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Bucharest. The 7th city in Europe in terms of opportunities for startups and technology

Amazing stories published by tech professionals that decided to work from unique cities in Romania

Bucharest is the top performing city in Romania, with an economy larger than that of 7 EU countries, including Croatia, Slovenia, and Luxembourg. When taken together with countries and other cities in the EU, Bucharest is the 41st largest economy of the EU.

With more than 2 million inhabitants according to 2016 estimates (or approximately 10% of the entire population of Romania), plus another million people in the Metropolitan Area, Bucharest is at least 6 times bigger than any other city in Romania.


 

Bucharest is the top performing city in Romania, with an economy larger than that of 7 EU countries, including Croatia, Slovenia, and Luxembourg. When taken together with countries and other cities in the EU, Bucharest is the 41st largest economy of the EU.

With more than 2 million inhabitants according to 2016 estimates (or approximately 10% of the entire population of Romania), plus another million people in the Metropolitan Area, Bucharest is at least 6 times bigger than any other city in Romania.

Download the complete Tech Lifestyle In Romania Whitepaper or see tech jobs in Bucharest

Best places to live in Bucharest

Bucharest offers many options, depending on what you value most.

Living in the city center gives you a better connection to the city culture, a wider choice of pubs and restaurants, an interesting mix of older and newer architecture and good connections to nearly anywhere. However, living in the inner city tends to be more expensive and the demand for housing is usually higher. Expect to pay close to EUR 500 for a small one-bedroom furnished apartment (or a “2-room apartment”, as the Romanians call it) in the city center, or higher if the building is new (built after 2010) or the interior design and furniture are particularly exquisite.

If you prefer a quiet high-end area and a leafy suburban style, you could take a look at the northern neighbourhoods of Bucharest around the Herăstrău, Kiseleff or Floreasca Parks (in areas like Dorobanți, Primăverii or Domenii). These areas are close to international schools and are well connected to the city center. There are many old villas with gardens around here that you could choose to live in. Expect to pay some EUR 1,500-2,000 for a 3-bedroom apartment or small villa in this area. Smaller apartments are available at rents similar to other areas in Bucharest.

Many corporate headquarters are located in the Northern part of the city, in the Pipera area, as well as in the West (the Westgate complex) and downtown, particularly around the Dambovita River, in places such as Grozavesti and Timpuri Noi. But business parks have been built in many other areas of the city; if you want to get to work very quickly, anything along the M2 metro line will be just fine. For a touch of elegance and style, with an art-deco touch, look at the Gradina Icoanei area.

If you have kids (or planning to have them!) it could be a good idea to check out the schools first. Each public school (and some of them are very good, check out edupedu.ro for a school ranking - https://www.edupedu.ro/top-cele-mai-bune-60-de-scoli-din-bucuresti-pe-sectoare-facut-de-inspectoratul-scolar/) has a certain residential area that they give priority to. If you are targeting a certain school, you may want to buy or rent an apartment in that particular area. Areas around good schools tend to be more expensive, but it is usually worth it.

Bucharest has many parks and green areas. The large area around Tineretului Park is generally considered a very good residential area, but take a look at the area around Carol Park - there are many options there, including old villas with gardens and fancy new apartment buildings (don’t forget that Carol Park also hosts Arenele Romane - one of the most beautiful concert venues in Bucharest, and Expirat - a club, pub, concert venue and cocktail garden that best conveys the eclectic vibe of Bucharest).

Whether you plan to rent or buy an apartment or villa in Bucharest, here are a few tips:

  • Check out the websites (the best-known real estate website being imobiliare.ro), but always read the fine print or rather read between the lines for missing info
  • The studios (garsoniera) are usually around 20-40 square meters. A two room (one bedroom) apartment is usually 40-60 square meters, a three room (two-bedrooms) apartment is between 60 and 80 meters, and a four room apartment is usually 70-100square meters). There are no 5 room apartments.
  • Older blocks of flats are 4 storeys high and have no elevator. Most blocks of flats in Bucharest are 7 or 10 storeys high, with an elevator. New buildings may have underground parking.
  • It is your choice whether to get a real estate agent or not. If you do get one, aim for a real estate agent that understands what you need and want. Get another one if the first one is not good enough. Check the agent’s credentials and only sign a contract if you understand everything that is in it. Expect to pay one month’s rent as an agent's fee for rentals and up to 3% of the price when you buy a property in Bucharest.
  • 1-2 months rent is the usual deposit that you may need to pay upfront when you rent property in Bucharest. This will be returned to you when you leave.
  • Expect to pay utilities separately (they are not included in your rent)
  • Some owners will not accept pets when you rent. However, many people have pets in Bucharest and you will find a nice place to live with your pet, don’t worry! Just make sure you mention that you want to live with a pet beforehand, to save you some time visiting apartments that don’t fit.

