"Before the 1990s, we were like drunk Americans!" a friend proclaimed in a Sombor cafe to me as he expounded on the history of the area. "We had good schools, free apartments, cars, we could travel anywhere we wanted ... even the cleaning women had $10,000 a month!"
It's a theme I've heard before many times from my husband's lips, although for him the time was the 1970s that were truly golden in Yugoslavia (before he grew up and had to try to find a job in the 1980s that interested him remotely.) He can speak for hours quite poetically about the free apartments, free healthcare,
A reader just emailed me to ask about retiring in Serbia. I'm not retired yet, but definitely considering things. Plenty of expat Serbs do retire in Serbia now, and that number will increase phenomenally if/when economic and political stability are on the horizon. Here are my tips and I'd love to hear yours:
o Cheap living -- Belgrade is pretty pricey (although not compared to London, New York or Boston), but other places, such as my part-time hometown of Sombor Serbia are remarkably cheap. You can buy or build a house for very little, perhaps 100k Euros for a nice house in the best
Thanks to the Internet and a forbearing boss, this year I left formal office life behind to live anyplace in the world (with Net access) that my heart desires. My heart, as it turns out, pretty much desires to live wherever my husband is.
That said, although I loved our time this summer and fall in his hometown of Sombor Serbia, when he announced we were moving to Nepal for the winter so he could do some trekking, I was So Not Excited. I bitched, I moaned, I whined, I was not a pleasant person. I never wanted to own hiking boots and 3rd world countries don’t sound enticing
As the political situation and the economy have eased in the past few years, a trickle of ex-patriots (Serb citizens who moved abroad) have begun to return. I know personally of three families in my circle alone and have received emails from several other returning Serb expats who read this blog.
I suspect the government would like to see the diaspora reversed even more. More expat retirees coming home to spend their last years and life savings living well in a land that's pretty cheap (as long as you stay out of downtown Belgrade.) Plus, more young workers with college degrees
This Valentine's Day, I was in Belgrade's Delta City Mall watching dressed up couples cooing at each other in the food court next to McDonalds. Then we tooka few days off to visit my husband's family in Croatia and now it seems 800 youth are breaking various Belgrade McDonald's' windows.
Watching events via TV and Internet while temporarily outside the country, I begin to wonder if our Serbia dreams will have to be delayed. What does recalling ambassadors mean to the ordinary foreigner? Will I need to get a Visa someday soon to visit my own home in Sombor? Am I risking being
According to The Economist's 2008 World Rankings Book, the average Serb (man, woman, and child) smokes 5.8 cigs per day, ranking them as the Top 9 Most Smoking Countries on Earth. That's a lot of smoking.
Greece comes in at #1 with 8.4 cigs per day; Macedonia is #2 at 7.1 cigs per day, Russia is #3 at 6.8, and Slovenia kicks Serbian smoker ass at #5 with 6.2 cigs per day. Bosnia is below at #13 (5.2 per day) and Croatia is not ranked on the list. Yet oddly, Croatia has by far the highest cancer deaths rate of the region at 167 deaths per 100,000 population. (Serbia spends a far
Per our discussion on Serbs in Diaspora that sprang out of comments in my last blog post, I just phoned Ivana Cerovic, who is the Conference Organizer at America's Serbian Unity Congress, for details about the upcoming conference. In case you're interested, here's what I discovered:
* the 17th annual conference is being held in downtown San Francisco
If you yourself are a Serb expatriot (of which I suspect thousands surf B92 weekly) or you are a foreigner married to a Serb, I've started a new Facebook group for us to gather. It's free, but you must be a Facebook member (which is also free.) I've learned though this blog and my own separate blog that I'm not the only non-Serb out there who is in that crazy world of being married to a Serb. So, I figured, let's make company for each other!
#1. If you are not on http://www.facebook.com already, create a free account for yourself. You can create a
Just got back from Nepal, where I got many emails from Belgrade friends saying if we are going to buy in Belgrade, now is the time before prices go insane. Belgrade is cheaper now than Zagreb and Zadar where my husband's parents still live. And what with favorable politics, rich Russians and Kosovo-ites and perhaps loads of East-West spies and diplomats all descending on Belgrade - plus the looming someday maybe of EU membership - I guess we'd be crazy not to buy.
But then I wonder if it's a good investment after all. Prices seem very high in relation to typical salaries. Any
I've been thinking a lot about citizenship recently both because of Serbia's political debate about new citizenship laws, and also because many B92 readers have emailed me letters (thank you!) often mentioning they themselves are citizens of multiple countries. Many members of my extended family including my Father, also have multiple citizenships. I'm not qualified to comment on political debate, but I can extend three practical considerations:
#1. Useful papers vs heartfelt allegiance
I've noticed as people start collecting citizenships, the importance and meaning of