Life in my country

I am born in Ploiesti city, Romania…
But now I want to get out from here… this country SUCKS, due of communism, the stupid former communist government and the even more stupid government after fall of communism.
If during communism government the country stagnated, after fall of communism the country declined: 1990s was dominated by unemployment, inflation, rising criminality, corruption, prices rising faster than salaries, many local factories of cheap products were closed and the country started importing expensive products.
After 2000 living conditions improved. Salaries grew about 4 times from 2002 and 2008. Analysts predicted that late 2000s recession would not affect Romania, but bad management caused GDP falling for 3 consecutive years (2009-2011), and may fall in 2012 too.
Today most people have cars, mobile phones, computers, internet, plasma TVs, etc… but the public systems are the same like in communist times: hospitals, schools, road and rail infrastructure… all have no major improvements in 20 years!! With other words, Romania became a poor country with rich population.

The number of cars increased fast in the 1990s, while the roads inside cities are the same like 20 years ago. Romania is also the EU leading in the number of deaths from road accidents (source).

Try to spot a free parking space!
Photos taken from University of Architecture

Communist government built about 3 million apartments until they were overthrown, housing about 40% of country population. They done little investment in rural areas or landed housing areas of cities, as they were planned to be demolished and replaced with apartments.
About 55% live in urban areas (cities and towns), but most areas of so-called towns are still rural in terms of living conditions (to get status of town is enough to have a police office, hospital and sewage on ONE street). As 2011, 44% of country population still live without water and sewage (source). Drawing water from wells is the only way for most rural residents.

Salaries in Romania average about 400 euro per month, minimum by law is 700 lei (150 euro), the lowest in European union, but the cost of living is not much cheaper compared with rest of Europe.
The real estate prices in Bucharest rivalize with prices in many European capitals, averaging 1000 euro per square meter, making impossible for young couples to buy apartments and are forced to move to countryside.
The low-cost locally-made Dacia Logan cars are about 6000 euro so majority of population cannot afford it, they buy instead 10-20 year old used Dacia cars at about 1000 euro. In rural areas, but also at outskirts of Bucharest, horse drawn vehicles are still basic form of transportation.

Nationwide car ratio is 1 car per 8 people, same like Singapore. Unlike most major cities where people use public transport and do not need to own cars (unless they live in rural areas), in Romania people living in cities own most cars, reaching ratio of 1 car per 3 people.
People are complaining about buses speed, traveling with a car is always faster than traveling with a bus, unfortunately each extra car on the roads causes buses to slow down which causes more people to use cars = vicious circle. No wonder that Bucharest became the most polluted capital of Europe. People should learn to use bicycles, in a such jammed city, bicycle is the fastest!
Road rages frequently results in fights and sometimes, gun usage.

Romania suffer both of unemployment (along 40-60 year old people) but also of vacant jobs (due of deficit of skilled workforce), especially in educational and health system. Economy is no longer sustainable due of too many elderly and children. Baby boom in the 1960s, low birth rate in 1980s and 1990s, baby boom in the 2000s, plus massive emigration in 1990s. Many young and skilled people going to work overseas due of being unhappy of local salaries, and 70-year old retired doctors and teachers are called back to work.
Without good infrastructure, good education system, and skilled workforce, foreign investors stay away and Romania have NO FUTURE!!

Drag racing in Romanian style!
Teoretically horse drawn vehicles are not allowed on highways

Funny advertising… high technology vs romanian traditional transportation

Sometimes the horses go on roads on their own…

…and put the car traffic in danger!
Government has installed fences on highways to prevent animals wandering on roads, but they were stolen overnight and sold as scrap metal.

Childhood misconception about communist government

In my childhood, my parents never told me the truth about Nicolae Ceausescu. I understood that he was a good president and was unfortunately killed by an unidentified BAD guy. Probably my parents were happy at revolution but hated what happened after: they lost their jobs, inflation and rising criminality made everything worse, but this should NOT be a reason to hide me the truth.
When I was 15 years old, I got internet connection, meaning freedom in making friends and talk with strangers, many kids around my age had bad image about communism, but they still did not knew much about revolution. They called me crazy, because I was always saying that Nicolae Ceausescu was good, that I love him, etc.
I was SHOCKED when I downloaded a video containing the Ceausescu’s court case before being shot by the army, realizing how my parents kept me in a lie for 15-16 years, I studied living conditions in other countries so I completely changed my image about Nicolae Ceausescu.
In the next years, every December is broadcasted a documentary about 1989 revolution intended to teach young people, I was shocked once again to see how many were killed at the orders of Nicolae Ceausescu.

