has a bad rep (undeserved) abroad, and want to give you the best impression of their homeland. They value Western business experience, as it has helped to rebuild the market after the 1989 Revolution, and particularly prize native English teachers who can help them boost their employability. Doors will open to you that would remain firmly closed in your homeland. For example, I approached a famous guitarist to work on my musical project – he agreed. Imagine the response if you rocked up to Noel Gallagher and asked the same!
About the writer
Any advice is welcome when it comes to moving abroad, especially money saving tips! We´re all pretty used to paying unnecessary fees when we visit other countries - expensive bank fees, luggage fees,