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Iași. The first sustainable community for energy efficiency in Romania

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

Probably the friendliest city in Romania, Iași has risen from its ashes in the past 10 years. Once the capital of Romania, Iași suffered in the post-communist period from lack of investment. However, in the last 10 years, Iași has managed to improve its human capital and attract big players in the IT world: Amazon, Oracle, Continental. 

Having the oldest university in Romania, Iași is a young city, with a lot of room to grow and be the economic engine of Romania. Even though it might be considered small compared to Bucharest, it offers the same range of activities, from sports, to restaurants and clubs, without the traffic, pollution and general rush.

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Overview: city dynamics

Romania’s history is deeply connected to the city of Iași. When Bucharest was invaded during the First World War, Romania’s capital moved to Iași, a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. In 2018, Iași was declared the Historical Capital of Romania, given that it hosts the country’s oldest university and oldest museum. Iași has always been Moldova’s capital, attracting talent from the entire region. It was and continues to be the region’s economic growth engine, attracting international investment (Amazon has a development center in the region) and being the third biggest entrepreneurship hub in the country.

Iași has always been a student city, housing Romania’s first university. Currently, Iași houses a population of 60,000 students enrolled in one of the 8 local universities. Iași’s universities attract some of the country’s best talent in medicine, engineering, and IT. 90% of the inhabitants of Iași are happy to live there, compared to 80% in Bucharest.

In 2005, Amazon opened in Iași the first R&D facility in Eastern Europe, proving how innovative the city is. Since then, it has grown tenfold and plans to continue to do so. As Amazon says, the city of Iași is “large enough to have anything you need and small enough to get anywhere fast”.

Quality of life

According to the Urban Barometer created by the World Bank (in 2020), 90% of Iași’s inhabitants are happy to live in the city, compared to 80% in Bucharest. 71% of Iași’s population is content with the city’s public infrastructure and public meeting places, such as parks, markets, car-free areas.

Transportation infrastructure

Iași is well connected to the entire region of Moldova, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. One can reach Cernauti (Ukraine) by car in 3 hours and a half and Chisinau in 2 hours and a half. There are also multiple trains and buses connecting these cities.

Iași is also close to other beautiful Romanian cities, such as Piatra Neamt (2 hours), Suceava (2 hours and 30 minutes), Bacau (2 hours). Iași is Moldova’s biggest train destination, so all these cities and Bucharest and Constanta can be reached by train. The authorities recently started working on a motorway crossing Moldova, which will reduce immensely the time to reach Bucharest.

Iași has the third largest airport in Romania, Iași International Airport. One can fly from Iași directly to Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom. All of these destinations are served by low-cost companies and national airline companies.

The public transportation system is managed by the City Hall, through a bus-and-tram system. The transportation system covers the entire city, as well as nearby suburbs. There are also frequent buses connecting the city to the airport.

In Iași there are 42 kilometers of bike lanes and is currently developing a municipal bike-sharing system. There are many local clubs for biking enthusiasts - such as Iași Club de Biciclete Team - that meets weekly for bike rides and organizes biking trips in nearby villages. Public transportation is preferred by local inhabitants, with 44% of the population using it almost daily.

Iași is #156 in the traffic index rating done by Numbeo, ahead of Bucharest, Stuttgart, Athens.

Iași is also well served by international ride-sharing companies. Uber and Bolt have been present in the city for a couple of years, together with micromobility options with Bolt and Lime.

Shopping

There are two main shopping destinations in Iași: Palas Mall Iași, Iulius Iași. All of them are within 6 kilometers from the city center: Palas Mall Iași is in the center of the city, next to the Palace of Culture. Clients can find most international shops in Iași, such as H&M, Bershka, Levi’s. There are also higher-end shops such as Bigotti, Guess, Mango, Nissa, Tommy Hilfiger, US Polo ASSN.

Iași is also served by smaller boutiques, found in the Old City Centre. Altex, Flanco, and iStyle Apple Premium Reseller offer a large choice of electronics. Emag and PCGarage also offer fast delivery in Iași.

Sports

Iași was the European Capital of Sport in 2012 and provides a lot of possibilities for those that want to lead an active life. The city houses one of the top five football teams in Romania - FC Politehnica Iași and a rugby team. Iași has a football stadium hosting matches in the National League and a Polyvalent Hall.

There are tens of sports available in Iași. One can find gyms, offering a large option of activities, tennis courts, football courts, swimming pools etc. 7card, the biggest sport discount card in the country, has partnerships with over 40 establishments in Iași.

