In today’s article we’re going to talk about a very popular destination in Romania, especially for expats and people looking for a nice city to retire to. Brasov is the city we’re going to talk more in depth about in the fourth article in the “Where to retire to in Romania” series.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know that I’ve covered Brasov on numerous occasions. I even met a family that moved to Brasov back in 2015 and they’re still enjoying life there even today. But in case you haven’t read my previous articles about Brasov, here are the links for further readings (they all open in new tabs, so you can open them, get back to this article then continue reading them):

Moving from the US to Brasov
Interview with the US family now living in Brasov
Best bars and pubs in the city
More thoughts about Brasov (and photos)

What should you know about Brasov?

This is one of the largest cities in Romania and one of the main touristic attractions of the country (thanks to the popular nearby mountain resorts). The fact that it’s located in a central position in Romania makes it a good place to set up home base if you want to explore the country.

Aerial view of the city

Brasov is very close to Bucharest (just a couple hours drive away, but there are numerous train connections or busses) and Sibiu, another popular touristic attraction in the country. Also, some of the most popular ski resorts and winter destination are close by: Poiana Brasov, Predeal or Busteni. Bran is also close, with the well known Bran Castle (usually referred to as Dracula’s castle).

If you want to stay away from the intense heat that you’ll find in most major Romanian cities during the hot summer months, Brasov is a great place to be. It’s true, the winters are longer and colder but many people prefer it to be that way. Plus, the colder weather offers a perfect excuse to enjoy some hot wine or boiled Palinca.

There are many things to see and do in Brasov thanks to the fact that it’s a popular touristic destination. You’ve got a wide option of pubs and restaurants, local attractions and you can even go hiking on Tampa hill or the nearby mountains. I would consider Brasov a lively, entertaining city which would definitely be suitable for those looking for a nice place to retire to or move to in Romania.

Piata Sfatului in the heart of the city

A bit of interesting trivia is that a Romanian magazine (Storia) ranked Brasov as the second safest city in Romania, after Oradea. The other safe cities found directly below Brasov were Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Sfantul Gheorghe and Timişoara. (Of course, Romania should be considered generally safe no matter where you’d be).

How expensive is Brasov?

Since it’s more touristy than other cities, Brasov is a bit more expensive. However, by US and Western European standards, it still remains an extremely cheap city to live in.

Rental prices are still low – lower than Bucharest, but more expensive than most other smaller cities – but fortunately there are many options available and if you’re ready to move away from the popular areas, you can get some really nice deals.

The streets in the old city center, plus the “Sweet Hole” restaurant – a famous place with delicious cheap food (the daily menu is a bit under 4 Euros)

Cost of living remains low if you move there thanks to the supermarkets and hypermarkets which are not priced for tourists and you can easily find good restaurants where you can eat a nice meal for way under 10 Euros per person.

You can learn more about the cost of living in Romania here.

Where to live?

There are many factors to consider when deciding where to live in a city and sometimes personal preference pays an important role. The good news is that Brasov has a really well developed public transportation system, while taxis are generally cheap (although there are scammers) so it shouldn’t be extremely difficult to get from one place to another.

When it comes to the best places to live in, you can’t go wrong if you choose either the Old Center or the Racadau neighborhood. They’re basically on the two sides of the Tampa hill and are very close to most of the attractions in the city. Here’s a map showing you the two areas in more detail:

Image via Google Maps

Unlike many cities in Romania, Brasov has an active and relatively large expat community. Even though Romanians are extremely friendly, it’s good to know that there are many expats living in Brasov and you can easily connect with them.

Conclusion

Most people that I’ve been in contact with over the years consider Brasov to be one of the best places to live in Romania. I really enjoyed the city every time I traveled there, but I must admit that I have rarely ventured outside of the old city center area. However, since that’s the place where most of the good things happen and where most of the attractions are, you have no reasons to complain.

So definitely consider this as a good spot to retire to or move to if you’re planning to stay for longer periods of time in Romania!

