If you want to know about the good and bad aspects of living in Montenegro, keep in mind that different people may have different opinions. Also, my own views on this topic might have changed over time or might change in the future. The benefits and drawbacks of living in a place depend on your specific needs and situation at a particular time. Sometimes, what might seem like a negative aspect could turn out to be positive, and vice versa. That’s just the way life is, and things are not always clear-cut. So, keep an open mind and consider different perspectives.
Advantages of living in Montenegro
11 “for” immigration to Montenegro
⭐️Ecology. Montenegro is environmentally friendly as it doesn’t have any harmful factories or production facilities, so the air is pure and free from pollutants. The water in the sea and rivers is also clean and safe to use for cooking.
*However, tap water contains a lot of salts, so it’s not recommended to drink without purifying it first. Although the air is generally clean, there can be issues with smog during the winter in some northern cities because of stove heating. In 2022, this problem became severe in several cities, which prompted the state to take action to address it.
⭐️The Sea. It is essential for both physical health, especially for the lungs, and mental health.
The Adriatic Sea is incredibly picturesque, with its crystal-clear water displaying a beautiful shade of deep turquoise.
*During the peak tourist season, Montenegro’s beaches can get quite crowded, and the most popular beaches may have a large number of people in the water. In the winter, storms can bring a lot of trash to the shore, which may not be removed immediately. However, the cleanliness of the beaches largely depends on the weather conditions. Once the weather stabilizes, you can be sure that the beaches will be cleaned up.
⭐️Mentality. Living in Asia, I never realized how much importance a smile can hold until I spent three years in Thailand. I came to understand that a smile can convey a range of emotions, from genuine happiness to intense hatred and disrespect, often fueled by nationalist beliefs. It may sound surprising since Thailand is known as the “land of smiles,” but there’s a catch to it. In terms of mentality, I find that Montenegrins and I share a lot in common.
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⭐️I like Montenegrins. At first, I didn’t understand Montenegrins very well, but as I got to know them better, I started liking them even more. They may appear serious on the surface, but they have genuinely kind hearts. This country taught me that people can offer selfless assistance without expecting anything in return, not even a favor in the future. They do so with complete openness and without any self-interest. Although there may be some unpleasant experiences, particularly during the peak tourist season in resort areas, I have been lucky enough to encounter good-hearted individuals. I hope this trend continues.
⭐️ Close to Europe. We prefer to travel by car as it provides us with more comfort compared to airplanes. It only takes 6 hours to reach Greece and 8 hours to get to Venice. In 2019-2020, we traveled from Montenegro through Italy and France to Portugal, all the way down to Gibraltar and back along the Spanish coast, exploring the Iberian Peninsula. We repeated the journey in 2022, and although it was a bit lengthy, with each trip lasting about 2 months, it was a delightful and exciting experience.
Before those trips, we had also visited Prague a couple of times and traveled to Georgia through all of Turkey. Not to mention, we have taken numerous trips to Greece, Albania, Bosnia, and Croatia.
Many low-cost airlines, such as Wizz Air and Ryanair, offer flights from Montenegro to various destinations. You can find tickets for as low as 20 euros per ticket.
⭐️Simple legalization. Legalization procedures in Montenegro are simpler compared to EU countries, as Montenegro is not yet a member of the EU. Additionally, the taxes in Montenegro are generally lower than in many EU countries.
If you want to start a business in Montenegro, you can register a company and use that as a way to get a residence permit. Another option is to buy property and apply for a residence permit based on ownership. If one of your family members already has a residence permit, you can apply for a permit for family reunification. For digital nomads, Montenegro now has a nomad visa available. There are also other ways to stay in the country legally for a year without needing to leave or renew your visa, but they aren’t as commonly used.
⭐️ Mild climate. The coastal area of Montenegro has a mild winter with temperatures usually staying above freezing near the sea. Spring is short and quickly transitions into summer. Although summers can be hot, the sea breeze helps to cool things down. However, if you’re someone who enjoys snow and the beauty of snowdrifts, you can find yourself in a winter wonderland just three hours away.
⭐️Security. It’s quite surprising to see people leaving their cars with the keys inside here, which is something that we wouldn’t do. However, crime is generally low in Montenegro, and it’s safe to walk around even after midnight. Of course, like in any tourist destination, there is a possibility of theft during the peak season.
