Want to enjoy an exciting European lifestyle on a budget? Then Serbia is the place! Expats love this Balkan country for its relaxed lifestyle, great parties, hospitality and good cost for value. So if your mind is already made up to stay long term in this epic country, it’s also great to know that this can be done without having to break the bank.
Good news! You can live comfortably in Serbia on $1,000 USD a month. The average cost of living for expats and remote workers falls between $600 to $1,500 per month depending on one’s location and preferred lifestyle. Baseline costs in Serbia are around $800 with most expenses going towards rent and utilities.
Depending on where you are coming from, the cost of living in Serbia can feel either amazingly affordable or shockingly cheap. One can easily get carried away and overspend. In this article, you will learn how to budget $1,000 a month and organize your expenses in Serbia to match your desired lifestyle.
The best cities in Serbia for digital nomads, expats and remote workers
Expats love Serbia for its famed hospitality, among many other positive traits, which allow them to fit in nicely with the local culture and easily build a life in the country. Whether one comes as a young single expat, a retiree or with family, they will find everything they need to cater to their lifestyle needs. And it certainly helps that the cost of living in Serbia is around 50% cheaper than in the US!
The cities in Serbia commonly chosen by location-independent individuals are:
- Belgrade – the capital and most popular city
- Novi Sad – an Austro-Hungarian-styled city in northern Serbia
- Niš – a quaint city surrounded by mountains in the south
The cost of living in these cities varies, so the budget required for living in each is different. However, monthly expenses in all of them are remarkably lower than in the US, Canada or western Europe.
Is it possible to live in Serbia for $1,000 USD a month?
Indeed, it is possible to live in Serbia for $1,000 a month. Locals live on much less, so it’s not difficult to make $1,000 last without stretching your budget too thin. Depending on the city you choose to live in, the season and the unit you are renting, spending $1,000 or less a month is possible if planned well.
Serbia is a country with a population of around 7 million people, with most of them concentrated in the larger cities we mentioned before. If you choose to live in one of them, you can enjoy a comfortable, modern lifestyle for little money. Since Serbia has a lot of villages, fertile land and retreats, some young people and families often decide to move away from the city and into villages situated on planes, mountains or hilly terrains. If this is what you would like to do as well, the cost of monthly expenses will go down drastically. However, most of the modern lifestyle requirements will not be met in these areas.
Rent prices in Serbia’s Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis
You should expect to pay an average of $400 per month for rent in Serbia. The price can significantly vary depending on the city, size and location of the unit you want to rent.
You can also expect prices to vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The closer to the city center an apartment or house is, the higher the price. Usually, the difference between a unit in the center, and one further away, is around $120 at the very least.
View of the Danube river from Zemun, Serbia
The cost of rent in Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and the most populated city in the country, making rent prices here the highest. However, Belgrade is also the city with the most opportunities for business and leisure activities. This fact is exactly what attracts remote workers, expats and digital nomads alike. As well, many Serbs from smaller towns and cities move to Belgrade. This trend caused rent prices in the city to go up over the years. Nevertheless, it’s still on the more affordable side compared to other major European cities.
The rent prices (including utilities) in Belgrade vary depending on four main categories:
- Furnished vs. unfurnished
- Heating system type
When it comes to location, the general rule of thumb is: the closer to the city center you are, the higher the rent. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center comes to a monthly cost of $300-$600 a month excluding utilities. Outside of the center, the same size apartment will cost $100 – $200 less. For a studio, the rent is an average of $250 in the center and $200 outside of the center.
If you want to go bigger, and get a two-bedroom apartment with a terrace, prices start at around $400 and can go as high as $700.
This may not seem affordable at first glance, but keep in mind that people in Serbia live on lower budgets than $1,000, so it is possible to make the rent costs fit your budget. Many people also live with roommates, which cuts the cost of rent and utilities in half or a third. This saves you a lot of money and leaves more space for comfort. And don’t worry about being crammed together, as a lot of apartments in Belgrade are spacious.
Belgrade is extremely walkable, and transportation is cheap. Living in the city center can be pricey, but it comes with a lot of benefits. An apartment outside of the city center, on the other hand, may be more peaceful with a more relaxed pace.
Regardless of the location you choose, you should also take into consideration the cost of utilities and incorporate them into your budget.
The cost of utilities in Belgrade: water, electricity, heating and maintenance
The most important thing to pay attention to when planning your rent budget is the cost of utilities, and more specifically, the type of the heating system in an apartment.
The water bill will be around $20-$30 a month, maintenance will be $5-$50 per month and electricity is charged by the use.
Winter in Belgrade, Serbia
The electricity bill is often the most pricey monthly utility if the heating system in the apartment uses electricity as power. In housing ads, this type of heating is marked “EG” and can bump the price of monthly electricity expenses in the winter from $100 to $300 for bigger places.
If you see “CG” listed as the type of heating, know that it stands for “centralized heating.” Tenants pay for this type of heating throughout the year, regardless of use. It is a part of what is referred to as “infostan,” a type of taxation paid monthly. The cost of this utility depends on the location, size and how new a building is. You can expect to pay anywhere between $10 to $100 USD a month for infostan.
How much is rent in Belgrade?
To summarize this, we’ll give an example of a single person, living in a studio apartment in the city center. The cost of rent for a studio apartment would be $300 and $100 for utilities. For a one-bedroom apartment, the price increases by at least $100, and $200 for a two-bedroom apartment.
How much is rent in Novi Sad?
