Capital City: Podgorica
International Dialing Code: 382
President: Milo Đukanović
Montenegro, a tiny country in the Balkans, is unknown by many. But, in recent years Montenegro has become an up-and-coming expat destination.
Above all, those who have discovered this Eastern European destination enjoy its mild climate, beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and relaxed lifestyle.
Montenegro is particularly popular amongst adventure seekers. Its rugged geography provides optimum conditions for snow sports during winter and stunning hiking trails in the summer. The entire country is covered by mountains, hence its name Black Mountain (monte=mountain negro=black).
Also, Montenegro shares its borders with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Croatia while enjoying 295km of coastline along the Adriatic Sea. T
his unique location between Europe and Russia leads to a fascinating blend of cultures. Montenegro’s European influence can be seen in its Gothic, Venetian, and Romanesque architecture, while its traditional cuisine is a reminder of its past under the Ottoman Empire.
Montenegro is a young country, only gaining complete independence from Serbia in 2006. Despite this, it has a strong economy, stable democracy, and is currently awaiting acceptance into the European Union.
Now is the time to invest in Montenegro— real estate is cheap, taxes are low, and residency is easy.
Montenegro enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate along its coast, similar to other countries on the Adriatic. Summers are hot and dry, while winters can be cold. Move inland, and experience a more Continental climate with significantly colder winters, providing optimum conditions for snow sports.
English isn’t widely spoken in Montenegro. As a result, workers in the tourist industry will have a basic level, but in more remote areas, people generally don’t speak English. But, you’ll need to pick up some Montenegrin to get by day-to-day, to deal with governmental admin, and to gain citizenship you’ll be required to pass a simple proficiency test.
Montenegrins are known for their warmth, sense of humor, and generosity. They are active promoters of a relaxed, slow lifestyle and are happy to take their time getting to know expats and teaching the local lingo. Crime levels are low overall, yet slightly higher in tourist areas. Simply take the usual precautions as you would in other busy tourist destinations.
If you’re searching for a retirement destination with a pleasant climate, friendly locals, plenty of outdoor activities, and a cheap cost of living, don’t overlook Montenegro . Relocating here gives you a prime location to explore the rest of Europe. Montenegro has a tight-knit expat community, making it easy to meet new people and settle in.
Montenegro is one of Europe’s most affordable destinations. Real estate prices inland are low, even in the capital, Podgorica. Property prices rise along the coastline, especially in popular tourist destinations such as Porto Montenegro, a port filled with superyachts belonging to Europe’s elite.
Day-to-day living in Montenegro is a lot cheaper than in the States or Canada. Groceries are affordable, as are public transportation costs and even health care. If you plan to live in Montenegro’s remote mountainous regions, you’ll need your own car. Owning a car in Montenegro is inexpensive, and you can register it easily if you have a temporary residence permit.
Since Montenegro is a new country, certain public services are still developing. This is unfortunately the case with health care, as it falls behind European standards. The public health care system is inadequately funded, resulting in poor quality of care, long wait times, and a lack of trained professionals.
Expats should invest in quality international health care insurance. This will guarantee access to the high-quality private medical clinics in Montenegro, where doctors speak English and the facilities are modern.
As there are no direct flights from the U.S. to Montenegro, you’ll have to make a stopover in a European city on your way there. While connecting flights can be a hassle, the benefit is that you can fly out from most international airports in the U.S.
You’ll need to arrange a company to deliver your belongings to your new home. This can be done either by plane or by boat. Hundreds of companies are available online ready to offer their services in your transition to your new life.
Montenegro is well-known among investors… but it has big, yet undiscovered potential when it comes to lifestyle, specifically as a retirement haven and digital nomad hub. (Read our last reports on Europe’s Secret Riviera here and here.)
It has a mild climate, a Mediterranean coastline, a low cost of living, access to nature, diverse recreation opportunities, stunning scenery, and places to sit back and enjoy yourself (outdoor cafés overlooking the sea, rooftop bars, and so on).
Three main towns make up this little bay coast: Kotor, Tivat, and Hercig Novi.
Kotor is in the southeastern corner of the bay. The jewel in its crown is Kotor Old Town, a three-sided walled city of great historical significance that’s widely regarded as the best-preserved medieval town in the Mediterranean.
