Moving to Romania
Moving to Romania from the US has many advantages and some challenges, which is to be expected when moving to a country with a different culture. Advice depends on each person’s circumstances. This means that Bucharest, having several good, inexpensive nursery schools, is a good choice for young families, since domestic help is also affordable. Yet, the amount of traffic and a blatant disregard of the rules of the road takes some getting used to. However, for US immigrants to Romania, probably the biggest cultural shock is the level of customer service on offer. Whilst there has been some improvement in recent years, slow service in restaurants and unhelpful store staff are just some of the poor customer service you are likely to experience. This is more frustrating and confusing because, in contradiction to that, Romanians are genuinely warm, welcoming, and generous people.
So, your first lesson is to know that Romania is nothing like America. The pace of life is slower; choices are much more limited and not always easily accessible. If you want entertainment as you would have in the US, like cinemas, bowling, nightclubs, casinos, etc, you will want to live in one of the larger cities. Yet Romania is full of culture and traditions and is a wonderful place to be. It is generally a very safe place, with advice for living in a Romanian city is the same as in any big city, which is to be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant. Visiting Romania on a visitor’s visa to see what you think before making a move is a good way to find out if it is right for you. It will be a shock to the system to move without having visited first and experienced what Romania has to offer including the amazing casinos which can give you a good amount of money for start!
What documents do you need to move to Romania
US visitors will need a passport valid for the entire duration of your visit, though most airlines request your passport has at least six months validity remaining whenever you travel abroad, a request backed up by US authorities. This is all you need for visits for less than 90 days. US passport holders do not need a visa.
For stays longer than 90 days (accumulated during a single visit - or multiple visits - within a six-month period) US visitors need to need to apply for a temporary residence permit either before arriving into Romania or at least 30 days before the 90-day "no visa" stay expires. The Romanian Immigration Office provides the most up-to-date information, but currently the requirements for a temporary residence permit are for documents that confirm the purpose and conditions of your stay and which prove you have the ability to maintain yourself in the country with finances to return to your country of origin or transit to another state where it is certain you will be allowed entry. Also, names will be checked against various shared information systems to check you are not a danger to national defense and security, public health, etc.
Cost of living in Romania
If you want to maintain a typically US lifestyle and you will be living in Bucharest, the most expensive city in the country, you are likely to need about USD2,300. An apartment in the central part of Bucharest, such as the Calea Victoria Dorbanti, or Hilton Hotel areas will cost in the region of USD550-780. For a nice meal in a nice restaurant, you will be just one-quarter less than you would pay in a similar restaurant in Paris or London. To live on a USD1,000 budget means living like a Romanian, shopping in local markets, preparing your own meals and having nights out on special occasions only. Public transportation and taxis are extremely cheap.
Romania offers wonderful rural living, with mountains and the Danube with its magnificent landscapes and the Delta. Rural living does bring you front and center with a society that has been closed for forty years under communist rule. This means that some Romanians are not very accepting of other cultures. There is an intolerance of gypsies, non-Caucasians and those who are not Orthodox Christians, but if you make an effort, you will find you have good neighbors.
Romanian bureaucracy can take time. You will likely have to stretch your current levels of patience. Forms are completed in triplicate. Processes can take several days, requiring several separate visits for what a process that might be achieved in one day, or even half-a-day in your hometown. This may be a hangover from communist times when there was a need to provide full employment, which meant implementing extra steps to justify employment.
If at all possible, try to enroll in a Romanian language course before you move overseas. Online courses are available to take at your own pace or Skype conversations directly with Romanians in Romania. Those who know Italian and Spanish will find the language easier to learn. The education ministry in Bucharest also offers Romanian classes for foreigners.
Finding a job in Romania
Most immigrants to Romania are working with major European corporations with smaller operations in Romania. Several NGOs also have offices in the country with numbers growing. Work for spouses or others moving with those already with a job can be a challenge, and you cannot expect the same salary you achieved at home.