Why Cluj?

/ February 2, 2018

With sincere apologies for the generalizations, here is why I decided to leave Bucharest for Cluj.

In 2017, the World Bank published a landmark study on the migration of Romanians. It is well documented that Romania ranks #1 in the EU for percentage of citizens leaving the country. What is less well documented is the migration of citizens into the 6 major “Magnet Cities”. The 493 page report “Magnet Cities: Migration and Commuting in Romania” is a treasure of colorful maps and figures.

One of the most surprising facts was a response to this survey question: Which city, other than your current residence, would you most like to live in? The top choice was Cluj. Even though Cluj has just 2.3% of the population, 15.3 % of Romanians would like to live there. Interestingly, more Romanians want to move to Cluj than the capital of Bucharest, which has 6 times the population of Cluj.

PressOne published one man’s reasons for moving to Cluj from Bucharest.

Farewell Bucharest

Indolent City Administration

The problems run much deeper than the mayor in office. It is a culture at all levels of city governance.

All of the city infrastructure is obsolete, most obvious being the traffic congestion. Bucharest ranks #1 in Europe and #5 in the world for worst city traffic.

Public transportation is slow, uncomfortable, and excessively crowded, not to mention dangerous. Last month, a trolley car went up in flames in the middle of the city.

State institutions

They burden the whole society. A hearty sense of mediocrity has made its home in all of the public ministries and has become the second nature of the Capital. From traffic flow to lecterns in universities which are kept exclusively for “Mr. Parliament” or “Mr. Minister,” the ordinary people are simply subjects of a disinterested bureaucracy.

Citizens live there even if they are against or embittered towards the city

Let’s make something clear. All large cities are predisposed to verbal and emotional aggression. From this point of view, Bucharest is the New York of Europe, the metropolis where people who live there become haughty and proud of the fact that “I live here even though it’s difficult, but I can withstand it, because I’m so tough.”

Stress is a constant and it produces unanticipated disadvantages. Creativity and energy are diminished. As a result, the projects that were dreamed of yesterday or conjured up today, never come to fruition.

Being a Bucharestian is no longer an identity, but rather a geographical localization. If you’re sitting around the table with your friends, ask them if they believe that they’ll have a quiet and relaxing retirement in Bucharest, or if it’s a wise place to raise a child. Best case scenario, they’ll give you a smile. In most cases, your reply will come in the form of sarcastic laughter.

The earthquake

I have major doubts in regards to the local public administration’s ability to deal with the post-earthquake efforts. The same doubts apply to the national administration.

With a degree of stupefaction, it will be announced shortly after the disaster occurs that the death toll stands at 1,000 people. In the days following the earthquake, the death toll will perhaps rise to 10,000 or 15,000 due to inefficiency, lack of organization and the debilitating bureaucracy.

I have no desire to be counted among the victims.

Filthy air

In a 2015 study of 96 European cities, Bucharest ranked 88th in air quality..

Barbu Mateescu. Photo: personal archive

Born and raised in Bucharest, Barbu Mateescu is a 36-year-old sociologist. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.

He is the author of the Sociollogica and over the years, has collaborated with Dilema veche, Revista 22, and the opinion platform Contributors.

Image from Piaţa Unirii in Cluj, taken on the opening night of the 2016 edition of Transylvania’s International Film Festival (Tiff). Photo: Raul Ștef.

Why Cluj?

Another chance for Romania. For many reasons, I believe there’s a future for Romania and we’ll one day be able to live at European standards.

Economic and Demographic Force

Cluj’s recent success is the result of various factors. These include the UBB (Babes-Bolyai University) brand and the close proximity of Transylvania to the Western world. Additionally, there is a dynamic civil society and a local elite, undertaking pragmatic and ambitious projects to improve the quality of life. The result is a competitive city that is young and flourishing, a living metropolis. It is a place where one can work and create.

Transylvaniophilia

A rich and complex history with an ethno-religious diversity that you either resonate with or don’t. It reminds me of my European identity.

Trust, respect for others and politeness is the norm

For someone who has lived in Bucharest, the psychological climate is completely different. Being around calm and polite people has greatly improved my emotional state.

Real Growth

Cluj is in a growth crisis. Some of the signs are evident while other signs will only become visible in the years to come.

A growth crisis is infinitely favorable to depopulation. Growth raises asset valuations and gives people money to reinvest in building higher living standards.

No other city in Romania spends so much time thinking about its future. No other city in Romania has a better future.

Clean air

In a 2014 study of 100 European cities, Cluj ranked #1 in air quality.