Ljubljana, Slovenia Report of what it's like to live there - 07/31/14

Personal Experiences from Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia 07/31/14

Background:

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

No, I lived in Prague, Islamabad, Lagos, and Damascus before.

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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?

Vienna; 1 hour by plane (expensive), 6 hours by train (direct connections), 4-5 hours by car.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

All kinds of housing are available, family houses, flats... whatever you like. Commute time depends. By car, I need anywhere between 5 minutes and one hour.

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

Everything is available. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive. Imported goods are expensive.

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

Nothing. Everything is available.

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

McDonald's, Burger King and many more. Bic Mac meal costs around 6 Euro.

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

Slovenian post is okay. There are also private shippers (DHL, UPS).

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

Available. Due to the economical situation, many people are unemployed, and though they have a good educational level, even academic degrees, they are willing to work as a cleaner or nanny. Prices per hour range between 6 and 10 Euro. It's ridiculous but a fact: you pay much more for a cleaner than for a nanny!

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

Yes. Costs vary. I pay 60 Euros per month for unlimided classes and use of the machines.

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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?

There are many ATMs. Many restaurants don't accept credit cards.

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

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

You can survive without, if you speak English, German or Italian.

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

Yes. Many governmental offices are located in old houses, many without elevator.

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Transportation:

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

Trains and buses are quick and good. Prices are below avarage European standards. Taxis are available, prices are avarage.

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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 is suitable, it depends on your own needs. Streets are good. Car parts are available.

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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. But very expensive. For Cable TV and internet, I pay 50 Euro per 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?

Expensive, much more expensive than in Austria. There are not many providers and the prices are much too high.

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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, they just need the chip and passport. Quality pet care is available and good.

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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?

Maybe at an Embassy or as a teacher. But even many Slovene are jobless, so I don't think so.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Depends on the work. Not much difference to other European countries.

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Health & Safety:

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

No. The usual ones for Europe, petty theft and car burglary. But actually, it's a very safe country.

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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?

None. Healthcare has European 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?

Good.

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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?

Summers are warm but with lots of rain. There are not so many days when it does not rain at least an hour in the afternoon. It's very humid. Winters are sometimes cold with snow but often just cool and grey, very humid, with fog which stays sometimes for weeks.

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Schools & Children:

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

International, American, British and French schools available.

I can especially recommend Danila Kumar International School and Kindergarden. It's great; the number of children in one class is low (around 15), teachers are highly skilled and highly motivated. Classrooms are bright and friendly. There are 3 gyms, an auditorium, library, kitchen, 2 outdoor playground and one outdoor sportground.

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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?

See above. Note that there are not many offers for childcare during the holidays.

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

Not so many. Panter fitness club offers dancing classes for small children. Atlantis water park and tivoli swimming pool offer swimming classes.

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Expat Life:

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

You hardly see anyone, as everyone is doing his own kind of thing. If you are single, or a single working parent, you have to get adopted to spend your time alone, without any friends.

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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?

Sports, shopping, going to the concert, going to cafes and restaurants.

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

Generally for everyone.

For people with family/partner it's better, as they have each other. If you are single, you have to get adopted by someone or spend your time alone, without any friends. Children are - unlike many other Western countries (e.g. Austria) - warmly welcomed.

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

I don't know, but I think so.

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

Many Slovene don't like people from Balkans, Arabs and people with dark skin. Though many Muslims (e.g. from Bosnia) are living there, there are no mosques.

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

Everything is a highlight. Triglav National Park, Bohinj, Bled, several gorges and caves.

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

Sports (swimming, walking, hiking, climbing, skiing, biking, adventure sports, riding), exploring caves, take a stroll in the old town of Ljubljana, culture, (there are many artists and musicians in the city, many events are free of charge) ... going shopping to the market,..

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

Food, wines, kitsch.

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

Slovenia is an amazing country. It has a beautiful landscape, mountains, vineyards, beach... everything is accessible within short time. Good for hiking, biking, skiing and many other sports as well.

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10. Can you save money?

Not very much. Daily life is expensive. I am wondering how local people can survive.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Costs for heating, electricity, internet, mobile phone are extremely high.
If you are single, or a full-time working mum, you have to get adopted to spend your time alone, without any friends.
The number of daycare and activity for children during holidays are very limited.

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

No.
Though Slovenia is a beautiful, safe and clean country.

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

Hope that the first steps to get settled (ID-Card, getting the car registered, tax number,..) are done quickly and easily. Everything takes very long, longer than in some third-world countries. It's frustrating. Once you are settled, it's better.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, humour, lots of money for heating, internet, mobile phone, electricity. The prices are double than in other Western Europe Countries.
Ikea furniture (there is no Ikea in Slovenia, next ones are in Klagenfurt (Austria) and Trieste (Italy). Bicycle, hiking boots.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

I have lived in many "difficult" countries but never felt as isolated as I do here.

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