Belgrade is known as the fun life capital of Europe. Extremely cheap and out of the European Union and Schengen area, Serbia – and therefore Belgrade – are a great choice for those looking for a place where their dollar (or euro) goes a long way.
Today, we will discuss just how cheap it is to live in Belgrade. We’re looking at the monthly cost of living here for a single person looking to live a decent life.
When estimating cost of living anywhere, many personal preferences come in play, with the biggest swings possible in the rental area (the more luxury you want, the more expensive), what food you eat and how much you plan to spend on entertainment.
For today’s article, I am estimating the cost of living in Belgrade for a regular person who wants a bit of comfort, likes to eat out every now and then and go to a club on weekends, but without being completely over the top.
In your situation, the costs might be higher or lower – but it’s good to have at least some sort of a starting point in order to better estimate just how cheap living in Belgrade is. Let’s get this started!
Is Belgrade expensive to live in?
Depending on where in the west you come from, you will find Belgrade cheap, really cheap or dirt cheap.
Accommodation costs in Belgrade
When it comes to monthly rentals, you can easily find a studio or a one-bedroom apartment in a good condition (fully furnished), in the city center, for anything between $350 – $400.
Atop of that, you will have to pay some other monthly expenses for your heating, electricity, water and garbage and so on. These will all cost you around $100 each month. Really affordable!
Food costs in Belgrade
A quick meal for one can be had for a measly $3-5 if you’re not picky, while more high profile options are available in the $10-15 range.
Unless you fall for a tourist trap or make it a mission to find a Michelin starred restaurant (good luck with that!) I see little reason to EVER spend more than 2000 dinars (around 20 US dollars) on any single meal. And you’ll eat like a king (or queen!)
Supermarket prices will be between 20% to 50% cheaper than those in your home country, and drinks at a classy club won’t be more than 5-6 bucks for something more fancy (couple dollars for a beer, for example).
Here are some examples of food items and their prices
- 1 liter of milk: $0.8
- 1 loaf of bread: $0.5
- 1kg of potatoes: $0.6
- 1kg of tomatoes: $0.8
- 1kg rice: $1.15
- 1kg chicken breast: $4.75
- 1kg of local cheese: $4.80
- 1.5l bottle of water: $0.5
Overall, your monthly costs for food in Belgrade (including eating out 4-5 times each month) will cost you around $200 on the lower end and $400 on the higher end. Probably an average of around $300 to $350 per person is safe to consider in most cases.
Transportation costs in Belgrade
Public transportation is very limited so I pretty much avoided it – but locals usually just jump in and out the city buses without paying for a ticket (something which will shock many visitors).
I do believe that a monthly ticket costs around $25 in Belgrade if you want to play it safe (as you should).
As in many of other less developed countries, taxis in Belgrade can be hit or miss. I personally only had one bad experience when I boarded an unofficial taxi, but I called the driver on his bullshit and after a couple of back and forth insults we reached a reasonable agreement.
Keep your eyes open for real taxis (they have a special license plate) and you’ll never pay more than 600-700 dinars (5$) to get to the Splav area (a Splav is a floating nightclub in the river, about a 5-10 min drive from the city center).
Tip: Even if you’re an obvious foreigner, use Serbian to ask the driver how much the trip will cost you, before you get it. It’s the surefire way to get the cheapest fares:
Koliko Kosta se [Destination]? Should be enough broken Serbian to get the driver wondering how up to date you are with local taxi fares. Do your best to make it seem like you’ve gone on the same ride many times.
Other costs in Belgrade
SIM cards and internet data, a necessary tool for any seasoned traveler, are almost insultingly cheap in Serbia: you can have a SIM and 3GB of data for about $3, but you can find all sort of deals that are also dirt cheap. And the internet is fast!
- Monthly Gym membership: $30
- Cinema ticket with popcorn & soda: $8
- Nice haircut (men): $5
How much does it cost to live comfortably in Belgrade?
With all the numbers above in mind, I would have to say that you can live a comfortable life in Belgrade for $1,000 per month. This will see you rent a good studio in the city center, eat good food and go out every now and then, as well as allow yourself some luxury every now and then.
