Thoughts on moving and life in Montenegro in a year

Thoughts on moving and life in Montenegro in a year

Prehistory

I lived and worked in Moscow, in the spring of 2022 I decided to leave Russia and start building my life abroad. The decision was conscious, balanced and crept into the mind for a long time. The events of February only cemented my thoughts that I no longer intend to live on a powder keg.

I started my journey to move by trying to close all the unresolved issues and get the necessary documents that could be useful abroad. I issued a power of attorney for a person to whom I can fully entrust all my affairs in Russia. At the same time, I was looking for a new job.

My previous employer had Yur. persons outside of Russia, but the management did not dare to make drastic changes and as a result the employees were relocated only in November 2022. They also did not agree to review my employment contract for a more stable currency and give me the opportunity to leave the country quietly. I started looking for a new position as an iOS developer or Team Lead. The main criteria were: a salary in dollars or euros, then the ruble fluctuated quite a bit, and the opportunity to work remotely outside of Russia. I will not say that there were many offers and suitable vacancies, but quite quickly I was able to get an offer for the position of iOS Team Lead with the possibility of relocation and a salary in dollars.

Relocation

My new company was deciding which country to transport its employees to and considered classic locations like Turkey, Armenia, Portugal, and more, but the choice fell on the less obvious option — Montenegro. During the discussion of working conditions, I thought that I would go to Turkey with the company, but on the first day of work I found out that they approved to open an office in Budva, Montenegro. Looking back on my feelings, I wasn’t against this option, but I wasn’t thrilled either, realizing that it was a small resort town and I might get bored of it quickly.

My new company was flexible about the relocation and I received good legal and financial support for myself and my wife. First, in May 2022, I went to Istanbul to open a bank account. Throughout the summer, I worked remotely and traveled with my wife in Turkey and Europe. In September, we ended up in Montenegro, but with no firm intention of staying here for a long time. Mobilization was announced a few days later and any other country seemed either worse in our sense of price/quality or less accessible to red passport holders.

residence permit

For me, the process of adaptation in a new country went extremely smoothly. The company helped to obtain a residence permit and resolve any issues as they arose. In fact, this is not a quick process and I spent more effort and money on my own. The flow of migrants has increased significantly, which is why local institutions are in overdrive and people are standing in line at night to submit documents. Further obtaining a passport is not so relevant here because it takes more than 10 years on average. For Russians, it is possible to live in the country for 30 days without a visa, pay a tourist tax of 1€ per day and go on a visa an unlimited number of times. Of course, with such a schedule, problems may arise at the border. For example, before obtaining a residence permit, we went to Bosnia and the Bosnian border guard did not want to let us in for a long time, realizing that in an hour, or maybe even earlier, we would go back.

Life in Montenegro

The office grew rapidly and at the moment many employees have moved to Montenegro, so there are no problems with socialization or leisure. And in general, now there are many Russian-speaking people here. Some do not waste time and fill a small country (600k inhabitants) with things we are used to. New restaurants, events, quizzes appear constantly. Author tours of picturesque places in Montenegro, meetings based on interests and much more. Of course, leisure activities are more diverse in the summer, cities really come alive. Some may not like the crowds of tourists, but if you wish, you can find more comfortable places and relax on country beaches without fuss. In winter, everything freezes, many establishments close for the season and, by and large, there is nothing to do on the coast. Alternatively, you can go to the mountains inland to go skiing and snowboarding. From the airports of Podgorica and Tivat, you can easily fly to major European cities for €50-100 or drive to Serbia, Bosnia and other border countries.

Boko-Kotorska Bay

Real estate

When the mobilization began, we were already in Budva and managed to find an apartment before the start of the season, that is, for 9 months for €450 per month. This is a bright apartment of approx. 45 sq.m., nicely renovated, one bedroom, everything you need for living and sea view.

Even in September 22, it was cheap. Now the prices have increased and in May 2023 we rented another apartment for €1,300, although it is worth clarifying that it is larger than the previous one. Approximately 70 square meters. m with two bedrooms. This price also includes the use of the swimming pool on the territory of the house. For an additional fee, you can go to the gym for €45 per month and there is a nice restaurant in the building. If someone wants to move to Montenegro, I would recommend laying down an average of €100 per month for two people for utility bills. This price will include water, electricity, Internet service of the territory and garbage removal. There is no central heating or hot water in the houses, but in the current climate this is not the biggest problem, although mold can appear in winter with poor ventilation. Hot water in almost all apartments is heated using a boiler.