Kotor is not just Kotor Old Town. It stretches for a few miles to the north and northwest, with little towns and villages lumped in with it. One of these small towns is Perast, about 12 kms (7 miles) north of Kotor Old Town. It’s tiny but has charming historical buildings and a quiet, relaxed, village feel.
Kotor could be an option for you if you want to be near the historical center of this region or right inside it. You could live right in Kotor Old Town, although it’d be a niche choice…
It’s a tiny area. You could walk from one end to the other in about five minutes. A couple times a day, tourists unload from massive cruise ships and overwhelm its narrow streets… something you’d have to accept if you chose to live here.
Kotor is shaped like a V and surrounded by tall mountains. The downside to living here is that, for half the day, one side of the V gets sunshine while the other side is in the shadows…
This pattern reverses as the sun makes its way across the sky. No matter where you choose to be in Kotor, you’re going to be in relative darkness for half the day.
Just a 15-minute drive from Kotor is Tivat. The two towns are bisected by a mountain and connected by a highway tunnel. Tivat has more wide-open valley views compared to Kotor’s steep mountain views… The scenery isn’t quite as dramatic, but it gets blasted by sunshine all day.
Tivat has a more modern, lively feel than Kotor. The main town has businesses, restaurants, cafés, shops, housing of all kinds, and a couple of small parks. Tivat has a long boardwalk on the water, which leads to Porto Montenegro.
Porto Montenegro is one of the bay’s luxury modern developments, where the rich and famous like to hang out. The boardwalk transforms into something much more manicured, and you start to pass bigger and more expensive-looking boats as you walk along it.
It boasts high-end restaurants, swanky shopping, and a sleek marina with massive yachts tethered up just off the boardwalk. It also has residences—all brand-new and designed to look like Tuscany aesthetically, but modern.
Porto Montenegro is a place to see and be seen. You pick up on that based on the way people who live and hang out here dress and carry themselves. It’s one of several such luxury developments scattered around the bay.
There’s also Portonovi in Hercig Novi and Lustica Bay, just outside the bay. They offer yet another niche lifestyle type, one that is steeped in luxury and a high level of comfort, though not necessarily authentic.
If you want Old World, European charm, head to Kotor Old Town or Perast.
The combination of medieval architecture backed by sharp gray mountains with old stone walls climbing up, all overlooking dazzling sea views, is something out of a fairy tale.
Saint Tryphon Cathedral, built in the 11th century and one of the country’s two Roman Catholic cathedrals, is a notable structure in the Old Town. Its church bells ring out often and reverberate around the mountain walls.
A couple of small museums are found in the Old Town, like the Maritime Museum, where you can learn about Kotor’s famous seamen, and the off-beat Cats of Kotor Museum, with an impressive collection of engravings, antique books, coins, medals, and more, mostly from Venice.
Modern amenities, like restaurants, cafés, and plenty of artisanal gelato shops, are available, too. Local cuisine is heavily Italian-inspired… but for a taste of something local, try rakija, a grape brandy. Montenegro also has its own wine and beer industries.
A 15-minute drive north of Kotor Old Town is Perast, a small, historic stone village. Off of Perast’s shore are two islands that are steeped in local folklore: Saint George and Our Lady of the Rocks, both of which you can visit.
The former features a church, which, according to legend, was built in 1603 after fishermen came across an icon of the Holy Mother of God at the site. The latter is also steeped in legend… Supposedly, a French soldier was once stationed there and fired a canon at the house where his beloved lived. (The island’s other name is “island of the dead captains.”)
In Tivat, the attractions are less history-based… This is where you go when you want a flashy night out on the town, whether you want to indulge in a gastronomic experience at one of the chic restaurants, sip craft cocktails while watching the sunset, or break the bank at Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga.
There’s lots to do in Kotor Bay and many ways to be entertained, including the occasional opera, symphony orchestra, and events related to local culture… But this is not Paris or London.
The main appeal of the area is what’s available in terms of nature…
Montenegro’s geography is mind-boggling. You notice when you fly into the country that it’s full of dramatic mountain peaks. What else can you expect when the country’s name literally translates to “black mountain.”
Every local I spoke to boasted about the amazing recreation opportunities available here…
In the Bay of Kotor, it’s all about the sea. You can do any type of water-based sport you like. The boating lifestyle specifically is a major draw, and it’s not just for Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs, who are known to moor their mega-yachts here.
Marinas are available in the following places:
Land-based attractions include hiking in the hills that surround Kotor Bay. An easy afternoon hike starts in Kotor Old Town and takes you up the mountain slope behind it, passing the old crumbling city walls and other ruins as you ascend.