Transport

Mass transit

Bucharest boasts the largest mass transit network in Romania, and the fourth largest in Europe, including a metro network and a surface transport network. The two systems operate independently from each other, being run by different organizations (Metrorex and STB), but a new smartcard allows travel on both networks.

The metro system includes five lines that are 78 km long, with 63 stations, at some 1.5 km average distance between stops. It is one of the fastest ways to get around the city. A one-way trip is RON 2.5 (EUR 0.5), and a monthly subscription is RON 70 (EUR 15), with other options available (day-card, weekly card, etc.). The new M5 line connects Drumul Taberei residential area to the metro network, taking over a flow of nearly 50.000 in-city commuters per week. 

 

Surface transport in Bucharest consists of an extensive network of buses, trolleybuses, trams and light rail. The STB network is one of the most dense in Europe, and the fourth largest on the continent, carrying about 1.7 million passengers daily on 85 bus lines, 23 tram lines, 2 light rail lines and 15 trolleybus lines. At times, however, it does suffer from severe overcrowding.

STB is a reasonably efficient and a very frequently-used way of getting around Bucharest.

A one-way trip is RON 1.30 (EUR 0.25), or up to RON 3.50 (EUR 0.70) for the express lines. General (all urban lines) subscriptions are available at RON 50 (EUR 10) per month, with 1-day, 7-days, 15-days options available. For occasional trips, the easiest payment method is by SMS (EUR 1.50 per day - send the text ZI to 7458 or EUR 0.30 for 60 minutes - send the text U to 7458). In some of the newer buses you can pay by card using the ticket validators inside the bus. If you plan to travel by bus regularly, the easiest way is to purchase an electronic wallet card (called Activ card) - available in the sale points located in larger bus stations.

Traffic 

Bucharest has some 1.4 million officially registered vehicles, but traffic is further congested by approximately 1 million vehicles transiting the city every day. With so many cars and a high population density (50% higher than Tokyo and 4 times bigger than Rome for example), traffic can be a problem in Bucharest.

While the pandemic sent a large portion of the active population in Work from Home arrangements and there is a growing population of bikers, home delivery vehicles have multiplied to a huge extent, leaving traffic congested even though relieving the peak hours a bit.

In recent years, there has been a comprehensive effort on behalf of the City Hall to boost improvement of road infrastructure, mainly by resurfacing and widening roads, and repairing footpaths. 

 

Parking

If you plan to drive in Bucharest, make sure you rent or buy an apartment with parking. In central areas, you will need to pay either RON 5 (EUR 1) or RON 10 (EUR 2) per hour, for a maximum of 2 hours. Payment is available via SMS (use the number 7458 and the code displayed on the parking panel on site) or two different apps (AmParcat and Parking Bucuresti). Electric and hybrid cars are exempt from the parking fee, subject to yearly registration with the City Hall.

 

Taxi & ride-sharing

The most popular ride-sharing options are Uber and Bolt, both having numerous cars available and being generally very reliable. Outside peak hours, a regular trip to the city center will be around RON 10-15 (EUR 2-3). A trip to the airport could be as much as RON 50 (EUR 10). Uber also allows you to schedule a trip at a set time and location.

Traditional taxis are available at a cost of approximately RON 2 (EUR 0.4) per kilometer. Hailing a taxi is no longer the norm in Bucharest, with many travelers using one of the many taxi apps available (Clever Taxi, Star Taxi and Speed Taxi being some of the most popular options). If you pay in cash, a tip of 10% of your ride cost is expected. Card payment is rarely available, but some apps allow travellers to pay directly in the app.

