Serbia gained its independence after the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Foreigners rarely consider it an interesting destination for a stay abroad. In short, living and working in Serbia is not very desirable. The country is full of beautiful cities like Novi Sad, the so-called “Serbian Athens”. At the same time, there are many areas where nature is still untouched, and many pretty towns.
Serbs are generally very friendly and outgoing. People in the Balkans do not need many reasons to drink and party. However, there are big differences between urban and rural areas, as well as between the north and the south. The north tends to be more educated, the south is more traditional. Serbs are great hosts and take pride in offering their guests the best they have. Serbian families are patriarchally structured and children take care of their parents when they are too old to care for themselves, and therefore nursing homes are not common in this country, which puts family values at the top of the list.
One of the best things about living in Serbia is the low cost of living. Belgrade is logically the most expensive city in the country. Prices are so low because the average salary does not exceed € 400. Incomes are low, but the cost of living is not so high, although it has increased rapidly in recent years. Prices for apartments and houses are quite high, especially in Belgrade.
Medical care is free of charge for residents of Serbia. However, the quality of medical care can be questionable. Hospitals in major cities are much better equipped than those in rural areas. Education is also free.
Crime in Serbia is low, the murder rate is lower the European average. On the other hand, corruption is high, but the situation in the country is improving, albeit very slowly.
In general, there are only two types of expats who move to Serbia to work. First, there are those who work in their own country for a company with interests in Serbia and are temporarily transferred there. And secondly, the digital nomads who earn money abroad but take advantage of the low cost of living in Serbia.
To these two groups we must add foreigners who come to Serbia to do business, attracted by favorable tax rates and very low startup costs. Many investors have come to Serbia in the last 3 to 4 years because it is a country that offers cheap skilled labor. Moreover, the Serbian state facilitates companies investing in the country in every way.
Living and working as an employee in Serbia is not easy, as the unemployment rate is 12%, and given the low income, many people have to take two or three jobs to make ends meet. The average salary in Serbia is around €400/500. However, salaries for more skilled jobs are increasing, e.g. IT specialists, who are in high demand, can receive salaries starting at €2,000 and more. Serbs tend to have a good work-life balance and enjoy spending time with their family. In any case, it is much harder to find a good job in Serbia than in Western Europe because the unemployment rate is much higher.
It can be easy only in the following cases:
- Have money to buy a job
- You know a powerful person
- You are a highly skilled worker in a field that is in demand
If you do not fit into one of the above categories, no matter how much knowledge or experience you have, it will be difficult to get hired, even for low-skilled jobs.
Living and working in Serbia – pros and cons
Living and working in Serbia, pros
- People are communicative and hospitable
- Low cost of living
- Good food and drink
- Beautiful and untouched nature
Living and working in Serbia, cons
- Difficulties in finding a job
- Low wages
- High bureaucracy
- Quite closed and not minority friendly people
Living and working in Serbia, conclusion
In conclusion, is it worth moving to Serbia? That depends on what you intend to do.
- If you are looking for a job, Serbia is probably not the best place to do it
- If you want to start a business and need cheap labor, you are in the right place
- If you are a student and want to study in Belgrade for a year, you are in the right place
- If you want to live in retirement, there are places in rural Serbia that are quiet, beautiful and extremely cheap