Romanian people come with the “poor Eastern European” stereotype. This, however, is not the full story. Romanians actually come from all sorts of backgrounds. There are the very poor and the obscenely rich.
Read on to find out about how Romanian society actually is!
I’ve recently had reason to question my beliefs. When you look from outside, Romania seems poor. Especially if you see the documentaries on poor gipsy families and how they sometimes sell brides, they’re forced to give away their children to become beggars and die from completely treatable diseases.
In actuality, this is a very small part of reality. Romania isn’t even the third world, even though it is the poorest country in Europe. Think about Africa or the slums of South America. Romania is nothing compared to this.
Don’t be dramatic about poverty in Romania. While there are many issues, people here are not struggling to feed their families, at least not most of them.
There isn’t any way to phrase this that would not sound racist. But, slightly racist or not, the fact remains:
The worst poverty is in gipsy neighbourhoods.
And poverty means poor sanitation, fewer education opportunities, and ultimately – high crime rates.
Most Romanians hate to be associated with gypsies. To Westerners, it’s all the same – after all both ethnic Romanians and gipsy people come from the same place. However, the culture, way of being, and even the language are drastically different.
Gypsies are originally from India, supposedly from the Northern states. Linguists say that the origins of Romani gipsy language lie in Indian tongues. Phonetically, it sounds like something between Hindi and Punjabi.
During a Roma conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs called Roma people the children of India. This official confirmation sealed the theories.
When you look at a gipsy, they are visibly different. They have darker skin, thick black hair, and more prominent features. It all makes them look quite Hindi.
Romani people first reached Romania (and the rest of the countries in the region) during the Mongol invasion of Europe. There are historical records that describe them. Even in the Middle Ages, people believe they practice sorcery and fortune telling, to enjoy colourful clothes and tons of bling-bling, and to live in relative poverty.
Some Romanian people outright hate Romani gypsies. While it’s easy to condemn racism, try to understand their point.
For decades now, gipsy neighbourhoods were the most dangerous, the most crime-infested, and generally where trouble happened. To add insult to injury, gypsies are linked to petty crimes like theft.
In larger cities, there are entire gangs of gipsy beggars. They would often use young children to guilt people into giving them money. Sadly, even though the beggars themselves are poor, most of the cash they make goes directly to the gang member that controls them.
If you want to get a (just slightly exaggerated) picture of life in gipsy communities, watch Black Cat, White Cat by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Even though it is set in Serbia, it gives you a pretty accurate picture of Romani people and how their daily life sometimes is.
A much less humorous take on the matter is Time of the Gypsies, also by Kusturica. It’s the story of a young boy with supernatural powers that falls into the crime world of Roma communities. In one of the most powerful sequences of the movie, a lame young girl departs to Ljubljana to get her leg operated. Instead, she ends up a beggar as a part of her uncle’s money-making schemes.
Gypsies are among the most underprivileged people in Romanian society. Their communities are often away from the city centre, they lack basic sanitation, not to mention schools and hospitals. Romani people are often forced into petty crime just to get by.
They are not bad people but they can be very lazy people. Even though Romania can’t provide much in terms of welfare, some gypsies choose to live entirely off the state and illegal activity. This is especially true of “single” gipsy mothers.
Because they are not legally married, these moms can pop out more and more children and get benefits as though they were single mothers. Many Romanians complain that Romani people are putting their country into ruin along with creating a poor name for Romania outside of Europe and committing thefts and robberies.
Among all of this, there is a vibrant culture and a love of life that most other Romanians lack. Gypsies love dancing, they sing a lot, and they are often into clairvoyance and magic. Still, I don’t recommend you go see their neighbourhoods. There isn’t much to see and it’s all very dirty and unorganized. Add a certain level of petty crimes and you have yourself a place where most locals wouldn’t dare enter.
The next class after gypsies are less wealthy Romanian people. Unlike the gypsies, they don’t choose to live in areas with no running water or decent electricity.
These are blue collar workers and their families. Factory jobs have been on the decline lately. That being said, there are still plenty of industrial plants that need to hire people The only thing you have to beware of is a girl (or a guy) that doesn’t have any job at all.
Even if she works in a supermarket, it is fine. What you don’t want is an aspiring sugar baby. That is why you don’t date permanently unemployed people. Contrary to what Romanian TV would have you believe, there are enough jobs in the country, even if you don’t have a top-level education.
Lower class, to me, means relatively poor but still living in a decent house with running water, sufficient food, etc. They are usually the reality TV fans and the kind of people that eat really shitty fast food very often. They might also be simple people who try to live a fairly decent life even with their limited resources.
Curiously, lower class Romanians are also among the most hospitable. They can’t afford much but they will put their very best foot forward with guests. Bring a lot of gifts, if invited to one of their homes!
The middle class is not really pronounced in Romania. Unlike other parts of Europe, Romania is still developing. The middle class is tiny and the contrast between rich and poor will amaze you.
Most middle-class Romanians are either state functionaries, or they’re office workers in one of the larger cities. Sadly, doctors and other healthcare professionals barely fit this category. Depending on where they practice, they might be leaning more towards lower class.
As for lawyers and other specialists in the field, for the most part they are middle class. In some cases (which is also true of docs), they make significant amounts of money. In others, a lawyer might make less than a customer service agent, employed in an outsourcing company.
Middle-class Romanian women are the best to date, I believe. They are educated and they might have travelled a bit around Europe. At the same time, they don’t have the arrogance that comes with being upper class.
Wealthy Romanian people live in a different universe. They have access to the best of the best! But where did all the money come from?
Sadly, the answer is often – organized crime.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not Colombia or some other drug cartel country. But it did pass through a fair share of hardships. During the period of transition between communism and capitalism, some people got into shady deals.
These would usually involve corruption, blackmailing, illegal activities. Romania never had a gang violence problem. It did, however, have a huge corruption issue. They have passed new laws now and the situation is improving.
Back in the 90’s, amongst the chaos, a tiny minority of Romanian people got very rich. They are no longer breaking the law. Most are now respectable entrepreneurs. The difference here is that they got their initial capital in some quite shady ways.
Romanian celebrities plus the sons and daughters of politicians are a class of their own. Often, they are not as wealthy as truly rich kids. They are, however, very used to being in the public eye. Their social media pages have tens of thousands of followers and some get frequent paparazzi.
You’re not very likely to date one but if you do, prepare for all the selfies. Aspiring Instagram models, who usually come from the middle class and lower, are the worst for that. Power through or meet a sweeter, more humble girl.
Romanian people are not struggling to make ends meet. They’re not starving. Most of them are living fairly decent lives. Apart from a small elite, though, nobody is truly rich in Romania. This is your quick summary on how they live.
No more Eastern European stereotypes!
P.S. Share your thoughts in the comments below…
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