18 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Calin:
    Snuck one in, didn’t you;-) Are you home or still in Budapest?
    Nice overview of Brasov. Curious, though, what do Romanians consider as a city being safe? I know there are the obvious criteria, such as crime, pedestrian and traffic safety, etc., but why is Oradea #1, Brasov #2, etc.? (I imagine poor old Bucharest is at the bottom, right?) I would imagine death by firearm is nearly non-existent or not even considered in the ranking.
    Any ideas what sort of “business” I should start?;-) Maybe “Mind Your Own Business” would be a good name, eh? Customer service classes might be a good one? That’s a big deal here in the USA. People will immediately leave or write up a bad review for any business which they view as being non-customer friendly.
    The only bad thing I’ve heard about Brasov are the bear attacks. MY opinion is I won’t mess with the bears if they won’t mess with me.;-)
    TTYS,
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello Teil! Back from Budapest for a few days already.

      Regarding safety, I believe it’s just what you mentioned in the comment. Basically, the study results were based on surveys and how people rated the safety of their city. So they feel safest in Oradea for whatever reasons. In some cases, rankings have to be made even though I think all cities in Romania should be very close to each other in terms of safety (usually, the poorer the city/county, the more petty crime you can expect).

      And bear attacks in Brasov… I think that the possibility of one happening in the central areas – or most areas in the city are minimal.

      Regarding the business, indeed a consulting business could be a good bet. You don’t really need to be active and have customers, but you can give it a try with something genuine and it might actually work.

  2. Hi Calin, Just curious, have you ever received recognition from your government for the work you do? Admittedly I haven’t researched Romania like I did a few years ago, but I don’t recall seeing anything close to what you do for your country.

    Brasov must be very nice since it gets so much attention. Oradea doesn’t seem to get as much but it’s supposed to be very affordable with the kind of buildings that the Austria-Hungary Empire was famous for.

    • Let’s not hope Calin gets the same “recognition” as Wandering Earl who lived in Bucharest while writing a blog about expat living in Romania. The Romanian Immigration Office just one day decided not to renew his residency visa even though he had talked about all the great things his blog was doing for Romania. The official letter of refusal addressed this argument with two points:

      !. Since I was trying to get the residency visa based on my blog and the fact that, by writing about my experiences in the country I would help promote Romania, why couldn’t I just promote Romania from outside the country? Why did I have to actually be in the country to write about it?

      and

      2. If Romania needed a blogger to promote their country, they could just go to the unemployment office in Bucharest and find a blogger there who would be willing to write about it.

      Stuart again. So it appears at least the Romanian immigration people think any Tom, Dick and Harry from the unemployment line can do Calin’s job. And Calin can do that job of promoting Romania just as well from Budapest!

      Well, I appreciate Calin’s fine work very, very much.

      Oh no, I just remembered an Oradea experience that forever ruined my opinion of that city. I was with a group of Germans in a minibus on our way home when we were stopped by what looked like a policeman on the road between Oradea and the border. It was nighttime, he had on a “uniform” with a police-like looking officer’s hat. He signaled us to pull over with one of those traffic control paddles. When we did, he demanded the driver’s drivers license, got inside a car next to the road, locked the doors and demanded 60 Euros to give it back. I negotiated him down to 30 euros and we were on our way again, everyone seething that we had been taken by such an outrageous scam. I later read somewhere that this guy was well-known to the authorities and normal Romanians who simply ignored him and drove by.

      • Sometimes, the response of the authorities can really leave you speechless. When it comes to the online world, they still have a lot to learn and are still stuck well in the past.

        Regarding the Oradea experience – it must’ve been really bad indeed. But I have the feeling that it happened a longer time ago, right? I don’t think that today he could make it out with this without somebody quickly alerting the authorities and they would handle it from there.

        • You are right, it happened some time ago before 2003 which was the last time I was in Romania. Another memory now pops into my head of my third trip to Romania, maybe in 1999. At the first gas station in Romania where we stopped after the border, near Oradea, there was a Romanian young man who stepped out of a parked Mercedes with Nürnberg license plates. He waved a pretty “banknote” in front of me and asked me whether I had change for a 500 Euro banknote. I said no, I didn’t have that much money. He then pulled out a different banknote and asked for change for 200 Euros. It all smelled mighty fishy to me and I said no. Many such counterfeiters were afoot in Romania back then.

  3. Brasov looks very nice and l can’t wait to visit and maybe eat something from the sweet hole :-). Would you say 2 nights here would be enough or should one make it 3? Still trying to work out a good itinerary. I wonder if Brasov has spas close to the city center? :-). I doubt l would venture outside the city either except for tours. There doesn’t seem to be a need unless you want like to hike.

