Rethinking Bucharest

Before discovering that Romania has become more challenging to obtain residency, we had settled on Bucharest as our base. It was a decision based more on convenience than anything else, really. And while I tried to make the best of it, Bucharest never really “did it” for me. It was more tolerable when our friends from The Expat Experiment were there. When they left, it was not only hard to say goodbye to good friends, but it left a void for me.

After spending time in other Balkan countries, and now having spent a little time in amazing Budapest, I have come to see what really just didn’t work for me in Bucharest.



Romania is a beautiful country, and we found lots to enjoy in so many cities, but Bucharest needs some serious beautification efforts. There are some gorgeous structures, but most buildings are grey and/or dark. When combined with the Communist block style architecture, it adds to a feeling of oppressiveness.

Bucharest does parks well, though. Some of them are just amazing, and it’s hard to find their equal in many other parts of Europe.

Unfortunately, what is missing is a feeling of charm that other large cities in Europe, and even in Romania, have still retained. We expected Belgrade to appear much like Bucharest, especially considering the amount of bombing that happened not that long ago. But the Serbian capital still boasts a lot of charm.

We’ve been to other large cities in Romania, and they didn’t have the same oppressive feel that Bucharest displays.


Photo by Tigger


Our experience of Romanians is that they are very friendly people. They still are in Bucharest, but much less so than in other larger cities in the country. Initially, I just felt like it was because it’s such a big city. But the more I interacted with residents there, the more I realized it’s just Bucharest.

In most places we’ve been, the people have exhibited some local pride. They smile when they hear we’re interested in living or spending more time there. They seem honored that we love their city.

But in Bucharest, we were constantly looked at like we were insane.  “You want to live here? Why? We’re all trying to leave!”

I brushed it off at first, but after a couple of months of living in the city I began to wonder if maybe they were on to something. It actually started to feel uncomfortable, like I had to defend my madness.

I hadn’t realized how much it had impacted me until we were gone. When I told our taxi driver in Albania how beautiful his country was, I lit up when I saw his look of pride and could hear it in his voice. In Belgrade, when I told people we were considering moving there, their attitude was more like “But of course!”

It certainly feels more welcoming when people respond warmly to your news. I’ll never forget the look on Tigger’s doctor’s face when we said we were planning on living there long term. When the interpreter mentioned we had lived in Brasov, the doctor clearly decided that was the reason for our obvious insanity.


Going Back

In late July, we return to Romania. We left our luggage there, and we still love the country. But despite the convenience for travel’s sake, and the accessibility of more social activities, I just don’t see us staying in the city for long. Perhaps we’ll return to Serbia or spend time in another part of Romania or a neighboring country, but Bucharest just doesn’t work for me.

Tigger has less strong feelings than I do even though he felt “so much nostalgia” when we revisited Brasov during our stay.

Bucharest is a fine place to visit for a short time, but more than a couple of weeks is too much for me. Romania just has too many other nicer places for me to spend a lot of time in its capital, unfortunately.

Hindsight is often 20/20, no?

Share This Post On


  1. Too bad you were rrethinking your stay in Bucharest. It is a wonderful city, unfortunately not everyone seems to appreciate it. Probably becuase most people movd to the capital in search for a better job, not because they really wanted to. However, I hope you do visit Romania again and discover what other cities also have to offer.

    Post a Reply
    • We’ve been to Romania and before and have several cities we did love. Bucharest just isn’t one of them.

      Post a Reply
  2. I’ve heard about this Romanian attitude you mention. The “why would you want to live in this awful country of mine?”, and it seems odd, no? But then I wonder sometimes if I’m a bit like that when people tell me they want to live in London!

    Post a Reply
    • I have mostly experienced it in Bucharest. It wasn’t that common in other areas of the country we visited. I can understand it more from people who have left, but when you can leave and choose not to yet complain bitterly about it. . . I don’t really get it.

      Post a Reply
  3. If you don’t feel comfortable there, I can understand not wanting to stay long term. I haven’t been to Romania at all, but the fact that so many people there think you’re crazy for wanting to live in their city says a lot. I hope you find someplace else that works well for you and Tigger!

    Post a Reply
    • Mostly just in Bucharest. It was really crazy, but after a while it does get to you. We think Budapest will be our home. Now we just have hope to Immigration agrees.

      Post a Reply
  4. I agree with your thoughts on Bucharest. I spent a week there on a RTW trip last year and it was my least favorite place of the entire trip. I think, like you, I expected it to be more beautiful, but it was actually kind of depressing.

    Post a Reply
    • It really is, especially if you’ve seen the other parts of Romania which are so very different.

      Post a Reply
  5. Hmm… Why don’t you try Poland? The place has become quite awesome since I left as a kid and has tons of expats 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • We’ve been to Poland, and I did like it and would consider it. Krakow and Wroclaw were on my list as possibilities, but Tigger wasn’t as fond of Poland so it didn’t make the cut. It’s on my list of backup plans if we aren’t able to stay in Hungary, though.

      Post a Reply
  6. I’d agree with your sentiments Talon. I worked here a while and there is simply something missing compared to other places in Eastern Europe. Budapest is an improvement but my favorite is Bratislava…

    Post a Reply
    • I haven’t been to Bratislava yet. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things, but Budapest is my #1 city right now.

      Post a Reply


  1. Well, hello there, Serbia! Aren’t you a surprise? | All About Travel - […] of its buildings. I expected more grey, tired buildings like we had seen in many parts of Romania, especially…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *