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Confessions of an expat

Dedicated discussion forum for the Belgrade Newcomers community. Make this forum the ultimate in & out Belgrade Newbie guide.


Confessions of an expat

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Postby markowe » Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:04 pm

Well... it all started in 1996, I sort... well... came to Serbia and never left...

Seems like a good idea for a forum, hope it takes off. I have been out here a fair while, so maybe I can help someone out who is thinking coming out to Serbia. I will be happy to if I can.

In the meantime, you can have a look at my Serbia Mountain Biking blog (Google for "MTB-Serbia" - can't post links for now) to see vaguely where I am coming from - there is some general info on Serbia there too, if you can find it!

See you in Serbia!

Mark

--------
Bookstream Language Services - Serbian translation INTO English BY the English!
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Postby SusieC » Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:43 pm

Glad I found this site. I am almost positive that my husband and I will be moving to Belgrade soon. I would love to know everything there is to know about it there. Please start from the beginning and don't leave anything out!
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Postby markowe » Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:03 pm

Wow, where do I start!? What do you want to know?!

"Be flexible and you will have a great life here" - that's the short version!
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Postby SusieC » Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:16 pm

Well, for starters.....do you find the cost of living there more or less than the UK? Can you suggest an area in which to live that is near to shops? What is the typical weather like? Hot and humid? Rainy? Do you have any experience with the schools and nursery schools? Can you recommend a website for looking at apartments/flats? Is there a large expat community? Safety concerns?

Whew......I have TONS of questions. This will be my first experience living overseas and will be relocating from the US. My husband, is from the UK and has lived in Egypt, so this is nothing for him.

He would be interested in knowing whether or not you get Sky Sports?!!
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Postby markowe » Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:07 am

SusieC wrote:Well, for starters.....do you find the cost of living there more or less than the UK? Can you suggest an area in which to live that is near to shops? What is the typical weather like? Hot and humid? Rainy? Do you have any experience with the schools and nursery schools? Can you recommend a website for looking at apartments/flats? Is there a large expat community? Safety concerns?

Whew......I have TONS of questions. This will be my first experience living overseas and will be relocating from the US. My husband, is from the UK and has lived in Egypt, so this is nothing for him.

He would be interested in knowing whether or not you get Sky Sports?!!


Hi, didn't get time to get back to you on this - this'll have to be a quickie too, off back to the UK in a few days for one of my rare ex-pat visits!

Cost of living: much less. If you are on a Western wage then you will probably have more money than you know what to do with. Labour costs are cheaper in particular. If you're on a local wage it's a little bit different!

Area to live: you mean in Belgrade, I guess..? That REALLY depends on your budget - there are some pretty expensive areas. I think in general New Belgrade is becoming far more acceptable than it was - there are a number of huge "megamarkets" there and you could probably find a decent flat within walking distance of the Mercator shopping centre and its not a particularly expensive area to rent. If you want something a bit more upmarket I can try to suggest other parts of town. Depends if you have a car too.

Weather: generally tending towards the Mediterranean. Winters have been cold (-20c a couple of years ago), but have been very mild lately. Summer this year has been insanely hot (40+) and in general is pretty hot and humid. Rain is less frequent than it maybe should be but there can be heavy rains.

Schools: can't really say, no kids yet. Do you want them in a local school, learning the local language, or an international school? There are lots of local private nurseries, but again Serbian-speaking.

Website: there is no one agency in Belgrade I would particularly recommend - I am not familiar with them. There are an awful lot of them. It would be best if you could get a local to help you trawl around them. The agencies usually charge around 30% of the first month's rent, which is reasonable - all they really do is hook you up to people who are renting, taking some of the legwork out of it for you. Do a Google search for "mentorrent" who seem to aim at ex-pats. I don't have any affiliation with them, they are just a starting point, so you get some idea. (can't post links here, the forum won't allow it).

ex-pat community: pretty small, don't know the figures, but there were only around 100 Brits max (with spouses etc.) at the recent British Embassy do. Serbia has not traditionally had swarms of foreigners living there.

Safety concerns: road safety - keep your wits about you, drive defensively, driving is pretty bad here at times; minor crime - the usual precautions in any major city, use common sense; major crime - a blessed lack of this, women can walk around town at midnight, no problems, though again use common sense. There is not much of the violent, often drink-related crime we have in the UK, I am glad to say.

SKY TV: SORRY! No chance! SKY TV only have the rights to the UK. I tried using my Sky card over here and they sussed me and cut me off! BUT, there are local cable TV stations where you can get other movie channels, and one of the local terrestrial channels has the rights to Premiere League football, which is pretty popular here, so I think your husband won't be lacking much on that front!

Well, that wasn't THAT short...! Hope this has been some help and I will try to answer any other question you might have,

Mark
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G'day

Postby alexm7 » Fri Aug 08, 2008 3:40 am

Hi Mark
I'm moving to Belgrade in Sep and just saw your blog. I was wondering if you had any trouble moving things from UK to Belgrade? I'm planning on posting my stuff using the mail system from Hong Kong (where I have been living) to Belgrade and am a bit scared if it will all arrive and in one piece? Any tips would be appreciated. Cheers
Alex
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Postby markowe » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:48 pm

Hi Alex,

I must confess that I haven't tried anything like this for a long long time, nor do I know anyone who has. But past experience with the postal and customs service has not been great - they are quite picky and may well try to make you jump through hoops to get your stuff through customs, even if it's your own stuff, especially if it seems to be valuable in any way.