    • You should give yourself at least 5 days in Brasov to fully see the area, a week would be better. Most attractions are within easy driving distance of the city center as well, so Brasov is a good place to stay. If you stay for 2 days, you will not get the true feel of the city/area.
      Brasov is also used in movies and if you want to see what the countryside looks like, rent the movie “Cold Mountain” as it was filmed in Poiana Brasov.

      • Indeed, if somebody wants to travel and see the nearby places (like Poiana Brasov, Rasnov Fortress, hiking and the nearby places), yes, more time would be needed. But everything there is to be seen in Brasov can easily be seen in two days. Most of the important things are in the city center or very close by: the square, the Black Church, then the Gates and Towers, even the Rope street. Is there anything else that I am missing?

  4. Great article Calin! Brasov was the city that first attracted me to the country of Romania, being in the heart of Transylvania and surrounded by mountains, with wildlife close by as well as being a decent sized thriving city. I later changed my focus to Sibiu, still in the region with similar surroundings, but with that smaller city vibe and the advantages that go with that. Also, even though a tourist location also, a little more off the beaten path. Regardless, the whole Transylvania region, including Brasov, Sibiu. etc. have a unique feel to them, at least I believe so. Plus, geographically, Romania truly has something for everyone, beautiful mountains, beaches, plains, small villages, large active metropolitan cities and everything in between. Oh, and even though there are estimated to be around 5,000 bears in Transylvania, attacks are very rare in the city. The last one I read about was October of 2016, a 20 year old American sustained a minor wound on his arm, before the bear retreated, and it wasn’t considered serious. Nothing like my trips to Anchorage, Alaska, where you could find grizzly bears pretty much any night at the city dumps on the outskirts of town. As someone mentioned, regarding safety, the whole country and most of the surrounding countries are so much safer than the U.S., Mexico or South America by comparison. Violent crime in Romania is almost non-existent, with pick-pockets typically being the biggest threat. It’s an amazingly beautiful country, with great food, real seasons, and is very inexpensive by most Western European or U.S. standards. If the immigration process was a little easier for non EU residents, it would be a slam dunk. Even still, if you don’t decide to immigrate there, you owe it to yourself to at least visit.

      • Calin, you seem a little obsessed with bears, and you worry too much about them! Trust me, statistics bear out (pun intended), that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than attacked by a wild bear. So relax, you’re safe! …lol…take care!

  5. Four days ago we arrived in Brasov, becoming the city’s newest residents! We chose to rent a brand new apartment in one of the large developments. In this short time we’ve had little opportunity to play tourists, but through the convenience of the incredibly efficient bus system and amazing Google Maps, we’ve been able to navigate the city quite well. For us, the old center is fortunately located near, even adjacent to the official government offices where we’ve needed to conduct some personal business. Upon the completion of each day’s tasks we’ve treated ourselves to beer with pizza or pretzels at a couple of the umbrellaed tables in the middle of the active tourist area. This is the retirement I was looking for! As for the practical, day-to-day existence, modern and thoroughly stocked stores and markets are plentiful and very affordable. In fact, located in the Tractorul area there is the Coresi Mall with all its glitz, rivaling the absolute best of American, upscale merchandising and entertainment. One notable thing for me that I didn’t anticipate is how much growth is underway throughout Brasov. While the older parts of the city are full of European charm, the areas outside of these is bursting with construction of modern, chic apartment buildings. Supporting all this growth are numerous home decorating and home remodeling stores. I would go as far as to say, Brasov is experiencing a giant land rush on a scale I’ve never seen… and I’m from Southern California!

    We’ve found Romania to be very safe and comfortable. Five weeks we stayed in Bucharest, and even with the large population, hectic traffic, and 24/7 activity, we’ve had no unreasonable concern for our safety. Brasov is much more relaxed than the capital city.

    • Congrats on making the move, Jim! I am really happy to hear that you enjoy life in Brasov. It was a good idea to spend some time in Bucharest first – after being there, I think that any city in the country would seem serene, slow paced and more beautiful.

      I wasn’t aware that Brasov is under so heavy development, but that’s a good thing. It means that it’s prospering and growing!

  6. We’re surprised by the amount of development. It’s a lot, but indicates business is booming. I feel like we’ve come to Brasov at just the right time and this has to be good for Romania.

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