⭐️I like their “Polaco”. What I miss in my life is the ability to slow down and truly enjoy it. I feel like I’m always rushing somewhere, whether it’s physically or mentally. But Montenegrins are different. They don’t seem to be in a hurry to live life. Instead, they take the time to savor every moment and truly enjoy it. Even when it comes to drinking brandy, they take small sips and savor the flavor instead of quickly downing a whole glass in one gulp. It’s a beautiful way of living that I wish I could adopt more in my own life.
⭐️Montenegro is blessed with a variety of fruits that grow in abundance in the yards. From figs and pomegranates to a plethora of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, one can find everything here. Even in winter, the trees are full of sweet and juicy tangerines. Kiwi, grapes, berries, and apples are also common fruits that thrive in Montenegrin soil.
⭐️Diversity of nature. Montenegro is a country of natural beauty that is truly captivating. Its crystal-clear sea, magnificent rocks, picturesque beaches, sand dunes, towering mountains, peaceful lakes, deep canyons, and dense forests are just some of the wonders you can find here. Although the country is small, every corner is worth exploring and it only takes 3-4 hours by car to reach any destination. It’s hard to describe how beautiful this place is with just words; you have to experience it firsthand. As someone who has lived here for over 8 years, I can say that even though I have seen it all, every time I look at these mountains and sea, I am still amazed by their breathtaking magnificence. And those pink sunsets, they are simply stunning.
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Cons of Moving to Montenegro
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So, what is missing, what might not be as cool as we would like?
⭐️Montenegro relies heavily on tourism as its primary source of income, which has a negative impact on its economy, job market, and GDP due to the lack of production. Although tourism is beneficial, the seasonal influx of tourists creates an imbalance, with many visitors in the summer and fewer in the off-season and winter. Despite the rising prices, the quality of services has not kept pace. However, Montenegro has been working hard to promote its tourism industry and attract visitors to coastal cities, even during the winter holidays. I’ve noticed significant improvements since I moved to Montenegro seven years ago.
⭐️ Products and seafood. A lot of visitors mention that the food here is fresh and of good quality, but there are some things that could be improved.
Farming in Montenegro is not advanced due to limited land and the abundance of mountains, which makes it challenging to grow vegetables.
Montenegro relies heavily on importing agricultural products from neighboring countries, like pork for prosciutto from Albania, due to the underdeveloped state of agriculture in the country. In winter, the availability of vegetables is limited, but there have been improvements in the selection and freshness of produce in recent years. While there are numerous small farms that produce meat, cheese, eggs, chickens, lambs, and goats, it’s rare to find duck or rabbit meat in the market.
Residents sometimes go to Croatia to buy groceries, including seafood, because it can be quite expensive in Montenegro. This is due to the small size of the Adriatic Sea around Montenegro, which limits industrial fishing. Farmed fish, such as gilthead bream, are much cheaper than wild-caught fish, and seafood is usually more expensive than meat. Although Montenegro does have some farms that grow mussels, oysters, sea bream, and sea bass, there is not enough to meet the demand during the busiest tourist season.
⭐️Montenegro’s small size and population make it challenging to offer a wide variety of goods and services. The country’s economy is not highly developed, leading to lower salaries and less demand for certain products and services. Modern conveniences like ride-sharing apps, fast food delivery, and a wide selection of options are not yet common in Montenegro. While the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred some improvements in the market, there’s still a long way to go before the level of service matches that of larger cities.
⭐️To sum up the previous point, there is a lack of variety in products and services in Montenegro. This means that sometimes people have to travel to other countries to find what they need or want. If something breaks down, they may have to transport it to another country for repairs. However, there are some exceptions to this, such as being able to buy Apple or Xiaomi products with a local warranty in Montenegro.
⭐️Medicine. The healthcare system in Montenegro has been impacted by the fallout from the collapse of Yugoslavia, resulting in the majority of medicine and production being based in Serbia. As a result, some doctors from Serbia visit Montenegro on a weekly basis to provide specialized medical care. Private healthcare is not affordable for most people due to low salaries, but those who pay taxes and have a residence permit can access free healthcare, although the process may be time-consuming and complicated. Elderly patients who do not have access to private healthcare make up the majority of hospital patients. Despite its limitations, having insurance is beneficial in emergency situations.
