Romania has become one of the fastest-growing international destinations for expats following a boom in industry during the 2000s. Its main industries are machinery and electric energy, and the services industry plays an important role in the local economy, too. It also has a very distinctive culture and identity, and local people are very friendly towards foreigners moving there to work. Life in Romania is taking on an increasingly cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Romania has a universal healthcare system, although it is not in as quite a good state as it could be. Hospitals can be short on supplies, especially in small towns, and many qualified medical staff have traveled out of the country to seek other opportunities. As an expat living in Romania, you need to have private health insurance in order to gain a visa to enter the country, and this will entitle you to use private clinics and hospitals. These are generally better equipped and more efficient, and staff will speak English.
For EU citizens, there’s the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows you free admission to state hospitals and other facilities, but not private healthcare.
There is a network of around 11,400 General Practitioners in Romania and the population is quite well provided for. Some GPs only cater to about 1,000 patients, and you’re usually able to get an appointment on the same day.
Pharmacies in the country are usually pretty well stocked, with a good selection of supplies. The biggest names are SensiBlu, Farmaciile Dona, and Remedia. If you’re looking for a repeat prescription from your home country, you might have to get it prescribed again by a Romanian doctor.
Romania has a decent network of roads and motorways, with work ongoing to create a new system of twelve motorways at a total distance of over 2,200 kilometers. At the moment the total road network comes to about 198,817 kilometers. The quality of roads can be very variable, with those built in the Communist era showing their age, but the new ongoing construction project should deliver positive changes, with a hope for completion by 2022.
At the moment, main highways can be congested with traffic, especially those linking Bucharest, the capital city, with other cities, but this should change with the new motorways. On more rural roads, watch out for potholes and livestock on the road. Cars drive on the right, which those who have learnt to drive on the left in their home country may take some time to get used to this. For use of the national road system, you will also need to buy a vignette sticker and display it on the windscreen of your car.
EU expatriates living in Romania can use their national driver’s license to drive in the country. Those hailing from further afield can typically us their national license for up to 90 days, after which they’ll need to apply for a Romanian license. The legal alcohol level for driving in Romania is zero, so don’t touch a drop before taking the wheel unless you want to face harsh penalties.
There is a good system of public transport, especially in the center of Bucharest, which has an extensive and cheap bus network. You have to buy your ticket before travel and validate this on the bus. There is a metro that goes all over the city, and intercity trains are affordable. For the best way to view Romania in style, take a cruise along the Danube River.
The international airport is Henri Coanda, about 11 miles north of Bucharest, with express buses going to Gara de Nord and Piata Unirii stations. Ten other airports across Romania serve domestic connections.
Romania is probably no worse or better than most countries for crime, but a certain level of awareness and caution is always recommendable. Particularly in Bucharest, pickpockets and bag-snatchers may congregate in places with high levels of foreigners, such as the airport concourse, public transport, and in railway stations. The emergency services number is 112.
It is generally safe to live in Romania. On the whole, the crime rate is reasonably low. As an expat you should take care of personal possessions; it has been reported that gangs are posing as policemen and asking to see passports and wallets, but they remove some money from the wallet before giving it back. Keep passports in the safe if staying at a hotel. Rahova and Ferentari are notorious for being the most dangerous areas of the capital.