Bucharest, Romania Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania 03/25/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've lived in Chennai, India, with the State Dept. and in the U.K. independently.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is New York or D.C. There are no direct flights from Romania to the U.S., although there are a few now from Canada. Many airlines fly to Bucharest (OTP), so it's just a matter of which airline and connection point you prefer: London, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, etc. If you're flying in with pets, opt for Lufthansa with an easy connection in Frankfurt or Munich. Including an average layover, you're looking at 10-hour journey to Eastern U.S. Overall, it's an easy journey with many options for flight times, airlines, layover points.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I've been here one year on a two-year tour.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

State Department (EFM).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

State Department housing is nice. We have a spacious 3-bed, 3-bath apartment at the top of Kiseleff Park. The living room and dining room are open concept, and the kitchen has a bar island that connects it to the open plan. The kitchen is on the smaller side, but compared to New York apartments is more than ample, and it was remodeled around 2017 or so, with new appliances and a contemporary side-by-side sink. The refrigerator and oven are American-sized, and we have a huge pantry. There's a balcony off the kitchen with a clunky outdoor dining set.

State Dept. people can choose to live in apartments in Sector 1, which is the nicest area of Bucharest and in the northern part of the city, or in the suburbs closer to the embassy. There's only one apartment building that's very large, in an area affectionately known as "by the Chinese embassy." It's right off the east side of Herastrau Park, and those apartments seem to be the newest. I love my location, however, and wouldn't trade it.

Commute times vary. With no traffic, you can get from Sector 1 to the embassy in about 8-12 minutes in a car, or about 30 minutes by bus. With normal traffic, it'll take 30 minutes by car. On the worst day, it could take close to an hour in stop-and-go traffic. There's a bus that goes right to the embassy from Charles de Gaulle circle. There is an underground subway, but it only serves the main city center.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Phenomenal. It takes a little while to find the stores that carry the brands you like, but it's extraordinarily easy and prices are low. You can order groceries online and have them delivered. The farmers' market have incredible produce and are open year-round. The big chain grocery stores are Mega Image, Carrefour, and Lidl. You can buy everything there: food, imported produce, cleaning supplies, dog food, light bulbs. The nicer ones have a "bio" section of organic and other specialty items, like gluten-free foods. Then there are some smaller bio stores that often carry organic German and Greek products, with some Romanian-made products getting into the market now, too. Near Baneasa mall there are two giant stores that are similar to Costco called Metro and Selgros.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We brought a variety of hot sauces and Asian sauces. We also brought specialty beers, although those are getting easier to find (look up Beer Institute and The Beer Store). Even with Asian sauces, there is a small chain of stores called J&K Store, which stands for Japan and Korea, and they have a good amount of east Asian items.

It's really easy to find most things in Bucharest. I haven't found Nappa cabbage or daikon to make kimchi, but J&K Store sells kimchi for a fair price.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

It's plentiful. Eating out is inexpensive, and there's great variety. Pizza, sushi, burgers, Thai noodles... there are one or two places that make Mexican food that aren't incredible but they satisfy the craving for sure. Vegetarians and vegans have options if you do a little legwork. The coffee scene here blew my mind. If you're into coffee to the extent that you care about brewing methods and grind size, you're going to be very pleased with Bucharest.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nope. There are some mosquitoes around the park areas in the summer, but nothing else, not even rats.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The embassy has pouch and DPO. I've used local DHL to send an urgent piece of two-day mail and it was excellent. I have not used local Romanian post.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is available, depending on what you need. From what I hear, many people hire someone to clean only one or two days per week. Nannies are more likely to be full-time. There's no need to hire a driver here. I tried a housekeeper one day per week, and she charged 25RON per hour. It cost about $40-$50US each time she came.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are many gyms and yoga studios. I don't know about CrossFit or climbing. One of the nicest gyms (World Class Fitness) costs about 1,000 euros for the year, which comes with all classes included, from yoga to Spinning. Many of their clubs have pools, too. The embassy has a small gym and a large pool that's better for playing than swimming laps because it's extremely shallow.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, yes, yes. I use contactless payment with fingerprint ID on my phone rather than an old fashioned credit card. You can use it even for small purchases. The ATMs are safe.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

In Bucharest, you can easily get by with English. Many people in the city speak English fluently, including children. That's less the case outside of Bucharest. I learned some Romanian, but I rarely use it. It's nice to have it when I need it, however. The embassy offers classes to employees and family members.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I would say it's about as bad/good as any major city in the U.S. There are accessible parking spaces in large parking lots. There are sidewalks, although sometimes they're blocked by cars. The subway stations have elevators. Many shops don't have wheelchair ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. There are buses, trams, a subway system, taxis, Uber, Taxify, BlackCab. Car service is probably 1/4 the price of major U.S. cities. The bus is something like $0.30 per ride and less if you get a monthly pass. The subway costs around $0.50 per ride and is quick and comes often. They're all safe. I would say my least preferred method is local taxi because it's the only one where getting ripped off is even possible.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Everyone will tell you to bring a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle with clearance. That's true if you plan on doing a lot of driving around the country and in the winter. There is a rule about having tires rated for mud and snow, but that's easy enough to satisfy in practically any car. In the city, you see just as many Fiats and Minis as mini SUVs. A small car will be easier to drive and park. Parking a larger car is always a squeeze. I recommend checking whether your car manufacturer has a dealership in Bucharest so that you can get parts and service. Even then, you may end up ordering some parts from the U.S., but at least you'll be able to get basic service. Car jacking is unheard of here. Traffic accidents happen often.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Romania's internet is among the fastest in Europe, and it's cheap. It took a few days to get an appointment and install. Easy. We pay our bill online using a U.S. credit card with no problem. I think we pay around $25US per month for unlimited internet.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone. Buy a SIM card. Top it up monthly or so for about 5-7 euros per month. Turn on roaming when you go back to the U.S. because it's cheaper than using an American SIM card.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Bringing animals into the EU is easy, and Bucharest is extremely dog-friendly. The city used to have a serious problem with feral dogs, but it's gotten much better since the mid 2000s after a fatal incident with a foreigner. In the rest of the country, stray dogs are everywhere. As a result, heart worm seems to flourish. The heart worm pills are available without prescription and at a low cost. Vets are everywhere and inexpensive. If you're thinking about getting a dog, Bucharest is the place. There are many animals in need here. People walk their dogs off leash all the time, so if you have dogs that don't respond well to others, avoid the parks. Most parks have dog enclosures, too.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Working remotely is definitely an option, and it's so easy with the excellent internet. There are jobs at the embassy as well as the American school. I know one person who is employed at a local private school, and she teaches in English.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I'm unsure about volunteer opportunities, as it's not something I hear discussed often.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Embassy people tend to wear business attire. Bucharest is casual and fashionable. You can wear whatever you want. I've never been to a restaurant in Bucharest that had a dress code. I would not feel uncomfortable going out to dinner in jeans and sneakers, but a lot of locals dress fashionably at night.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is nothing in particular to be concerned about, safety-wise, in Bucharest that you wouldn't be mindful of in any other city in the world. Wear your seatbelt. Wear a bike helmet. Use situational awareness.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care seems to be okay, but you'll be medevac'ed for anything that requires an incision. Dental care is plentiful and cheap, including cosmetic dentistry.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It's completely fine.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The EU has good laws about allergen information on foods, and Romania follows them. If you or family members are allergic to nuts, I'd definitely take the time to learn the words for each specific nut because they are not cognates. I'm not sure about seasonal allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Romania has four seasons, and the climate is similar to mid-Atlantic U.S. Spring comes early and is beautiful. Summers are hot. Autumn is gorgeous and long. Winter goes from late November or early December until early March. I've heard people over-exaggerate about the winters, which are seriously tough in the mountains but fine in Bucharest. Yes, there's snow. Yes, there's ice. There will be a storm here and there, but you won't have to worry about getting frostbite from 5 minutes of exposure or anything like that. Plowing is inconsistent, but it happens. Same with clearing sidewalks on major roads.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There's an American school.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The embassy is medium sized. I think there are something like 80 direct hires. If you're interested in expat life, there's plenty to do, such as women's organizations and lunches organized through different embassy groups. Morale seems high. Bucharest is a really easy city. If you're outgoing, you can make local friends. And there's plenty to do if you're more introverted and like to do solo activities.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There's so much. Film festivals in the spring. Outdoor food festivals in the summer. Beer gardens. Music. Arts. Dancing. Gyms. Marathons and fun runs. Museums. Whatever you want to do, search for it online or on Facebook (some community organizing still happens on FB), and you'll find something.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, it's good for everyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Compared to other parts of the world, yes. That said, Romania still has some anti-LGBTQ sentiment. You will find a positive community in Bucharest, but it definitely faces some challenges. Look up in-depth articles about the LGBT vote in 2018 for more information about what's happening in the country politically and socially. It's complicated.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes, you can make local friends.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Compared to other parts of the world, prejudice here isn't bad. Compared to what it should be, there's room for improvement for sure. Romania, including Bucharest, is very white. If you are non-white, you will stand out. The country is also religious, by and large. I've seen some women wearing the hijab without issue, but it's not something you see every day. There are some deep-rooted issues related to sexism and gender stereotypes, but I'd say it feels less in-your-face than, say, in Ukraine.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I love Bucharest. The coffee scene here is incredible. I still have a lot more to see, but so far I've enjoyed the muddy volcanoes, which is about 2.5-hour drive from Bucharest. It's a great educational spot for kids. The salt mines are bizarre. A long weekend in wine country in the summer with some bicycling. Brasov is great. Sinaia and Busteni for hiking. I'm looking forward to seeing the coast and the Danube next. Bucharest is an easy jumping off point for the rest of Europe, too.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Everyone will tell you to go to Therme, the giant spa/waterpark. It's a hoot, and it's not expensive. I fell in love with bakeries in Bucharest, which are everywhere. Gradina Eden beer garden in the summer is lovely. Palatul Primaverii is worth touring.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not especially. In Transylvania, you can buy sheep skins everywhere, as well as these giant ghoulish masks that are made with sheep skin and goat horns. If you live in Romania, you must own at least a few painted eggs. The traditional Romanian blouse, called "ie," are beautiful and often stylish, although they aren't dirt cheap.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

