Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina Report of what it's like to live there - 05/31/11

Personal Experiences from Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina

Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina 05/31/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

My first expat experience

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Michigan. Through Munich to Detroit. Almost 20 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2008-2010

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I walked to work. Lived in an apartment.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very reasonable.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

chocolate chips, cake mix, brownie mix, make-up, peanut butter.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

No American fast food.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Some, most people order online.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Didn't really notice a problem.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Dip pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

$6-7 an hour

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Be careful. We were victims of credit card theft.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Butmir has a church service.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

AFN if you qualify.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

some basics.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot of difficulties. Broken sidewalks, limited ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are VERY affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4x4's are nice to have but not necessary. Parts can be expensive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. $45 a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I had mine through the embassy. Mostly people do prepaid.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

The embassy has contacts for kennels, but otherwise none that I am aware of. Pet care is usually in your own home.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not so much. There are some embassy jobs but they are usually beneath your skill/education level.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dressy at work, dressy/chic out on the town. No shorts. Very tight jeans.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Mostly pickpockets and smash-and-grabs.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Air quality is horrible in the winter. Health care is far beneath U.S. standards.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is poor and everyone smokes!

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Foggy, wet, gray winters.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have no kids, but I heard that elementary was okay. The high School is small.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

It is difficult to get quality speech therapy for Americans.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Fairly good from what I heard.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes- soccer, ice-skating and others I'm sure.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

mid-size.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Wine bars, movies, shopping.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Better for families and couples.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think it's okay but they are not really accepted by the locals.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes! Hello! Remember theBosnian War?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling throughout BiH, to Austria, Croatia, Italy.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

ski, hike, shop in the old town, go to the coast.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

copper, rugs

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money, touring nearby countries.

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11. Can you save money?

yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

yes!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

ideas about non-smoking restaurants/bars.

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3. But don't forget your:

ski clothes, rain boots

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Welcome to Sarajevo.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Great post, really happy we went there.

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