Belgrade, Serbia Report of what it's like to live there - 09/09/19

Personal Experiences from Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia 09/09/19

Background:

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

Yes, but prior assignments on military bases in Germany.

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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?

Charleston, SC, which is about 12 hours with layovers. I feel traveling was easy as long as you aren't going to/from Kosovo.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Regional training.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is in three main areas but could be scattered over the city. Families with children are typically all housed in one area. Housing was large, modern, and not lacking in any way. Commuting time was under 30 minutes even in heavy traffic.

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

Extremely affordable.

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

None. Commissary was always well-stocked. We do love peanut butter so we brought a bunch. Wide variety of gluten-free options in stores if needed.

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

Donesi was the online delivery service for takeaway. Quick, site is in English, wide variety of restaurants to chose from.

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

No.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy.

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

Extremely reasonable. A wide variety of housekeepers, nannies, and a preferred local babysitting agency.

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

Embassy gym is small but not lacking in equipment and was never really busy, there are local gyms available for a standard cost.

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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?

Yes. I never has a problem. ATMs are common too. I used them if out in a pinch, but had a preference to use the Embassy cashier so I could get exact bills.

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

Most menus have an English option, and English is widely spoken. A little knowledge of Serbian amd key phrases do help though. The embassy offered language tutoring for a cost.

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

Yes. Sidewalks are lacking in some areas as are elevators.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

Anything brand new you might want to leave at home. I recommend something that you can get serviced locally.

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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. Ours was installed on arrival.

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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 a local number on a SIM with an old phone, and also kept my Google Fi service on my US phone.

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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?

Vets are fantastic and affordable. No quarantine to my knowledge. A lot of stray animals though.

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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?

I worked my e-commerce job from the US there with mission permission, there are plenty of employment opportunities at the Embassy. I'm not sure about local pay scales.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. Ask the Community Liaison Office (CLO) for current listing.

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

Typical professional dress code at the embassy, in public anything goes.

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Health & Safety:

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

None to my knowledge.

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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?

Winters can be rough with the air quality. Medical care was standard. You are sent outside Serbia for serious conditions and delivery if pregnant.

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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?

Air quality can be poor in the Winter. Winter is difficult for anyone sensitive to smoke or air pollution.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Be prepared for your personal circumstances.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Not to my knowledge.

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

Typical four seasons.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several schools available.

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2. 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?

Plenty of recommended preschools.

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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. Morale was good.

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

Several local clubs.

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

It is a great city for everyone!

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I felt it was easy, but know your 90s history and be prepared to hear about it.

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

Pirot rugs.

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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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