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15 Living in Serbia Pros and Cons 2023

Are you weighing the pros and cons of living in Serbia? As an expat who lived in Serbia, I’ve got you covered!

In 2018, I moved to Serbia to meet my cousins. My grandfather on my mom’s side is Serbian and he still has family over there who I’d never met before. At the time I was broke and needed a free room to sleep in, so I moved into my cousin’s apartment in Belgrade.

I quickly fell in love with Serbia, the people, and the amazing food.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses – it never is. So let’s look at the pros and cons of living in Serbia from a foreigner/expat perspective.

✈️ Considering moving to Serbia? You’ll want to save money on flights with this platform!

Pros of Living in Serbia:

Belgrade Fortress in Serbia with the two stone turrets and the bridge between them on a cold winter day near where I lived in Serbia

1. Low Cost of Living

I found that the cost of living in Serbia is incredibly low compared to most Western countries. Whether it’s groceries, rent, or public transportation, you’ll find that all your costs are significantly reduced when compared to other places in Europe.

You can easily live in Serbia as a single person for under $900 USD, including rent and eating out.

When I ate out (which I did all the time cause it was so inexpensive!), my meals were about $10 USD. And that’s an average including some expensive places, and places where I had 3 courses.

Serbian castle on the banks of a small town with a small village at the bottom of the foothills that I visited with my cousins

2. Great for Digital Nomads

Serbia has been a great place for digital nomads. This is mainly due to the low cost of living and abundance of coworking spaces. In Belgrade especially, there are many coworking spaces where you can rent a desk by month.

I prefer to work solo, so I didn’t take advantage of this. If I had, I’d probably have made more friends than I did during my time in Belgrade.

Cities outside of Belgrade aren’t as popular for digital nomads since the internet connection can be weaker.

In Belgrade, you won’t find Starbucks to work at. Some local cafes have WIFI, but most aren’t super chill with us nomads working for hours on end – even if we buy drinks and food.

I always asked at the counter before I bought anything to see if they were ok with it.

Also, many historical buildings don’t have any outlets, so check before you commit to a cafe for the day.

I recommend this platform to find jobs as a foreigner.

Nina at Studenica Monastery smiling in a purple winter jacket in front of the white stone facade of the building. I visited here while living in Serbia with my cousins

3. Safe Cities and Friendly People

I never felt unsafe while I lived in Serbia. People are friendly and there is a sense of community that you don’t find in many places anymore.

Belgrade especially was incredibly safe. I used to walk through the city at night without any problems or issues.

It’s not uncommon for people to stay out until 4 am, especially in the summertime.

The only crime I heard about was pickpockets after people went out clubbing at night. So keep your bag close, and you’ll be fine.

Slavic people are incredibly kind – even if they can be a bit direct. Like the Germans, they will bluntly tell you things so some people assume they’re being rude. But they’re not!

And once you befriend some Serbs, you’ll quickly realize they are overflowing with love and hospitality.

Be careful: do not tell them you have a favourite food or dish, or they will literally make it for you every single time you see them. I accidentally told my cousin I really liked the plum pita they made, and soon I had a dish in front of me full of it every day.

It’s not a bad problem to have, but it certainly won’t help your diet!

Close up of Krempita - a Serbian dessert with  layers of phyllo and custard. I ate this all the time when I lived in Serbia

4. Delicious Food

Speaking of food, let’s talk about the deliciousness that is Serbian cuisine. Seriously, it’s amazing. From ćevapi and pljeskavica to ajvar and burek, you’ll find yourself going back for more.

My personal favourite is uštipci with yogurt (you can also try it with ajvar if you are feeling adventurous). Uštipci is basically deep-fried dough, which goes incredibly well with the yogurt sauce.

The other thing I love about Serbia is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. You can find such a variety of fruits that you won’t even recognize some of them!

My grandma grew up outside of Belgrade and would go mushroom hunting and foraging for berries with her dad regularly. That tradition lives on today, although most people leave it to the professionals and reap the rewards at farmer’s markets.

Seriously, the mushrooms in Serbia are divine!

5. Amazing, and Cheap, Nightlife

If you love to party, then Serbia is the place for you. Nightlife starts late (around midnight) and usually goes until 4 or 5am.

Most bars are incredibly cheap – a beer can cost as little as $1 USD.

There are also some great clubs in Belgrade that charge a cover of about $10 USD. The music is great and the vibe is always fun.

If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, there are plenty of places to get drinks and hang out with friends. Many bars have outdoor patios where you can sit and watch the world go by.

My cousin and I went to quiet pubs around 8pm since I’m not a night owl. It was still quite lively and fun – but I’m told the full on club scene is even more amazing.

They even have clubs on boats in the Danube!

View over the mountains in Serbia from a train with rolling green hills and valleys between fir trees

6. Beautiful Nature

Serbia is not all about the cities. If you’re looking for something a bit more outdoorsy, then Serbia has plenty of options for you as well.