European living, Mexico prices

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The coffee is so so good. People warned me that bicycling in the city would be dangerous. It's not. Maybe it is compared to The Netherlands or Copenhagen, but it's fine by my standards. The boulevards have bike lanes on the sidewalks or a protected bike lane. The parks are bicycle-friendly. You may not be able to do long rides easily, but getting from here to there on a bike is no problem. Also, people complain about traffic everywhere. The traffic here is fine.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

100 percent

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

...wifi hot spot?

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4. But don't forget your:

...snow boots for winter and sandals for summer.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

If you're practicing Romanian language, try Micrea Bravo on YouTube. He makes funny sketches that are a few minutes long.

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Bucharest, Romania 06/06/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, other European posts and in Central America.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Usually Bucharest to Frankfurt or Vienna and then on to Dulles. Overall about 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Good, spacious housing. We have a 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom house with a small yard and garage. It’s about a 15 min drive to the embassy. Most families with kids live in the Baneasa area because the houses are big and close to the schools.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Nearly, everything is available, truly.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I order peanut butter a lot. Otherwise, I can find it all here. There are Carrefours and Mega Image.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There is an excellent restaurant scene here, tons of amazing restaurants to choose from.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not that I've seen.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and cheaper than other parts of Europe.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Excellent array of high quality gyms available.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, they are. I pick and choose which ATMs I use, as credit card theft is high here.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Practically none. In Bucharest nearly everyone speaks English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, I don’t think many accommodations have been made in a Bucharest.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and Uber is widely used.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Romanians are awful drivers, really terrible. And the mountain roads outside of Bucharest aren’t great. I recommend a sturdy, safe SUV.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, and the quality is good.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I bought a local SIM and pay monthly. It’s not very expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, they are widely available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Usually suits for men.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Overall Bucharest is quite safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not that I've seen.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is generally fine, but better outside the city.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It’s similar to DC but less humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We loved the American School; our kids really enjoyed it there. Others send their kids to the British School and also really like that.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

AISB does offer limited learning support.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, and they do tend to be pretty expensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, a wide variety like swimming, karate, tennis, etc

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It’s large, due in part to the numerous employees of the various oil companies here.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Great restaurant scene here.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I’d say it’s good for all of the above.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I’m not sure.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Romania is absolutely gorgeous. Bucharest is a large, cosmopolitan city. Very easy regional travel. Romanians in general are friendly, have a good sense of humor, and are caring. They also make great wine!

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Traveling through Transylvania.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, pottery, wood carvings, and traditional carpets.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It has everything, even decent Mexican food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I had no idea how much I’d love it here.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bring it all, we have 4 distinct seasons!

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience for the driving. The drivers were not great in my opinion.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The documentary series “Wild Carpathia.”

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Bucharest, Romania 02/19/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yup, first experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Since we were last based in DC, it's not a terribly exciting route: DC to Frankfurt to Bucharest, about 11 hours of flying time. Ask my in-laws about their route and you will find yourself exhausted: Springfield, MO to Chicago to Dulles to Frankfurt to Bucharest. It's only 90 minutes of extra flight time, but what a difference it makes!

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3. How long have you lived here?

November 2011- November 2013, we lived in the suburbs of Baneasa (northern Bucharest) for 9 months and downtown for 16 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Our first post as a Foreign Service family landed us in Bucharest for 2 years.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We lived in the houses in the suburbs of Bucharest near the American school and admittedly hated it due to lack of sidewalks, local culture and flavors, and cabs always refusing to pick us up. But many families loved it. Living in Baneasa meant they were close to school where the compounds usually were stacked with children running around the streets well into the night. It was mostly expats in my area, not from the U.S., and mostly everyone spoke English. So if that's an interest, it's a great place to be.

We later moved into an apartment in the city onto a main vein of Bucharest. It was drenched with locals and expats, many languages being heard at the street cafes. Families who lived in the cities could still make use of the private school buses to pick up their children. Our apartment was between two HUGE parks and a 15 minute walk in all directions to hit a museum or seven. Tons of restaurants, cabs, noise (typical city noise) and life was in the city. My 2 young children never went lonely at the playground either.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries can get expensive especially with imported prices and 24% VAT. But the selection is there if you want or need: gluten free, organic, ethnic. Household supplies are also present. Admittedly, I never thought I would write something about cleaning products, but if there's a scent you can dream up, Romania already has it in the bag. Tons of scented cleaning products and toiletries. Fruity smelling TP even.

Feeding a 3 and 1 year old, a husband and myself, weekly groceries cost me about US$150. But we cooked a lot.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. Romania has everything you could possibly need or want.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

*Sigh* yes there is KFC, McD's, Cinnabon, Subway, BK, Pizza Hut. No Wendy's that I know of but there are European joints too: Snack Attack, Nordsee, and a variety of others. Find them aplenty at the malls. Consider yourself lucky that most malls in Bucharest have not one but TWO Starbucks.

