-Where were you born?
-In which country and city are you living now?
Cluj Napcoca, Romania.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my husband and stepdaughter.
-How long have you been living in Romania?
Nearly two years.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Romania?
I had previously been living in Montenegro teaching English and on meeting my husband-to-be, made the move to Romania.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
I have dual Australian/UK citizenship and as Romania is now part of the EU it was reletively easy to get my ID papers. Saying that though, nothing official is particularly easy to do in Romania as they still work under a communist mentality and everything needs to be in duplicate and signed and stamped accordingly.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
We use private clinics, etc... Emergency medical treatment is free in public hospitals here but you are still expected to slip people a bit extra to make sure you receive decent help. My husband had a heart attack last year and he ended up in the emergency ward of the public hospital and although his cardiologist was brilliant, (and luckily available as it was the weekend and he needed a stent inserted and we were told had he been in Bucharest it wouldn't have been available) the aftercare was appalling. The hospitals are substandard and he had to provide his own toilet paper, cutlery, medication (we had to run to the pharmacy) and food (if he didn't want a slab of butter and lump of cheese) for his new low cholesterol diet.
One time I came in to find the nurse asking what medication he had taken that day. When I suggested she look on his chart, she looked at me with two heads because apparantly they don't keep such records and he is supposed to keep track himself.
So always opt for the private (and very good and reletively cheap) private clinics where possible.
-How do you make your living in Romania? Do you have any type of income generated?
I did have a lingerie boutique but ended up closing it as I lost way more stock through theft than I sold.
Romanians themselves are lovely people and will go out of their way to help you but unfortunately there is a disproportionate amount of Roma here who love to help themselves to whatever they can. I've had my handbag stolen twice out of my shop, including my passports, purse, etc....
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I think it's very important to at least try and learn the local language in any new country. I've not been so good here in Romania because so many people speak English that whenever I try and use my Romaian they answer in English anyway so I haven't been forced to learn as quickly as I would have been in another country.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
I miss my family in Australia but I don't miss Australia so much. I've found in travelling that so many ex-pats have become so disenfranchised with political correctness in their own countries that the lack of it in other ones is so refreshing that it would be almost impossible to assimilate back to their country of origin.
Yes, there are things that drive me crazy in some countries but if it gets too bad then it's time to leave, not try and change things as that's not my role.
My favourite thing in Cluj is the outdoor socializing in the warmer months. There are a lot of cafes, clubs and beautiful parks to enjoy and on the weekends you'll see families doing just that.
The country is very beautiful and if you love history there is plenty to immerse yourself in. Forget Bram Stoker's Dracula though or you'll be thoroughly disappointed. It's only fantasy and Romanians don't indulge in it.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Yes, my husband and I have fallen in love with Turkey (Istanbul and Fethiye especially) and have recently purchased an apartment in which we hope to be living in by the end of the year. We love the lifestyle and the Turkish people so we're really looking forward to the move and meeting new people.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We own our house here in Romania and have seen the property prices triple over the last 5-6 years although due to the current economic woes they have dropped a bit over the last year.
-What is the cost of living in Romania?
Not particularly cheap, especially when you consider the wage of the average Romanian is about 300 Euros or slightly less. It's also about to get a lot tougher with the government slashing basic wages by 25 percent.
That's the one thing I miss about Australia; the choice of products. You can buy cheap or expensive, it's up to you. A cappuccino in Romania costs about 2 Euros, a night out with drinks can cost anywhere from 20 Euros - 50 Euros per person. (Obviously you can pay more or less depending on where you eat but I'm quoting averages here.)
Clothes and shoes are rather expensive which is something I've found across the Balkans and find it's indicative of the mindset of poorer countries. The poorer people are the more they need to advertise 'self' which in turn leads to money being spent on expensive versions of their outward persona, e.g., clothes, shoes, accessories, etc... I also found this in Asia as well, where there was little money to be spent on food but a disproportional amount spent on clothing and accessories.
-What do you think about the Romanians?
The locals are great. Living here as I have for the past two years, I have many Romanian friends and find them to be no different than anyone anywhere else in the world. Especially younger Romanians, who are as modern and tech savvy as any teenager in other developed country.
The only exception to this are the Roma of which you have to be constantly on guard. I was very sympathetic and friendly towards them in the beginning, but after having my handbag and various other things stolen at various times from both young gangs of Roma and older 'respectable' looking ones, I'm afraid I've lost my patience and humanity towards them and no longer give them the time of day. It's a shame but as far as I'm concerned fully earned.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Romania?
The positives are lack of political correctness (which can also be a negative occasionally, but not often), friendly and family orientated people, children can play in the streets and parks freely without fear of being kidnapped or harrassed, etc... The weather (in summer) ;) lots of open spaces and history to explore.
The negative side is the bureaucracy and paperwork with anything you try and do, although that is slowly changing. Also, the driving is also something to be wary of as many Romanians feel it's their right to get to their destination as fast as they can with scant regard to road laws, which also goes for parking -- which is more often on the footpath than off it. However, this too is changing as local law enforcement officers are becoming more serious in actually enforcing the law ;)
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Romania?
Enjoy! Romania has a rich history and colourful people. You will feel extremely safe walking around and it's a country that has as much or as little to offer as you prefer.