There are more than 10,000 foreigners living in Serbia, according to recent statistics. If you want to be one of them or just want to move to Serbia for a while, it’s time to prepare.
Culture shocks on vacation are fun, but if we have to live them every day, they lose their appeal dok si rek’o piksla (very quickly). In the end, all you feel is frustration and homesickness.
To help you avoid the hassle, we’ve compiled a list of 8 things to know before you move to Serbia. Let’s get started!
1. Meat, Meat, and More Meat
You probably know that most Serbs are true carnivores. It’s hard to imagine a meal in a Serbian household without a juicy chunk of pork on the table. If there’s no pork, there’s beef or chicken.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating meat. And if you’re on a meat diet, you’ll love it here.
However, if you’re vegan (or vegetarian), you might find it hard to eat out. On top of that, almost all Serbian celebrations and festivals feature prase na ražnju or at least a gigantic plate of pečenje.
Still, if you move to Belgrade, you’re in luck. Namely, the capital boasts several vegan/vegetarian restaurants. But if you live elsewhere, you might find yourself cooking at home more than you hoped.
2. Freezing Winters and Scorching Summers
Due to a continental climate, differences between seasons in Serbia are harsh, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 40℃ in summer and reaching even -20℃ in winter.
And the global warming isn’t making things any better.
So, keep this in mind when you pack your bags. If you move to Serbia in the middle of zima (winter), bundle up. Or you can always have a Serbian baba knit you a pair of vunene čarape(wool socks).
On the other hand, if you’re moving during leto (summer), you’ll want to rent an apartment with an air conditioner.
3. Pricey Rent
You’ll need at least $350 to rent a studio in Belgrade. And if you’re moving with family and need more space, you’ll pay upwards of $450.
Of course, in smaller cities, kirija (rent) will be somewhat cheaper. But even there, don’t expect to find anything below $200 plus utilities for a garsonjera (studio).
On top of that, you’ll typically have to give a month’s rent worth of deposit. But you should get this money back once you’re moving out.
Depending on where you’re from, this might not seem like much. But, in Serbia, where the median salary after tax is around $650, many people struggle to pay rent. However, if you live here and earn money from another country, you likely won’t have this problem.
4. Affordable Services
While many things in Serbia cost an arm and a leg, services are cheap compared to Western countries.
Of course, the prices vary. But, generally, it’ll cost you less than $20 to fix tooth decay, and you can have a female haircut for $10. For a male haircut, you’ll only need to pay about $4.
Next, you can get a full body massage for less than $20 in Belgrade and wax your legs for $15.
That’s exactly why every gastarbajter (person who goes to other countries for work), first visits a dentist and a hair salon when they come back to Serbia on vacation.
5. Cigarette Smoke on the Loose
Another thing to know if you plan to live in Serbia — cigarette smoke is everywhere.
So, if you’re a heavy smoker or like to have an occasional cigarette, you’re in luck. Not only is smoking allowed in open spaces (in parks, on the street, in nature), but most restaurants, bars, and cafés allow smoking too.
On the other hand, if you can’t stand cigarette smoke, try avoiding crowded kafanas and bars and look for cafés with deo za nepušače (non-smoking area).
6. Shopping Around the Clock
If it’s Sunday evening, and you ran out of food, you’d be in trouble in most countries. Not in Serbia! In fact, many supermarkets, kiosks, and shopping malls are open on weekends, even in the evenings.
That means you don’t need to plan your shopping ahead, since you can drop by a supermarket any time you want.
On top of that, bars, nightclubs, and kafanas are typically open until sunrise each weekend. So, moving to Serbia is the right call if you’re big on partying.
7. Splitting the Bill is a No-No
Imagine you’re out having drinks with Serbian friends. When the time comes to pay the bill, you might be surprised when your companions insist on covering that tab saying: Neka, ja častim (leave it, I’ll pay).
While splitting the bill is common in many countries, Serbs aren’t fans. In fact, paying for the bill when out with friends is a sign of generosity.
However, if you think you’re lucky you got a free drink, that’s not the case. At times like this, you should insist on paying yourself. If you don’t, people might see you as škrtica (a stingy person).
Although this might be bothersome, it’s worth getting used to. As they say — when in Serbia, do as Serbs do.
8. No Handyman in Sight
If you need something fixed, you should know majstori (handymen) are notoriously hard to find.
For instance, if you want to retile the kitchen floor you might need months to get someone to do it. Even if you agree on a date, it’ll probably get postponed several times.
On top of that, if you have an emergency, you’ll need to pay an exorbitant price to get it fixed.
The reason is that most handymen went abroad in search of higher salaries. Those who stayed can choose jobs and will often procrastinate to no end.
That’s why most Serbs learn how to do simple things around the house themselves. So, you might want to invest in some tools and put your DIY hat on if you plan to live in Serbia.
Move to Serbia and Learn Serbian
Now that you learned everything you need to know before you move to Serbia, it’s time to pack your bags and begin the moving process. Of course, there’ll always be surprises, but a bit of culture shock here and there can even spice up your experience.
Besides, learning all the peculiarities is a perfect way to experience a culture. And in Serbia, there are more quirks than the shots of rakija an average Serbian grandpa can drink.
Finally, to further minimize the stress, it’s always good to learn the local language. So, why don’t you check out our Pre-Intermediate course and level up your Serbian in your free time?