Decent restaurants? Totally. We dined on Argentine and USDA steak at Osho, dabbled with sushi at Sushi Ko, feasted on mici (local meaty/sausagey fare) at Casa Alba and pretty much off the side of the road. Prices range from 4 bucks to 40 per plate. You can get all types of gourmet flavor and the site bucharest.inyourpocket.com/ is quite reliable.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Flies, mosquitoes, box elder bugs. Nothing out of the ordinary.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We were fortunate to use the Diplomatic Pouch. BUT- I sent and received various packages via the Romanian Post and had little issue. Even my German friends who ordered Amazon.de products managed to get them delivered in a timely fashion. One note, I did have to actually GO to the post office a few times to pick up mail, and while it did take a while, it worked.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

As of 2013, Americans have been shelling out 20 RON/hour, about US$7 to keep house, or watch children. There are some nanny/housekeeping agencies to do the footwork, but demand 1 month payment as an application fee. It's pretty easy to find someone by word of mouth. I knew one particular expat who hopped into taxi cabs and asked them about family members who might be looking for work. She landed a full-time nanny at half the price of the going rate, and seemed to like her.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, they are private and very expensive but have anything you could possibly want: yoga, pilates, weights, cross fit, swimming pools, and the higher end ones will likely have English speaking staff. I couldn't tell you more than that, but check out the more popular places: worldclass.ro, verticalspirit.ro, atlantisfitness.ro, stejariicountryclub.ro, and pescariusports.ro.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Depends on your comfort level. I used my debit card regularly at major shopping venues and reputable hotels and restaurants. Cash flow is easy to come by and you will find yourself agonizing about the piles of spare change. It's funny, all stores want correct change but get annoyed if you hand over your coin collection. Small bills are always preferred.

ATMs? Well I used the ones with big national banks and had no issue. Conversely my husband did the same thing and nearly every time his card would get flagged. So it's different for everyone.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I know for sure there's Catholic service at the Sacre Coure Catholic Church for Christian services (see arcb.ro and churchoftheresurrection.ro).

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Learning a language is ALWAYS a good thing! But since you asked, Bucharest speaks a lot of English and you ought to have little trouble navigating around the city. I used my Romanian to get me directions and make small chat with the locals whereas my husband utilized it everyday for his job. It's a versatile and worthwhile tool but not required.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Though accommodations aren't up to par and getting around can be tricky, transportation is getting better. The metro is installing more handicapped elevators and escalators but it's a slow process. Sidewalks are slowly improving too, but of course the progress doesn't feel fast enough. Some buildings are equipped with ramps, but most are not. I found I frequently had to pick up my stroller and carry it into stores or buildings.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I LOVED the trains, buses and taxis. Trains were slow, but doable AND have heating and ac when needed. Buses and metro routes are bountiful in the city, costing about US$1 to get from point A to point B. Taxis are clearly marked with price on the side of the car- just make sure they use the meter, especially if it's later hours. Some will take advantage, resulting in a US$100 charge for going 2km. Really. It happened to my brother in law.

Taxi apps made my life completely wonderful and thanks to the airport's efforts, getting a taxi there is a godsend: you get a ticket and stand in line for your turn. It's that easy. Taxis run 1.39 RON/KM, so about 40-50 cents/KM. Some are more like 3.50RON/KM - make sure you look at the price before committing.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We drove a 2011 VW diesel Jetta without any issues. On Romanian roads you will see Dacias from the 1980's, SUVs, Rolls Royces, and every other car in between. People park when and where they want, so dings can become a problem, but body work is affordable. Roads around the country vary from baby-butt-smooth asphalt to strut-gutting-potholed dirt roads. We did go through a set of tires in approximately 18 months, so the tire industry is booming there. There are many car companies (VW, Mercedes, Subaru) that can aid in vehicular repair, but chances are you can ask nearly anyone at the gas stations if they know someone and they will. Car registration took about 3 months and cost about US$300. I never saw or read about carjackings in Bucharest.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

YES: cheap too! We got cable/internet for about US$20-30/month. One caveat: we had a terrible time canceling our service/contact when our tour was over. They simply could not or would not let us cancel our contract. The company said I needed to return to the country and pay the final bill. and there was no other way around it. I lost a few marbles trying to sort this out. In the end, we left without resolving the issue.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one! Particularly a Smartphone because Google Maps got me out out trouble more than once. Well, it got me into trouble sometimes too but hey- it's always a work in progress. Thanks to recent acquisition of Internet in the past 10 years, 3G (and maybe 4G if not already) is aplenty. Don't bother with VM. No one uses it.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine required. I was very happy with our vet who preferred to make house calls. He even dropped off our dog's Pet Passport and Certificates by hand. I know several people who boarded their pets at pet hotels with ease and success.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Tough call. Maybe? I suppose I could have gotten a job as a nurse within a private clinic, but I didn't ever look into it. I know plenty of women (spouses) who spent more time volunteering than working, but I also know there's interest in freelance work within the expat community. Things like teaching yoga and pilates, being a professional organizer, photographer... the typical expat spouse thing.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Take your pick! Want to hold babies at local hospitals? Foster pets? Work with at-risk women? Build a house? There's tons of NGOs and churches thirsty for volunteer work.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Predictable attire, though I have seen my share of black bras and sheer blouses. Heels are essential dress, and people usually are coiffed, ready for the day. Only the American moms would drop their kids off at daycare in yoga pants.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Aside from my kids' sippy cups getting stolen off the top of my car once and losing my wallet in a taxi (and never got it back) I didn't note any safety concerns. I was comfortable walking downtown by myself content - knowing Bucharest has the lowest crime rate in Europe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We were advised to not drink the water due to high levels of lead and arsenic. Many people drink bottled water for that very reason. Medical care can be found- there are state run hospitals and private hospitals who are capable of X-rays, MRIs etc. My son needed stitches and we took him to the local pediatric hospital. They stitched him up, took an X-ray and provided follow up care for no money. It was great. I have had prenatal care there without major issue. My husband had an MRI for the cost of 200 RON (US$60). The big stuff is available, though it's still an intimidating system to figure out.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is like that of any other metropolitan city. I'd say moderate. Due to so many trees in the parks, and surrounding forests, on most days the pollution doesn't usually hang in the sky like it does in other places like Chengdu China. I have never been afraid to gulp in large amounts of air whilst standing at a cross walk.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

While Romania has a reputation for grey skies, they do get all four seasons: plenty of spring rain, hot summers that can get into the 90s (F) and the warmer temperatures linger into gorgeous fall weather. Of winter does get into the low teens with plenty of snow, especially with the absurd climate change.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have not experienced this yet. But I do know there's the American, French, British, Mark Twain International, and International School available.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Unsure of this, I never asked.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are so many in Bucharest, I wouldn't know where to start. I took my three year old to English Kinder (www.englishkinder.ro) for a year and Olga Gudynn (http://www.olgagudynn.ro) for the summer session. Both cost about US$500 (1200-1600 RON) month for all-day care. Both experiences were basically good. I have my biases like many do, so the important thing to consider is why type of school you are interested in: a place with a homey feel, versus a scholastic feel. My kiddo was quite happy at both but would I re-enroll my son in the homey EK? Nope. But definitely yes to OG.

I'd also like to note both places speak English, and there are many more Romanian speaking preschools worth checking out too. I had friends very happy at their various locations. AND for the Montessori minded folks, that's there too.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I think so, having seen kids play soccer and rugby (frr.ro) with regularity. I know people participated in activities at the Diplomatic Club and then there are places like MikoKids.ro, that offers various sports and activities. You know what was huge amongst the expats? Fencing clubs: (check out http://www.cursuri-scrima.ro/en/despre-scrima/fencing-club-in-bucharest).

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Always ebbs and flow, but I feel like overall it was a great community. I made friends from all over who enjoyed getting out into the city. We made play dates, hung out at cafes, exercised together, and partied together. Bucharest is always changing.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Concerts! Shows! Sports (mostly soccer and rugby) and man there's some great music running through Bucharest. Did I mention that already? Jazz is huge here, as is alt-indie-rock and especially heavy metal music. Then there's the more laid back cooking classes (societegourmet.ro, thelondonstreetatelier.com). Go to a park for movies under the stars or people watch: inparc.ro, relax in Lispcani (Old Town) and drink a beer on the cobblestoned walkway. The movie theaters here are also pretty cool. For less than US$50 for 2 people you can get VIP seating with buffet gnoshes and bottomless beer or wine.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, yes, and yes. The city is thick with children's entertainment: puppet shows, plays, crafts, museums, parks, and most restaurants are child friendly. There's TONS of bars in Old Town, thus tons of dancing and an effervescent night life for singles and couples. There's opera, theater, music, jazz, ballet, sports teams - the key is to find something you like to do. I'd recommend checking out meetup.com, Orasulm.eu, and obviously FB are great places to see what's what. If you want to sift through the websites of interest I collected while living there check out: http://www.pinterest.com/emlovesbeer/romania/

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's getting there. The Gay Pride Parade grows each year. 2012 was something like 200 people, and 2013 was between 250-300. There are gay organizations (i.e.: ACCEPT https://www.facebook.com/asociatia.accept). People are "out" but it's still not very common. I know there are a few specific gay bars.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

It's the Balkans.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The parks in Bucharest are a major plus for not only children, but couples and singles as well. There's many to choose from and at any given time there are concerts, plays, activities and social gatherings going on. Spending an hour at Herastrau Park whilst drinking a beer in a lounge chair was a personal favorite. I took my family cycling in Prahova Valley to experience the countryside. We rode bikes, tasted wine and dined with a local charity that has a reputation for delicious home cooked meals (check out cyclingromania.ro.) We enjoyed the Inn on Balaban, a B&B tucked high up in the mountains. We loitered, relaxed and were stuffed silly with their amazing cuisine. I can't even tell you how beautiful the view is of this place (http://www.gobtf.com/innonbalaban/Home.html).

