bridge spanning a river

Best Place to Live in the Balkans

The Balkan countries are located in southeastern Europe and are well known for their exquisite architecture against the backdrop of the Balkan Mountains. More than any other country, the Balkan countries are where the East and West collide and become one. This is evident through the multicultural and diverse peoples, religions, cultures, and history of its people.

Best Places to Live in The Balkans for…

  1. Expats: Istanbul
  2. English Speakers: Bucharest
  3. Digital Nomads: Kotor, Montenegro
  4. Solo Travelers: Istanbul
  5. Couples: Athens
  6. Groups: Sarajevo

Top 10 Places to Live in the Balkans

modern bridge in serbia

1. Belgrade, Serbia

Best place to live for Digital Nomads

 

Cost of Living: $$

Belgrade has a reputation as the party capital of the Balkans, and it’s not an exaggeration. That being said, it’s popular with online entrepreneurs because of the excellent internet speeds and wide selection of co-working spaces.

Tip: Make time to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum to see the personal effects, instruments, and drawings of one of the most brilliant minds ever. 

Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads

Pros:

  • There are a lot of markets to access fresh foods
  • The cost of living is very reasonable, especially with a decent salary
  • The locals are friendly and approachable

Cons:

  • There is no subway/train system, so public transport is a hassle
  • A lot of people smoke in Belgrade. A lot. Everywhere.
  • The buildings might come across as grey and in need of upkeep.

2. Athens, Greece

Best Place to Live for Couples

ancient greek ruins in athens

Cost of Living: $$

The birthplace of democracy, Athens, is an ancient city with many ancient landmarks built during the Classical period. Being Europe’s oldest capital city, Athens has experienced almost every type of government system.

Tip: Make sure to visit the Acropolis to see ancient buildings like the Parthenon temple.

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples

Pros:

  • There is a laid-back style of life
  • The weather is textbook Mediterranean weather and never disappoints
  • The cuisine is a point of pride for the locals and a “foodie’s” dream.

Cons:

  • Finding a job there is somewhat difficult
  • Pricing can be costly during the tourism season
  • Corruption and bureaucracy plague the healthcare system

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Best place for Solo Travelers

city buildings in istanbul

Cost of Living: $$

Istanbul is easily the most culturally rich city globally as it straddles the border between Asia and Europe. It has also been a capital city of note for over 2500 years. Istanbul is a melting point of different religions and cultures, represented by the diverse architectural styles of the old side of the city.

Tip: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the Dolmabahce Palace

Who Would Like to Live There: Solo travelers

Pros:

  • Wide variety of activities and cultural sites to visit
  • There is an active and lively nightlife with a distinctly Turkish feel.
  • There is a strong expat community

Cons:

  • There are strict laws regarding employing foreigners
  • Taxes are pretty high, so alcohol and cigarettes are expensive
  • There will be a big culture shock because squat toilets are not uncommon

4. Bucharest, Romania

Best Place for English Speakers

beautifully designed building

Cost of Living: $$

The capital of Romania, Bucharest, is a gorgeous city with a distinct Soviet history that is immediately palpable upon arrival. The city has a strong IT industry, with major companies like IBM having headquarters there.

Tip: Visit the iconinc communist-era Palatul Parlamentului government building.

Who Would Like to Live There: English Speakers

Pros:

  • There are excellent job opportunities in the technology industry
  • They have some of the fastest internet speeds in Europe, making remote working viable
  • Lively nightlife and cultural events

Cons:

  • It’s not a pedestrian-friendly city like many European capitals
  • There is a sizeable homeless population living beneath the city
  • The infrastructure isn’t that great, and the town grew rapidly and haphazardly

5. Kotor, Montenegro

Best Place to Live for Digital Nomads

aerial view of lake with town around it

Cost of Living: $$

Kotor is a small but beautiful town in the tiny nation of Montenegro. Kotor is a quiet town where those looking for a calmer existence, be it for retirement or the lenient tax system.

Tip: Don’t miss out on visiting the Maritime Museum to see local nautical history.

Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads

Pros:

  • Low capital gains tax
  • Easy to relocate there and gain an EU passport through Montenegro
  • It’s pretty affordable and uses the Euro as the currency, making it convenient

Cons:

  • Extremely small and may feel like a large village at times
  • The language barrier is a challenge because Montenegrin is not an easy language to learn
  • The healthcare system is not very strong

6. Sofia, Bulgaria

Best Place to Live for Digital Nomads

sofia cathedral landscsape

Cost of Living: $

Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria and proves its stature with how the city’s landmarks reflect its 2000 years of history, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Soviet. can easily see the history of the city

Tip: Visit the St. George Rotunda Church, which the Romans built in the 4th century.

Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads/Internet Entrepreneurs

Pros:

  • There’s a flat tax rate of 10%
  • There are high-quality international schools for kids
  • Excellent infrastructure and public transport system

Cons:

  • You need to learn the language; there is no way around it.
  • The local job prospects aren’t great, so you should be getting paid from abroad.
  • There is quite a bit of pollution from the refinery, which affects the residential areas.

7.  Zagreb, Croatia

Best Place to Live for Groups

dark brown building with blue roof

Cost of Living: $$

With its Austro-Hungarian architecture, like many Central European capitals, Zagreb has an abundance of beautiful buildings. You can also find excellent museums and plenty of outdoor activities.

Tip: Make sure to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s unlike most museums, but it’s worth experiencing.

Who Would Like to Live There: Groups

Pros:

  • A walkable city with an extensive public transport system too
  • There’s a national healthcare system that you have to contribute to if you live there for more than three months
  • English is relatively widely spoken, so essential communication is possible

Cons:

  • The tax system is complex, so making large purchases can be complicated
  • Croatia is in an earthquake-prone region
  • The city and country are very tourism-dependent, so many activities are shut down during the quiet seasons.\

8. Ljublijana, Slovenia

Best Place to Live for Couples

river canal in slovenia

Cost of Living: $$

The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is the green capital because it is surrounded by parks and areas of nature thanks to the architect Joze Plecnik. Ljubljana means love, and that’s a perfect description of the city; it’s filled with love, from the infrastructure and architecture to the people.

Tip: Make sure to visit the expansive Tivoli Park

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples

Pros:

  • The historical center is closed off to cars, so it’s very walkable and spacious.
  • Ljubljana is one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with over 542m^2 public green areas.
  • Democratic with free speech

Cons:

  • There isn’t much of an expat population
  • There aren’t too many places for entertainment
  • A large portion of the population smokes, especially in public.

9. Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina

Best Place to Live for Groups

market stalls in bosnia

Cost of Living: $$

Like Istanbul, Sarajevo is where cultures collide between Eastern and Western Europe. Sarajevo has a unique mixture of Austrian and Turkish influences, which is perfectly demonstrated through the co-existence of various religious beliefs.

Tip: Make sure to visit the neo-Moorish Vijecnia

Who Would Like to Live There: Groups

Pros:

  • Sarajevo is an incredible city for history buffs
  • There are endless markets and cafes to explore
  • Transport is affordable and accessible

Cons:

  • There is quite a political strife, and the government is very inefficient.
  • The economy isn’t great, so it’s preferable to be a digital nomad or internet entrepreneur.
  • The political split means that there is an element of racism in certain parts of the city.

10. Split, Croatia

Best Place to Live for Groups

view from mountain overlooking split croatia

Cost of Living: $$

Split is home to the largest and best-preserved Roman palace. Located on a peninsula on the Adriatic Sea, anyone can understand why the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered this enormous palace to be built for his retirement. Despite having only 176 000 people, Split draws in around a million visitors every year.

Tip: Make sure to visit the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Parks

Who Would Like to Live There: Groups

Pros:

  • Very safe city
  • Plenty of historical sites to explore
  • Traveling to other cities and towns from Split is relatively easy

Cons:

  • The economic climate is rough, so finding jobs locally outside of the tourism season is quite difficult.
  • It’s very bureaucratic, and all official documents take forever to get approved.
  • Staying for over six months will trigger income tax laws, so you should plan accordingly with a tax specialist.

Next Read: Check out the best places to live in Eastern Europe next!

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