Austro-Hungarian fortresses lie scattered in the hills and forests surrounding Kotor. Visiting them combines a hike and a little historical education… Fort Vrmac is worth a visit. It dates to 1860 and saw action in WWI, when it was bombarded by Montenegro.
Within a couple hours’ drive of Kotor Bay, there are several national parks. Lovcen National Park has peaks of 1,749 meters (5,738 feet), which you can hike up. Durmitor National Park is UNESCOrecognized and contains Europe’s deepest gorges.
There are two main ski resorts: Ski Resort Kolasin 1450 and Ski Resort Savin Kuk, with smaller ski centers nearby. Facilities, like equipment rentals, ski-lifts, ski schools, and more, are all set up here. Montenegro has big potential as Europe’s next ski destination.
Because of this country’s extreme landscape, it’s naturally an extreme sport destination… Paragliding, rafting down the Tara River Canyon, rock climbing…
Whatever adrenaline-spiking activity you’re into, you can probably do it here…
Editor, Overseas Living Letter
We’ve been shining a spotlight on this underexplored haven… but of course, no place is perfect and here at Live And Invest Overseas we’re known and trusted for our “warts-and-all” coverage of the destinations on our beat.
So, today, let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of expat life in Montenegro…
The downside to Montenegro as a place to live is that it’s far away from North America within the context of Europe… So far away, in fact, that many North Americans have never heard of this country.
The flight path between Montenegro and the United States and Canada is not direct and the costs can add up if you’re looking to make regular trips home.
One-stop flights take about a day (including layover) and start from about US$1,000 (one-way).
While we all know looks aren’t everything, it’s hard to ignore this country’s stunning natural beauty. Jaw-dropping vistas are available from almost every vantage point. Towering mountains plunge down into crystalline Adriatic waters and white-stone historical villages abound…
Kotor Old Town is the best-preserved medieval town on the Med. It’s a compact, triangular area that you access through three gateways. It’s dense with ancient architecture, plazas, and churches. Behind it, crumbling city walls zigzag up the steep mountain; in front of it is the sea.
Infrastructure in Kotor Bay isn’t brilliant… Buses go all over the place but they are too inconsistent to be relied on. You need your own means of transportation to make the most of life here.
Access for people with mobility issues varies across the bay…
Tivat is the most accessible option for people who are wheelchair bound because it’s the most modern. Buildings that have multiple floors are likely to have elevators, and restaurants and shops are level with the town’s long, flat boardwalk.
Kotor Old Town is not very accessible. Most shops make you go up at least one step to enter, and there aren’t many ramps. Old buildings in this area do not have elevators, and the UNESCO status likely means that can’t be retrofitted for them.
It’s best to stick to the areas with more modern development, like Tivat and parts of Kotor, if you have a mobility issue.
You can feel completely comfortable walking around at any time of day or night, without any fear of crime. Locals tell me this is thanks to the small population. Everyone knows everyone, so it’s hard to get away with bad behavior.
Health care is a mixed bag… Some expats don’t feel comfortable using it for complicated procedures, while others do.
It’s free if you’re living in Montenegro on a temporary residence permit, which is a boon. That said, many expats prefer to keep a private insurance plan in place for access to private clinics and quicker treatment.
Regardless, it could use improvement to meet European health care standards.
We identify Montenegro and Kotor Bay specifically as the next Mediterranean jetset market.
Kotor Bay offers the potential for high rental yields… and you can take a position here for under 105,000 euros.
You can buy property of any value in Montenegro and be automatically eligible for legal residency in the country. A property investment here has the potential for rental yields and price appreciation, and also brings currency diversification.
Plus, it’s a residency opportunity that could amount to the cheapest and easiest backdoor to the EU that exists.
Some say the admin for anything you want to get done is painfully slow… To quote one expat, “To give you a picture of administration in Montenegro, take the bureaucracy of France… but add inefficiency to it.”
Property, rent, utilities, meals, and more are affordable in Montenegro. You can
lower your current cost of living by moving here. A budget of 1,500 to 2,000 euros per month would see a couple living comfortably here.
You can rent a small, one- or two-bed apartment in Kotor Old Town for about 800 euros per month or buy a modest, two-bedroom home, albeit one likely in need of some TLC, for as little as 50,000 euros.
Editor, Overseas Living Letter
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