On the opposite side of the country we gaped at the Bucovina Monasteries and shopped for the region's famous black pottery. We loved hitting the museums and their countless craft fairs, shopping at local markets and of course going to concerts and shows- my goodness we saw tons of great bands like Moonlight Breakfast, Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga, Buena Vista Social Club.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

What CAN'T you do in Bucharest?! I already listed my coveted websites, but specific ones I frequented are: orasulm.eu, allevents.in, myticket.ro, inparc.ro, bilete.ro.

I can't stress enough: museums, concerts (OMG in the summer, there's something like 30 music festivals), art openings, bazaars, fairs. I was never bored. My family was never bored. Heck you can go bowling, head to a skate park, an amusement park, water park, go ice skating, play soccer, go rock climbing and even golf in Bucharest.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Check out cool companies like Wagner Arte (wagnerarte.com), Phoenix Star (phoenix-star.ro) for hand tailored Armani suits, ROD for Romanian Design products (www.facebook.com/ROD.Carturesti?ref=br_tf). They offer beautiful, authentic craftsmanship and are worth every cent. If you are more inclined to traditional goodies, then the Peasant Museum and Village Museum have a great selection of hand painted eggs, hand painted icons, rugs, masks and pottery. The prices are comparable to what you might find in the local village where they originated. And one side note: if you get a chance, try some Bulgarian wine. Actually, if you have the ability to drive south to Ruse, Bulgaria- do it. Bulgarian wine once upon a time was up in the leagues of Italian and French wine. I think it STILL is, but it's in the early stages of getting itself back on the fashionable wine map.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Most people might say the best advantage of living in Bucharest is the ability to travel around Europe. There are cheap local and international flights, particularly if you take discount flyers such as Tarom, WizzAir, or Pegasus.

Others might argue the best advantage is their culture. Romania has 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites where you can find fortified churches, painted monasteries, historic battlegrounds from the days of the Roman Empire. Mingling among the old churches and walls are Communist buildings, classic and modern European architecture. Obviously Romania is rich with controversial history. Bucharest is full of dynamic personalities. At any given time, especially in Bucharest, you may see anything from traditional farmers to priests to movie stars to artists in the crowds. I have never seen such incredible artistic/graphic/jewelry design concepts thanks to the younger generations making their mark. Also ecotourism is a blossoming industry in Romania and there are countless and worthwhile opportunities to undertake. They offer unique and affordable activities like bear watching, back country skiing, hiking, cycling, cooking locally. You can even indulge in eco-tourim inspired spa vacations since there are many natural springs hidden amongst the mountains.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, just try not to blow it on all the cool travel the country affords. We didn't save any.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I've been racking my brain for the past several hours, and I honestly can't think of anything. I am just glad I went. Its rich culture, interesting people, and amazing landscapes will be seared in my memory forever. I'm not saying it's a blow out of life affirming goodness- living in a foreign country is HARD. But I took the good with the bad and tried to appreciate my experiences living here.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, yes and yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Fears that Bucharest is lacking in "first world needs."

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, patience and good espresso maker.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Tales From the Golden Age, and though it's not a movie, check out Things you didn't know about Romania"

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker.

Twelve or so years ago, Blacker left the comfort of his British home for a new life in a northern Transylvanian village. He published his memoirs of this experience in this charming and humorous book.

Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon.

It was written in 1987 but that's what makes this thriller such an accurate portrayal of the suspicion that existed between East and West. The story follows Mary Ashley, a young ambassador of the U.S. to Romania, who is thrust into a nightmarish adventure of kidnapping, assassination and espionage.


Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.

Fans of young adult fantasy should snatch this book off the shelves. Set in Transylvania in the 16th century, Wildwood Dancing is a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale with a twist. Loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the story follows the adventures of Jenica and her sisters as they uncover the dark secrets of the "wildwood."

The Last Hundred Days: A Novel by Patrick McGuinness.

A novel with hints of autobiography, The Last Hundred Days tells the story of a young British man's experiences during the tumultuous last days of Ceausescus regime in Bucharest as he forges and questions his friendships.

The Appointment: A Novel by Herta Mueller.

Written by a Nobel Prize winning author, this novel is set in communist Romania, where a young female factory worker is accused by the secret police of sewing notes in mens' suits with the intention of escaping the country.

The Land of Green Plums: A Novel by Herta Mueller.

One of Mueller's most famous works, The Land of Green Plums tells a story of an oppressed German minority group who face dire circumstances in Romania under communism.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

A combination of mystery, horror and historical fiction, The Historian is a best-selling novel inspired by the legend of vampires and Dracula, grappling issues such as good and evil, religion and history.

Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon.

It was written in 1987 but that's what makes this thriller such an accurate portrayal of the suspicion that existed between East and West. The story follows Mary Ashley, a young ambassador of the USA to Romania, who is thrust into a nightmarish adventure of kidnapping, assassination and espionage.

Train to Trieste by Dominica Radulescu.

Mona is an impulsive Bucharest teen who falls in love with Mihai, a boy from the mountains, in the frightening time of Ceausescu's dictatorship. Paranoia and the disappearance of loved ones forces Mona to escape to America, only to find herself twenty years later determined to return to Romania-and to her first love.

The Forgotten by Elie Wiesel.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel writes of his native Romania. In The Forgotten, Malkiel's father Elhanan, who is suffering from memory loss, tells his son of his past in a Romanian village where he prevented a crime. Malkiel travels to the village to confront the past of his father.

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Bucharest, Romania 01/21/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

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2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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3. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC via Munich, Vienna or Amsterdam; 12 hours.

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4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and has been living in Bucharest for one year, a third expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Poorly constructed houses and apartments.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Can be overpriced or inexpensive....depends on where one shops.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Food stuffs.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Mediocre food at most high priced restaurants. Lots of options (mediocre) for chain and non-chain restaurants.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very, very cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but overpriced for value.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There is a fraud issue but I have not had problems.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I don't know. I use the internet.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Numbers, directions, anything to help you argue.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very difficult.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Metro is safe and the price rising weekly, but is still fairly cheap. Taxis can be a total rip off if you don't know where you are going and/or you have minimal Romanian. Buses can be over-crowded.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring one you don't mind getting bumped up as every day driving in Romania is like some sort of Mad Max Thunderdome event.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available, but I don't know the cost.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Vodafone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Poor. Get invasive medical care in Western Europe.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Average. Some love it. Some hate it.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of bars and concerts.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, for both. Single men will especially be happy.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Roma.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The Danube Delta and Transylvania.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The parks, concerts, leaving the city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Traveling to Eastern or Western Europe. Yes, its possible to save money.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Thoughts of Western Europe.

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3. But don't forget your:

Passport.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Sense of pride and basic moral ethics are extremely low. People think its OK to lie, steal, etc., to get ahead. This relates to low quality of services and material goods, but high relative prices. It is better to spend time in Transylvania or outside of the country altogether. Go to the Bulgarian seaside (or Bulgaria in general) for better services, food, and nice people.

