I’ve recently been given the opportunity to work remotely in an official capacity. I’ve always telecommuted on occasion at most jobs I’ve had, but this is my first stable job where I can not only telecommute, but move anywhere in the world I want and telecommute permenantly.
I’ve had a life-long dream to live outside of the United States. It started as a young kid when I became fascinated with Chinese culture and customs. The towering cities and extremely dense population fascinated me, and I was far too young to understand the political struggles and censorship that occurs in the country. Once I wised up, my interests shifted to other big cities, namely New York City (Inside the U.S., but a great distance from where I lived at the time). I was still pretty young at the time so I didn’t have a complete grasp on cost-of-living, which makes most of the city cost-prohibitive for me. I played around with the idea of moving to various countries in Europe, shifting year-to-year seemingly randomly, from Sweden to Ireland to Norway to the Netherlands. I never stuck with one country for very long, but I knew I wanted to leave.
In the beginning of 2014, I decided to decide exactly what I was looking for in a place to live. They are, in descending order of importance:
- Fast Internet access
- Big city
- Ease of travel
- Low cost of living
I wanted to do extensive research on as many places as possible to make the right decision. Using Net Index to compare Internet speeds of various European countries, I was able to discover Moldova, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Romania as candidates. I eventually settled on Romania, specifically Bucharest, for my future home.
Since early 2014 I’ve been doing research on Romania, talked with people from the country, and planned my eventual move. Due to a job change in June 2014 I was forced to abandon my dream and settle down into the U.S. indefinitely, even possibly moving for that job to an area which didn’t match any of the four characteristics listed above. During a negotiation at my current company (where I am underpaid), I brought up telecommuting as being a way to keep me on the team indefinitely. There was some resistance at first but eventually the entire management of the company agreed to let me work remotely. This means I can transition Romania back from being a dream to being something I can plan for and act on.
Romania has the fastest Internet access in Europe
My job, hobbies, entertainment, and most of my socializing takes place entirely online. Faster Internet access means faster database transfers, faster movie downloads, and faster connectivity overall to the rest of the world. Romania has extremely fast Internet access, with some areas of Bucharest offering gigabit Internet access for lei55 (~$13.50) a month. Latency to the United States isn’t that great, but is just fine for servers in Europe. I don’t really see latency as a concern, as most transfers to/from the U.S. will mostly be large downloads / uploads.
Bucharest is a giant, beautiful city
Bucharest was founded in 1459. It is home to a long, colorful history, beautiful architecture, and 1.9 million people. It’s divided up into six sectors, each with their own administration, sub-culture and history. With 285 km2 land area, there is much more to see than I probably ever will.
Romania will allow me to travel the rest of Europe
While it’s not directly in the middle of Europe, travel will be extremely easy. Travel by train or plane are both extremely cheap (at least compared to the U.S.), and is also posistioned well for a road trip, if I decide to take one. I also plan on visiting the middle east and the rest of Asia, so the positioning for that is good as well.
Living in Romania is extremely cheap
Less so in Bucharest, but the difference is still significant. A decent 2-bedroom flat in a good location can be found for as little as 420 EUR/mo (and apparently that’s well above the average). A loaf of bread is $0.51. Apples are $0.84/kg. Some things (like clothes) are about the same price, but overall living in Romania will be much, much cheaper than almost anywhere here in the U.S.
In order to make this a reality, I’m going to have to jump through a lot of hoops. Construct a budget, save up the money, get a passport, sell all of my stuff, learn some Romanian, figure out where I’ll be staying, and actually do the thing. I don’t need a visa to enter the country for up to 90-days, but a stay past that requires a visa. I’ll be getting a secondment visa (D/DT), and then a residency permit. While jumping through all of those hoops, though, this will be giving me a chuckle:
A general note: After living here for over a year I’ve observed that Americans are much more concerned (or should I say conditioned?) in regards to following immigration laws than your average Romanian. I’ve had a few laugh at my deep concern to be in the country legally. “Who will catch you if you’re not?!” is a remark I’ve gotten a few times. Make of that what you will.
Without some major event or roadblock getting in my way, I could move as soon as November of 2015. That’s a date entirely dictated by the amount of time it will take to save up the funds, so it could be earlier or later depending on what happens in my life between now and then. Until then, I have quite a lot of planning to do.
(I have no idea who the fuck owns all these images but it certainly isn’t me)