City connections

Bucharest is one of the principal junctions of Romania's national road network, which links the city to all of Romania's major cities as well as to neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Romania's three motorways currently in operation, the A1, the A2 which links the capital with the country's ports and seaside resorts on the Black Sea and the A3.

Bucharest has one international airport: Henri Coandă International Airport, located north of the Bucharest metropolitan area, in the town of Otopeni, Ilfov. From there, you are only 2 hours from any major city in Europe. 

Health

Healthcare in Bucharest is generally affordable by Western standards. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare here. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Healthcare in public facilities is free for residents, while in private facilities patients will have to pay cash upfront before claiming back from their insurance provider.

Pharmacies are available throughout Bucharest and some are open 24 hours a day. Expats may find that some medicines which are easily available over the counter in their home country require a prescription in Romania.

Call 112 for an ambulance in Romania. If you are interested in private ambulance services, SANADOR Ambulance can be reached at 021 9699, SOS Ambulance can be reached at 021 9761 and Biomedica can be reached at 031 910.

If you're working in Romania, your company may pay your fee for national health insurance or enroll you in a private health insurance plan. Many expats have mentioned that they were unaware that they had to register for insurance themselves. Be sure to talk with your employer and make sure that you do what is necessary to obtain health insurance.

Bucharest has a wide range of hospitals, both public (Floreasca and Universitar for emergency services, Filantropia for obstetrics and gynecology, Grigore Alexandrescu for children, Matei Balș for infectious diseases, Marius Nasta for lung disease, and many others), and private (Monza, Regina Maria, Medlife, Sanador) hospitals, covering all specialties. 

Your family doctor will recommend you the best treatment option and will refer you to the specialist doctors that need to consult you. If you don’t already have a family doctor, most clinics will allow you to join their own family medicine specialist. Registering with a family doctor is free of charge.

Bucharest is also famous for its dental clinics, often sought by international clients because of their state-of-the-art technology and superior skill of their medical staff, but also because of the integrated treatments they provide (including implantology, dental aesthetics, microscope endodontics, periodontology, orthodontics, dental prophylaxis, oral surgery, tooth decay therapy). Dentistry services are somewhat cheaper than in Western Europe, but expect to pay the entire amount yourself, as dentistry services are not usually covered by insurance.

If you plan (or have) to give birth in Bucharest, you should know that most hospitals have “rooming-in” options for the mother and baby and will encourage you to have a natural birth and breastfeed your newborn baby. Filantropia Hospital is one of the best public options available, while the private hospitals (Regina Maria, Medlife, Sanador, Medicover) will provide excellent specialist care and additional facilities for increased comfort.

Cost of living

When working in IT, expect to earn some RON 8000 (EUR 1.600) on average as monthly salary, net of taxes (2.5 higher than the average net monthly salary in the country, in all industries).

Bucharest is the 4th cheapest city in Eastern Europe and ranks 58th of 60 cities in Europe according to a ranking by Expatisan (https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index/europe)

Expect to spend some 500 EUR per month for a single person, without rent, or some 1700 EUR per month for a family of four, without rent. According to Numbeo, Bucharest is 58.69% less expensive than New York, without rent, and rent in Bucharest is, on average, 84.91% lower than in New York.

Housing

  • Price per sqm to buy apartment in good areas EUR 1,800
  • Price per sqm to buy apartment outside city center EUR 1,200
  • Monthly rent for 85sqm in expensive area EUR 730
  • Monthly rent for 85sqm in cheap area EUR 400
  • Utilities for 2 people in 85sqm EUR 90
  • Monthly rent for 45sqm in expensive area EUR 400 - mai sus zicem de 500E
  • Monthly rent for 45sqm in inexpensive area EUR 250
  • Utilities for 1 person in 45sqm EUR 60

Communications

  • 1 month internet subscription EUR 8
  • 1 min. of prepaid mobile tariff local (no discounts or plans) EUR 0.08 (sau putem spune ca un abon de voce nelimitat este pe la 5 euro cred - eu asa stiu ca sunt preturile pentru persoane fizice)

Transport

  • Gas/diesel 1 l EUR 1
  • Taxi (approx. 8 km) EUR 5
  • Monthly bus subscription EUR 10