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Bucharest, Romania 08/27/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No - Hong Kong, Manila, New Delhi, Bogata, Taipei.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

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3. How long have you lived here?

15 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse's job.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Nice housing opportunities. City living is great, with lots of parks and greenery. Baneasa is only 5 miles to town, but impossible to find cabs to there.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Beautiful fruits and veggies and lots of outdoor markets for fresh produce. Everything you want is available here, for a price. Fresh fish, however, is difficult for some reason.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons of restaurants of all price ranges.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Drivers are HORRIBLE. They speed like crazy, pass on curves, and have no regard for pedestrians or other drivers. Rude, inconsiderate, and, overall, dangerous.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, many options.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I use them - others refuse. There are issues with fraud - it happens.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a number of Synagogues, but most services are in Hebrew or Romanian. Not sure about other denominations.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

On-line is best.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Helps to know numbers, at a minimum. Not everyone speaks English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very hard to impossible. No sidewalks, narrow streets etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transport is easy, cheap, and not a problem.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not sure. I found a job with no problems, but others struggle.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

The women here DRESS.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No - Bucharest is extremely safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good. No complaints.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISB is ok. Academic standards are not as high as we would like. No programs for gifted and talented children. A large percentage of Romanian students, which impacts school culture and opportunities for forming friendships in the higher grades, as many of the kids have grown up together for years.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Difficult if you do not speak Romanian. Nothing for swimmers. Most activities are through the school.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Great.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of opportunities for everyone's style.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that we have experienced.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Hiking in the mountains and exploring traditional Saxon villages. I love running in the park on a day-to-day basis. Beautiful architecture if you appreciate that as well.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of concerts, opera, art galleries, parks for kids and adults alike.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Fabulous countryside with tons of opportunities for hiking, skiing, riding horses in the mountains. Great nature and culture - fabulous traditional villages and a rich, rich history with preserved and intact ways of life in the country. Love the weather - extreme at times, but cool in the mornings and evenings, even in the summer.

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11. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

We have enjoyed living here. We would not like to stay long-term, but it is great for a few years.

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Bucharest, Romania 05/30/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington D.C. - about 14 hours with a layover in Germany.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is superficially nice. They built a lot of new flats, but built them too quickly and cheaply. There are electrical and water damage problems all throughout our building. Traffic is an issue no matter where you live.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most basic foodstuffs are available - prices and quality will vary based on where you shop.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We can get basically anything through Amazon since we have a DPO address.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Burger King, KFC; lots of mediocre high-priced restaurants. You can find every price range, but there is really only one GOOD restaurant in town: OSHO

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

It is hard to tell what is and is not organic. Your best bet is the markets, but no guarantees.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap and available.100 RON/week for one full day of cleaning.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but pricey.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Try to avoid it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes; Christian denominations only, from what I know.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Little.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot, especially if walking and stairs are a problem.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes; taxis will try to rip you off.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You can bring a sedan, but something with clearance is nice because EVERYONE parks on the sidewalks.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes; fairly expensive and unreliable. You certainly don't get the bandwidth you are promised, but... that's Romania.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can get pretty cheap pay-as-you-go phones from Vodafone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Decent; Kennels have flea problems.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Well-dressed to impress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

A lot of Romanians will try and take advantage of you. Dogs are a problem. Vandalism is an issue, especially to vehicles.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Don't use the medical system here unless it's an absolute emergency. Expect to be asked for a bribe.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Unhealthy

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

4 seasons - cold winters with snow, rainy spring, hot summer, and perfect fall. Fall is the best time of the year here.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, but it is hard for expats to break into unless you are with AISB.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You better like bars and clubs, and even then it will wear on you.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good city for single men, bad city for single women. Decent city for couples and families.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I have heard it is a bad city for gay and lesbian expats.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, especially racial and religious.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We really enjoyed Sighisoara, Sibiu, and a couple of mountain retreats. The seaside is depressing. Bucharest itself is drab and depressing save Herastrau Park.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The markets are fun; Lipscani can be fun. They also have things like lasertag and bumper carts which can be fun.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much is truly unique to Romania. You can find almost everything in some other culture; in some ways, Romania is very cosmopolitan in that respect - typical Balkans, though they think they are above being Balkan...

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can save some money, and it is really cheap to travel to other European countries on low-cost airlines. We were able to fly three people round-trip to Italy for approximately 28 US dollars.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations that this is Europe... it's not.

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Bucharest, Romania 07/15/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

6th overseas tour, 5th with government.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is U.S. The trip takes approximately 18 hours, with connections in Munich, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, and direct flights to major U.S. cities from there.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two and one-half years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My spouse is stationed at the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Many expats live in single-family or town-homes Baneasa, a dreary, treeless suburban area far from the city with redeeming features. Others live in more centrally-located apartments. The newer apartments are nicer but can be small and expensive. The older, communist-bloc apartments should be avoided.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries can be expensive. It really depends on whether you're buying imported items or not. The fruit and vegetables can be mediocre. The best stores are the big box stores (e.g., Carrefour, Metro, etc.) located on the highway out near the airport.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Some things are hard to get here, like peanut butter.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Plenty of fast food is available. Plus other restaurants with a wide range of prices and food quality.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing uncommon.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available. There are two salary scales, one for locals and the other for expats. This is widely known. Shortly upon arrival we hired a nanny who left after a week without giving us advance notice for a family that offered to pay her more - not pleasant. But the person we hired after that has been excellent and has been with us for more than 2 years.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, especially in the major hotels. The gyms are nice but on the expensive side.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Easily available. We have heard of problems with credit card theft, but we have never had a problem with this issue.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is a daily English-language newspaper, but it's not very good.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with English, but Romanian helps quite a bit.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Terrible for someone with physical disabilities. Many buildings lack elevators. Sidewalk curbs and public transport are not wheelchair accessible. Most of the population, especially drivers, are impatient with those with disabilities. Best to avoid this place.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, very affordable. Taxi drivers can be dishonest, so be sure the meter is turned on and is working properly. Never take an unmarked cab.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I recommend a high-clearance vehicle with good acceleration. Non-highway roads are full of potholes. Local drivers can be dangerously aggressive, and also maddeningly slow -- therefore it's good to have a car that you can use to pass (or swerve out of the way) when necessary.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Our internet is unreliable and slow. I have heard similar complaints from others. On the positive side, it's inexpensive - about 25 $ USD per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

We had to shop around before finding a good vet, but overall we are satisfied with the quality of care. If only humans could receive such good treatment.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are some jobs at the international school, plus tutoring or teaching opportunities.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Romanians tend to dress formally but not overly so.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The usual petty crime concerns for any big city, but nothing unusual.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is absolutely terrible. Avoid public hospitals at all costs. Bribes must often be paid at every step of the process. Private facilities have better equipment, but I have heard numerous stories of doctors misreading/misdiagnosing test results. Other health concerns include allergies and respiratory problems, which tend to be common

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate-to-poor air quality. Dust in summer. Many people develop allergies. Respiratory problems are common but usually not severe.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Gloomy climate. Cloud cover is common from November through March. Spring arrives mid-April. Summer is stifling hot and dry. Winter is not bitterly cold, but heavy snow is a possibility.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The international school is situated on a pleasant campus in Baneasa. Teachers are hit-and-miss. I have heard expats complain about the math program in particular. The student body is multinational, with Romanians comprising the largest (but non-majority) group.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The international school has a special-needs program that apparently is quite good.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschool available but expensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

We have found some, but mostly in Romanian.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Don't know exact numbers, but would estimate it as medium to large. The US Embassy is medium to large, and the diplomatic community is amply represented here. Also lots of international organizations and NGOs.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low, especially at the U.S. Embassy. This is largely due to post management and embarrassingly-poor funding.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not really. Except for the parks, the city is NOT pedestrian friendly. People smoke all the time at restaurants, so it's not good for kids. Singles have some decent nightlife options, but in winter this is usually limited to extremely smokey bars and cafes.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's an awful place. Gays and lesbians suffer widespread discrimination and generally remain in the closet in Romania.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Many problems. Widespread anti-Roma (gypsy) sentiment throughout the country. Also discrimination (not always overt) against blacks and Jews. This is torst place we have ever lived in terms of prejudice.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Seeing Transylvania, traveling to Bulgaria, short flights to most European capitals.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Not much in Bucharest. Traffic is terrible here. Transylvania is very beautiful but difficult to access due to bad roads/traffic. Black Sea coast 2.5 hours away but limited to summertime. Also, hotels are overpriced and with poor service.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woodcarvings and textiles.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

No special advantages.