As the second largest city in Serbia, and located in Austro-Hungarian styled Vojvodina region, Novi Sad is also a favorite of digital nomads and expats alike. Rent in Novi Sad is cheaper compared to Belgrade. It costs around $200 for a studio apartment, while one-bedroom apartments start at $300 per month.
How much is rent in Niš?
Niš is the third largest city in the country and it’s the cheapest for rent among the major cities. It is common to find a studio apartment starting at $150, while one-bedroom apartments can cost around $200 per month.
How to find an apartment in Serbia?
You can use Facebook groups for flat-sharing or renting to get offers straight from owners and avoid paying a large sum to mediator agencies.
A lot of websites can help you find your dream apartment in all cities in Serbia, including:
You can simply filter your search on those websites to find what you desire. Out of all of them, only cityexpert.rs doesn’t require tenants to pay an agency fee. Instead, that part is up to the landlord to compensate.
The cost of transportation in Serbia
For a monthly public transport pass, one should invest around $30 a month for most major cities in Serbia. This allows you unlimited access to public buses, trains, trams and minivans in the city you reside in.
We must also note that all major cities in Belgrade are extremely walkable.
Below are some transportation stats.
The cost of food and groceries in Serbia
The price of groceries in Serbia is on the cheaper side compared to the rest of Europe. Moreover, you will be delighted by the freshness and taste of fruits and vegetables–most of which are locally grown.
If you’re mostly cooking your own meals at home, you can expect to spend a maximum of $300 a month for groceries, without introducing any restrictions on the condiments you use.
Visiting a green market, or “pijaca” as it is called in Serbia, will allow you to explore an abundance of quality produce for cheap prices. Remember, it’s good to bargain for a better price, but being generous with tips is even better at green markets! Support the local producers so they can continue to bring amazing food to our tables.
The cheapest places to live in Serbia
If your budget is really tight, and you feel like living in a smaller city will benefit you more, you can choose to settle in one of the below cheaper places to live in Serbia:
Green Market in Serbia
How much do the locals make in Serbia?
One useful piece of information is that one US dollar equals 114 RSD (Serbian dinars). Last year, one American dollar equaled 99 RSD, so its power is going up!
As we mentioned at the start of the article, locals in Serbia make much less than $1,000 a month and can still live a decent life in the country. You might find data showing that the average salary in Serbia is 140.000 RSD (around 1,400$), but this simply isn’t true due to incorrect calculations. Instead, refer to the stats below:
- Official data shows that the minimum wage in Serbia rose from $300 in 2019 to $400 in 2022. This is a more realistic presentation of local wages. Considering this, the average salary in Serbia is around $600 as of 2022.
- The IT sector, like in many countries, generates the highest salaries in Serbia–higher than the nation average.
- Living on $1,000 a month in Serba will put you in the category of people earning an above average income!
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Serbia?
Over the years, the cost of living has gone up in many places around the world, and Serbia is no exception. However, it is still possible to live a very comfortable life in Serbia for even less than $1,000 a month!
It’s important to bear in mind that it’s very easy to spend more money than you’ve planned in Serbia. Everything seems so cheap, but when you summarize it, you can end up going over your budget! With keeping that in mind, it is possible to live on $700 a month in Serbia or even $500 with some restrictions.
A mountainous region in Serbia
Living in Belgrade, Serbia for $500 a month – Is it possible?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to live on $500 a month in Serbia, including Belgrade, as the most expensive city. In fact, a lot of people already do
However, there are some life hacks to know in order to be successful in this undertaking.
- Find the right accommodation
- The best option for saving money is to live with roommates. This way, you save on rent, utilities, and sometimes even food if you decide to share it.
- Know where to shop
- There are numerous discount stores around the city with off-brand, but high quality products on the cheap.
- Cut your expenses
- By walking or biking instead of using taxis and buses, and eating most meals at home instead of going out to restaurants every night, you can significantly save money.
Serbian Nightlife. A lot of festivals, electronic parties, clubs and pubs
An example of a comfortable life in Serbia
Even on a tight budget, you can enjoy everything Serbia has to offer as long as you keep a watchful eye on your expenses. Considering Serbia, and especially Belgrade, has a strong cafe-culture and a vibrant nightlife, you shouldn’t deny yourself these activities.
To be able to assess your expenses, you can use the website Numbeo.
Let’s say you want to go for a walk and find a cute little cafe. Your coffee order averages at $1, while a beer will be around $2, and wine $3. Taking yourself out to a nice dinner should cost you around $15 for a three-course meal. Once you’ve enjoyed delicious Serbian food, you might want to go out with your friends for a night. Many clubs and bars have a great variety of drinks, but their price is 20-30% higher than in cafes or pubs, so keep that in mind. And don’t forget to throw in a taxi fee of $10-$15 to-and-from the destination on your night out. All in all, you can enjoy a day of hedonism for $30.
Health care in Serbia
For residents, the healthcare is free. Registered foreigners, holding the white card, are also entitled to free healthcare. But private healthcare in Serbia is pretty affordable and well-regulated.
You can choose to get health insurance or simply pay for the service you get at some of the private hospitals. The starting price for a doctor’s visit at a private hospital is around $20-$30, with prices going up for seeing a specialist. However, there are many discounts and coupons to make the visit to the doctor gentler on your wallet!
How to get a job and relocate to Serbia?
This is where we come in! We at Support Adventure are an expat run company operating fully online. We have satisfied remote workers on board with us, building their careers all around the world. If you have experience or interest in IT or admin assistance, apply now to get hired and start your adventure in Serbia!