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Questions and Answers about Moldova

This is the Q&A place on my site and it is dedicated to Moldova. The questions and answers are taken from actual correspondence with interested foreigners. If you have other questions, e-mail me. By reading the information on this page you accept that I bear no responsibility for the truthfulness of the facts described and they are subject to change without notice. Information was correct at the time of publishing (my version of a disclaimer :).

Next 6 questions answered/reviewed 20-Sep-2005.

Do you think I will be able to easily find a nice place where I can live with my dogs?

Well, I am not sure if it will be easy to find a place where the landlord would agree to having 2 dogs. You might have a hard time actually, but see the answer to the next question.

My stipend is about 1000 US per month for rent and I would like to include utilities in that cost.

Actually, $1000 per month is a very good amount for renting in Chisinau. with this kind of money you should be able to rent a very decent place in a good part of the city (the centre). The dogs, however, may pose a problem, but I think if you choose a not-so-posh place, you may negotiate for the dogs for an extra amount. Just bargain hard so that you're not ripped off, as a very basic apartment should cost no more than $300 per month, and any extra amount should mean extra benefits (better neighbourhood, amenities, comfort etc). I would suggest you tried contacting US communities in Chisinau (the Peace Corps, the Salvation Army for example) for hints on finding accommodation.

Is there hot water in the city?

This is a hard one. During some time of the year - yes, at other times - no. Some parts of the city don't have heating and hot water EVER, while others have hot water most of the time. A decent apartment should have a hot water boiler, and a good one - autonomous gas furnace for heating and hot water.

Would you recommend certain nicer safe neighborhoods?

Well, I am not sure if there are really any safER parts of the city. The only recommendation I could give is to choose a place that is close to a big street, bus stops and amenities. Generally, the further away from the street, the darker and less safe it is (as anywhere in the world, I guess)

Also- are there issues with women traveling alone (other than the obvious safety concerns)?

Not that I can think of, except the safety one.

I would love to find a Moldovan roommate or space to rent from a family- do you think that is likely?

That is usually possible, but having 2 dogs reduces the chances to almost nothing (that's my personal opinion).

Is mail delivery reliable? Do the postal workers steal things?

Answered/reviewed 10.02.2005.

I would call the postal service in Moldova very unreliable. While letters normally reach their destinations (although with a big delay), sometimes parcels don't. My wife Sasha didn't get a package from the US a few years ago, and I don't think things have improved a lot since. This winter (2004-2005) Sasha and I sent some small packages from London to Chisinau and they arrived, but then again, things don't go missing every time. What I can say for sure, is that most parcels/packages arrive in a poor shape: torn open and then sealed with the official Moldovan Post tape with a stamp "received in a damaged state". So, if you can, please use express delivery, or at least a "signed for" service, which [the latter] shouldn't be too expensive.

Are there public telephones in the villages ?

Usually not (I haven't seen any). Maybe at post offices or Primaria (mayor's office). There are payphones in the city, they use cards with 25 or 50 'impulses' (minutes) each costing 15 and 25 lei ($1 = 12 lei at the moment). Last year (2004) the government launched a programme to increase the population's access to information technology, including phones, which in theory should increase the number of phones in villages. Besides, some villagers have private phones in their homes.

Is there a back up power supply (eg. Gas Generators, battery invertors or solar panels etc.) used in the villages or city houses in case of power failure. (and how much these things cost there?)

Back up power systems are not normally used because people can't afford them (as well as the fuel). Burning wood is the universal power supply. It is possible to buy a gas or diesel generator though, if you have money.

How about the internet facility in the cities (because i know it is not avaliable in the villages), and how popular is it? Are there a lot of internet cafes there inthe city, can i find them easily ?

The number of Internet cafes is growing rapidly due to the rising popularity of the Internet, so you shouldn't have problems with it. One hour costs between 5 lei (the cheapest) and about 12 lei. You could book a PC for a night for about 20 lei in an internet cafe.

How is the availability of Computer there ?

I haven't heard about rental, but there are a lot of retailers (both official dealers and just those who buy parts and build own systems).

How's the weather there in the months of April and May (in General)?

Normally it's lovely - suny and warm. It may rain and there's a slight chance of cold weather in early April. But May is probably the best month here (in June the city is unbearable due to the poplar fluff) - you don't usually need any warm clothes in this month (you may need them in April though). It may rain for a long time or just for a few minuntes, it may not rain for months even - generally, the weather can change often.