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11. Can you save money?

if you don't travel, yes. But the best thing about Romania is getting out of Bucharest and into the countryside.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

A resounding NO.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

bicycle.

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3. But don't forget your:

umbrella, patience, sense of humor and round-trip ticket.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Tom Gallagher has written on the political situation here. There are a number of books about the Dracula legend.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Bucharest is a traffic-clogged, ugly and unfriendly city. We have lived on five continents, in both first-world and developing-world countries. This has been our least-favorite place.

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Bucharest, Romania 12/20/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is our 3rd expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Boston; You can connect through Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Rome, London, and Amsterdam. During the summer months, Delta offers a direct flight from JFK.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is okay. Houses in the suburb are attached and in compounds and in the city they are apartments. Most people are happy with their homes. The only issue is the construction is not well made and many people have leaks and a lot of other maintenance issues.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The groceries are okay. I wish I could find more spices and more varieties of fresh produce.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

A gas grill, tires, zip lock bags, spices (cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, tumeric, etc.) , salsa, tortillas, vasoline, outdoor furniture, 220 v electronics, BROWN SUGAR, sweetened coconut, chocolate chips, CHICKEN STOCK, Asian food ingredients, black beans, chick peas, pinto beans (canned), oatmeal, cards, wrapping paper, cute napkins, etc. I can probably list more!

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

We don't do fast food, but they're here. Most people opt for the food courts in the malls. The prices are normal. As for restaurants, there's a decent Mexican, some Indian, loads of Italian, German, Turkish, Romanian, etc. I've seen only a few Asian restaurants.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I haven't noticed any problems.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have diplomatic pouch and DPO.You can now mail packages from the embassy if you set up an account with USPS and print your own label.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Excellent! We pay around $40 for a day.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The gyms are good and provide some entertainment as well.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We don't use credit cards here. If you do, you will need to provide a PIN number. ATMs are okay as long as it is in a safe place.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a few English-speaking church services, catholic and protestant. Some churches conduct the services in both English and Romanian.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We don't have tv or newspaper. We depend on our internet. I don't think it is expensive though.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It would be helpful to know Romanian. Many people do know English, but when it counts, like getting gas or at markets, it would be helpful to know how to speak some Romanian.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

IF there are sidewalks, they are full of holes, water, dangerous things coming up from the concrete, etc. There are many steps and the construction is very cheap.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

They're all cheap.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. It might be a good idea to have a smaller SUV or any SUV. It would help when pulling out in traffic. I have normal car, and I can't see around all the cars and other SUVs. The roads are a mess in the suburbs. They are full of huge holes. It would be a good idea to bring extra tires. Everyone gets a flat tire here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about $40 a month. There is an initial wait to get hooked up. You should probably try to sort this out as soon as you get here.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They're okay...just a hassle when you first sign up.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. You should have EU paperwork in the case they get their act together. For now, you can breeze right through the exit at the airport without anyone looking at your dog!

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

The vets are pretty good. Many vets will do home health care on the side. Our vet comes to our house.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No, not for the non-working spouse. There are sub jobs at AISB and some jobs at the embassy only.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Romanians try to look nice. You would never see a Romanian wearing a sweatsuit in the grocery store!

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

I think it is moderate, except there is cigarette smoke everywhere. It seems like everyone smokes and you can smoke anywhere.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I'm not too concerned. I do prefer to have a zippered handbag and use common sense when I'm out.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

This is a hard one. There are a couple of international clinics. I am not confident of the health care system here. I did have a MRI here, and even though the building and facility were disgusting, the technology was new and good. The cost of medical care is fairly cheap. An appointment at the Euro Clinic is less than $35. Prescription meds are cheap as well. If you are an embassy employee, there is a med unit. This will be more convenient for families once the new embassy is completed. For now, it can be a hassle to get in town for an appointment.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are four seasons. There all very nice. At the time of this writing, it has been snowing for 5 days straight. It is beautiful outside, but snow removal is another story!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our kids attend the American International School of Bucharest. They are happy. Overall, it has been good. It does depend on the teacher though and they cycle in and out as frequent as the expats. So, the school is always changing. They lack in the language program offering only French and minimal Spanish. They don't allow non Romanians to take Romanian!Crazy! The school has excellent facilities and looks like paradise compared to the surrounding area. Other schools to consider are the British School, Cambridge School, French School, and the Bucharest Christian Academy (BCA).

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

My friends with preschool children do struggle with their school options. They are very expensive and most of the children and staff are speaking Romanian even though it may advertise as being English.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Basic sports are available at the school. I'm sure you can find most sports here, but it will take some effort, some research and time in traffic.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Good size. At times, it seems small. You overlap between the stores, restaurants, school, church, and work.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think it is pretty good. Embassy and business seem to get along just fine. It is important to have balance between activities with work and school. Also, it is important to be positive. I think if I only hung out with embassy people, or school people, etc. it would not be the same experience. It is important to make your "bubble" big!

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As I mentioned before, concerts are the best. It is good to entertain at home or go out.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it is good for anyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I don't think it is big problem. When they happen it is because of their ignorance. They haven't been exposed to anyone that is different. As far as gender prejudices, men seem to rule. The men lack manners. Most men will walk right in front of you and slam the door behind them not bothering to hold a door. Men are served their food first.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hiking in the mountains; castles, museums; the music and performing arts is amazing. The ballet & opera are very reasonable priced. Our family shared a box at the opera for only $100! That was the most expensive option); many opportunities to volunteer and service;

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

Ice skates - There are tons of outdoor ice skating rinks in the winter! Spices!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Bucharest, Romania 12/18/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It is about a 13-hour flight to Washington DC, making a connection in Amsterdam or Frankfurt

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years (2005-2008).

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

US. Embassy personnel live in apartments in town or houses in the suburbs - "in town" is great, as you can avoid traffic by taking the metro. Apartments were spacious and nice.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Food was becoming more plentiful - more stores were opening up the longer we were there. We lived, for the most part, on the local economy and ordered only specialty items through netgrocer and the like.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's , KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Quiznos, etc. are available. We liked a lot of the restaurants. We thought that there were many restaurants on par with expensive restaurants in Washington DC, but not with the high prices (well, it depends on what you call high). We could have a nice dinner (3 or 4 courses) and a bottle of wine for $150 max. Something similar in DC would be over $300.The local "Mexican" restaurant is just OK. Stick with Romanian. :)

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We had a full-time nanny/housekeeper, whom we paid about $550 per month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much - most people speak some English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Subway was great. And cheap!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any car is fine, though you have to be prepared to drive like you're an outlaw. I didn't mind the driving, but it takes some time getting used to.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I had a pay-as-you go phone. It was cheap (I paid maybe $30 every 6 months or so?)