Have in mind that the average salary in Belgrade is somewhere around $650 per month, so if you have $1,000, you are already well above the average, so the quality of life should be really high.
It is true that for 2022 prices are higher than ever thanks to the rampant inflation that has affected Europe as a whole, with an estimated inflation of over 7% in late 2021. Despite all these, though, Belgrade (and Serbia) is still a much cheaper option than most other European countries.
Living in Belgrade, Serbia
Now, I’m not going to lie here: Belgrade isn’t Vienna or Verona. Aesthetically speaking, the city doesn’t offer much.
This is not a surprise, considering the USA (The Clintons) lead the bombing of the entire city in the 90s. The city itself makes sure to remind you of that – by keeping a couple of destroyed buildings in the center, just like the airstrikes left them.
Combine that with the lack of economic growth and it would be a miracle to see the city become gorgeous within less than a decade.
If you were a typical Lonely Planet backpacker or a middle age couple looking into romantic destinations, you’d be hard-pressed to justify visiting this place.
I could then tell you about the beauty of Kalemegdan (a medieval fortress right in the middle of the city, consisting of a huge park, cafés, restaurants, a dinosaur museum and even a pretty good nightclub).
Perhaps I could show you videos of how young people flocking to a nearby lake called Ada Ciganlija to swim and play beach volley – and it would still be a hard sale.
Fortunately, regular readers of this site are anything but that – and they will no doubt check those places out if they decide to explore Belgrade.
What Belgrade does offer is what ultimately moves the more off-the-grid kind of travelers: tons of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, nightclubs, relaxing places and sports events.
The city is extremely affordable for a westerner and despite the economic struggle, Serbian women can’t live without being out and about enjoying what Belgrade has to offer.
It is very difficult to express this in words, but Belgrade has some sort of a positive vibe, a charm of its own that simply makes you fall in love with the place as soon as you set foot there. It’s not an insanely beautiful city, but it has personality and charm and something that makes you love it no matter what.
I would go as far as saying that Belgrade is one of the hidden gems of Europe and an amazing place to live in. Make sure to read my guide to living Belgrade for more about this.
As for where to stay, the city center isn’t huge, so your safe bets will be Savamala, Skadarlija and Vračar (northern part of it, mainly).
I would suggest avoiding New Belgrade (Novi Beograd), which is a newly built, pretty nice residential area on the opposite side of the Sava river. It may be great for locals and the quality of flats will be way better – but it does not allow a real traveler to experience the city properly.
Stay as close to Republic Square (Trg Republike) as possible and you’ll be fine!
Is Belgrade a good place to live?
If I had to sum it up in a single sentence it’d be: to make the most of Belgrade and its people, you have to be human. A real human, and not an act. In that case, Belgrade is an amazing place to live in.
Of course, you do need the money and ideally you’ll come here with a job offer that pays well above the average, or you’re already earning your income elsewhere.
With online work being so much more common these days, you can easily score a remote job that pays a couple thousand dollars each month and live like a king (or queen) in Belgrade.
Other than that (critically important) caveat, I’d tell you to book your flight to Belgrade if:
- You enjoy spending time in outdoor cafés and terraces.
- You like simple, yet filling food (think meats, soups, veggies and bread – and try their delicious Cevapi).
- You’re ready to bond with other males.
- You like going out at night – and are willing to dance (huge advantage!).
- You prefer high quality interactions and adventures with women rather than quantity of notches – Serbian women will NOT be easy (see below).
- You like sports and are ready to break a sweat if the situation requires it.
- You’re OK with being authentic, straightforward and masculine.
- You understand you’ll be substantially wealthier than most people you find in Belgrade, and won’t let it get to your head and make you act like an asshole.
- You’re planning to stay for at least 7-10 days.
For longer term stays, Belgrade is really good also. Cheap monthly rental, cheap food and amazing people make up for the slightly outdated infrastructure and older buildings. You will surely feel great here though and that’s all that matters in the end!
If you’re living in Belgrade already and you have more insight on how much it costs YOU to live here, I’d love to read your thoughts. The more numbers we can compare, the easier it will be for other people to better estimate their monthly cost of living in Belgrade.