As I found myself on a plane headed towards Romania, I must admit that I felt terrified. I was moving away from my home, sunny Greece, into a new, unexplored place, a strange country, with vampire myths, and bizarre traditions.I’d heard many rumors about Romania and I didn’t know what to believe. Romania experienced plenty of unfortunate events in its past history, especially in the communist era which persisted through 1989. Compared to Greece, which is a democracy, I would be entering the realm of an ex-communist state. It would be a huge transition for me and my family.
These two countries are very unique and beautiful at the same time and even though they are geographically close to one another, they are very different.
In the past ten years, Romania has developed and changed its views in a good way. Many foreign investors came to this country and explored its huge potential.
They provided many jobs to the Romanian people, and situations have changed. The extraditions were a bad memory and new laws came instead of the old ones.
Life in Romania is very different from the Greek lifestyle.
For me it’s one big example: the working schedule is easier in Greece, because there is a strong culture of people working at most 40 hours a week; in Romania this is just a dream! Most people here work more than 8 hours a day, and they have to work weekends as well!
Plus, finding a job in Romania is difficult, and you must have the most impeccable CV with a lot of diplomas to show. In Greece, one could say that it is simpler to start a life and find a new job as a foreign person – although I wonder how this might change due to recent economic events. Believe it or not, rents in Romania are more expensive than Greece (about 20% higher), even though the money people take in is less.
There are many places to settle in Romania: my suggestion: Bucharest.
A large powerful city that shows its vast history and haunted past; it has many shops, restaurants, clubs, malls, museums, parks, monuments, and of course, the old center of the town, with turn of the century “art nouveau” architecture (go there and you will feel like you stepped into a time machine). You could visit or settle in Bucharest and find a job easier than in other smaller towns. Another lovely city is Sibiu, the “cultural capital” of Europe.
If you are an expat just like me, you will find many expat communities right here in Romania.
You can meet with your compatriots and have discussions regularly. Also you can make Romanian friends. They tend to be a warm, non-racist lot who accept expatriates and make them feel like home. This is another difference between Greeks and Romanians, in my opinion. One gets the impression that Greeks are more selective and do not accept foreigners very easily.
Also if you don’t like Romanian cuisine (a blog post for the future, to be sure), you can find many restaurants that serve Indian, Greek , Asian, Arabic, Turkish, and Irish cuisine to name the most notable.
I must admit, however, that to live here in Romania is a bit more difficult compared to Greece. The combination of wages being lower and hours being longer takes its toll wherever you might be. Romania though has a unique charm, like a complicated watch, I like to say. This beautiful country with its wonderful vampire stories, the magic of the Carpathian mountains, the beauty of the Black Sea, its vast green forests, picturesque villages with unusual but lovely traditions, delicious cuisine and great warm people, made me love spending many years here, almost half of a lifetime– even if sometimes I miss my own country.