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate - I have allergies, but they never bothered me in Bucharest.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Few. Watch out for the beggars.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health care is just mediocre, though we were provided really good care for the few emergencies we had.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons - similar to New York City weather.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Our kids attended a wonderful local daycare - very caring teachers, English speaking, great curriculum, and inexpensive. Ask the embassy's CLO for recommendations.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you hang with and what your general outlook is. We really enjoyed Bucharest, as did our friends. Others, not so much. We focused the things we loved about it, rather than what Bucharest was lacking.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There was much to do with young children - circus, indoor jungle gyms, giant bouncy castles, etc. We're hard-pressed to find similar activities in the U.S.!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Glass (go to Romblast), Nimtoi vases, local art.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bad attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

Desire to talk and ask questions. Romania has a fascinating history.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Bucharest, Romania 12/30/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Asuncion, Nagoya, Lima, and Guatemala City.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working at an NGO.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

It takes 12-15 hours from most spots in the U.S. You have a number of options to get through. Only Delta has a direct flight from the U.S. through New York, and it only operates part of the year. Plan to change plans at a major European hub.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Along with traffic, this is one of the hassles of living here. Because the communist-era housing is so substandard, finding decent housing in the city can be hard. Most buildings look pretty forbidding on the outside but can be fine when you get inside. Older buildings will have high cielings, good floors anddecent number of windows. Oudated plumbing, heating, and overall fit an finish may be a bit lacking. The new houses out in the suburbs are huge but lacking in character and yards. Commute times vary but plan on spending forever in your car. The traffic situation is terrible and will be getting worse before it gets better. If you can use public transportation you'll be better off. Those who live in the expat enclaves in Baneasa and commute into town have it the worst. I've heard it can take up to 90 minutes to get a few miles.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Prices have gone up since Romania joined the EU but prices basic groceries can be OK. Take advantage of the outdoor markets for produce, where the quality and prices are great. Good meat is hard to find, as is good seafood. American cheese and some spices along with ethnic foods are hard to find. Appliances and clothes are ridiculously expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Every electrical appliance we'd need, more bedding, Mexican and Asian foods.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, KFC, and local stuff. The restaurant scene keeps growing and going up in price. There are a number of good places, maybe not a lot of great places. European cuisine is pretty well represented, but otherwise the pickings can get slim. Asian restaurants aren't very good, and there's only one half-decent Mexican place in town. Still my family has a number of favorite places. Romanian service isn't overly friendly, so you need to get used to that.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The mail service is pretty good if slow for letters. Packages are a pain to receive so we tell people not to bother.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

You can find excellent household help although sometimes it takes a little bit of trial and error to find someone who's good. We've been very lucky with our maid and she does an amazing job with everything. We pay her about US$25 day and feel she's a bargain.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Widely accepted and even thought there's lots of talk about credit card fraud here I don't know anyone who's actually had any problems. Just use sensible precautions. In a lot of stores you have to have a PIN to use your credit card. Make sure you get one before you get here.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

You can get a pretty good selection of English channels on cable, but expect it to take a long time to get set up. International editions of papers and magazines are in a lot of places for the usual prices.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not very much since so many Romanians know at least a little English and some a lot. Some taxi Romanian will help and people here appreciate it if you make an effort.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. If you have physical disabilities this wouldn't be a good place to come. Sidewalks will be hard to handle, crossing the street dangerous, and there's little steps and few elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Any side you want. I've never seen drivers make up the rules of the road like they do here. The general rule here is the larger and more expensive your car the more you can get away with. A lot of the drivers here actually are fine. It's just the larger number of real nuts that makes it seem bad.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro is safe and cheap. It's a great way to get around. Buses and trams are safe although you have to watch out for pickpockets. They can get pretty crowded and will have some pretty ripe passengers. You have to be careful with the taxis here, but there are a few honest companies that have English-speaking dispatchers you can trust. The faster trains around the country are great, but don't try the slow ones. The trains are so good that we hardly ever drive when we head out of town on the weekends now. You get there faster, they're pretty cheap, and comfortable. They seem to be a well-kept secret among expats.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't bring anything you care about. Romanians are some of worst and most aggressive drivers you'll ever see. Add to that a lack of roads, a lack of roads in drivable conditions, and you'll find that your car gets dinged up fast. Import parts are expensive, so I'd go for a European make with high ground clearance. Don't bother bringing an SUV since it will be hard to find a place to park it and you don't really need it.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

No problem for about thirty bucks a month. Good connections.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Necessary and pretty cheap. Orange and Vodafone are the most common. You can either buy a plan or get pay as you go. Getting set up can be a hassle but it's getting better.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Direct dial just got cheap in recent months although the quality of connections isn't great. We've found it to be a lot cheaper than our cell plan.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Romanians love their pets and the vet care here is excellent. A number of vets do housecalls, and are open late.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. It's hard to navigate getting a work permit and you'd need to know a lot of Romanian to get by.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More formal at work than in the U.S., and when you go out. Everyday attire runs the gamut. Women probably are dressier here than in the States.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

I'd guess moderate. For a large city it's surprisingly good. There's not a lot of industry here. You can get some bad days with inversions in the winter or during the summer, but so far I've been impressed.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very few major ones. You have to watch out for pickpockets and minor crimes, but Bucharest has one of the lowest major crime rates for any major European city. It's even more remarkable considering that the police force here is tiny. Most people feel very safe here, but you have to take the usual precautions you'd take anywhere else. The street dog problem has improved a lot in recent years, but you need to be careful out of downtown.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Healthcare isn't good, but at least it's cheap. Make sure you have insurance that will evacuate you for major work. The new Euroclinic is a step in the right direction, but it's hard to find really good healthcare here. Dentists are good. Prescription medications are cheap.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons and for the most part a good climate. Winters can get cold and dreary but it seems there's less snow due to climate change. Spring, summer and fall are great. Lots of sun, long days, but July can get pretty hot.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a number in town, but the American International School is the only one worth considering. There's a lot of good teachers there and my kids have been very happy, and I've been pleased with their results. The administrators seem a bitinexperienced but a new head is turning things around in this area. This is an IB school, so don't expect things to be like they are in the U.S. There are a lot of U.S. parents who get upset because it's not just like what they had at home. It's a lot better.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The American School makes some accommodations.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I don't know too much about this other than what's offered at the American School. My guess is that it's probably OK but not great.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big with a lot of nationalities. The English speaking community is only part of the expat community here. There are a lot of multinationals here, a high number of NGO's and a sizeable diplomatic community. Must be a few thousand.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you're with and if they're willing to make some effort. For a lot of us, it's pretty high and we like living here. Those stuck in the suburbs who don't make the effort to get out seem pretty unhappy. The families at the U.S. Embassy seem to be the unhappiest of all the expat groups and aren't satisfied until everyone is as unhappy as they are. I don't know what the deal is, but they sure don't like being out of the U.S. We've learned to steer clear of them. If you're willing to accept you're in a foreign country and have some initiative, this is a great place to live. Romanians are very friendly towards Americans and are hard workers. We've liked getting to know them.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You can have what you want. If you want to go out a lot, you can. Lots of groups get together for parties in homes. It's harder to socialize with Romanians, but it can be done.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a city that's what you make of it. There's a lot to do here but you have to get out and about to find it. The unhappiest people seem to be those stuck in the suburbs who never get into town. Families can have a good time if they can work with transportation and traffic issues. Couples can have a great time. Single guys will love this place. Single women may find that the attitudes of Romanian men may leave something to be desired.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not really. Although Romania no longer has laws against homosexuality I'd say most of the population is pretty against it. You'd probably be OK but wouldn't find this a gay friendly place.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. If you're not white a lot of Romanians will be either be curious about you or won't like you. There's also some anti Jewish sentiment here. This place was closed off for a while so it's pretty homogenous and attitudes aren't all they could be. Romanians hate gypsies and it's sometimes hard to listen to the complaints.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Museums, clubbing, restaurants, tennis, soccer games, parks, cultural events are good and cheap, going to the mountains. A lot of people say there isn't anything to do here but it's because they don't take the time to look for it. If you like to shop you'll be disappointed. Gyms aren't great and pretty expensive but they're OK. A lot of guys miss their golf. Getting to the mountains for the weekend makes for a great getaway. There's decent skiing not too far away. Black Sea resorts are a bit rough and ready but OK. You also have all of Europe next door. We've had a great time here and enjoy it.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Glassware, carpets, wine, tuica.

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9. Can you save money?

Sure as long as you follow a budget like you would anywhere else. We've managed to save a lot here, but are careful to stock up on cheap items when were out of country.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectation that you're going get all the conveniences of home and belief that where you life has to be "pretty" in order to have a good time.

