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Home away from home

One of the benefits of being a member of the European Union, among all the boring financial and logistical perks, is the fact that European citizens can travel, live and work freely inside its borders. Well, it seems that some took this too seriously and decided to abandon the ship and sail towards other destinations. For good.

The Romanian population evidence and statistics body, came to the conclusion in 2019 that some 9.7 million Romanians now live outside of the country. This means that 1 in 3 citizens have decided to call a foreign country their home.

Not to mention, that nearly half of the people still living in the country that gave Dracula to the world (a lie, Bram Stoker did), are sleeping within the metropolitan area of Bucharest. So what remains is no man’s land, right?

So, why did so many people decide to leave that beautiful country?

The reasons are many.

Let’s start with the leaders: Romania is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. Its politicians made it so difficult for someone to succeed, grow and help others, that people gave up. And went in the pursuit of happiness elsewhere.

For example, the ex-leader of the ruling party, went straight from being (probably) the most powerful man, straight to prison. Beat that.

Then there is communism. It is true that communism was eradicated in Europe 30 years ago, but after more than four decades, while people could only dream about how the world looked beyond the country’s borders (and those who did leave, were called traitors and hunted by the authoritarian party), one can understand why it is such a big attraction.

When you are really thirsty, you don’t only take a sip of water, you drink the whole bottle at once and ask for another. Not to mention the fact that it is a young democracy, with new views, trying to embrace a better way of life where they find it and taking advantage of this whole freedom thing. Just like the Poles and the Czechs do.

But most of all, and this is no secret, they make good money elsewhere: the average net pay in Romania was less than €650 per month last year, one of the lowest in the EU. But at the same time Romanians are hard and honest workers and very skilled. Win-win right? Employers will love them, locals will hate them.

In theory this should be a great setup: win more in other countries, spend the money at home, sustain the economy at home. And, although less and less so, it was: the Romanian diaspora was always one of the top five foreign investors in the country. People sending money to their family at home made WesternUnion a top brand in the country. But then the young ones at home joined their friends who had settled elsewhere and the exodus is increasing by the day.

So soon there will be no one to screw the bolts and farm the lands. Wrong. Year after year, Romania is adding to the number of people outside of the EU who can work (for a definite period of time) in the country. 20,000 last year, 30,000 in 2020. And growing…

Good business for (mostly) Asian workers, great business for local entrepreneurs. And Google Translate.

It’s all about globalisation. It’s a trophic chain: Italians went to America, Romanians took their jobs in Italy, Romanian economy is now built on Asian shoulders and the Americans… well they go wherever they want. And the circle is complete.

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