(this is not the single case in which my family kept me in a lie for years, there are numerous accusations from friends against my parents, saying that my dad shall be shot like Nicolae Ceausescu, for ruling my life, limiting my freedom, banned me from using phone, before having internet my single way of communication was face-to-face, etc). Currently I don’t live anymore with parents.

Reasons to love communist government

No unemployment! The government gave a job for everyone.
No homelessness! The government gave an apartment for everyone.
The country had zero external debt, also inflation was prevented.
Major improvements in industry, most of production being exported. Unfortunately the factories used outdated technology and caused high pollution, manufacturing bad quality products which hardly got customers overseas, so the profits were low.
Major improvement in public services, the number of schools, hospitals and other public institutions rose greatly during communist government, compared with capitalist government.
Major improvements in infrastructure, especially on rail transport, many lines were doubled and electrified. Cities were redeveloped, houses demolished, many wide avenues were built in 1980s, unfortunately some avenues are unfinished, ending in old ugly undemolished houses, being unusable.
Bucuresti Metro, from 1979 to 1990 the communists opened 55 km of lines, out of the ~100 km planned to have in year 2000. From 1990 to 2010 the capitalists managed to finish and open additional 8 km of the lines started in communism times, nevermind about starting new lines.
Highways, although communist government gave little importance to road infrastructure, they built one highway, 97 km Bucuresti-Pitesti, while capitalists didn’t managed to finish a single highway yet. The 204 km Bucuresti-Constanta highway was started in 1987, construction progress slowly during 2000s and as 2012 is still not fully opened. Main cause are the bad laws which don’t allow the state to takeover the land from owners, they can sue the government and block the project until the government compensate them with a sum of money overvaluated at their own wish.
Most of communist apartment complexes were built with double number of parking lots than the number cars at their time, but today is still not enough.

Tell me which of these were made by today’s capitalist government?
However I have many reasons to hate communist government too. I think that if the communists never arrived in 1947 and the country was still ruled by King monarchy, the living conditions today were even better!

More reasons to hate Romania

Political instability: since 2006 there is an endless political conflict between the president Traian Basescu and the parliament, and not only. Parliament suspended the president in April 2007 but 75% of population voted for him to return in seat.
Things calmed down after 2008 parliamentary elections but in 2010 the president realized how big is budget deficit, so launched austerity measures (cutted salaries with 25% and pensions with 15%), causing violent protests.
In January 2012 the health reform proposed by the president leaded to new protests against president and government (video below) .
In july 2012 the president was suspended again by the fucking parliament, this time at referendum 88% of votes were against president, but the referendum was invalidated due of low presence (46% of total population) so the president was allowed to return in the seat, causing another series of protests, asking the president to resign.

Background: Traian Basescu was elected mayor of Bucharest in 2000, during his term, city infrastructure was greatly improved, he was elected again as mayor in 2004, this helped him to win presidential elections in November 2004, economy of Romania was the fastest-growing in Europe, joined EU in 2007, he won again presidential elections in nov 2009 with a very tight battle, people still loved him… I cannot believe how many turned against president after 2010 austerity measures!
A stupid constitution revision in 2003 increased presidential term to 5 years and no longer match the parliament elections. We should accept the fact that the most-hated Traian Basescu can remain president until 2014.

Corruption: taxes are scary high but public budget is tiny. How is possible? Simple, fiscal evasion is huge and bribery is a rule. People with university degree but without friends are jobless because jobs are occupied by uneducated people with friends in company.

