Far from being a conventional expat destination, Moldova is a small green, hilly and rather inconspicuous landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Though easily overlooked, adventurous and open-minded expats may see Moldova as an opportunity to experience life in a relatively untouched part of the world. That said, it is important for expats not to underestimate the challenging aspects of moving to Moldova.
Living in Moldova as an expat
There are few expats living in Moldova, most of whom are in the country’s capital, Chișinău. Moldova's expat population mainly consists of those employed by NGOs, embassies and multinational companies.
The country's economy is dominated by the service sector, with the agriculture and food processing industries also serving as major employers. A former Soviet state, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, though, it continues to experience significant economic growth. Poverty is especially visible in rural areas, and unemployment within the country is high, so expats should only start planning their move once they have secured a job.
The official language of Moldova is Romanian, but Russian is also widely spoken. Expats who have a basic grasp of either of these will find it much easier to settle into life in Moldova and integrate into their new communities.
Cost of living in Moldova
Compared to locals, expats tend to be high earners and as a result, the cost of living in Moldova for them is low, especially if choosing to shop locally. This allows expats to enjoy some of Moldova's best assets, like its excellent wine farms.
The cost of accommodation and public transport in Moldova is also one of the lowest in Europe. The biggest expense for expats and parents will likely be private health insurance and international school fees.
Expat families and children in Moldova
Expats considering bringing a family to Moldova should note that it can be challenging to find a suitable school, as most teach in Romanian. For that reason, most parents enrol their children in international schools. Despite the demand for these schools, there are only a handful of international schools in Moldova, so space is limited.
The standard of healthcare in Moldova is poor compared to Western Europe or North America. Therefore, expat families should invest in a comprehensive health insurance policy that provides coverage for treatment elsewhere in Europe.
When it comes to leisure time, expats will have plenty to see and do. The unspoilt Moldovan countryside is possibly one of the country’s best features. The capital is also a green city with plenty of parks and botanical gardens where expats can enjoy the great outdoors. Architecture and history buffs will be right at home in Moldova, with many interesting churches and museums ready to be discovered.
Climate in Moldova
Characterised by warm summers and relatively mild and snowy winters, the climate in Moldova is moderately continental and features frequent dry spells.
It would be inaccurate to claim that Moldova is the perfect expat destination – on the contrary, life here can be challenging in many ways. Still, those who open themselves up to the friendly Moldovan locals and their way of life are sure to have a culturally rich experience like no other.
Population: 4 million
Capital city: Chișinău
Neighbouring countries: Bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south
Geography: Moldova is landlocked and surrounded by its neighbours, Romania and Ukraine. Most of Moldova lies between the Prut and Dniester rivers.
Main languages: Moldovan (a dialect of Romanian) and Russian
Major religions: Orthodox Christianity
Legal system: Parliamentary republic
Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from the last Sunday of March to the last Sunday of October)
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs use round two-pins.
Currency: The Moldovan Leu (MDL) can be subdivided into 100 bani. ATMs and card facilities are widely available in all major urban centres.
International dialling code: +373
Internet domain: .md
Emergency numbers: 112 and 902
Transport and driving: Vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road. Public transport can be unreliable but is extensive, and taxis are readily available at a reasonable cost.