From mountains and forests to rivers and lakes, there are endless opportunities for adventure in Serbia.

I used to visit Zlatibor, an amazing mountain town about 4 hours from Belgrade. It’s a great place to go hiking and explore nature.

Back in Belgrade, you can take cruises down the Danube or hikes around Avala mountain. And of course, there is plenty of swimming and sunbathing to do at Ada Ciganlija lake near Belgrade.

Serbia is a great place to explore nature and take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

You probably know I love hiking, so you can expect me to love a place with great hikes!

7. Inexpensive Healthcare

If you’re looking for a place to get quality healthcare at an affordable price, then Serbia is the perfect spot for you. Healthcare in Serbia is incredibly inexpensive and of high quality.

The only downside is that it can be difficult to find English-speaking doctors and staff, so it helps to have someone who speaks the language with you.

I got the worse hayfever of my life in Serbia and thankfully my cousin is an eye doctor so they were able to help me communicate my allergies to certain medications with a pharmacist to get something that would make me less of a swollen puffball.

They are also incredibly efficient – which seems weird considering how much they prioritize time off and slow coffee breaks. You can get a pair of glasses for 1/4 of the price of Canada or the US in a few days!

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8. Easy to Use Public Transportation

One thing I loved about living in Serbia is the public transportation system. It’s incredibly easy to use and the tickets are very affordable.

The trams and buses run 24/7, so you can get around Belgrade at any time of day or night.

For longer distances, you can take a train or bus from one city to another. The tickets are very cheap and the rides are usually comfortable and punctual.

So, if you’re ever in Serbia, don’t hesitate to use public transportation! It’s a great way to get around without breaking the bank.

However, even if you do rent a car, you’re paying pennies compared to the car rental I recently did in Vancouver and the other one in California. Those were more than 4x the cost of living in Serbia for a month!

Cons of Living in Serbia:

Nina smiling in front of a small farm outside of Kraljevo in Serbia where her grandfather grew up

1. Lower Wages

The average wages in Serbia are much lower than in other developed countries. This can make it difficult to save up enough money to buy a home or travel the world.

Most people in Serbia try to find US companies to work at so they get paid a higher wage. The second best is to work for a German company that also has higher wages.

Digital nomads can benefit by working for US companies (or having a blog like me!) and getting paid higher wages, while having a lower cost of living.

I recommend this platform to find jobs as a foreigner.

Sarma - a Serbian dish of  cabbage rolls - is a real treat. The savory filling of ground beef, pork, and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves never fails to impress. Plus, it's relatively easy to make compared with some other complicated dishes! Make sure you have plenty of time set aside to prepare it as the baking process can take a while. My cousin made this for me when I lived in Belgrade

2. Meat Heavy Cuisine

The food in Serbia is delicious, but can be quite heavy and meat-centric. This can be a bit hard for vegetarians. The few non-meat options I can think of off the top of my head are usually still cooked in the same pans or are full of cheese.

For example, cheese pita is delicious but literally stuffed with feta.

You’ll likely be sticking to salads or just have to accept cross-contaminated cooking dishes.

Also, some of the dishes are quite spicy, so if you’re not used to that kind of cuisine it may take some getting used to!

3. Smoking Inside

Serbia is one of the few countries in Europe where smoking inside restaurants and bars is still allowed. So if you’re not a smoker, this can be an issue.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind when considering living in Serbia!

Small towns are especially bad for this. I’d go to the cafe with my cousin in the mornings where he and his cousin (it’s a whole web of cousins I won’t begin to untangle!) would smoke while they drank coffee and read the paper – then argue about the paper – as seems to be custom for Serbian men. You’d open the door to walk in and get his with a literal wall of smoke.

It’s becoming less common in Belgrade, or at least there are non smoking sections now. But if you have asthma like I do, you’ll end up leaving a lot of cafes early.

Nina smiling on the top of a mountain while hiking in Serbia with sunglasses and. backpack on during the spring. She. is a bit puffy from hayfever

4. Lots of Pollen and Hayfever

If you’re someone who suffers from hayfever, Serbia in the spring can be pretty miserable. There’s a lot of pollen in the air and it gets into everything!

It’s especially bad for people with allergies or asthma like me.

I was so stuffy and swollen that I thought I had the flu! Thank god for allergy meds.

5. High Unemployment Rates

Despite the low cost of living, unemployment rates in Serbia are quite high. This makes it difficult for young people to find jobs and can be disheartening for those looking for work.

That said, there are still plenty of opportunities if you look hard enough, from teaching English to working remotely.

Unfortunately this also means a lot of inequality and homelessness, especially in cities.

I recommend this platform to find jobs as a foreigner.

6. Limited Internet – and No Internet Cafes

Internet in Serbia is not always reliable or fast. Which can be a challenge for digital nomads who need to stay connected and working.

There are also no internet cafes like you’d find in other cities, so if your own connection goes down while traveling, you’re out of luck!