Architectural disaster: the communist government demolished numerous heritage buildings, buildings which survived demolitions are today ignored by capitalist government.
Bad laws allows the owners to abandon the buildings, some being occupied by homeless people, drug dealers and other criminals, they set fires to heat themselves, sometimes burning entire building. Heritage buildings are in danger of collapse and should be demolished, owners often do this to get rid of buildings to sell the expensive land and built a steel & glass skyscraper in the 19th century historical center. Tourists are welcomed by stray dogs, pickpockets, drug dealers and falling pieces of buildings.
Bucharest was voted ugliest capital of Europe.

Outdated housing conditions: officially 55% of population lives in the cities, but in fact only parts of cities are urbanized (apartment buildings or regulated landed houses). Viewed from satellite, many areas of cities looks like slums, houses being randomly built without any rules (compare yourself with Western Europe cities). As 2010, 42% of population live with no sewerage, mostly in rural areas. Even in Bucharest, an European Union capital, some people are still living without water and sewerage.

The press: everyday I see negative news at TV: crimes, murders, rapes, suicides, thefts, car crashes and politicians arguing. Most are explained with lot of detailes, apparently they are teaching us how to commit new crimes. I agree just to show car accidents, this may scary people to drive safer.

Crime life: never keep your mobile phone in shoulder bag, never leave your car with engine running if you go to buy a beer, because romanians are born to steal, seeking for every opportunity to steal something, knowing that the risk of being reported is low, and even if they are caught by police, most are not jailed because the jails are already overcrowded with more dangerous criminals. Even railways are stolen… and sold as scrap metal, proof here and here.

Sex life: I always hear people talking and swearing using sexual words in public places, even 5-year old kids who do not know the word meaning, they just imitate language of older kids, while their parents are watching them without doing anything. Underage kids watch porn videos everyday, downloaded via Torrent and DC++ filesharing networks. Is common for both boys and girls to start having sex at 14 years, who is still virgin at 18 years is seen like a retarded idiot.

The Manele, one of the worst music styles ever existed in the world, can be heard everywhere in Romania and caused lot of controversy, since 2000s it influenced other music styles to migrate to Manele style too.

The stray dogs: see these photos and videos made by a friend in downtown Ploiesti. In Bucharest the number of dogs has been rising since Traian Basescu left mayor seat, reaching  1 dog per 10 people. See also Japanese businessman killed by dogs and Campaign to cull the dogs.

City trash: read more here.

Population’s uncivilized behavior: lack of reciprocal respect, people are taking care only about their own property and own family, few are willing to help others when they need help, but are asking help from others, or to do community tasks such as cleaning the green space around apartment buildings, they even throw trash out of window or leave trash on the beach or in parks after barbeque.

People loves to vandalize public things, graffiti is common, including on metro trains and on downtown buildings, some are obscene pictures and bad words.

Southern Romania is inhabitated by numerous roma-gypsy people, well known for their bad behavior. Even if roma-gypsy population is officially only 2.5%, romanians copied their bad behavior (or maybe they copied each other). Most of these things not happen so often in Transylvania, which is inhabitated by descendants of former Austro-Hungary.

Bad road infrastructure: National car ratio growth from 1 car per 20 people in 1989 to 1 car per 8 people in 2000 and 1 car per 6 people today, but in the big cities it reaches 1 car per less than 3 people. Despite that Bucharest population is the same like 20 years ago and most families bought cars, the number of metro trips doubled too. Clearly that today people needs to travel more. But only half of city population live in walking distance to a metro station.

Inconsiderate drivers: even if the traffic lights are followed, bad drivers rush to enter in intersection even if they have no change to exit from it, blocking the traffic coming from right and cause a chain reaction that affects nearby intersections too.
This happens everyday in Bucharest… hope that you will not need an ambulance!

The way to Singapore

I ACCIDENTALLY discovered Singapore in mid-2008. At that time, I had high geography knowledge but I was never interested in residential architecture of foreign countries.
I just started to study Asian architecture, for inspiration in designing my apartments. I reminded that I saw in a book a photo with some beautiful 40+ storey apartment buildings, so I opened Google Earth and started searching them in Singapore (they were in fact from Hong Kong). I didn’t found them but I found a lot of other beautiful things so I started to love Singapore.
I read Wikipedia articles, I was shocked reading about HDB flat types because they are showing only 3-room and bigger apartments, saying that they no longer build 1- and 2-room apartments, while Romania is dominated by 2- and 3-room apartments. I wondered why singaporeans needs so many rooms. The contrast was in fact even bigger, they do not built any 3-room between 1989 and 2004, all new HDBs were 100 sqm or bigger (90 sqm or bigger after 1997). What a developed country!
Then when I saw Mass Rapid Transit, multi-storey parkings, condos with pools, etc, I realized how much Romania SUCKS… I hope that in the future to move in Singapore!!