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3. But don't forget your:

Clothes, shoes, appliances and sense of adventure.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days for a good glimpse of what things were like not that long ago.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

We've had a great time here and look forward to staying longer. My kids love their school, my wife and I enjoy our Romanian colleagues, and we've had a lot of fun here. It's hard to figure out why so many Americans are so down on this place. A lot of people find they really miss Bucharest once they leave.

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Bucharest, Romania 02/11/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our 5th tour overseas.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am affiliated with the U.S. Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 9 hours direct from Bucharest to New York City on Delta.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

High density apartments buildings in the center city, soulless duplex, and 'pleasantville' arrangement in the suburbs.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Slightly more expensive then the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local post service is ok. We use the pouch when necessary but very much miss APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available at approximately US$300-$500 a month.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There is a lot of internet and credit card fraud here. Reducing your use of ATMs is wise.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Bucharest would be tough. There is no parking available in the city so everyone parks on the sidewalk. As a result there is no access.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

In rush hour you just sit in traffic. At other hours, you drive on the right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The smallest thing you can find. Unless your work provides you a parking place, a big honkin SUV will drive you crazy in this city. The roads outside the city are all paved and unless you're going way up into the hills, you don't need anything too massive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Readily available.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are readily available, but require a laundry list of documents (copy of your lease, passport, etc.).

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

If you are European. With EU membership there are good opportunities for Europeans. For Americans it is pretty limited. EFM jobs at the Embassy are rare.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate outside. Indoors with the cigarette smoke, it is awful.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Minimal.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is decent but not up to EU standards.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

A lovely spring and fall with a hot summer (115F in August 2007) and a grey, grey, grey depressing winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a large American International School in the Baneasa suburb as well as a few other options. In the city, there are two English-speaking primary schools and one English speaking secondary school.s

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools and daycare providers are both available but expensive and low quality compared to our other overseas experiences (Asia, Central America, South America).

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

Low. The folks we have met over the past year both inside and outside of the U.S. mission community speak openly about their dislike of Bucharest. The high (and rising) costs, gritty ugly city, traffic and cigarette smoke will wear you down.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

At home with the occasional expensive night out on the town.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for single males and that's about it. For families it is limiting, expensive, and incredibly boring.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes. In Bucharest you will find more tolerance towards diversity than in the rest of the country. Sexual orientation would not be an issue.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

In Bucharest it is not so bad. Racial slurs against minorities are common outside of the city though.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are a few decent parks and playgrounds, some ok restaurants, and two airports with access to great sites in the region. Bucharest is a dump, but the greater neighborhood is pretty nice. Turkey, Greece and even the coast of Bulgaria are all enjoyable getaways.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. Can you save money?

Not anymore.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No way. Bucharest and Romania, in general, have been the worst of our 5 posts. Knowing what we know now, we'd not come back or recommend it,.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Images of being in the green hills of Transylvania in a quiet peaceful place.

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3. But don't forget your:

Willingness to drive 3 hours each way to get the heck out of Bucharest into the green hills of Transylvania in a quiet peaceful place.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Bucharest, Romania 01/27/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my third expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Author is working at the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

16 - 20 hours from Washington, D.C. to Bucharest.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing varies. Most people with families are housed in duplexes located in the Baneasa suburb of Bucharest, close to the International School. Singles and couples are housed in various flats around the downtown area. Commute time is horrific during peak hours. Count on about 2 mph with extremely aggressive drivers.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive and climbing.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Most everything you want is available here. You may not see the American brand you like though. I'm not to picky so, nothing.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Pizza Hut, McDonald's, KFC. A Hard Rock Cafe just opened.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I have pouch access and the embassy association sponsors a "homeward bound" during Christmas.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is widely available and relatively inexpensive.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't. The thieves can be very sophisticated. If you must, only use them in ....well, just be safe and don't.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes they are, but I can't say much because I'm addicted to AFN.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some would help but is not required. Romanians do crack a smile when you at least try to speak their language. Most will try and help you whether you speak Romanian or not.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Don't even try it. Disabilities don't get any consideration in buildings or new designs.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right. No, left. Well, wherever they feel like it.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro is safe but trams and buses not so much. Use the Fly Taxi company if you can and take your chances with the others.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Cars with a small foot print would be best for finding parking spaces. I see people with SUVs but parking is difficult as it is.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. It's reliable and relatively inexpensive.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They are widely available and competitive on pricing.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

VoIP - Vonage or the like.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I don't know for certain but since pay in Romania is considerably less than in the U.S., I wouldn't think so.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. (Romanian women dress up to go grocery shopping though.)

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is petty theft - primarily pick pockets and non violent crime.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is some decent medical care here for minor issues but anything major and your outta here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summers can be hot, winters are cold, but spring and fall are great.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Moral at the embassy is okay but slipping. Hopefully some changes this summer will turn things around.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It is completely up to you. You can entertain and socialize as much or as little as you want.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say yes for all but it's especially good if you are a single man. The Romanian women are astounding and friendly.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I can't say for sure but I wouldn't think so. Romanians seem very traditional.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Somewhat. This is a male dominated society.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Movies, clubs, hanging out with friends. It is whatever you make of it.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Crafts, entertaining and socializing.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, but it's getting more difficult.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

In half a second if I were a single male. Otherwise, probably not.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Road rage.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and good demeanor.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

When I first arrived, there was a large number of street dogs. There are fewer now but still way too many.

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Bucharest, Romania 01/12/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Previous postings include Quito, Santander, DC, and Tel Aviv.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Author has been at post for 18 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomat.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 17 hours if you go: Bucharest, Frankfurt or Berlin, U.S .If you go via NY, the transfer time/immigration check in will make you miss your connecting flight.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Singles and couples can live in the city, and families in Baneasa. The commute from Baneasa to downtown is horrible.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get pretty much everything here but groceries are getting more expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Zest soap, but that is a personal preference. You can pretty much get anything you want here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

This is a Latin country, expect to enjoy your food and time at the restaurants, but know that customer service is pretty much unheard of here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

DON'T do it. Credit card theft is of epic proportions.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes but I like to see the news in Romanian to help my language abilities.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It's good to know Romanian. I've read several reports that people know English here but for us it's been the opposite. Romanians appreciate if you even try to speak their language and they understand it's difficult.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It's hard enough to walk in the city as it is.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right-hand but sometimes on the left if the driver doesn't want to wait.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, but watch for pick pockets. The Metro is pretty cheap and can get you all over the city.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A small SUV. Romanians are the worst drivers I have ever seen (1st world machinery driven by 3rd world mentality). The taxi drivers get offended if you put on your seat belt. If they took away 75% of the cars it may be a little better.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal. Romanian men and women are very nice dressers and dress to impress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Pick pockets, street beggars, and opportunity thefts.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The typical four seasons.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

It is hard to find good help. Romanians do love children though and we have been lucky finding a great nanny who our child loves.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies by place of work.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

For singles bars and clubs. Families usually go out and about.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families good but AISB is lacking in a few areas. Singles, for single men this is a GREAT post. Romanian women are hot, and dress to kill. It's like a Victoria's Secret catalog in Bucharest, and the clothes are quite minimal. It's also quite impressive how the women can walk on the 100 year old streets in stilleto shoes with no problems. I guess Romanian women suffer to look good. For single women you have to get used to the cat calls and a backwards attitude from the Romanian men in regards to women's roles. For couples it should be fine if you like to get out and do things.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No, Romanians aren't very tolerant of gays or anything that they aren't used to.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, if you are on a religious mission, be very discreet.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel outside of Bucharest. Inside the city, there are several really nice parks for kid or you can go to the countryside.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Crafts.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes. But it is getting more expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely!!!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

Cold weather clothes.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Dracula.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Dracula.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Romanians love their country and can be pretty arrogant. They have no clue what-so-ever of customer service and could care less if you spend your money on their business or not. Common sense is about 50 years behind in regards to seat belts, child safety seats, and basic safety, etc. That being said, my Romanian co-workers are some of the most professional and efficient people i have ever worked with.

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