Get a SIM card to help prevent this. You can get ones with unlimited data very cheap, and then hot spot for connection.

📱 I use this e-SIM when I travel for data globally

7. Not LGBTQ+ Friendly

The LGBTQ+ community is still very much in the closet in Serbia. There’s no legal protection for them and there are still many outdated and discriminatory laws.

This makes it difficult (especially for queer people) to live openly in Serbia, even if they feel safe among friends or family.

I remember telling my cousins about Ru Paul’s Drag Race when I arrived (I had just learned what it was and become obsessed) and they stared at me like I had 3 heads for just watching the show.

I don’t think most Serbians would be openly aggressive, but they’re definitely not as accepting as other countries I’ve lived in.

FAQs about Living in Serbia

Is Serbia a good place to visit?

Yes, Serbia is a good place to visit. It is safe, affordable, and full of fun things to do. You’ll love the historical sites and the modern nightclubs. With food this delicious, you won’t want to leave!

Is Serbia a good place to live?

Yes, Serbia is a great place to live. It’s affordable and has some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. As long as you can find work with a US or German company, you’ll live a great life in Serbia.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Serbia?

A single person needs $900 USD to live comfortably in Serbia per month in Belgrade. You can survive on less if you don’t share an apartment or live outside a city center.

Is Serbia safe?

Yes, Serbia is generally considered to be quite safe for travelers. While there have been reports of theft and petty crime, violent crime is very rare. Be aware of your surroundings and always use common sense!

Can a US citizen move to Serbia?

Yes, US citizens can move to Serbia. You’ll need to apply for a visa through the Serbian Embassy in Washington DC or one of their Consulates in other cities. To live and work in Serbia, you will need to apply for a residence permit.

Can you speak English in Serbia?

Yes, English is widely spoken in Serbia. Many people have a good understanding of the language, though sometimes you may need to repeat yourself for them to understand. Additionally, most signs and menus are written in both Serbian and English.

✈️ Considering moving to Serbia? You’ll want to save money on flights with this platform!

Conclusion: Living in Serbia Pros and Cons

Living in Serbia has its pros and cons, just like any other country. On the one hand, it’s a beautiful and safe place with friendly people and delicious food. It also has some of the lowest cost of living in Europe.

On the other hand, there can be language barriers, limited internet access, high unemployment rates, and limited LGBTQ+ rights.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and needs. If you’re looking for an affordable place to live with great food and interesting history, Serbia may be the perfect place for you!

If you’re ready to move abroad, check out the checklist I use to prepare myself for moves around the world!

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100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Safety Wing!

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It depends – the best country to live in as an expat will depend on your unique needs. I developed this free quiz to help you figure out where is right for you!

📍 How do I pick a country to live abroad?

It depends – picking a country to live in is hard. That’s why I developed this $7 course to share all of the steps I’ve taken when deciding to move to 20+ different countries, and how I handle homesickness when I get there.

Ultimately, making the choice of where to move is going to be hard. But the hardest thing is deciding to move abroad at all!

💼 How do I get a job as an expat?

You can find work abroad via local job boards or temp agencies. My favourite way to work is remotely, so I always look for jobs on when I live abroad. They hire for 100% remote roles only.

If you’re looking to teach English abroad, Premier TEFL has the best online course to get you great work!

💰 How do I open a bank account abroad? offers free global accounts, and the cheapest money transfers. Since it can be a headache to open bank accounts in different countries (it took me 2 months in the UK!), is a great solution.

I actually use it as my primary bank now worldwide due to the multi-currency debit card. (Read more)

👯‍♀️ How do you make friends abroad? – Meet likeminded people who share a similar hobby with Meetup! It’s free to join, but some activities may cost money, like if you go to a cafe and get a coffee.

🙀 I don’t speak the language. Can I still live abroad?

Learn languages in no time with iTalki! Moving abroad is an opportunity to learn the language. You don’t need to know it before you leave home.

💻 Do I need a VPN?

Yes!VPNs allow you to access more of the internet. From US Netflix in the UK to social media sites banned in Asia. It’s a really helpful and cheap thing to ensure your online activities aren’t restricted.

🧳 What’s the best luggage for living abroad?

This is my favourite luggage set for long term travel. You can read more about my review of types of suitcases for travel here.

🏡 How do I tell my friends and family I want to live abroad?

Take this $7 course and learn the exact script I used to tell my family I was moving abroad … and then when I did it again. I even include tips for prepping your family, and for how to handle family who aren’t supportive.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy cheap flights?

To find cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. (Read more)

🏨 What’s the best site to find cheap hotels?

To find cheap hotels, I recommend (Read more)

Or stay for free with Trusted Housesitters!

🚗 What’s the best site to rent cars abroad?

To find cheap rental cars, I recommend Discover Cars.

🚗 What’s the best site to find tours?

To find epic tours, I recommend Viator.