What to Expect When Relocating to Serbia?

A former Yugoslavian republic, Serbia boasts a unique combination of characteristics that you could hardly find in any other country of the world. The country is located in the center of Europe. Even though it’s landlocked, the Danube River connects it with major European ports and transporting goods from Serbia is simple and inexpensive.

Serbia plans to join the EU in 2025. We have to be honest and say that the chances that it will join the Union next year are rather slim. However, the country is certain to become an EU member state at some point in time.

Serbia’s economy is developing at a rapid pace. The progress is especially notable in such sectors as banking, hospitality, and the IT industries. Most international IT giants have already opened their Serbian divisions. Serbia cannot be referred to as a wealthy country thus far but it’s getting there.

The Serbian authorities make it easy for foreigners to relocate to the country. There are several legal methods of acquiring residency in Serbia. Probably the simplest one is registering a company in the country. You can start a company in Serbia and this fact alone will make you qualified for a residence permit. You don’t have to start any business operations immediately: your company can exist on paper only (or to be more precise, only in an electronic form) and you will still be eligible for a residence permit. If you would like to find out how to register a company in Serbia, please click here.

The living standards in Serbia are close to those found in Western Europe but the prices are much more affordable. This is a unique characteristic of the country indeed: if you settle down in a large city such as Belgrade or Novi Sad, for instance, you can live comfortably at a comparatively low cost.

These factors taken together make Serbia an attractive country where you could relocate and engage in business. Many people from other countries actually make full use of this opportunity and below we would like to give you some information that expats in Serbia share at various forums. What would you find in Serbia if you relocate there?

Serbians are fond of sports

It seems that everybody goes in for sports in Serbia: kids, young men, young women, even pensioners! You will always see somebody jogging, bicycling, playing soccer, etc. If a Serb does not go in for sports, he or she will at least support a sports team wholeheartedly. If you say that you are indifferent to sports to Serb, he/ she will look at you in surprise.

Serbians love coffee

They drink coffee everywhere – at home, at work, in cafes and restaurants. A cup of coffee with a cigarette, a cup of coffee with Turkish paste, a cup of coffee with a shot of brandy… Home-made coffee, Turkish coffee, Serbian coffee – all of these are different names of ground coffee brewed in a pot. Serbians look down on espresso or cappuccino made by a machine.

Serbians smoke a lot

Unfortunately, smoking tobacco is widespread in Serbia. The tobacco industry is monopolized by the state so the price of cigarettes is the same wherever you buy them. Serbians smoke in cafes, restaurants, elevators – everywhere. The Government is trying to fight this bad habit and there are some non-smoking areas in the cities but not very many.

Gambling is popular in Serbia

You can find small betting booths everywhere you go in a large Serbian city. You can bet on a Serbian soccer team, or a Paraguayan soccer team, on the Easter Island cricket team, the winner of a cockroach race in Indonesia, or the winner of the presidential elections in an African country. Serbs will bet on anything.

Tap water is pure in Serbia

Serbians drink tap water freely, as it is absolutely safe, especially in Belgrade. They can serve you tap water in a restaurant: this is normal practice.

Bring empty bottles

If you would like to buy two bottles of beer in a grocery store, you have to have two empty bottles with you. The matter is that they do not throw away half-liter glass beer bottles in Serbia (and the same goes for some brands of soda too). If you don’t have an empty bottle, they may refuse to sell you the beer in some places. In some other places, you will have to pay more than the price on the price tag: they are going to charge you extra for the bottle. So bring empty bottles when buying beer in Serbia or be prepared to overpay.

Facebook rules in Serbia

Facebook is the most popular social platform in Serbia. Advertisements often indicate the addresses of companies’ pages on Facebook. Some Government agencies use Facebook for their official (!) websites. Expats and business communities communicate over Facebook in Serbia. Facebook is everywhere in the country!

State and private institutions close early in Serbia

The working day lasts from 8 am to 4 pm in Serbia, which is a bit unusual for residents of some other countries. On Fridays, shops and Government agencies can be closed after 3 pm.

Packaging is peculiar in Serbia

They like to package everything in Serbia and package it well. If you go to a local farmers’ market, you don’t need to have a bag: they will put even a small bunch of parsley in a separate plastic bag for you. When a seller sees that you already have many small plastic bags with various fruits and vegetables in them, he or she will offer you a bigger bag. You also should not be surprised if you see a tin packed in a cardboard box in a supermarket. Every tin sits in its own cardboard box. Why? It is hard for us to guess.

Petty theft is rare in Serbia

Speaking about supermarkets, you won’t find lockers there where you could put your belongings before you go through the aisles. Instead, you will find hangers at the entrance where you can hang everything that you bought before. Don’t worry, your things will be safe.

People in neighboring countries understand Serbian

Nationalistically-minded propagandists will claim that different languages are spoken in former Yugoslavian republics. The truth is, however, that people in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia understand each other perfectly well. Yes, there are regional accents and dialects and some words have dissimilar meanings in different parts of former Yugoslavia but understanding what former compatriots are saying is not a problem for Serbians.

Both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are in use in Serbia

All official documents such as laws and decrees are written in Cyrillic in Serbia. If you visit a Government agency, all the notices will also be in Cyrillic. In everyday life, however, Serbians use Latin letters more and more often. Many newspapers are printed in Latin letters and the same goes for shop signs in the street let alone the Serbian segment of the Internet.

There are many other interesting things about Serbia but you’d better pay a visit to the country to find out about them. You are going to love Serbia!

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