  • Gyms: World Class, Metalmorphose, GYM BOX, Jade Gym, XBody - some of these gyms also offer CrossFit classes and training equipment;
  • Tennis: iTenis, Tenis Club Mossman Iași, Tenis Club Leo Iași;
  • Swimming: Ciric Pool, Tiki Beach, Sunrise;
  • Squash: Oxygen Sports Center;
  • Football fields: Olymp Stadium, Magic Sport Center;
  • Other sports: basketball, handball, volleyball, dancing are also available

For those that want to wind down after an intensive workout, Iași has five large spas: Calypso Spa Center, Unirea Hotel & Spa, Pleiada Boutique Hotel & Spa.

Healthcare

According to the Urban Barometer, 70% of the people living in Iași are happy with their healthcare services, the biggest number in the country. 

Overall, there are 15 public hospitals in Iași and 2 private hospitals. The three biggest public hospitals are Emergency County Hospital Iași “Sf. Spiridon”, Emergency Children Hospital “Sf. Maria”, and Emergency Military Hospital “Dr. I Czihac” - all of these three hospitals are some of the best in the country.

In terms of private healthcare, there are two hospitals treating all areas of medicine: Elytis Hospital and Arcadia Hospital. In the city, there are also private clinics from Regina Maria (the biggest private healthcare network in the country) and Sanador.

Cost of living

Quality of life, by comparison

  • You would need around 1,727.24€ (8,500lei) in Iași to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,000.00€ in Paris, 4,766.76£ in London, 9,800 lei in Bucharest. (assuming you rent in all cities)

Monthly expenses:

  • Rent in Iași is, on average, 85.18% lower than in London, 78.69% lower than in Paris, 26.46% lower than in Bucharest
  • Internet in Iași is 82.18% cheaper than in London, 75.63% cheaper than in Paris, 19.66% cheaper than in Bucharest.
  • Preschool in Iași is 84.20% cheaper than in London, 73.3% cheaper than in Paris, 19.94% cheaper than in Bucharest.

Purchases and going out

  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Iași are 68.59% lower than in London, 66.72% lower than in Paris, 13.42% lower than in Bucharest.
  • Restaurant Prices in Iași are 65.96% lower than in London, 64.43% lower than in Paris, 24.5% lower than in Bucharest.
  • Groceries Prices in Iași are 50.01% lower than in London, 64.44% lower than in Paris, 6.94% lower than in Bucharest.
  • A beer in a bar in Iași is 75.34% cheaper than in London, 79.68% cheaper than in Paris, 21.74% cheaper than in Bucharest.
  • Taxis in Iași are around 85% cheaper than in London, around 90% cheaper than in Paris.

Family and kids

Iași is considered to be Romania’s Rome, given that it is built on 7 hills, all of them offering great views of the city. The surrounding areas also provide a wide variety of activities: a fishing trip to Chirita Lake, visit Lord Sturdza’s domains, or one of the large vineyards in the area.

Iași is crossed by Bahlui River, perfect for those passionate about rowing or jogging around its banks. The biggest park in Iași is Copou Park. It has playgrounds for children and it houses Romania’s oldest tree (500 years). Copou Park inspired the creativity of many Romanian writers, including Mihai Eminescu and Caragiale. 

There are plenty of options for a weekend getaway without the kids at one of the wineries in Iași’s neighbouring areas: Cotnari Wineries, Husi Wineries, and Domeniile Averesti Wineries are accessible with less than a three-hour drive. For the more adventurous, Cricova Wineries, housing the world’s largest underground wineries, can be reached in two hours after crossing the border to the Republic of Moldova.

Iași has one of the best high schools in Romania, with long traditions. Among them: National College, Alexandru Ioan Cuza High School, and Costache Negruzzi National College. 

Iași also houses 3 international schools:

  • Seven Hills International School - British Educational System - Primary and Secondary Education
  • International Spectrum School - Kindergarten., Primary and Secondary Education - 600 - 700 Euros / year

Networking opportunities

Iași’s IT community has developed a lot in the past years, spurred by young innovation from “Gheorghe T. Asachi” University. The foreign-owned companies that opened research centers in Iași are also supporting the growth of the local IT community.

Top tech communities in Iași:

  • Startup Grind - Startup Grind Iași is part of a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs.
  • TBNR - Iași based startup accelerator looking to accelerate and invest in technology startups with exponential growth potential.
  • Fab Lab Iași - Placed in the university campus Tudor Vladimirescu, Fab Lab Iași has as a purpose to develop student programs for the technical field, together with the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University and Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Iași. These programs will have the purpose to stimulate innovation, digital fabrication, and entrepreneurial spirit among the technical students of Iași.
  • Frontend Hub - for those passionate about frontend development, it provides a deep-dive into Chrome and Firefox’s dev tools.
  • The Grape - The Grape seeks to provide a shared, community-driven workspace for independent workers, entrepreneurs, startups, founders, scale-ups, NGOs, and anyone who wants to be part of the local entrepreneurial community.

