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About Bucharest

Bucharest has been characterized for sometimes seeming a bit neglected and the crumbling communist blocks found mostly in the east and west of the city do nothing to dispel this notion. However, not often appreciated is the architectural treasure found in central and northern areas of Bucharest including a high concentration of Art-Deco, Art-Nouveau and Bauhaus designed structures built in the early 20th century when an educated and intellectual elite from the best schools in Germany and France were interested in stamping Bucharest with a contemporary and western aspect. It is also a treasure trove of buildings inspired by a local design called Brancovenesc (perhaps Turk influenced) and the more classic French style of architecture which was a popular design choice in the late 1800`s. Look in the right spots and you will find neighborhoods with charming cobbled streets, vibrant markets with locally grown vegetables and flowers for sale and parks with flowering linden, well maintained tennis courts and outdoor terrace cafes. Bucharest was once called the Paris of the east and if you know where to look you can still find bits that can make your experience in Romania a pleasant and interesting experience.
With this in mind, we suggest three areas of the city to consider for expatriate housing and each should be considered for specific reasons. These areas are broken out as the Central, Northern and Northern Suburbs areas.

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The Central (downtown) area includes the charming neighborhoods around the Icoanei and Ioanid parks, the area around Cismigiu park, the Cotroceni district and a recent addition to our list which is the up and coming Foisorul de Foc neighborhood. These are downtown neighborhoods with all the benefits of restaurants, galleries, theatres and the vibe that comes from being surrounded by a diverse population of students, professionals, artists and the older French speaking citizens who like strike up conversations with foreigners and children alike. International schools are scarcer in the Central area, but there is the International British School of Bucharest in the Foisorul de Foc area, the Cambridge International School near Icoanei, the French School in Piata Romana (in-between Icoanei and Cismigiu) as well as two Montessori kindergartens and a very good private kindergarten just behind Ioanid Park. We recommend the Central area for couples with small or no children as well as singles who want more of a city vibe and have an interest in getting to know a bit more about Romania and Romanians. It is, for the most part, a good area to get to know the locals in an expatriate friendly location.

Foisorul de Foc probably represents the best value for money of any of the neighborhoods where we can still find properties of an acceptable expatriate standard. These are tough to find, but we are talking mostly about renovated villas where the owner has the good sense to enhance the design and craftsmanship aesthetics of these special buildings and the common sense to install modern hardware, wiring and security. There are however few parks or public gardens as yet. Icoanei is our favorite neighborhood, with easy walking to theatres, two lovely parks (great for small children) and plenty of young professionals of both Romanian and foreign citizenship who are eager to strike up a conversation and get to know you. No shortage of restaurants with good opportunity for terrace dinning, there are also good pubs and bars in the neighborhood, a good local produce market and plenty of interesting things to see and experience. For housing there is a smart mix of lovely old villas and good quality modern blocks. Cotroceni is the grand-old aristocratic neighborhood and the furthest south of the neighborhoods suggested. It is where you will find the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, the Botanical garden, the National Opera House and a lot of very nice villas with character to rent at reasonable rates. Cismigiu is dead centre of the city and consequently while hosting a lovely public garden is the most congested. There is a very good international standard sports club in the neighborhood with two pools, yoga, weight training and cardio courses. There is obviously no shortage of restaurants, theatres and shopping in the neighborhood.

In the Northern area of the city are the neighborhoods of Dorobanti, Kiseleff, Primaverii, Floreasca, Domenii and Herastrau. These neighborhoods are all walking distance to Herastrau and Kiseleff parks, offering good opportunities for outdoor activities and sports. If you enjoy a vigorous run in the morning then this is a good place to consider as it is one of the rare areas in the city where you will be able to run a good five kilometers uninterrupted. You can also find tennis courts and swimming pools if you know where to look and the area has good restaurants, convenient shopping and easy access to International schools. Within the Northern area, Kiseleff and Dorobanti are the older and historically more exclusive neighborhoods where most of the Embassies are found and where the intellectual and professional elites lived so plenty of charming and stylish old villas with gardens if you have the right budget. We can also now find tastefully done modern apartments to rent in these neighborhoods. Primaverii was home to the political elite during the communist era and features stately homes of a 1960`s design as well as many recently built apartments with good modern layouts and design. It is a nice walk to downtown, close to the two parks, swimming pools and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Floreasca can be a bit hit and miss. Some nice big houses with gardens as well as new well designed apartments, but crammed in among a lot of rather dull looking smaller apartment blocks. Floreasca Park and lake are nearby as well as many convenient stores, good little bakeries, markets, wine bars, etc. Herastrau is the newest development in the Northern Area and is probably the most popular among the expatriate community. It buttresses Herastrau Park, has some nice restaurants on the lake, a swimming pool in the neighborhood and you`ll have no difficulty finding people to meet. Lycee Francais is there as well as IBSB for young children. The negative is that zoning seems to have been considered (or not) in a haphazard way with congestion becoming a bit of a problem. It can, for those who want to get to know the country a bit more, sometimes feel like a bit of an expatriate bubble and the close proximity of the buildings can be a bit claustrophobic and noisy with the wrong neighbors. If you want Herestrau because that`s where your friends are then choose with a little bit of care and attention.

The Northern Suburbs area includes Baneasa and Pipera and some areas towards Otopeni and Snagov which are in and around the two airports and the big international schools. There has been a tremendous amount of new construction in the area with a mix of well designed and built properties as well as some rather garish gilded properties owned by the politically (rather than good-taste) connected. Traffic into the city can be an issue in the rush hours or during heavy winters. Walking is not a great option either because of a lack of sidewalks. However, if you have kids of a primary and high school age you don`t have a lot of options and an important consideration in finding the right property is access to the better traffic arteries. The good news is that you are very close to a major shopping mall, the airports and the mountains which are about an hour away and nice all year. If you don`t mind being a bit out of the city and the suburbs there is an area further North called Snagov which is where some TV celebrities and retired people like to live, but it is for those who don`t mind being a bit more remote and quiet.
Come with an open mind and heart and we will be pleased to welcome you and help you get on the right track!

Photos courtesy of Dreamstime and personal archive.

Elegant gate
Old street in downtown
Charm of the past
Atheneul Roman
Entrance at National Library
Cobbled street
Romanian Patriarchy
Path into history
Cobbled entrance
Iconic church
Russian church of Bucharest
Facade
Bucharest by night
The Scientists House, Lahovari Square
Neo classical villa
City Gate
Beautiful hand made gate
Impressive window architecture
1930 Original door handle
1930 Staircase
1940 Decorative Gate
Renaissance window detail
Wrought iron detail
Hidden architec -tural gem
Paris of the East
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