If you are thinking of becoming an expat, Serbia is probably not among the countries you have considered. You are relieved to find out that Serbia is half the world away from Siberia and that you do not run the risk of running into a bear or freezing to death.
But then you learn that Serbia was one of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, a country that broke up in a bloody civil war. You begin to picture its people as hostile, xenophobic, withdrawn and you start having some concerns about your safety if you come to live there.
What It’s Like to be an Expat in Serbia
But guess what? There is nothing to be afraid of in Serbia. OK, I was not entirely truthful here. If you come to Serbia, you should definitely be afraid of a deadly PROMAJA. Promaja is a Serbian word for “draft“ but Serbs ( even grown-ups) in all seriousness believe that it can kill them.
You should also make sure to run away as far as you can if you dare to insult a Serbian woman by leaving a piece of sarma on your plate ( sarma is a traditional Serbian dish).
On a more serious note, Serbs are incredibly friendly and outgoing people and Serbia (Belgrade in particular) is famous for its nightlife. So if you are young, single and love to party and socialize- Serbia is a perfect country for you. People in Serbia are also very inventive and real experts at making fun out of nothing. A beer bottle and music are usually all it takes to throw a wild party because Serbs use every opportunity they can get to celebrate something. It could be noon on a working day and all cafés are full ( one of the reasons is high unemployment rate, so if you decide to come to Serbia it’s advisable to secure a job in advance).
One of the things that you should get used to it is that people in Serbia “smoke like a Turk“, even in a café, so before you know it, you will find yourself in a haze of smoke.
If you love spending time in nature, you will just fall in love with Serbia and its rivers, forests and mountains. However, one downside is that there is a lot of garbage everywhere, because people are negligent.
Cost of Living in Serbia
The cost of living is much lower than in the West, so much that $1000 a month could be enough for comfortable living ( but have in mind that the average salary in Serbia is around $400). However, you will be surprised to find out that even unemployed people will offer to pay for you in a café or at a restaurant, that is how hospitable they are.
If you are a gourmand, you will also have a great time in Serbia. Serbian cuisine is a real joy to the tastebuds and you should not miss a kajmak ( can be compared to clotted cream), ćevapi ( finger-sized minced meat), sarma ( soured cabbage stuffed with minced meat) and gibanica (pastry dish with cheese and eggs).
It is recommended that you learn to speak Serbian, but once you come here, you will find out that people who are younger than 30 mostly have a really good level of English. Older people not so much.
Serbia is the country rich in history and culture, which has had its share of issues, but its people have emerged almost unscathed. Their hospitality and willingness to make everyone feel at home are enough to compensate for anything negative.