The third episode in the “Where to retire to in Romania?” series is here and today we’re going to talk about Timisoara, Romania. I haven’t chosen this city randomly – I actually decided to write about it after Timisoara has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2021.
And even though this might not sound like a very big thing, it actually is because this will bring some big amounts of European money into Timisoara, money that will hopefully be used to advance the city even further, after numerous renovation projects have been started and completed in Timisoara already.
In case you didn’t know, another Romanian city has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture in the past. Sibiu was that city back in 2007 and judging from the fact that it’s now one of the most popular and best known cities/destinations in Romania, while it was virtually unknown to the world before 2007, there’s a lot of potential for cities grabbing this award.
So Timisoara is definitely on the rise right now and has the potential of becoming a really hot spot in Romania, especially since its location in the country is a bit better than Sibiu’s, at least in terms of easy connections to other major cities via roads/highways or airports.
For example, you can get to Bucharest from Timisoara (and vice-versa, obviously) in about 1 hour if you take an internal flight or around 10 hours if you take the scenic route in a train.
So today we’re going to talk about living in Timisoara, specifically answering the question: should you move or retire here or not?
Some things about Timisoara?
Located in the Western side of Romania in the Banat region, very close to Serbia and Hungary, Timisoara is the third largest city in Romania with around 300,000 people living here.
This is the city where the Revolution against Ceausescu’s communist regime started in December 1989 and it was the first city to be declared “communist free” in the country. The buildings in the historical center of the city still have bullet holes from the shots fired during the revolution so it’s pretty impressive to visit as well.
Timisoara is also one of the biggest educational hubs in Romania, its universities hosting many students in the region. This is why Timisoara is considered by many a “student’s city” which means that there’s a vibrant night life and younger population, as well as very cheap living, eating and entertainment options in the student areas in the city.
As you can see in the photo above, the Bega river runs through the city, with beautiful (and currently renovated) parks and bike roads built around it. If you’re a fan of nature or you love to cycle or jog, there are tons of opportunities on the banks of the Bega river.
Most of the people studying there actually stay to live in the city once their studies are over, meaning that the population is expanding and the city is growing as a whole.
Living in Timisoara, Romania
Timisoara is considered one of the richest cities in Romania, with one of the best standards of living and job offerings, mostly thanks to the number of corporations that have offices in the city. It’s also probably one of the easiest cities in Romania to get a job in even if you’re not speaking Romanian, so it’s definitely worth checking out at least.
The cost of living in Timisoara can be quite low, despite it being a large city – mostly because there’s a huge offering on the market for students, both in terms of accommodation and eating out / entertainment options.
Of course, if you have a higher budget, you have a lot of options for more luxuriant places to visit or live in. In other words, this city is great for any type of budget and has enough offers to satisfy even the most advanced demands, as well as more modest ones.
There are trams and buses running in the city and the public transportation options are decent, even though they’re not always in time and you’ll still have to do some walking to get to specific areas – just like mostly everywhere else in the world. But at least the ticket prices are really low: 2.5 lei for 1 trip (around 0.5 Euros) or 93 lei for unlimited travel for one month (around 19.50 Euros). You can check out updated numbers of the public transportation prices on the RATT website.
If you’re driving in Timisoara, you will be pleased to know that it’s not as crazy as it is in Bucharest, but you’re still in Romania so expect some reckless driving, a lot of honking and pushing the limits of the cars to the maximum.
On a more personal note, I can say that I wasn’t a very big fan of the city. I haven’t visited it extensively even though it’s really close to my home town, but when I did visit during my university years, I was disappointed: I found the city to be dirty and in a poor condition.
However, my latest visit to Timisoara made me change my mind a little bit: there were visible improvements in the city, at least in the central area that we visited and everything looks a lot better there, with the entire central area being renovated and looking great.
There are also very nice parks around the city center, with the river Bega running through – in other words, things can now look pretty inviting and they will only get better as the investments from the EU are put to good use.
Timisoara also has one of the biggest and most important airports in Romania, with many budget flights available to Western European countries – and to other parts of the world as well, so you can easily consider it a cheap hub or home base for visiting Europe at very low rates.
The city is also very close to Hungary and Serbia and thanks to the recently built highway that connects the city to Budapest, you can get there by car in as little as 3-4 hours. Or you can just hop on to the nearby cities in either country to experience them as well.
It is also one of the cities in Romania where bicycle riding is encouraged and you will see a lot of areas for riding the bike and many people actually doing it. There’s even a special bike track all the way to Serbia that has been built recently, allowing people who love riding their bikes visit Romania’s neighbors on a bike.
Timisoara has evolved quite a bit in the past few years and I am sure things will look even better now that it’s going to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021. The city is expanding and, even though expats would probably get the most by choosing the central areas, new suburban options are available with brand new apartment buildings and houses and extremely modern living options.
Timisoara is less chaotic than Bucharest, but still a very large city to offer most of the goodies that Romania’s capital can offer. The people living here are usually a bit more laid back and calmer and the fact that you can easily get to two different countries – Serbia and Hungary – is a bonus.
[Featured image via Wikipedia]