Another of the regular features of the TransferGo Blog is our Life Abroad series, which serves as an introduction to various cities around the world. In this installment we look at the city that was once called “Little Paris”: Bucharest.
By European standards, Bucharest is a fairly new city which was founded in the mid-1400s. “Bucharest”, ironically, means “city of joy”, a description that the city has failed to live up to for most of its history. The Romanian capital was the home of Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula) and also the residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, the ruthless communist dictator who ruled the country for 25 years. Prior to the significant cultural, political, physical, and social damage caused by Ceausescu’s rule, the city has a long history of growth followed by destruction due to war and natural disasters.
After the overthrow of Ceausescu, Bucharest has made remarkable advances, although the damage caused by the dictator is still evident. The city is now the industrial, cultural, and political centre of the country. The country has prospered to a great extent following Romania’s joining the EU in 2007.
Bucharest is the most densely populated city in the EU, with about 2.5 million people squeezed into a mere 226 square kilometres. Much of the population lives in communist-era apartment complexes. Bucharest is the EU’s 6th largest city by population.
Over 95% of the population is Romanian. Hungarians, Jewish, Turkish, Roma Gypsies, and Germans are the more significant ethnic groups in the city.
Bucharest has a fairly thorough public transportation system, which consists of a metro, and a system of buses, trams, and trolleys.
The two systems are separate and require different passes.
Bucharest also has a good number of taxis whose drivers, while honest, often provide a thrill ride unequalled by many amusement parks.
Prices in Bucharest are reasonable, ranging from about 35% to almost 60% less than in Berlin. Romania still uses their national currency, the lei, instead of the euro. One euro is worth a little over 4.5 lei.
Here are some sample prices (in euros):
- Meal in inexpensive restaurant: 5.50
- Fast food combo meal: 4.00
- Milk (1 gallon): 3.45
- Loaf of fresh bread: 0.37
- Rice 1 lb. : 0.46
- One-way public transport ticket: 0.33
- Public transportation monthly pass: 13.00
- Basic utilities for average apartment: 88.00
- 1 bedroom city centre apartment: 340.00
- 1 bedroom apartment outside of city centre: 238.00
- 3 bedroom city centre apartment: 611.00
- 3 bedroom apartment outside of city centre: 391.00
- Average monthly net salary: 553.00
The Romanian banking system is fairly robust due to the city’s status as the financial centre of the country. Foreign-owned banks dominate the sector but a number of local banks can be found as well.
Some of the larger foreign-owned banks include Alpha Bank, Banca Românească (Greek), Credit Europe Bank, and Porsche Bank. Banca Comerciala Feroviara, Banca Romana de Credite si Investitii, and Banca Transilvania are among the larger local banks.
All banks require a passport in order to open an account. Other documentation required varies from bank to bank but generally having previous bank statements, proof of residency, and employment verification will make the process fairly easy.
Bank fees vary and some services, such as international transfers, can be very costly. TransferGo provides low-cost, fixed-rate money transfers both to and from Romania for individuals as well as business customers.