Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina Report of what it's like to live there - 03/18/09
Personal Experiences from Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Second post. First one was Armenia.
2. How long have you lived here?
I have been in Sarajevo two and a half years.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
The main routes from the U.S. are through Vienna and Munich.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is spread around town. Some residences are located in the center (close to the embassy) while others are a little further away in residential neighbourhoods, but distances are not great. It's a small city.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Prices are reasobable depending on where you buy.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cooking sauces (liquids and glass are not allowed in the pouch)
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is a decent variety of restaurants, but no American fast food or chinese. Local food is tasty but heavy. Cost varies, but most places are very reasonable.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Nothing in particular.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Pouch. No APO.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Easy to find housekeepers and baby sitters. Prices vary, but it's definitely cheaper than in the States.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
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?
Using ATMs is fine, but cash is better for restaurants and shops. In many ways it is still a cash economy.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Local cable is very cheap and it has a few English channels including CNN, History Chanel, Animal Planet.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Not too many people speak English, so it is a good idea to learn the basics (call a taxi, ask for prices, order food, etc).
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Getting around town would be challenging as handicap facilities are not common. Many streets have narrow or no sidewalks and people tend to park everywhere blocking the walking areas.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
Most cars are OK. Strets (especially downtown) are very narrow, so it would not be a good idea to bring a huge truck or SUV. Small suvs are fine. Most popular brands are Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Opel. Many other brands are also available such as Toyota, Nissan, Hyunday, Ford, Mercedez, but they are European specs.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. You can get DSL here and works great but it could be a little expensive depending on your use (different plans with different download/upload allowances).
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
You can easily buy a cellphone in Sarajevo. Cell phones from the U.S. could be "fixed" to work here, but it's not recommended because they use a different frequency here in Bosnia and the hardware ends up failing. Pay as you go cards are available.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
A few English speaking vets are available and they are good. There is one well known kennel own by an FSN spouse.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
During the winter very unhealthy. A lot of people burn coal to keep their houses warm. Not recommended for people with asthma or any other respiratory problems.
2. What immunizations are required each year?
3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Sarajevo is a fairly safe city. You can walk around town without any problem. There is pick pocketing in public transportation though.
4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
For minor injuries and not so serious conditions is OK. Otherwise, you should go to Austria or Germany.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Four seasons like in the States. Winter tends to be long, cold, gray and foggy. Flying in and out of the city could be tricky at this time of the year due to flight cancellations or delays.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
QSI and a few pre-schools including Montessori. You generally hear good comments about QSI. The school is kind of far away though (about 35 minutes drive from the City depending on traffic).
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
Montessori is a good choice for pre-school. The language of instruction is English and they have a structured program. The ratio teacher/child is 5/1 which is good compared to other places. The price is higher than most places, but I think it's worth it.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
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?
Good restaurants, cinemas, cafes, clubs, etc. but be prepared to inhale some cigarrete smoke...EVERYBODY smokes!
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. Can you save money?
For a couple working full time, yes.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, for a short time.