Looking for a place where you can retire and spend the rest of your life living carefree with minimal expenses? Have you always wanted to live abroad but could not afford it? Well, today we will look at one of Europe’s hidden gems, Serbia. A chance to retire in Serbia is easier than you might think.
So keep on reading to find why Serbia might be your ideal place to retire.
Where is Serbia
At the very beginning, if you have never been to Europe, or you have never heard about Serbia, it is important to mention that Serbia is not the same as Siberia, Syria, or Republika Srpska since a lot of people tend to confuse it with one of those. The Republic of Serbia is a relatively small country in the central Balkan region of Europe, on the crossroads of East and West, and it currently has a population of 7 million inhabitants. From the US, Serbia can be easily reached via direct flight connection between New York and Belgrade.
Is Serbia Safe
The question of safety is always a concern, especially when considering moving abroad, however, Serbia is a safe country for living. For foreigners, it is very easy to get around because anyone younger than 40 or 50 speaks the English language. Even some older people can communicate on a basic conversational level, and they will surely help you with anything.
How to get a Residence Permit in Serbia
This process can last up to three weeks, and it is pretty inexpensive. first, you will need to get a visa for temporary residence, which lasts up to one year. In order to obtain permanent residence, you need to have five consecutive temporary residence visas. Having proof of foreign income, such as Social Security or pension checks, or starting a small business in Serbia, can help to simplify this process.
Is Serbia expensive?
According to the data for April 2019. the average monthly salary in Serbia is currently around $521, so compared to the US, that is significantly less money, but for Serbia, that is enough for comfortable living. Even in Belgrade, which is the capital city, you can afford to pay the rent, bills, shop for groceries, and go out within that budget. Belgrade is by far the most expensive town in Serbia, but for the US standards, it is fairly cheap and affordable. Compared to The island of Bermuda it’s a steal.
If you are considering retiring in Serbia, and settle in a larger town, you will probably opt either for Belgrade or Novi Sad. Both towns are considered as urban, university centers, with a lot of cultural activities, parks, and river beaches. Novi Sad is a slightly cheaper and smaller town, and life there is a bit more easy going and slow-paced, while Belgrade is all hustle and bustle. John William Bills, on his highly informative blog CultureTrip does an excellent job of explaining Belgrade living for expats.
Cost of living in Serbia
For example, renting a small apartment in a decent location in Belgrade can easily cost you less than $250 per month. Groceries are cheap, but so are the restaurants and cafes. You can get a meal for even $10 to $15. Coffee is usually around $2, cigarettes are around $3, and one ride with public transportation in Belgrade will cost you $0.85.
If you are a driver, you can find a second-hand car in good condition from $2000, or travel with buses to explore Serbia, return tickets are not above $15.
If you prefer the countryside, you have two options, to go north or south. The northern region of Serbia is called Vojvodina, and it is full of small villages with up to 10-15,000 inhabitants. In any of these villages, you can rent a whole house with a backyard for even less than $250. Life there is really inexpensive. You can drink an excellent cup of coffee for 50 cents in a cafe.
Vojvodina is interesting because a lot of nationalities live there, Hungarians, Bosnians, Slovaks, Germans, Romanians, etc. So it is a multicultural and multilingual region. You will notice there that all signs and important information are written in Serbian and Hungarian, and in some cases additionally in English.
Another important concern for those considering retiring in Serbia is medical care. And again, it is relatively inexpensive compared to the US. Even private hospitals and practices are considered somewhat affordable. A lot of Serbs prefer using them. Routine medical checkups can cost from $10 to $50. Dentistry is also affordable, and prescription drugs are usually between $10 and $30. Another place to get a great perspective on living in Serbia as a foreigner is The Amerikana. The blog is written by Nwando, a young girl with keen insight into all the aspects of daily living as an expat. Check out her blog.
What you can expect from Serbia is great hospitality, warm people, and great food. Serbian cuisine is based on a lot of meat and vegetables. You should not miss trying lamb, ćevapi, Karadjordje’s schnitzel, sarma, ajvar, kajmak, etc. When it comes to drinks, rakija is a type of fruit brandy drink, very popular among the Balkans, and it usually contains around 40% of alcohol. So drink slowly!
Shaking hands is customary when meeting somebody, but also so is kissing one or three times on the cheeks when you already know someone or are family.
What to see in Serbia
Unfortunately, Serbia does not have a seaside, but it has a lot of rivers and natural parks which we highly recommend. Here is a brief list of places you should not miss in Serbia.
Special Nature Reserve Uvac
Tara National Park
Đerdap National Park
Kopaonik National Park
Where to go from Serbia
Serbia is well connected to other parts of Europe, so you can easily travel by plane or bus, (trains in Serbia we do not recommend) to any other country. Popular destinations in the neighborhood for summer vacation are Montenegro, Croatia, and, of course, Greece. Greece is where the vast majority of Serbs go for their summer holidays. If you are more into city breaks and exploring different countries and towns in Europe, there is a vast offering of organized bus and plane tours to many other countries.
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