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Moving to Romania?

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Urs Mayerl

Living in Romania, from Switzerland

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Romania at a Glance

Moving to Romania

From the intriguingly superstitious land depicted in Bram Stoker's novels to one of Europe's latest “tiger” economies, Romania presents a wide range of attractions to expats worldwide. You can learn more about the country’s population, culture, visa requirements and more in this article.

The Land and Its People

Romania is an attractive country with quite a mix of inhabitants. In 2014, the estimated population was just shy of 20 million and while the majority are Romanians, around 6% are Hungarians, and Roma account for another 3%. Around 2.2 million live in Bucharest including its suburbs, and there are plans to incorporate an even larger metropolitan area of 20 times the size of the city center. The country is found in south-eastern central Europe to the west of the Black Sea, and totals over 238,390 square kilometers. Its neighbors include Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova and Serbia.

History of Modern Romania

Romania as we know it came about in 1859 through the merger of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. It freed itself from the Ottoman Empire in 1877 and at the close of World War I absorbed neighboring territories like Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina. After World War II, Romania suffered under the hands of the Communist regime, which had illicitly gained power in 1946.

Romania became a republic with the forced abdication of King Michael I in 1947, and dissenters were harshly treated via labor camps, torture and death. Ceausescu was the dictator of Romania from 1965 to 1989; he was executed during the Revolution of December 1989, and since then the country has been enjoying growth as a top international destination.

Language and Religion

Romanian is the main language spoken, with about 91% of the populace using it as their first language. Other languages spoken include Hungarian, Vlax Romani, German, and Turkish, and it is reported that 31% of Romanians speak English.

Although there is no official state religion in Romania, the vast majority of its people proclaim themselves to be Christians, with over 80% belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church according to a 2011 census. There are over 64,000 Muslims, about 3,500 Jews and 19,000 people of no religion in addition to roughly 21,000 atheists.

Romania has a rich cultural heritage. Folkloric dancing and games are a big part of the country’s national holidays; it has 12, including the Great Union Day, which is celebrated on December 1 to remember the 1918 union of Transylvania and Romania. Over the Christmas and New Year period, many merrymakers wear traditional Romanian dress, particularly in rural areas.

Egg painting, too, is a big part of Easter. On March 1, the historic tradition of Mărțișor giving is observed. Mărțișor means “little March” and it consists of a small decoration hung from a red and white string. People wear it on their clothes from the first to the last day of March, at which point they tie it to a fruit tree. Folk legend had it that whosoever wore the red and white string would enjoy good health and fortune for the rest of the year.

Cuisine in Romania

Romanian food is generally very wholesome and nourishing, in common with other Balkan states such as Bulgaria and Turkey. Soups are very popular, and the main meats used are pork, chicken, and beef. Romania’s national drink is Tuică, a strong plum brandy of up to 60% alcohol content.

Visa for Romania

For most foreign visitors, a visa isn’t required if they are only staying for a short time. If you want to move to Romania, expats from EU or EEA member states, as well as Switzerland are free to do so under the Schengen Agreement. 

Third-country nationals who are planning on moving to Romania need to acquire a long-stay visa (D). There are different categories of this type of visa, including but not limited to visas for carrying out economic activities, studying, or taking up employment. You can find out more about the various requirements, as well as additional information on where to apply for a residence permit once arrived, on the website of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Climate in Romania

Romania has quite a range of temperature all year round, owing to its position in the south-east of Europe, but in general the climate is fairly moderate. Be prepared for warm or very hot summers and cold winters if you move to Romania. The country is finding itself more and popular with sun-seekers during the holiday season. The lowlands in southern and eastern Romania often enjoy temperatures of up to 38°C in July and August. On the other hand, snowfall in the western mountains means there is a booming skiing industry to discover.

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