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Moving to Moldova

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.


Fast facts

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.

Weather in Moldova

Moldova’s climate is moderately continental, with warm and long summers and snowy winters. The hottest month in Moldova is July, and average highs reach 82°F (28˚C). The winter months (November to March) are relatively mild, with minimal snowfall.

The European country receives very little rainfall, with long dry spells being common. The heaviest rain falls in early summer (May to September) and October, with heavy thunderstorms and showers.

Embassy contacts for Moldova


Moldovan embassies

  • Embassy of Moldova to the USA and Mexico, Washington, DC, United States: +1 202 667 1130

  • Embassy of the Republic of Moldova in Canada, Ottawa, Canada: +1 (613) 695 6167

  • Embassy of the Republic of Moldova, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 8995 6818

  • Embassy of the Republic of Moldova, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE): +971 2 444 0505

  • Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to People's Republic of China, Beijing, China: +86 10 65325494


Foreign embassies in Moldova

  • British Embassy Chișinău, Chișinău, Moldova: +373 22 225 902

  • Embassy of Qatar, Chișinău, Moldova: +373 22 997 970

  • Embassy of the United States, Chișinău, Moldova: +373 22 408 300

  • Honorary Consulate of Ireland in the Republic of Moldova, Chișinău, Moldova: +373 22 807 145

  • Embassy of France, Chișinău, Moldova: +373 22 200 400

Public Holidays in Moldova

 

2022

2023

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Orthodox Christmas Day

7 January

7 January

International Women's Day

8 March

8 March

Orthodox Easter

24 April

16 April

Easter Monday

25 April

17 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Victory Day

9 May

9 May

Children's Day

1 June

1 June

Independence Day

27 August

27 August

Limba noastră

31 August

31 August

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Cost of Living in Moldova

Europe’s least visited country, Moldova is an unconventional expat destination. Be that as it may, expats may be surprised by the low cost of living and rich cultural experience on offer in the small eastern European country.

Most expats work for NGOs, embassies or multinational corporations in the capital city and earn relatively high salaries, meaning they enjoy an excellent quality of life in Moldova. That said, landing a job in the country can be difficult, so expats are encouraged to secure a role before moving to Moldova.


Cost of accommodation in Moldova

Renting or buying a home in Moldova is relatively affordable. As is usually the case in most cities, accommodation in the city centres will be slightly pricier and decrease in the outskirts. The standard of modern housing in the country’s capital, Chișinău, is also generally of exceptional quality. Utilities and internet costs in Moldova are also cheaper than in other European countries, such as the UK or Romania.


Cost of food and eating out in Moldova

Moldova has a thriving agriculture industry, meaning most of its food is locally produced and largely inexpensive.

The country is also world-renowned for its fantastic and affordable wines, which pair well with the reasonably priced three-course meals served in fine dining restaurants.


Cost of transport in Moldova

Given Moldova’s small size, getting around in the country is fairly straightforward. Public transport in Chișinău is well-developed, efficient and low-cost, but rural areas lack road infrastructure. Regular commuters can purchase a monthly ticket to receive fare discounts and reduce expenses.

Taxis are also readily available in the capital, with decreased prices if expats pre-book rather than hailing one off the street. Walking is another healthy and free way to travel in Chișinău, as the city is situated on seven hills.


Cost of schooling in Moldova

Expats relocating to Moldova with children may have to budget for the cost of international schools, as public institutions teach in Romanian and have varying standards. International schools tend to be eye-wateringly expensive and typically have space limitations, so expats should begin the application process well in advance.


Cost of healthcare in Moldova

Moldova is a developing country, and the standard of public healthcare reflects this. Expats from Western European countries or North America may be disappointed by the facilities available in the country's hospitals, therefore, purchasing comprehensive health insurance with medical evacuation is essential.


Cost of living in Moldova chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Chișinău in September 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

MDL 5,819

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MDL 4,377

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

MDL 10,278

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

MDL 7,527

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

MDL 33.37 

Milk (1 litre)

MDL 17.34 

Rice (1kg)

MDL 23.04

Loaf of white bread 

MDL 7.42

Chicken breasts (1kg)

MDL 78.10

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

MDL 40

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

MDL 85

Coca-Cola (330ml)

MDL 13.82

Cappuccino

MDL 27.86

Bottle of beer (local)

MDL 25

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

MDL 500

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

MDL 1.71

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

MDL 172.33

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

MDL 2,881

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

MDL 4.50

Bus/train fare in the city centre

MDL 6

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

MDL 29.56