In the same period I studied Hong Kong and South Korea too, for moving in, but I choose Singapore. In late 2008 I decided to made a Top 10 Best Cities in the World, placing Singapore 1st, Seoul 2nd, Hong Kong 3rd, while for the 4th-10th ranks I was undecided and changed them several times until reaching current ranking.

Several photos put me in confusion, for exampled the complicated shapes of HDB blocks and the lack of corridors at some floors in case of 1970s/1980s 4-room segmented blocks (look at the block 332 in background of this photo). I was totally shocked to hear that lifts in Singapore do not stop at every floor!!!! That blocks had staircase for each 2 apartments, and corridors only at the floors where the lift stops.
Romania, as well as all Eastern Europe communist tower blocks, have lifts that stop at every floor since 1960s (except the 5-storey blocks with no lift). Let’s say that Singapore was in 1960s a third-world country, but towards 1980s it developed a lot, why they kept installing such lifts until year 1990/1991?

I liked to do statistics about Singapore like how I did about my city. In the early days I was scared due of complicated shapes of HDB blocks and I never imagined that I could ever count apartments. But, towards late 2008, I realized that I have enough knowledge to start counting.
I was confused in counting apartments in case of 1980s blocks with no slits in facade, also by late-1990s blocks where each apartment have a slit in facade rather than one slit per 2 apartments, also the blocks containing both maisonettes and regular apartments put me in trouble.
But in 2009 I was able to identify which apartment types and how many per floor are contained in each block, just by looking in satellite photos (streetview was not available, Google launched it on 2 december 2009).

To be continued…

Emigrant… or not?

After a period in 2008-2010 in which I was fully decided to move in Singapore as soon is possible, but I was in doubt how I could emigrate without my family consent, also in doubt how I could survive in a new world (how I can get a job in Singapore without having a diploma?), maybe I should start own business, be an agent, etc, as I earned a lot of knowledge about Singapore real estate, but is risky.
In 2012 the earnings from my own online business became significant, and is very likely that in 2013 to exceed the average salary in Romania and my parents’ salaries as well. So, I may no need a full-time job, I can survive by my own business, but for this, I need to find a country with cheap life without taking care of local salaries.
I need to stay away from Singapore high cost of living and I may go to Malaysia instead, I was thinking of more alternatives, including Brazil, but I may as well stay in Romania where I can get feed by my family and today I have numerous friends that I didn’t had at the time I discovered Singapore.

Childhood misconceptions

When I was a child I associated apartments with public housing, also I associated public housing with communism. This is FALSE. Explanation: probably because in Romania no apartment buildings were built during my 1990s childhood. Since fall of communism, construction of new apartment buildings ended (except the blocks caught under construction at the fall of …

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Hardest language

Romanian language = the hardest language in Europe? First, romanian language uses 5 letters not found in english: Ă Â Î Ş Ţ, on internet most people are not using them, writing regular A I S T, some people uses sh=Ş and tz=Ţ. Humans can understand but Google Translator fail. Second, what in english is …

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Language issues

I learned english slowly in my childhood, thanks to TV, romanian TV channels broadcast english movies with subtitles rather than doubling voices. Around 12 years old (2001) I was able to understand any english without looking at subtitles, but only when I had internet connection (2005) and english friends (2007), I learned to write english …

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2 comments

1 ping

  1. kz

    When do you want to move to Singapore?

    1. Teoalida (site owner)

      When I want to move? RIGHT NOW!! But I don’t know what approvals I need to emigrate and what is necessary to get a job here or enter in university or something. Probably I will need to rent a room in HDB but how I can pay for it?

  1. Housing in Europe: | Teoalida's Website

    […] Romanian economy to decline for 4 years in row (at least). More details about living conditions, on Life in my country […]

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