The problem is that I don't think there is any way to mark your items as "Own property" or something when sending them, and thus when they arrive in Serbia, the packages will be subject to inspection like everything else. The nearest thing would be to mark them as "gifts", with that green label that is standard in all customs services, and they might well then get ignored. But it might be a better bet to seek the advice of one of the courier companies like DHL, FedEx or whoever and see what the score is.

The PROPER way to do this is to use a shipping company, do all the paperwork, pack everything up in a big crate and "import" your possessions as a temporary import while you are resident in Serbia. That shouldn't be a problem, but you would again need the help of a freight forwarding company.

Sorry I can't help much more than that. Basically, I have always packed all my stuff into a car and just winged it across the border with very little trouble... If your budget goes that far you might be better off just carrying excess baggage on the plane and footing the bill - might work out cheaper and less hassle in the long run and it's unlikely they will give you any major problems on entry to the country.

Mark
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Postby Janina » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:29 am

Hi, I'm moving this year as well -- tho from Russia. It might seem to be all the same for you guys, but it is really not :) So I would really appreciate each and any advice -- where to rent apartment, where to study Serbian etc.

Thanks,
Janina
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Postby markowe » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:32 am

Hi,

I spent 6 months in Russia in the early 90s, so I am well aware that it's not the same! Actually, I think you might find Serbia easier than Russia - as a Brit I found Russia pretty, well, unfriendly, for want of a better word.

Serbia has a European history in many respects, and there is a Mediterranean feel too. It is a pretty relaxed kind of place, and the cost of living is a lot lower too!

As far as where to live, well, as usual it depends how much you want to pay. If you don't mind living in one of the suburbs (I personally can't face living too far from the centre), then you can still find quite modestly-priced apartments. In the wider area around the centre you can find apartments from 400 EUR up.

As far as learning Serbian, there are lots and lots of English (EFL) schools around which also began teaching Serbian when foreigners started coming. However, I can't really say what the quality of that teaching is, but you would be better off at one of the older, more established schools like:

YBS (actually, not sure if they offer Serbian) or Institute for Foreign Languages - you can Google for these, the forum won't let me post links.

Let me know if you need any other info,

Mark
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recycling in belgrade

Postby toni voorhies » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:06 am

I have recently relocated to Belgrade from Lilongwe, Malawi (2 weeks ago). What is the situation here for recycling household material like glass bottles, plastic bottles, metal cans, paper...I am already tired of just tossing these in the bin, but I can not find any where to take them?
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Postby markowe » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:32 am

Hi!

Now that's a good question! Unfortunately, I don't think there are proper facilities yet, but there are moves to gradually introduce these services. The thing is, there has always been quite a lot of "informal" recycling of waste in Serbia - if you leave glass bottles and jars separately by a rubbish container there is a good chance someone will take them to use or sell or something, especially as a lot of bottles are still returnable. Also, you could separate out paper and throw it in one big cardboard box - there are people, mostly Roma, going around collecting card and paper as they can get a small amount of money for it.

Having said that, the Belgrade public sanitation company, JKP "Gradska Ä
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Postby jonnymoore » Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:22 pm

Hi

I am really interested in moving out to Belgrade in the near future and I'm hoping to get a bit of advice. I've been having a look online regarding getting a job out there and to be honest I've hit a bit of a brick wall :(

Is there much work out there in general and if so are there many opportunities for foreigners?. I have been toying with the idea of just coming out for a couple of weeks and looking around for myself, what would your opinion on this be?

Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated :D
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Just moved...

Postby ewan_sm » Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:38 pm

Hi all, i have just transfered to Belgrade with my girlfriend and just wanted to say hi to anyone out there who is also in the city!

Jonny, im afraid i cant really give you much advice as i have only been here a week, but in that time i have managed to get a bank account, appartment, internet connection, mastered the public transport and also sussed out the supermarkets...all were relitively straight forward and so far i have been impressed with the city and the friendly people!

Mark...i have tried to get onto your mtb serbia website and i cant load it...im a keen mtb'er and would love to join you on a ride sometime if you still go out! Unfortunatly i had to leave my bike at home for now...but im hoping i will go back and get it soon!

My next mission is to find a swimming pool / gym and climbing wall... so if anyone can recomend a good place to start i would be very greatful!

Well im over here for the next 6 months or so, so if anyone wants to meet up just give me a shout!

Ewan.
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Work in Belgrade

Postby Jason Brar » Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:27 pm

Allright mate,

Like the chap above, im looking to move to belgrade, been there a couple times and love it, and heard that international companies were investing there and that there are good job oppurtinities for english speaking internationals, but finding it pretty tough to find anything on the net. I know this might not be your area of expertise, but would you know anything of this or have and advice to put me in the right direction? Many thanks.

Kind Regards

Jason
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are other expats looking for roommates?

Postby Helen Michelle » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:22 pm

Hi Mark, (& other posters!)

Thanks for your "confessional" posts; they've been great. I'm moving to Belgrade next month to pursue some research and find a job, and am very excited about it:) I've been looking for housing, but I've found little in the way of other expats looking for roommates. Do you know if such people exist? Or if there are any specific forums or websites I should check out?

Thanks!
--Helen
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