⭐️Digitalization. The bureaucracy in Montenegro can be frustrating at both low and high levels. In 2022, the situation became absurd when there was a huge influx of people wanting to obtain a residence permit in Budva. To get a number at the MUP office, people had to start queuing as early as 3am to get a number when the office opened at 8am. Even then, there was no guarantee that you would be able to submit your documents if you didn’t receive a number before 40. The process of issuing cards is also greatly delayed, and unfortunately, there is no way to check online whether your card is ready or not.
⭐️ We currently live in a village in Budva, but unfortunately, we don’t have an official address to call our own. This makes it difficult for us to receive packages and goods directly to our home. We have to rely on a post office box for deliveries, which can be frustrating. Sometimes, we have to give verbal directions to delivery drivers to find our home, and mistakes can still happen due to the lack of an official address. We’re asking for help because Budva has grown from a village to a town, and we believe it’s time for us to have the ability to receive packages like everyone else.
⭐️Idiot driving. Driving in Montenegro can be unpredictable compared to other European countries. Even if you stay in your own lane, you can’t always expect others to do the same. It’s not uncommon for some reckless drivers to overtake you from the wrong side, which can be especially nerve-wracking on narrow, winding roads.
There’s so much to say about this topic, both good and bad, that we could go on and on about it.
If you’re planning to move to Montenegro, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s a small country with a low level of development. If you’re accustomed to living in big cities with constant traffic, you might find it challenging to adjust to life here.
Frequently asked questions about immigration to Montenegro:
Will I be able to find a job in Montenegro?
Job opportunities in Montenegro are limited, with the main options being in tourism or working with the large Russian-speaking diaspora. However, the tourism industry is highly seasonal, and the Russian-speaking population is scattered throughout the cities. In 2022, the number of permanent residents from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus increased, leading to a higher demand for quality services, which in turn resulted in the opening of many new businesses.
If you wish to work in local companies and markets, then knowing the language is necessary.
If you were successful in your home country, there is a good chance you can succeed in Montenegro as well. However, if things were not going well in your home country, don’t assume that everything will magically fall into place here — that’s not how it works. Montenegro has different customs, traditions, and bureaucracy than what you might be used to. You won’t have the necessary network of friends, acquaintances, and knowledge of how things work here, so processes may take longer than you expect.
Is it difficult to learn Montenegrin (Serbian) language?
Many people can quickly understand the Montenegrin language at an everyday level as it has many similarities with Russian, with many words being exactly the same. However, there are also many words that are completely different, and the language has cases, declensions, and the verb “to be” like English. While there are many exceptions, the language is very rich, with some words not existing in Russian at all. Fortunately, learning Montenegrin is quite easy if you approach it with a willingness to learn and practice. Communicating frequently with locals can also help speed up the learning process.
How is medicine in Montenegro?
They say that the quality of healthcare is not the best in Montenegro. However, this is not uncommon for countries with free healthcare systems without high insurance premiums. For serious medical issues, it’s better to seek treatment outside of Montenegro since there are a limited number of highly specialized specialists. Although there have been some improvements in the past five years, the development of the healthcare system is still not very good. Many doctors come from Serbia to work in Montenegro. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that the coastal area is mainly a resort area with small towns, and if you do not have state insurance, you should get tourist insurance. If you are officially employed and pay taxes, you are entitled to free medical care.
Can I drive with a Russian license?
Legally speaking, it is possible to drive in Montenegro with a Russian driver’s license, but only for a limited time. However, in practice, authorities are not strict about this rule and many people continue to drive with their Russian license and plates without any issues. The only potential problem arises if you are driving a car with Montenegrin license plates without a rental agreement and with a Russian license. In this case, the police may ask for your residence permit and issue a fine if you refuse to provide it. There is no specific law addressing this issue, so you may need to defend your rights and argue against the fine if you are faced with this situation. It is important to note that knowing the local language can be very helpful in such cases.
What’s with the kindergartens, schools?
Montenegro has both public and private kindergartens and schools. There are also accredited Russian schools with excellent teachers available. The details about these schools are not clear. However, children are generally welcomed and loved in Montenegro. Many children attend local schools without facing bullying or discrimination from teachers.
Which city to choose for living in Montenegro?
It’s worth noting that while Kotor can be more challenging in the winter months due to its location, it is still a popular destination for tourists and expats alike due to its stunning natural beauty and historic Old Town. However, as you mentioned, it’s important to consider the climate and choose accommodations accordingly. Additionally, some expats may prefer living in smaller towns or villages along the coast or in the mountains, depending on their preferences and lifestyle.
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