Food

  • Basic lunchtime menu (in business district) EUR 7
  • Restaurant 2 courses meal for 2 EUR 30
  • Weekly groceries for 2 people EUR 100

Entertainment

  • 1 month of gym membership in business district EUR 46
  • 1 drink in downtown area EUR 5
  • 1 beer in neighbourhood pub EUR 2

Child care

  • Preschool, private, monthly for 1 child EUR 330
  • International primary school, yearly for 1 child EUR 7,500

Clothing

  • 1 pair of jeans (Levis 501 or similar) EUR 60
  • 1 summer dress in a chain store (Zara, H&M) EUR 35
  • 1 pair of Nike running shoes EUR 65
  • 1 pair of men leather business shoes EUR 80


 

Family and kids

Activities

Bucharest is an excellent city for families, with children or without. There are many options for leisure activities and great educational opportunities at all school cycles and all ages (for developing new skills). 


 

With numerous parks and green areas, Bucharest will provide numerous outdoor opportunities. Walk, jog or cycle in Herăstrău, Cișmigiu, Tineretului, IOR or Tei parks, or head to Edenland or Aventura Park for a day of climbing. Head to Orășelul Copiilor for children attractions, or go to Therme (the “largest relaxation and entertainment center in Europe'') for a day at the spa, in the sauna or the pool. If you would rather stay inside, try Antipa, the Natural History Museum (a children’s favorite), or Casa Experimentelor, where children can learn the basic principles of physics in a “hands-on” environment. You can also head out to Snagov, just 20 minutes North of Bucharest to spend your time in a 100ha protected area, with one of the strongest biodiversities in Europe. 


 

Education

In terms of schooling, remember that public education in Romania is free for all residents. However, quality private schooling is available for all school cycles. 

Kids usually join a kindergarten program at the age of 3 (with many kindergartens allowing younger children to join). Private kindergartens are affordable and available in all neighbourhoods. They will also normally include an after-school programme with plenty of creative courses that kids can join as an option.

The elementary school program starts at 6 years of age. Public schools normally give priority to children residing in the area (“circumscription”), therefore, if you target a specific school, it might be a good idea to rent an apartment in its area of circumscription. Private schools are numerous and affordable, generally providing good programmes.

Bucharest has some of the best high-schools in Romania, both public (Sfântul Sava, Gheorghe Lazar, Tudor Vianu, Mihai Viteazul, Gheorghe Șincai, Grigore Moisil, George Coșbuc - all with international recognition and excellent results in international competitions) and private (Laude Reut, Anastasia Popescu, Școala Europeana, Școala Mea, ICHB).

Private schools in Bucharest usually offer one or several curricula, including the International Baccalaureate programme and the British GCSE and A-level programmes. French and American International Schools can also be found in Bucharest. They generally offer a high standard of education, extra-curricular activities and modern teaching styles. However, the standard and popularity of these schools also mean that places are limited and prices are often higher than other forms of education.

 

Networking opportunities

Bucharest ranks 7th out of 25 European cities in terms of opportunities for startups and technology, in the Tech Cities of the Future ranking made by fDi, a division of the Financial Times, and TNW (The Next Web).

Bucharest’s tech startup sector is booming, with an impressive availability of tech talent and amazing software engineers, marketers and product people. Today, Bucharest is home to more than half of the country’s tech force, providing numerous opportunities for co-working, startup accelerators and funding.

TechExpo (may 2021)

  1. Workspace: Co-working and flexible workspaces
    1. 360HUB
    2. ARTHUB Bucharest - art hub in Romania
    3. aSpace
    4. City-Hub
    5. Commons
    6. Coworking București 160
    7. Impact Hub
    8. Ingenius Hub
    9. MindSpace
    10. Nod Makerspace
    11. OMEGA HOUSE
    12. Pura Vida Hub Bucharest
    13. Seneca Anticafe
    14. Spaces
    15. Talent Garden Bucharest
    16. TechHub Bucharest
    17. The Atelier
    18. The Office Hub
    19. V7 Startup Studio
    20. We accelerate
    21. We Love Digital Unirii

Download the complete Tech Lifestyle In Romania Whitepaper or see tech jobs in Bucharest

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