Ljubljana, Slovenia Report of what it's like to live there - 05/20/16
Personal Experiences from Ljubljana, Slovenia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
We have lived in Europe for a number of years including several assignments in Eastern Europe.
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?
California. Twenty hours from Ljubljana to LAX, with connections in Brussels and Newark.
3. How long have you lived here?
We lived there for three years, from 2012 to 2015.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing runs the whole range -- single family homes, town houses and apartments. The rental market can be tight as property tends to stay within families. Layouts can be somewhat choppy compared to American standards.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Very easily available. Prices comparable or a bit higher than the States.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Very good restaurants with wide range in price. Burger King, McDonalds and Subway all have a presence. Local fast food ( kebab shops) are readily available.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
If you're living in the low part of Ljubljana (old swamp land) you'll need to put some kind of screen on your windows due to mosquitoes.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We had access to U.S. mail.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very reasonable. 10-15 euros/hour.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
We used ATMs and credit cards without problems.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There is a small English-speaking Catholic congregation. Also another English-language church, the International Church of Ljubljana.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None. Almost everyone spoke English.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
In general yes. As with much of eastern Europe, they haven't caught up with ADA laws.
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?
I would suggest a small SUV. You want something you can use on the back roads that isn't too big for European parking places.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, approximately 100 euro/month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
When we were there, roaming outside of Slovenia was very expensive. That may have changed.
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 quarantine. Excellent veterinary care. We kenneled our dog with the vet.
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 really. Slovenia's economy has been bad for a number of years; even locals have a hard time finding work.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
The schools can always use volunteer help. I believe there is currently a small Girl Scout troop.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
I felt it was the safest city we've lived in. Local children ride the public transportation by themselves all the time to and from school, after school activities, etc.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
I think overall medical care is fine, although I don't think it is up to U.S. standards.
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 good air quality.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Bring your medication. Spring allergies are really bad.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Winters in Ljubljana can be pretty gray. It sits in a valley and the fog just stays. Once you get over the mountains you've got sunshine.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There were three international schools when we were there: QSI, British and Daniella Kumar. Most of the U.S Embassy kids, including our child, went to QSI. For primary grades I think the school is fine. However, once at the secondary level, I don't feel the school adequately prepares students for life at another school or for a rigorous college. The population of both QSI and the British school are small which limits what the schools are able to do.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
QSI seemed to be the only school willing to work with special needs. When we were there they had a specialist who worked with the kids who needed assistance. Their ability to help kids on the gifted/talented spectrum was limited.
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?
Preschools are available. I had no experience with them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes you can find sporting programs for kids. Language may or may not be an issue.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The expatriate community is small, and the American community even smaller. Overall morale is relatively good.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This is a great family post. Lots of activities, inexpensive, easy to get around.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Slovenia is a mixed bag when it comes to LGBT issues. On the one hand they are pass laws that restrict family definitions to "traditional" marriage. One the other hand, they are friendly to "civil unions."
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Slovenia tends to be xenophobic and very suspicious of outsiders. Transiting Brussels airport for the first time going back to the States was rather jarring as I hadn't realized what a homogeneous society I had been living in. Our 12-year old daughter was wolf-whistled by an old man who didn't seem to think he'd done anything wrong, even after being confronted by my husband. This scarred her for a very long time. So yes, there are gender issues.
5. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Outdoor activities in Slovenia are amazing -- skiing, hiking, river rafting, etc. Ljubljana is a very easy city to live in, and relatively inexpensive. Easy drive from the mountains to the sea side. The wine is wonderful -- vineyards galore. Make sure to take some home with you.