Many people still believe that Eastern European countries are dangerous countries to travel to or live in. But this is no longer the case (for years).
With Romania being part of the group, I’ve decided to update today’s article and tell you whether Romania is a dangerous country or not.
This comes in some tenser times that usual, with Russia camping up near Ukraine, sparking fears of war – a war that some consider could negatively impact the safety of Romania as a whole.
This is not the case, just to start with the conclusion – as it is not the case when it comes to the current health crisis that hopefully will be over this year.
Is Romania safe for foreigners?
I want to start by talking about general issues and day to day living, ignoring any viruses for now – or potential wars. We’ll talk about these at the end of the article.
Romania can be considered a safe country to visit or to live in. There are no external threats for the country at the moment, and internally crime rates are low, while general safety is high in all areas.
This includes weapon usage or crimes related to firearms: the number of people who own guns is extremely small in Romania.
In our small provincial city of Drobeta Turnu Severin, my wife has been taking our beagle out for a few months now each night at around 10:30 to 11:00 PM, without any worries. Nothing has ever happened and she’s confident enough that nothing will.
While there are always risks in any country, a single lady can go out for a walk at night without any real reasons to worry. (I say alone because a beagle that’s several months old surely doesn’t count as protection).
If we look at other countries and potential threats to Romania (like attacks or anything like that), the country remains a really safe one to be in.
Even though currently there is a threat outside of Ukraine, even if the unlikely war was about to start, Romania would still be completely safe.
Since Romania is part of the EU, attacking the country would mean attacking the entire block and fortunately there’s nobody who wants to do that right now.
Actually, Romania was ranked 25th in the Global Peace Index back in 2021 (source here), above big countries like France, Italy, Spain, the UK or the US (which, by the way, were ranked 122th).
Generally speaking, Romania can be considered a very safe country. Very few people own guns in the country and most of those who do are hunters.
Further more, owning a gun requires a special permit and there are no reasons for most of the population to go through the trouble of getting one.
Even though the number of individuals owning firearms has increased over the past year, it’s very unlikely you will ever see one in the country. I’ve been here for 37 years and never saw an armed man in Romania (except for police officers, of course).
Also, there have been no mass shootings in the country and hopefully there will be none in the future.
It happens very rarely for shootings to take place (maybe once or twice per year) and that’s in between gangs on a jealous husband who wants to scare the life out of his wife…
If you watch TV, though, you might be tempted to believe that Romania is a place where small crimes happen all the time.
There are indeed acts of violence, robberies (if you can call a “robbery” when the neighbor jumps over the fence and steals your chickens) and other similar problems, but most of them take place in the very poor, rural areas that you will probably never get to visit anyway.
And even if you do visit them, you will still be extremely safe as they generally happen within families or between neighbors who have a fight, usually after drinking serious amounts of alcohol.
So stuff like mugging, breaking ins and other more serious crimes rarely happen in Romania, which can easily have us say that Romania is NOT a dangerous country to be or live in.
Do have in mind, though, that there are some areas in the big cities that are considered traditionally unsafe and even though you will probably have no problems going and visiting those areas, it might be best not to since these are anyway very poor areas where junkies tend to stay and they are pretty unpredictable (although, again, there have been rarely dangerous things happening there).
Such a place is the well known Ferentari neighborhood in Bucharest, which also became a lot safer over the years as families moved there, new shops were opened and the quality of life there increased considerably.
So things like the ghettos that we as Romanians see in the movies-only are nowhere to be found here.
Homelessness is not rampant and fortunately drug users are still in relatively low numbers – or at least those who could roam the street and pose a threat.
Romania still has a bit of a stray dogs problem, and that would probably be your biggest concern when visiting (at least regarding your safety).
But even the once-roaming packs of 10 and more dogs are a thing of the past, with the few remaining on the streets being pretty much domesticated, well fed (by people who still don’t take them in) and generally friendly.
Finally, drivers tend to be pretty chaotic – and Bucharest is the melting pot of driving “innovations” where rules are mainly for guidance and chaos reigns supreme. (I must admit that I am exaggerating a bit, but it’s still pretty bad).
Personally, I have never driven a car in Bucharest and I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to because of all the chaos.
But as long as you’re careful, you should be, again, all right – just don’t expect all the normal traffic rules to be respected by drivers and take extra precautions when crossing the street, for example, as a pedestrian.
Racism in Romania
If you are not Caucasian, you might have worries that you could be less safe if you travel or move to Romania. Generally speaking, you should have nothing to worry about, no matter where you come from.
While racism is present in Romania (as it is in other countries), Romanians are generally friendly people and won’t judge and especially won’t attack you based on race alone.
While Romania is not very heterogeneous country – at least from a racial point of view – more and more foreigners from all parts of the globe arrive in the country and generally enjoy life here and are treated as equals.
As I said, some Romanians might have some misconceptions and outdated thinking, but the vast majority will keep their opinion to themselves.
In other words, people from all over the world will feel safe in Romania, no matter the color of their skin. Same goes for LGBTQ – read my full article here.
Romania and Health Safety
Because since 2020 the world as we know it has changed completely, I now feel obliged to talk about the global health situation as well and whether or not Romania is dangerous or safe to be in from this point of view.
First of all, I have to say that the situation is one that could change overnight – it often did so, actually.. Rules could change over night, as well as the numbers of people that are sick.
Make sure to ALWAYS double check actual data from official sources. You can visit your country’s embassy website, or keep an eye on official data from the WHO (shared here), or data provided by Romanian officials of DateLaZi, for a general overview of the situation.
Until today, Romania wasn’t as affected as other countries in the world were. The peak was recorded in early 2022 with a bit over 40,000 cases, but these numbers can always change.
But overall, there is a positive sentiment in the country and it is considered that we’re handling the situation relatively well to say the least.
At the moment of writing this article, mask wearing is mandatory for all people – both outside and inside, but many still wear their mask under their nose or under their chin (outside mostly).
The vaccine certificate will soon no longer be required in most places.
But overall, as long as you take all the necessary precautions, wear your mask correctly and practice both good hygiene and social distancing, avoiding crowds and avoiding spending too much time in closed spaces, Romania can be considered a pretty safe country even in the outgoing situation.
I repeat, the statements above are only valid for the moment of writing this article – make sure to double check, as they could always change over night.
I personally don’t think that things will get really bad this year and restrictions will relax more and more especially throughout the summer, but you can never know for sure.
In conclusion, we can say that Romania is a safe country to live in. It’s not more dangerous than any other civilized country out there and I would dare to say that it’s safer than countries like the US or those where you have terrorist-attack related threats.