Romania has been a favourite with digital nomads for quite some time due to its fast Internet (fastest in the EU according to speedtest.net global index), and its low cost of living. Combine this with the Black Sea coast on the east, the amazing nature of the Carpathian mountains and the Danube Delta and the plenty of historical villages. Romania was ranked third behind Canada and UK by CircleLoop in its 2021 Digital Nomad Index.
Another benefit is that English is spoken quite well especially with the younger generation, thanks to TV that does not dub but uses subtitles. Together with Bulgaria, Romania is getting its fair share of Digital Nomads heading for eastern Europe.
The pandemic has hit Romania hard as well as other countries around the world. Tourism is still a small share of Romania’s GDP with it contributing only 2.8%. The Romanian government has never the less seen what benefits long-staying digital nomads can bring towards its economy. It has been working on a Digital Nomad Visa with a draft being approved in late September by the Romanian senate.
Here at Nomad Girl, we will keep you updated when this becomes law and how the process of applying for a digital nomad visa is going to work. The current political crisis in Romania may delay this process a bit.
MP Diana Buzoianu led the legal initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization, as well as experts working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Here are the options of visiting Romania as a digital nomad, it depends on where you are from and how long you intend to stay.
Short Term Digital Nomad (0-3 months)
There is a list of 60 countries outside the EU that are allowed entry into Romania without a visa. You are allowed to stay a maximum of 90 days within 180 days. This is a similar arrangement as the Schengen zone countries also 90 days within 180 days. Currently, Romania is outside of the Schengen zone, this makes Romania an excellent break for those needing a stay out of the Schengen in the EU because they have used their 90-day allowance.
The list of countries that will need a visa to Enter Romania can be found here.
For EU citizens it is easy to enter Romania and you can stay as long as you want. However, there is a requirement that when you stay more than 3 months that you will need to register with the local immigration police. For EU digital nomads that want to make Romania their tax base, there are some serious tax benefits for IT consultants at 3% tax and for Romanian micro companies which are taxed 1-3% on their turnover up to 1 million euros. I will create a dedicated article on that is I am in the process of doing this myself.
Proposed Digital Nomad Visa For Non-EU Citizens
Romania has set its target of attracting 2000 digital nomads annually via a digital nomad visa. These are Non-EU Citizens. The thinking is that with the financial resources a digital nomad will spend a monthly average of 2,000 euros which translates into around 50 million euros a year. Here is what I know about the draft digital nomad visa for Romania.
- The application needs to be done at a Romanian embassy. If this needs to be in your country of citizenship or residency or can be done at any embassy abroad is not clear yet.
- Show proof of remote work via an employment contract of the company you work for, this can be your own company which must be registered outside Romania.
- Show proof of health insurance which has coverage for Romania.
- Show background of company and person and show the last 6 months of income.
- Show income proof of €1150 a month. This is considerably lower than the minimum income requirements of Georgia €1600, Spain €2151 Croatia €2200, Estonia €3500, Iceland € 6400, Malta €2700 or Greece €3500.
This digital nomad visa will allow you to work for 90 days and this can be extended into a temporary residency permit. The process of getting this temporary residency permit is not clear yet and may involve some more bureaucratic hassle.
8 Popular Places for Digital Nomads In Romania
With the aid of NomadList plus some of my own personal experiences let’s have a look at the most popular places for digital nomads in Romania. It must be stated that the Covid pandemic has led to some coworking spaces being shut down and that the overall digital nomad activity around Romania, as well as the rest of the world, has been down.
Romania is currently experiencing the 4th and most deadly wave in the corona pandemic, which makes it more difficult to meet in large groups. If you hold a green pass most of Romania is open for business from restaurants, cinemas, gyms, museums etc. Romania will give a covid vaccination to any foreigner in the country for free, all you need to do is show your passport.
- Enjoy a drink on Piata Unirii.
Timisoara is the third-largest town in Romania and it has a nice pedestrianised old town with three large squares offering plenty of bars and restaurants and surprisingly not that many shops. The shops seem to be located in large size shopping centres. It is also a very green town with lots of parks, including a botanic garden. Together with Bucharest and Cluj, it is the centre for IT-related industries, this can help if you have an IT-related startup business.
Timisoara’s location on the west side of Romania makes it good for visiting neighbouring countries by car. You can drive to Szeged (1 hour) and Budapest (3 hours) in Hungary and also Novi Sad (2 hours) and Belgrade (2:30 hours) in Serbia. For longer-term stayers, it has also the benefit of an airport with 20 destinations mainly to Western Europe.
- Cowork Timisoara – The Garden is located close to the old town in the cool Elisabetin area. As the name states it has the benefit of a garden to work and relax in.
- Workify & Workify 2.0 – These coworking spaces are located in the old town of Timisoara.
2. Cluj Napoca
Cluj Napoca, the 2nd largest city of Romania and the unofficial capital of Transylvania has been a success story in Romania. It has a booming IT industry and it now boasts the highest rental prices in Romania outstripping Bucharest. Cluj Napoca is home to various universities, has a vibrant nightlife, has a great coffee culture, and has historical landmarks dating to Saxon and Hungarian rule. Cluj Napoca has all the ingredients to make it an excellent digital nomad visa destination for Romania.
Cluj Napoca is a bit isolated in Romania with not many good roads connecting it to the rest of Romania. This is compensated with an airport which is the 2nd largest in Romania with connections to over 60 destinations.
Cluj is definitely there when it comes to coworking spaces, coworker.com lists 12 available coworking spaces.
Brasov is a perfect year-round destination for digital nomads, that is if you like the winter and you like winter sports. Brasov, a city with a population of over 250K sits on the bottom of the Carpathian mountains and is known for its old town with Saxon walls and gothic style architecture. Its old town with cobbled stones has plenty of cafes and restaurants and is one of the prettiest towns in Romania.
Its height at 650 meters makes it cooler in summer and winter. The nearby ski resort of Poiana Brasov, only 15 minutes from Brasov makes it an excellent destination for skiing and snowboarding. In summer the surrounding mountains offer excellent hiking opportunities and bear encounters. Surrounding Brasov there are plenty of interesting sights like Rasnov Citadel and Bran Castle.
Brasov is located 170 Km north of the capital Bucharest which is a 3-hour bus, car or train ride away. Brasov is isolated and not connected at all on the Romanian highway network. Brasov airport is in the stage of being open for business at the start of 2022. For the moment the closest big airport is in Bucharest.
Romania’s capital Bucharest is not the prettiest or most historic city, it is definitely the biggest city with a population of 1.8 million people. If you enjoy the buzz of a big city that has the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon, this is the place to be. With its fast internet speeds and a large IT sector it is attracting plenty of major companies and has a vibrant startup scene. This could turn Bucharest into a major hub for remote workers, especially when the pandemic ends.
Bucharest has as a great old historic town centre with good nightlife where people like to party hard. It has its dirty sides and is known for its bad traffic. But for those that want to live and work in a big capital city in Europe, Bucharest is surprisingly affordable. You can be at the black sea coast in 2:30 hours as well as on the ski slopes in the same time. Bucharest airport offers over 100 destinations mainly in Europe and the Middle East.
For coworking places, there is so much choice with coworker.com listing a total of 49 spaces. Prices start as low as €100 a month for a hot desk at Outworld Hub – Grozavesti.
Constanta is a port city on Romania’s Black Sea coast with a history that goes back over 2000 years. Constanta which has a population of 300k has a nice beach an old town close to the waterfront, and a beautiful abandoned casino. As it is one of Europe’s largest port cities it has a life beyond the summer tourist season.
Constanta is a 2 and half hour drive and 3-hour train ride away from Bucharest. It has a small airport but with no destinations to speak of. It is a great location for exploring the rest of the Black Sea coast including the impressive and sparsely populated Danube Delta, which is the largest and best-preserved river delta in Europe.
There are two coworking spaces in Constanta, Tomis Hub Constanta and B.House.
Mamaia is a place that suits the short term Digital Nomads that want to live and party by the beach. Mamaia is Romania’s largest resort and it is busy and also expensive in the summer months. It is popular with people from Bucharest for which it is not a long drive to get to. Outside the summer season, it gets very quiet with many shops and restaurants closed. If you are looking for a coworking space it is best to go to neighbouring Constanta.
Iasi is the 4th largest city of Romania with a population of 290K and is located in the countries North East. It is referred to as the Moldavian capital as it is the main economic and business centre of Romania’s Moldavian region. It is home to the oldest university and its five public universities accommodate a total of 60,000 students. This large student community creates a vibrant city. Iasi has a booming IT industry with Amazon employing 2000 people in its Amazon Web Services unit.
The region around Iasi is known for its wines, some of the most popular local wineries are Bucium, Gramma, Hermeziu Winery or Cotnari. Iasi makes a great base for exploring neighbouring Moldova, the Neamt Citadel and the Unesco painted monasteries of Bukovina.
Iasi is an isolated city in Romania when it comes to highway connectivity, this is a problem that many Romanian cities have in a country that has only 950 km of highways. It does have an airport with over 30 destinations if you need or want to go places.
Iasi has plenty of coworking spaces the best-known one is Fab Lab which has two locations in town.
One of my favourite cities in Romania is Sibiu with a population of 160K and located 275 km northwest of Bucharest. It is a town with strong German roots that goes by the name Hermanstad. Its historical centre is in the process of getting Unesco World heritage accreditation. It was also voted by Forbes as one of Europe’s most idyllic places to live. Sibiu also ranks high on food with it being named European Region of Gastronomy in 2019. Surrounding Sibiu there are plenty of sights to be seen like Alba Iula, Medias, the Carpathian mountains and the Apuseni national park. The nearest ski resort is only a 30-minute drive away.
Sibiu has a highway connection to Timisoara and thereby the rest of Western Europe, it also has a small airport that mainly serves German destinations.
Sibiu suits the digital nomad that wants the top in architecture and gastronomy with plenty of sights surrounding it. It is a bit quieter on the nomadic aspect though.
Nook is the coworking space in Sibiu not too far from the historic centre.
Romania has super-fast internet and some of the lowest costs of living in Europe according to Numbeo.com with Romania ranking 98 out of 139 countries. You can easily rent a one bedroom apartment for 300-350 euros. In comparison, Bulgaria ranks higher at 91, whereas Turkey (119), Ukraine (121) and Georgia (130) have lower costs of living.
Outside the capital Bucharest there are plenty of medium-sized cities that offer fun, culture, history and outdoor action to keep you interested whilst working remotely. The introduction of a Digital Nomad Visa which will aid non-EU citizens to come to work and stay is welcome for a country that has so much to offer.