The IT professionals of Iași also organize monthly meetings and annual events with national importance. Some examples can be found below:

  • CODECAMP - Codecamp is the first nation-wide IT Conference in Romania, and most likely, the biggest one. Since its beginning in 2008, Codecamp created an amazing community around them, bringing together companies, startups, and IT professionals.
  • Fuckup Nights Iași - Fuckup Nights is a global movement and event series that shares stories of professional failure. Each month, in events across the globe, we get three to four people to get up in front of a room full of strangers to share their own professional fuckup. The stories of the business that crashes and burns, the partnership deal that goes sour, the product that has to be recalled, we tell them all.
  • Google Developers Group Iași - monthly meetings for those passionate by anything Google.
  • Innovation Labs Iași - It helps founders set up their companies and develop an MVP during 3 months of mentorship. The winning startups receive seed funding.

Investment

Funding

The startups in Iași have access to national VC funding and programs: 

  • GapMinder – “VC fund targeting IT software and services startups in Romania and Central & Eastern Europe, offering up to €1.5 million in seed funding and an additional €4.5 million in follow-on rounds.”
  • Techcelerator – “A 10-week long acceleration program for tech startups, to help them reach market fit through dedicated pre-seed and seed investment rounds. Techcelerator is the only accelerator in Romania backed by an investment fund.”
  • V7 capital - V7 Capital invests as well in early stage startups. They are quite new in the Romanian market, focused on startups in the service sectors, especially wellbeing services for corporations.
  • Early Game Ventures - Early Game Ventures invests mainly in early stage startups. It also organizes an annual incubator for 5 companies. It is also supported by the European Investment Fund. It focuses on Enterprise Technology, Consumer Technology, Hardware and Electronics.
  • TBNR - TBNR is a private equity fund based in Iași, unlike all others, which are based in Bucharest or Cluj. It also invests in startups going through its accelerator program. The fund is maintained by a group of Romanian angels.

Real estate

Given that the city’s continuous development, any real estate investment in Iași is a safe bet. The city’s real estate value grew by 45% since 2012. The price per square meter is on average 1390 Euro. Iași has a large offer of real estate, from city lofts to 3 or 4 room apartments to city villas. Given that Iași is well connected and traffic is not a problem, a family could easily choose to move to the suburbs, to enjoy a closer life to nature.

Leisure

Going out: restaurants

In the central area, in and around the Old City, there are plenty of shops, as well as restaurants and cafes. Among the most famous restaurants, we have:

  • Fine dining: Toujours, Fenice, Krud Restaurant
  • Mediterranean: Blue Acqua Restaurant, Mamma Mia, Romeo e Giulietta Pizzeria
  • American: Vivo Fusion Bar (considered by many the best burgers in Romania)
  • Romanian: Cuib, Panoramic Restaurant, Bolta Rece.

There are also vegetarian and vegan restaurants, such as Cuib. For those that want to enjoy their meals at home, there are three food delivery services available: Takeaway, Tazz by emag and Food Panda.

Going out: cafes

Iași joined the other Romanian cities in building a local specialty coffee culture

  • Jassyro Coffee Shop
  • Cafeneaua Noastră
  • Teo’s Cafe
  • Harmony Cafe Iași
  • Mignon Café Bistro
  • Fika (also offering amazing croissants)

Going out: pubs & clubs

With over 40,000 students, Iași offers a large range of locations for going out

  • Clubs: Oddity, Sotarie, Dead Soldier, Billa 8
  • High-end clubs: Fratelli Lounge & Club, Marilyn Night Club;
  • Bars: Cafeneaua Piața Unirii, La Baza, college Bar & Grill;

Festivals

There are many festivals organized each year in Iași:

  • Afterhills festival - AFTERHILLS is the Romanian festival where music, visual arts and new experiences come to life. It’s the biggest festival in Moldova, with 30,000 attendees.
  • Rocanotherworld - A yearly festival of music, arts and gastronomy.
  • International Festival of Literature and Translation, which makes Iași a place of fertile reunion for writers, editors and translators from all over the world. It is one of the biggest such festivals in Europe.
  • Hangariada - A festival bringing together aeronautic tricks and music.

Visiting

Iași offers a lot of tourist attractions, that bring in every year tens of thousands of visitors:

  • Palace Park and the Palace of Culture;
  • Ion Creanga Memorial House;
  • Romanian Union Museum;
  • Botanical Garden;
  • The National Museum of Natural History;
  • Mihail Sadoveanu Museum.

The area of Iași and surrounding counties also has a lot of tourist attractions:

  • Vineries (Husi, Cotnari);
  • Piatra Neamț;
  • Sturdza Castle;
  • Sturdza Domain.

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

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