You’re interested in living as an expat in Serbia, eh?
Or for all you digital nomads out there, you might be interested in being a mini retired person in Serbia for a period of time maybe? Well whichever you are, you’re awesome for that.
Serbia has the grit of Eastern Europe, but with the sexy urban vibes you find in all the touristy western European cities. Thus, I completely understand why you’re searching for the cost of living in Serbia.
So just how much money do you need to survive as an expat or retired person?
In order to help you answer that, I have focused on 7 areas where your money will consistently go each month to examine how much money you need.
These numbers come from my experience living by myself in the capital city Belgrade. If you are coming as a couple or a family, you can do the necessary multiplications to figure out how much money you need for your specific situation. Also, keep in mind that that the smaller cities and towns will have a lower Serbian cost of living. This rule pretty much goes for all the other countries in the Balkans as well.
Aaaand… here’s where your money will go!
For a studio apartment or a one bedroom apartment, you are looking to pay between 150-250 euros a month at least. Of course, cheaper apartments tend to be smaller, not renovated and often lacking in modern furniture and aesthetic. My small, centrally-located apartment with modern furniture is 200 euros a month. If I lived in a suburb, it would be even less. I am hoping to move soon to a one bedroom with more space, which will most-likely cost me 250-300 euros.
Utilities of course are cheaper in the summer and more expensive in the winter. If you are paying for phone, internet, water, TV and heating in the winter, and don’t have central heating, utilities could be 60-80 euros. If you have central heating, it could be more, especially if you are also paying for trash, parking and any other building facilities. The summer’s utility bill total is usually about half the winter’s.
A lot of people actually don’t pay for public transportation in Belgrade. I’ve been here for about 4 months now at the time I am writing this, and still, I am not QUITE sure how much a bus ticket costs! I can’t speak for all the cities in Serbia, but Belgrade’s public transportation is not so strictly monitored. I have a bus ticket; I bought it over 2 months ago, and I haven’t used it once. But if you are responsible in taking public transportation, it shouldn’t cost you more than 5-10 euros a week depending on how frequently you use it.
Social life varies from person-to-person. I know people who scarcely go out to clubs and stick to dive bars, rent the cheapest apartments, and can survive off of 600 euros a month. Me however, I need to go out to some trendy restaurants and clubs more than a few times a month. A nice club in Belgrade might cost you 15-25 euros by the end of the night. If you stick to a pub or a small bar, you could spend 10-15 euros the whole night. Restaurants as well vary. If you go to the trendy restaurants in the city center, you could spend 15-20 euros for some sort of main dish and a couple of drinks. But you can also find restaurants where you can do the same and spend no more than 10 euros, especially if you are drinking beer. I am not a big beer drinker though, so I tend to spend a little more on all my gin and tonics.
As an expat with no citizenship, you can’t get the free public healthcare. However, compared to western countries, it is cheap to pay out of pocket with no health insurance. A visit to a doctor could cost 10-35 euros. Specialty doctors like neurologists, therapists or psychologists can cost 20-35 euros. In USA, these kinds of doctors would be at least $100-$200 USD! So naturally for me, Serbian prices are significantly cheaper. As someone with epilepsy, seeing doctors here is way more affordable. Also significantly cheaper are pharmacies. Antibiotics can be less than 5 euros. Other prescription medications for disorders and diseases are often between 10-30 euros.
Groceries can be quite cheap in Serbia if you are just shopping for one or two people. In the capital here in Belgrade, I usually spend about 20-30 euros every week to every week and a half. I try to stick to a vegetarian and fish diet for fitness purposes and even with seafood being more expensive, I never spend more than 30 euros on groceries. This is where the cost of living in Serbia is just awesome!
For one person living in a studio or one bedroom apartment, you can get by on as low as 600-650 euros a month in Belgrade. I actually know locals who survive on less than half of that! How they do it, I have no idea. But to live more comfortably as a solo expat, ideally you want at least 750-800 euros a month.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or have anything you want to say about your experience living in Serbia if you have lived there, please do so below! Also feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram if you need help with anything.