Bucharest Expat-ing with kids in tow
Top tips for any new arrivals
When I was told the exciting news that we had been offered an expat posting to Bucharest I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is one thing to move abroad as a singleton or couple, but quite another to have three kids under 5 years old in tow! We were nicely settled into our ‘forever home’ in the UK and I was now faced with the prospect of entertaining the cherubs in a city the Lonely Planet guide describes as “not an extremely child-friendly destination, particularly if you’re travelling with young children”. However 6 months on I believe saying “yes” to the posting was the best decision we’ve made. So what would my top tips be to any new families arriving in Bucharest? Here goes…
1. Immerse yourself in the friendly community
There is a very friendly expat community in Bucharest. Saying “yes” as much as possible to invites, playdates and meet-ups early on worked well for me as well as joining a toddler group. We go to the British School toddler group which is really well run and the highlight of the week for the little ones.
2. Use the helpful online resources
Bucharest with Kids has a wealth of information on living here with kids and the new forum is great place to ask locals for help and guidance. Whether you want advice on a kids dentist or want to know where your child can have horse riding lessons, people respond quickly.
3. Get to know the capital
Many expat families choose to live near the international schools in Pipera and it’s easy to live here in an expat bubble and not see the rest of the city. I would recommend a trip on the hop on/ hop off sightseeing bus early on as a great way to get your bearings, hop off at Herastrau park, the old town and the Peoples’ Palace and explore as much as possible. You are never far from a children’s playground or indoor soft play and taxis are cheap if you want to have the convenience of being dropped off exactly when you need to be. The taxi apps such as BlackCab and Speed Taxi make the process even easier.
4. Eat well
You may not be able to find all your branded favourites in the shops (although the selections seem to be improving regularly) but Romanians are big on their fruit and veg and local seasonal produce so embrace it wholeheartedly, the quality is excellent. But for days when the last thing you feel like doing is cooking try take-out. We’ve not yet found a restaurant who doesn’t do take-out and many will arrange for someone to drop it off in a (cheap) taxi if they don’t have an official delivery service.
5. Let people help you
Romanians are one of the friendliest nationalities I have met, and they love children. The kids have been given umbrellas in the rain, blankets in the cold, we’ve been sent to the front of many a queue when they see I have my hands full, check outs opened for me when the children have had enough of shopping etc. However be prepared for being told lots that your child is under dressed at any time of the year (they like to wrap them up warm!)
6. Enjoy the weather
Bucharest is blessed by lovely long, hot summers and there is nothing better to do in the capital than to enjoy the sun in one of the many parks. Cismigu with its boat rentals in the summer and Herastrau with so many choices of playgrounds are my favourite. The kids love scooting from one playground to the next and stopping off for very affordable snacks. The ice creams are delicious, but be sure to bring plenty of wet wipes if you opt for the almost black ‘extra dark chocolate’.
7. Be up to date with childhood vaccinations before you get here
I have struggled to get some of the routine childhood jabs my lot needed because local doctors either don’t do them or they do them to a different timetable. I would recommend getting up to date before you arrive.
By Lucy Ramsden