I want to share my thoughts on some features that pleased or saddened me after almost a year of living in this country.

View from the window

Medicine

The company provided medical insurance for the family, but fortunately, we did not use it, and so far I have no personal experience of interacting with doctors. According to the stories of colleagues and friends, it is difficult, but realistic, to find good specialists. Among them there are also Russian-speaking ones. In general, Montenegrins do not like English, and even if they do speak, they often offer to switch to Russian themselves – it is more comfortable for them. Clinics are both public and private. In the capital, obviously, the choice of specialists is wider and sometimes it is necessary to travel an hour for help.

Policy

I don’t notice any pronounced political tension against the background of the conflict in Ukraine. There are a lot of migrants from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and everyone understands everything. Never heard of national conflicts. We live in a house where there are practically no local residents, only emigrants from Postsovka. Local residents are politically active. The presidential elections were lively, and the celebration of the new president’s victory was very colorful.

Climate

Comfortable enough for me. It is hot in the summer, the sea is warmer than the Black Sea, but colder than the Mediterranean, which did not come as a surprise to me. It is impossible to sleep without air conditioning, even at night it is very stuffy. In winter, the temperature dropped below zero for only a few days, but the rains got boring, snow falls only in the mountains. Given the lack of central heating in the apartments, it is not as warm as we are used to in the middle lane of Russia. I felt the influx of tourists on the coast from mid-May. Ends around mid-September. In the center of the country there are mountain parks and reserves, the climate there is completely different and there are enough frosts.

Food

My expectations from a country that stretches along the sea were that the range of fish and seafood was wide and cheap. In fact, everything turned out to be the opposite – it’s disappointing. It is not so easy to get the usual products in Russia. Buying buckwheat for €7 per kg and tea for €10 is unpleasant, but what can you do) Some of the basic products are usually of good quality, but the selection is small and you can find, for example, fresh meat, not in every store. When choosing cafes and restaurants, I prefer Russian and European cuisine, the local one is often too fatty and salty for me, although the dishes are quite large.

People

I wouldn’t say that the locals are very open and friendly in general, although I don’t have much experience in communicating with them. I don’t feel a clear negative towards migrants, in my opinion we haven’t had time to get bored of them and some are even happy with the influx of the paying population, which mainly consists of citizens of the country and their families. But there are also enough other professions, employees in beauty salons, car rental companies, realtors are often also from recent arrivals.

Immediately after arrival, you should learn the local vibe – Polako. This means that don’t expect any haste and impetuousness. In government institutions and even in shops, everyone is relaxed. Although this does not apply to taxi drivers. Like everywhere else, they try to make every cent.

Prices

Prices for goods and services can be compared with prices in Moscow, so I did not experience any shock. The largest item of expenses is the rental of real estate. Probably more money is spent on products, but I did not count exactly. Plus, it is not clear which course to take for calculation. A haircut in a barbershop is €15-20 from Russian specialists, cheaper from Montenegrins. Taxis are usually €7-15 in the area and €40-60 to the airport. It was cheaper before the holiday season. They usually don’t forget to raise prices during the summer period due to increased tourist traffic.

Standard of living

According to various criteria, I would rate the country’s development as lower than expected. It is quite dirty and there is a lot of garbage, according to my observations, the locals are careless about this issue, and the visitors organize groups to clean the streets and the coast. Many constructions that create chaos for dozens of meters around. Usual things like delivery and the possibility of finding any product are absent here, although it would seem like Europe… Of course, the field is developing only thanks to the recent influx of companies due to political instability in Russia, and finding a job in the local market will not be easy. The salaries of the local population are low, and I have little idea how you can live on this money without having your own home.

Conclusion

As a place where you can have a good rest and recharge your batteries, Montenegro fits very well. Beautiful landscapes and a pleasant sea are perfect for a vacation. Having lived here for almost a year, we understand that she gave us everything she could and we must move on. I would like to move to a developed country and a big city. A new article should be written about this.

To learn more about life in Montenegro, IT and iOS development, visit my Telegram channel https://t. me/ios_mobile_developer

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