Are there any schools in the villages?

Yes, in most villages there are.

What is the best means of transportation inside the villages ?

Probably a motorcycle. Basically you'll find motorbikes only in villages (probably because it's unsafe to leave bikes outside in the city). People still use horses and carts. Cars are usually owned by those who live in the city but come to the village to visit their parents and look after the house and the garden. Generally you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle due to the poor state of the roads in the country.

Do taxis go to the villages from the Chishineu airport?

Yes, you can even take a taxi to go to Ukraine (and maybe to Romania too

How about the public transport (Buses, vans, trains etc.)?

There are buses going to other towns and villages. You'll have to check the destination with the Central Bus Station Information desk (you'll have to pay 0.25 lei for any info :) ). There are also vans (called Maxi-Taxi). They cost about the same and may be more comfortable and faster (the buses are usually overcrowded, dusty, stuffy etc), but sometimes it's better to take a bus - people who are taking either of these regularly will be able to provide more information.

Could you also tell me how much is the value of US $10 there (I mean in terms of expenses, what can a person do with 10 dollars - e.g can he eat three times a day in the house, travel in the bus or taxi, see a movie etc.)?

With $10 a day you could do quite a lot. $1 is now equal to 12-13 lei. A ride in a taxi in the city costs 20-25 lei, a meal at a restaurant (not a luxurious one) would cost 30-50 lei. In a good restaurant you'd probably pay about 50-100 lei (that's only an estimate). A ride in a trolleybus costs 0.75 lei (1.25 lei in a city bus and 2 lei on a city minibus). One loaf of bread costs 2.70 - 6.00+ lei. 1 litre of milk = 3.50-7.00 lei, 1 egg = 0.6 lei (cheapest summer price), 1 kg of vegetables = between 1 and 10 lei (depending on what kind of vegetable it is). 1 kg of meat = 50 lei (around this figure). Generally $20 a day should be quite enough (that, of course, depends on your personal menu). To see a movie in the English language cinema you'd have to pay between 5 and 25 lei (depending on the time of the day).

What is the pay structurethere ? (how much an average person earns, who works in an office, who works in a govt. office, doctors, lawyers, teachers etc.)?

Those in the state sector usually earn the least. I'll give you the official monthly figures for several dates (in MDL):

How much money is required by a tourist to live there for two weeks to one month ?

I don't really know that.

How much the rent of an apartment for two weeks to one month in Chishinau ? And could you also tell me on an average how much an Apartment cost if I want to buy in Chishinau?

Generally rent of one room costs $50-80 a month plus sometimes the utility bills. An apartment would obviously cost more. You could bargain, of course. I don't know the precise figures for renting a whole apartment, but they vary between $100 for single room ones and $1000 for more luxurious 3-4 rooms. Prices for apartments tend to grow due to high demand and low supply. Mine has 3 rooms, a tiny kitchen, 2 closets, a small bathroom (together with the toilet) and 1 balcony and is about 54 sq.m. in size. There will be many 1 and 2 room apartments on the market, also 3 and 4 room ones. The prices will vary depending on the part of the city they are in, storey (ground and top floors are the cheapest, because they are more easily robbed), model (I live in one of the most uncomfortable models built in the 60's, the more modern ones are more expensive), and facilities.

Generally how is the traffic of tourist there, I mean are there a lot of tourists in some season ? And how many Americans and Asians live there in Moldova? Can I find them easily ?

Tourism isn't developed here so there isn't a high or low season. Most non-CIS foreigners (mostly Americans) are participants of international programs (like the Soros Foundation projects, ACCELS, CNFA, USAID, UN etc.) or students (mostly from Africa and Asia).

About crime, are the crimes there gang based or single crimes ?

Both. And there is organized crime too. Also, human trafficing is very developed here.

How about the majority of population there, is it old or young ?

A: I think it's young, but I don't have the official statistics.

What do people think there if the Moldovan girls/boys marry a foreigner?

Such cases haven't been unknown and usually people are glad that someone managed to get out of this country (sad but true).

Do you know something about the industries in vilages ?

There are three forms of production in villages:

Western-type farms are still an unusual phenomenon, since it's hard to get thecapital to start off with.