When you hear Romania, you’re probably not thinking about a “must have” place on your list of digital nomad destinations. Unfortunately the country has a bad rep, pretty much like any Eastern European country. Some think “what the hell would I do in that communist, poor, uneducated place?” while others have no idea where this place is let alone what they could do in Romania. And then there are some who absolutely love it. And they are not Romanians so we cannot accuse them of nationalism.
Most of Romania’s reputation is shit because the greatest numbers of people to leave to country in search of a better life were gypsies and low income, uneducated people looking for work that other Europeans wouldn’t do. Like picking fruit and all kinds of jobs in agriculture, caring for old people, working in the hotel or cruise business and so on. And yes, some of the have low morals, no education and pure desperation as a driver. But they are not the best you’re going to get in this country. Really now, fear not. We are not all the same. We are just like any other country out there. Just a bit behind schedule and we can’t yet fully figure out how to catch up to others.
Still there are many reasons amazing Romania should be one of your digital nomad destinations: travel, finance, culture, a wide choice of lifestyle, history, landscape, people and many more.
Life in Romania
The beauty of the country is that it has regions with different paces of life. So you can choose from many internal digital nomad destinations.
If you’re into buzzing city life, you can choose between Bucharest, the capital city, Cluj, the capital of Transylvania region, Constanta, a reasonably big city by the sea, Iasi, the capital city of Moldavia region or Timisoara, big city in the western part of the country. You’ll find cafes, restaurants, malls, parks, museums, concerts, exhibits, sports, traffic, swimming pools, public transport and cheap taxis. For those who’ve heard about taxi drivers scamming foreigners, I must apologize for that. Some people are just pure shit. But not all. You can find ok drivers. And there are ways to avoid traditional taxis completely. They are called Uber and Taxify. No money scamming there. Life in the city is pretty much what you’d expect from it.
If you’re into being remote and taking it slow for the next stop on your digital nomad destinations list, the countryside is the perfect choice. There are small cities where everyone goes to bed at 8-10 pm and there are villages which seem like time travel. You only have to decide on the scenery (sea, river, mountains, hills, plains etc.)
If you’re into living in historic places, you can find those too in the form of Bucharest, Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu and many others. Most cities in the country have a preserved historical part.
Low cost of living vs. other digital nomad destinations
Compared to other European countries you can find in digital nomads destinations articles, Romania is pretty cheap. Unfortunately I cannot give you a margin of prices as they differ from location to location. They depend on which lifestyle you’re going for, busy or remote. However, I must mention that big cities and highly touristic places like Bucharest, Cluj, Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu are not entirely a bargain. Sure, they are not expensive, but they are not dirt cheap either. They require some research and maybe some inside info. I will go into detail on this subject in separate articles, one for city life and one for rural life. So stay tuned.
Accommodation price differs depending on the location (city center is more expensive than the rest), duration of stay and even platform from which you book. As a personal advice for those looking to put Romania on their digital nomad destinations list, join some local expat groups or digital nomad groups and ask around for recommendations on accommodation and even food. You can join ours as well.
Food expenses depend on which restaurant you go to. Some position themselves as fancy and have appropriate prices meaning you will pay 10-20 euros per person, but there are many places with amazing food and really good prices. If you need help finding them, let us know. Supermarkets have more than decent prices.
You can find more details on cost of living here.
Romania has it all: from shiny, flowery spring to rainy, gloomy autumn and from hot, sunny summers to chilly, snowy winters. As a temperate climate country, the weather is not highly predictable. There is rain in summer and days of zero snow in winter. But the cool thing is that you can sort of choose the weather depending on which region you’re headed for. If you want serious snow in winter just go to the mountains. If you want as little snow as possible, just go for the south. The same goes for summer. Seaside and the Southern part of the country for blasting heat, mountains for a more fresh summer.
Killer Wi-Fi vs. other digital nomad destinations
Fast internet is not top of mind when you think about Eastern Europe. But we do have some of the best internet connection speeds in the world. There’s free Wi-Fi in most places, from cafes and bars to shopping malls and almost all accommodation options have internet. Anyone who works online knows just how crucial a reliable and stable connection is. Otherwise goodbye meeting deadlines.
Moreover, you can find portable internet modems which you can use with a SIM card. And speaking of SIM cards, mobile internet is smashing too. And really cheap. For 5-10 euros you get more internet than you can use in a month.
Work as a digital nomad in Romania
Important cities in the country have co-working spaces. It’s true, most of them are in Bucharest an Cluj, but you can also do your work in cafes. Most places don’t mind if customers stay for more than 2 hours, provided they order a bit more than just an espresso and a small water. In the end they are businesses and need to sell in order to stay open.
However, you don’t need to spend a lot just so they don’t kick you out. Just stay away from very popular and busy places. The busiest times for restaurants and cafes are lunch (because lunch break) and evenings (because after work chill&friends), pretty much like anywhere else in the world.
The longest we’ve stayed in the same cafe to work was 6 hours and that included 2 rounds of coffee, one round of lemonade, about 2 bottles of water and food because all that work needs fuel. You can imagine no one had any objections.
Holy visa: 90 days stay in Romania
Romania is outside of Schengen. This means foreigners can stay for 90 days in the country every six months with a visa on arrival. This applies to American, Australian, and Canadian citizens. Europeans from countries in the EU can stay in Romania as much as they well please. This a huge perk of the freedom of movement right within the Union.
So if you want to put Romania on your digital nomads destinations list, you might consider staying here for 90 days then visiting other Schengen countries for 90 days every 6 months. Or maybe go for Bulgaria, Serbia or Ukraine.
Romania is packed with places to visit
I don’t even know where to begin here. Romania has medieval castles and cities, prehistoric monuments, multicultural influences, communist monuments and museums, one of a kind religious monuments, amazing nature and unique landscapes. Romania has the only mud volcanoes in Europe, the only Merry Cemetery where each cross has a funny poem or account from the person’s life, the tallest wooden structure in the world, the creepiest forest in Europe, the biggest sculpture made into a mountain (the same on that inspired Lord of the Rings’ Gates of Argonath). I could go on forever with this.
Whether you are into history, nature, hiking, lounging in the sun, a busy city or a remote cabin by a mountain lake, this is a good place to include on your digital nomad destinations plan. Besides, it is a good base to visit other European countries from. There are flights you can take from Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Constanta, Timisoara, Satu Mare, Craiova and some other small airports.
I’ll start with the good stuff. Most people speak English. Most are friendly and helpful. And most like to laugh and joke around. The not so good part is that restaurant service isn’t always pleasant. It’s not a rule, but it happens. Romanians hate it too. But if I earned less than 300 euros per month after tax I’d be grumpy too. Life in his country is a challenge for those with low income. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality especially for city life. In the countryside people have a different approach to low income. They pride themselves in their work no matter how little it brings in.
Going back to the people, Romanians aren’t much different from any other people on the planet. The only differences are cultural and whether you catch that person on a bad day or not. Just set your expectations right and you’ll have a great time. As a smart Australian who moved to Thailand once said, “when you go to a place that’s not your country remember that you are a visitor into their land and their way of life. Understand that, respect that, go with it without fighting it and you will be happy there for a very long time.”
If you find Romania interesting, include it in your digital nomad destinations list and come visit. And if you need more info on the country drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help.
Check out the Talks with mavericks section for info from digital nomads themselves and the Resources section for more tips, tricks or advice on discipline, independent living, freelancing and digital nomads.
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May the discipline be with you.