Romania’s capital city, Bucharest, is a great destination for digital nomads and remote workers. Here is a list of things to consider to plan your next trip!
Facts about Romania
Romania, a central European country which has been part of EU since 2007 (though not yet Schengen area) has a population of 20 millions inhabitants. It is bordered by Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Black Sea. Bucharest (not Budapest!) has 2 millions inhabitants. The timezone is UTC+2 and the currency is the Romanian Leu (RON).
The official language is Romanian, but most young people do speak English and older ones French.
Bucharest (București in Romanian) was founded over 555 years ago and its nicknames are “Little Paris” or city of Joy (bucur means joy in Romanian).
Romania is not Siberia
Whenever I tell my friends about Bucharest, the first image that comes to their mind is a cold city close to Siberia with 3 meters of snow 6 months per year… No way, Bucharest is far from Siberia - it’s located at the same latitude as Bordeaux or Milan !
Although the temperatures in winter can drop to -20°C (-4°F) for a few days, the real winter only lasts a few weeks (thanks to climate change) dressing the city with a beautiful white coat.
For the rest of the year, you will spend most of your time in T-shirt (or skirt) with a sunny clear blue sky. Temperatures during summer are close to 40°C (104°F). The best months to come for an confortable temperature are April, May, June (can be a little rainy), July, August and September. It’s a good choice for digital nomads who want to keep their luggage light.
Romania has a very bad international image. Before I arrived, I was told I would be chased by beggars and if I survived, all my belongings would be stolen by thiefs. The chief risk that you take by coming to Romania is to pay 5 times the real taxi fare. Before you learn how to spot a honest taxi, better use Uber. Bucharest is a very safe city compared to other capitals.
Cost of living
First you have to know that the median salary in Romania for 2015 was 400€/month. Then, keep in mind that Bucharest is the most expensive city of the country. Traveling to other parts of Romania will drop the prices down.
Depending on how long you stay, having a nomadic life style costs more than a local one, I will try to give an average estimation that can fit different styles. A monthly budget for a remote worker will be between 400€ and 800€/month with:
- Phone: 10–15€ for a prepaid 4G card with calls and data.
- Co-working space: 80–150€ for full time access.
- Rent: from 100€ (flat share) to 200€ for a decent 1 bedroom (but not in the center), and up to 500€ for a nice 1 bedroom in the center. This is just an average, prices can drop for a “longer term” rental or, if you have a local contact to help you find a good deal. Everything can be negotiated!
- Food: a “daily menu” costs 4–5€ (starter, main dish and sometime dessert). Depending on your preference to cook or eat in restaurants, the monthly budget will be between 100€ and 300€. You can find different farmer’s markets with delicious organic food !
- Transportation: Bucharest has a very dense network of transportation with busses and trams. The only problem is to figure out where the stops are and when the bus will arrive, which can be random sometimes. You’d probably rather stay next to a metro station and use the subway (15€ for a monthly card) or taxi (0,30€ / km) or Uber.
As for international transportation, a low cost “round trip” plane ticket (BlueAir or WizzAir flights) will take you to Bucharest from any European capital for less than 100€. For the major airline companies, the price will be around 200€. You can also arrive by train, but the infrastructures are in very bad condition so you need to be very patient… Fortunately trains have plugs to recharge your electronic devices. An other option is the car (or “microbus”) which is, after hitchhiking, the cheapest way to travel between eastern European countries.
Regarding entertainment, there are lots of cool bars, concerts, events, sightseeing and more than meets the eye. Just start with a pint of beer in the center (around 2€) and see where it takes you :)
Fast internet access
A very important criteria for the remote worker is the quality of the Internet connection, and in Romania you will be more than pleased. It’s the fastest European country regarding average bandwidth and one of the fastest in the world. The 4G coverage is pretty good in big cities, and there are wifi spots everywhere, even in some taxis… you just need to ask.
Romanians like to eat and drink and have a lot of tasty traditional dishes and very good wines with indigenous grapes. There are also different local homemade alcohols that travelers should taste if they are offered.
The traditional diet is mostly based on meat of chicken and pork with cabbage, polenta and potatoes but there are also vegetarian dishes that are connected to religious celebration (fasting). It’s hard to find good fish or seafood unless you are at the seaside.
During summer, the farmer’s markets are full of delicious fruit and vegetables. A Romanian friend of mine used to joke about the fact that everyone is trying to copy the Romanian agriculture. Indeed, the organic trend was always here, as the production was less industrialized than in western Europe!
If you want to enjoy more than just food, there are also a few classy or gastronomic restaurants in Bucharest that will delight you at a 30–40€ bill for a full course meal with wine.
Vibrant working environment
From the terrace of a cafe to a makerspace or a coworking space, there is wide range of accommodations to fit any remote worker needs. There is a vibrant ecosystem in IT, design and social innovation with many startups, meetups and events.
Touristic discovery and entertainment
Don’t loose the opportunity to venture from Bucharest and visit the country:
- If you are inspired by altitude, the Carpatian mountains will help you find your next big idea. Be careful not to be bitten by a vampire or chased by a bear living next to the medieval cities that use to protect the mountain area. This is Transylvania after all !
- If you prefer to stay at sea level, you can find an interesting diversity of environment, from the crowded beaches of Mamaia or Vama Veche to the savage isolated landscape of the Danube Delta which is the largest and best preserved delta in Europe.
During summer, festivals and fairs are happening all over Romania and also in its surrounding countries.
As any country with a history, Romania has a lot to offer… It would not make sense to create a list, the country is so rich that you should just come and make your own.
European hub for your next destination
Romania is surrounded by many different countries and civilizations. Unlike Australia or USA, you’re only an hour’s flight away to a large number of capitals such as Budapest, Istanbul, Sofia, Chișinău, Kiev, Athens, Sarajevo or Belgrade… which makes Romania a convenient hub for discovering this part of the world.
So, now, are you convinced? At least a bit intrigued? As soon as your decision is made, leave me a response! I will do my best to facilitate your trip and welcome you to share a table at one of the many restaurants of the old center of Bucharest.
One last thing to take in consideration: possible side effects include liking it too much and quitting nomadism to settle down here. But believe me, there are worst side effects than this one.
My name is Jeremy. I was born in Paris, working as a developer and founder or partner of multiple web and mobile projects in USA, France and Romania. During my life I’ve lived (at least 1 year) in 6 countries and traveled to almost 40. From 2011 to 2014 I had an active “digital nomad” lifestyle working remotely and changing country every 2–3 months. I traveled to the Americas, Africa and Europe until I landed in Romania in 2014… and decided to stay !