Although significant improvements in the everyday lives of the Romanians have taken place in the years after the 1989 Revolution, and mostly after the country joined the European Union, more and more Romanians leave the country for jobs in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, USA and even Israel. Reversely, more and more foreigners establish in Romania for work or study purposes, and there is an increasing number of people, especially from Western Europe, who come here to spend their old ages. If you plan to come to our country for more than just visiting, below are some things (some general, some a bit more specific) that you might need to know. The main reason why foreigners choose to live in Romania is that it has much to offer, from beautiful places to a rich culture, from friendly people to many development opportunities, from improving services to a quite low cost of living.
Cost of living
If we have started talking about money, let’s talk about money! Though cheaper than in much of Europe, prices in Romania fluctuate pretty much depending on the service or product you are buying, where and when you do it and many other factors that sometimes even we do not understand. Bucharest is the most expensive place to be, and life in the big cities is not very cheap either. If you are headed for a small town or a rural village, expect knock-out prices. Another example refers to the origin of the food products, such as fruits, vegetables, meat or cheese. The local products have lower prices compared to the imported ones. Moreover, eating from Western style restaurants (such as KFC and McDonald’s) is sometimes twice the price of eating in a local restaurant.
Generally, your biggest expenditure will be the accommodation, and we definitely recommend finding an apartment to rent than staying at the hotel, which might prove to be quite an expenditure on the long run. Food is quite cheap, especially if you know how to cook. Buying the products and ingredients from markets and supermarkets and preparing food at home is a good solution to save some money. Nevertheless, eating out remains an affordable option, as many restaurants offer 10 to 20 lei worth “menus of the day”. If your job requires moving a lot from one place to another, the big cities offer car rental services at tariffs comparative with those in most of the European countries. The much cheaper, though much slower and not very comfortable, alternative is public transportation.
For more detailed numbers in what regards the cost of living and prices in Romania, check this link.
Learning (at least some) Romanian might seem like a brilliant idea before moving here, as there are still many public clerks who do not speak English. Start with the basics and then, after coming here, use the services of a language training company or a private tutor.
Another important aspect that you will probably have to face daily in Romania are the banking services. Open a bank account and get a Romanian debit card which will surely ease your paying processes (paying bills, in supermarkets or online). You will be amazed (we were too) to find out that certain banks have special offers for foreign clients.
It seems that being a foreigner in Romania has its privileges, but we hope that you will get to feel Romanian as soon as possible!
Residence Cards / Stay Permits
If you are a citizen of a state from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, and your stay in Romania exceeds 3 months, you will have to register your residence by obtaining a registration certificate from the local representatives of the Romanian Office for Immigration. To do so, you will have to fill in a standard application form, pay a tax and present your identity card or passport (a copy and the original) and a series of documents, depending on the nature of the activity you will perform during your stay in our country. These other documents may include a working contract, a volunteer contract or a proof that you have the capacity to unfold economic and commercial activities. Foreigners who come to Romania to study have to present also the certificate of enrolment for an accredited educational institution, proof of the means of maintenance and health insurance. The registration certificate is issued the same day and is valid for a period of up to 5 years, but no less than 1 year. If you have a continuous stay in Romania for more than 5 years, you can request a permanent residence card, valid for 10 years.
For foreigners who want to live, work and study in Romania and are not citizens of a state from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, things are a little bit more complicated. Depending on the type of activity you plan to unfold in our country, you will have to fulfil certain criteria before actually arriving here. Before applying for a visa, employees, entrepreneurs and investors who want to perform independent, economic and commercial activities in Romania need to obtain a work authorization from the Romanian Office for Immigration, as well as other certificates specific to their activity field. You can get the long-stay visa, 90-days valid, from your country’s consulate or embassy in Romania. At least 30 days before your visa expired, you need to go to the local representatives of the Romanian Office for Immigration to request a stay permit. To get it, you will have to fill in an application form, pay a tax and present your identity card or passport (a copy and the original), a health certificate and a series of documents, depending on the nature of the activity you will perform during your stay in our country. Students will have to add to the folder a study admission letter, a certificate issued by the educational institution, proof of the means of maintenance for the entire period of the stay permit and proof of the possession of the living space (a copy and the original). After obtaining the stay permit, you can request a long stay permit from the same Romanian Office for Immigration, which will give you the right to remain in our country for 5 years or 10 years (if you are family member of a Romanian citizen).
Working in Romania
Opportunities for working in Romania are relatively few, but lately there has been a wave of foreign investors and entrepreneurs who moved to Romania in order to start their businesses here. Unless you have your own business or work for an international corporation, wages can be modest, so beware of this aspect before coming here.
The biggest cities are usually the most attractive ones. If you are looking for a job, Bucharest offers most of the possibilities. Foreign languages skills are always appreciated for translation offices and there is an increasing number of private schools who opt for hiring native speakers of English, French, German, Spanish and other languages of international circulation. Nannying is another developing job opportunity, especially for women, which provides a good insight into the Romanian family life. The Romanian medical schools are much appreciated, and there are many Arab students coming here to study, who later on settle down and become doctors. After the capital, Iaşi, Constanţa and Timişoara are the cities where most foreigners live and work in. The other cities and towns in the country, although they do not offer so many jobs to pick from, are an ideal place to start a private business. Moreover, many expats, mainly Italians, Germans and Arabs decided to move to the countryside, both to live a quiet life closer to the nature and to invest in agriculture.
Studying in Romania
The main cities in Romania are also the biggest university centres. Over 30 public and private universities in Bucharest, Iaşi, Craiova, Cluj-Napoca, Timişoara and other big cities in Romania receive thousands of foreign students every year. The main reasons for which Romania is such an attractive country for the foreign students is the quality of the education (which is better than in their home countries), the internationally recognised diplomas and qualifications, the affordable costs and, last but not least, the Romanian unique nightlife. Most of the students come from the neighbouring countries, Moldova, Serbia, Bulgaria or Ukraine, but there is also a big number of students coming from Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Nigeria. They are interested mainly in studying medicine, economic and technical sciences, but also philology, law or political sciences.