Belgrade, Serbia Report of what it's like to live there - 11/15/11

Personal Experiences from Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia 11/15/11

Background:

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

First.

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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?

Washington DC; about 8-9 hours transiting through Germany.

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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.)?

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?

A variety, including apartments downtown, houses on the outskirts of the city, and houses in the suburbs that are popular with families.

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

Grocery prices are cheap for local produce, which is excellent and can be bought at many local green markets where farmer sell their own produce. Imported goods are very expensive. Ready made foods are almost non-existent. The embassy has a great commissary and you can order special items for reasonable prices.

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

Economy size toiletries. Much cheaper to bring them than to buy them there.

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

There are McDonald's, a Pizza Hut, and a KFC. There are many Serbian fast food stands in the city.

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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?

Green market has supposedly organic-ish food.

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

None, mosquitoes can be bad in the summer.

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Daily Life:

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

APO and 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?

About US$3 per hour. Very good and cheap.

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

Yes. Small gym at embassy. Many local gyms, but the cost is US$120 and up per month for memberships.

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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?

Never tried. This is primarily a cash economy. Credit cards scams seem to be a problem.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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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?

Definitely need some if you ever plan to leave Belgrade. Even within Belgrade, most people over probable 45 speak limited amounts of English.

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

As long as you drive everywhere, you should be okay. The sidewalks are terrible and non-existent in many places.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable and safe.

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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?

Any car will work. Local cars are all small and so are parking spots in the city.

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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, reasonably priced.

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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?

Cheap, pay as you go.

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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?

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

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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?

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

Business casual to Business.

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Health & Safety:

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

None. A very safe city.

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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?

Fair medial care. I wouldn't get surgery.

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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?

Very unhealthy during the winter. You are lucky to even see the sun during the winter. Moderate during the summer.

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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?

Similar to Washington DC. Hot in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter.

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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 hear the international school is good for high school. I don't have children.

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Medium to High.

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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?

Clubs, restaurants, get togethers, CLO events, etc.

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

Great for everyone. The suburbs are loved by families. The neighborhood is safe and kids can run around on their own. Tons of clubs and restaurants for singles and couples.

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

There are some underground clubs/venues in the city, but being openly gay may get one beat up by locals.

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

It seems okay. There is no diversity in the city. Everyone is white Serbian orthodox. You will get many people staring at you if you don't fit this description.

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

The city is a good livable city. Not great for tourists, but you can hang out at cafes or on the river island in the city. The club scene is well known and attended if you like techno. You won't find a variety of music here.

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

City life is easy. Budapest is about a 4-hour drive away and great place to shop. There are interesting things to do in the country, but difficult to find literature on how to get there, when things are open. You will have to do your own research and wing many trips.

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

I wish they had some.

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

The city has lots of Serbian restaurants, a Brazilian restaurant, a few Chinese restaurants, and not much else. There are many cheap culture events here including ballet, opera, good music concerts with Western singers, symphony, and art.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't eat our every weekend and don't travel all the time.

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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:

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3. But don't forget your:

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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:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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