Remote work with sea and mountain views: personal experience in Montenegro
Thailand is traditionally considered an earthly paradise for freelancers and remote workers, for me, Montenegro has become such a place. For the second spring in a row, I move for three months with my family to Budva, a town on the Adriatic coast, and work remotely from there. About why Montenegro and what you need to be prepared for in this country, I want to tell.
Who am I and what do I do
My name is Kirill Klyushkin, I am COO of Alconost and, concurrently, co-founder of Alconost Video . I observe the work of project managers, engage in the selection and coaching of employees, together with marketers work on strategic and short-term marketing tasks, sometimes I write scripts and manage the process of creating videos. In addition, I am engaged in the development of the company and the optimization of business processes. I also have customer support in our Nitro live online translation service . On top of everything, we make several of our products, and on me lies part of the project management, development of the product concept.
I did all this at home in Minsk, I continued to do all this when I arrived in Montenegro.
It is worth saying that the work in our team is structured so that all our employees work remotely . Without this, it would be difficult for me to decide on such a long departure.
Montenegro is close to us in location and has a minimum difference in time zones with Moscow or Kiev (an hour or two differences, which can not be said about Thailand itself). It is important to work in the same rhythm with colleagues.
You can get to Montenegro both by plane (~ $ 300-600 in both directions when flying from the European part of Russia), or by car (1-2 nights), which will save a lot of money on renting a car for traveling around the country. By the way, Montenegro is very compact in size, you can travel around the whole country literally in a day. At the same time, in its small territory there are hundreds of various attractions.
They also love us here. Montenegrins are very loyal to Russian-speaking tourists. Moreover, they do not share the Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians: for them we are all brothers Slavs equally. Also here they are very sincere and friendly towards children. On the street, in the store, in a taxi, local residents always smile at us with their daughter, touch their daughter by the hands, everyone considers it his duty to treat the child or give a small toy.
Montenegro is safe and almost without crime, because the country and the cities in it are small, they all know each other by sight. Here you can leave a stroller with valuables on the beach, you can walk at night with a phone in your hands.
The nature here is very beautiful. Mountains, mountain rivers and lakes, small villages ... I have a feeling that I am either somewhere in Tolkien's Middle-earth, or among the mountains and fjords of Norway, where for some reason palm trees grew. The sea is warm, clear and clean. And very tasty air. The aromas of flowers, pines, sea, mountains, Montenegrin pastries and grilled meat are constantly mixed in a delicious cocktail, each time different.
Upon arrival in Montenegro, you need to get a “white cardboard” per day. To do this, you need to contact the owner of the apartment or hotel, who will do everything himself - you just have to pay a fee of 0.6-0.8 euros for each day of stay in the country.
White cardboard may be asked when leaving the country, and in its absence - to stick a fine of 200 euros. I’m more than sure that if you are “caught” at the airport, while you will run to pay the fine, your plane will fly away.
Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians can stay in Montenegro without a visa for no more than 90 days within six months, and for Russians and Belarusians, the period of continuous stay should not exceed 30 days. This means that once every 30 days you need to leave the country at least for a couple of hours.
When and where to go
The best time to travel to Montenegro for remote work is April-June or September-October. At this time it is already / still warm, there are no crowds of tourists, adequate prices. In July and August in Montenegro it is very hot, very expensive, very crowded.
Out of season, life on the coast is only in large cities: Bar and Budva. The bar is more suitable for living (more offers of apartments, more shops, more people), but in Budva and the surrounding area better beaches. We chose Budva just because of the beaches: where else will my wife and daughter spend time while I work at home.
For the first few days it is better to book a hotel via the Internet, and upon arrival, start looking for housing in the ways that you prefer:
- walk around the city, call on the ads on poles and porches, go to the houses you like and ask about the rental. It sounds strange, but believe me, in Montenegro it works;
- ask people on the street, taxi drivers, shop assistants. Montenegrin towns are very small, everyone knows each other, your interlocutor will surely have a friend who is renting an apartment. We found our first apartment: we asked the taxi driver who brought us and within half an hour we watched two excellent inexpensive apartments, which we rented as a result;
- search for Internet ads and write in English to the owners of the apartments you like (by the way, you can use our online translator Nitro, there are English and Serbian there):
○ Realitica.com - first select a city, then Stan-apartman (apartments) or kuce (houses) and click trazi (search);
○ Tender Oglasi - select Nekretnine and enter the city you need in the search bar;
○ Montenegro Realty - here, long-term rental advertisements are mixed with tourist rentals at tourist prices. By the way, through this group I found for the second time my spacious apartment in the center of Budva for very little money;
- buy the local newspaper Tender Oglasi and call the ads you like. The key phrase when talking on the phone is: “I’ve been camp for three months” (I’m looking for an apartment for three months). Most often, renting for three months outside the tourist season looks very attractive for the landlord, and he becomes interested in overcoming the language barrier and clearly explaining to you where you will meet;
- contact local real estate agencies, often Russian-speaking. But based on my experience with 5-6 local agencies, I concluded that this is a waste of time: prices are unreasonably high, apartments and service do not shine with quality. These agencies are more suitable for buying expensive real estate or tourist rentals for a short time.
When inspecting apartments, pay attention to the smell of dampness and mold: it can become a real problem. In addition, evaluate the location of the apartment: whether the windows open onto the carriageway, where noisy mopeds and cars will rush at night; Are there any entertainment venues nearby, from which drunk tourists will crawl out to the accompaniment of loud music by one in the morning; whether there is a stream or marshes nearby (usually recognizable by lush impassable vegetation) with mosquitoes and vigorous frogs.
What is the price?
When renting for three months, you can get a pretty good price, which differs from the tourist price by three to four times. Both times I searched for apartments in late March-early April for three months. According to my observations, small studio apartments can mainly be rented for 150-350 euros per month, single-bed rooms (one bedroom plus one living room combined with a kitchen) - for 250-500 euros per month, double-bed rooms - for 400-700 euros per month. The difference in this range is due to the different remoteness from the sea and the degree of steepness of the interior of the apartments themselves. To the cost of rent are added bills for water, electricity, sometimes the Internet: 50-100 euros per month.
On our first visit we rented a nice single bed apartment for 400 euros per month, 10 minutes walk from the sea and 20 minutes from the old town. To be honest, walking back and forth every day was annoying, so on our second visit we rented a spacious two-room apartment with a cozy atmosphere relatively close to the sea, the center and the old city for 530 euros per month. Given that we capture part of the season (July 1-10), this is not at all expensive.
As for the cost of living, in Montenegro it is about the same as in Minsk or Kiev, and it is definitely lower than in Moscow. To sit together in a restaurant with fish and wine - from 40 euros, pizza with beer - from 15 euros, a hearty hamburger - 2 euros. In general, food is either cheaper or the same as ours. Furniture is much cheaper. Clothing is the same as ours. Locals live on ~ 1000 euros per month per family. I see that if you don’t flaunt and, perhaps, save a little, then it’s quite possible to meet this amount.
The language barrier
In coastal Montenegro it is quite possible to do without knowledge of the local language. Firstly, Serbian (and Serbian is spoken in Montenegro) is very close to our language. Untrained Russians usually understand about 25%, Belarusians and Ukrainians - about 50-60% of the information. Secondly, the older generation studied Russian in Yugoslav schools. And thirdly, Montenegro is a tourist country with a traditionally very large number of tourists from Russia, so locals do not want to, but they learn Russian. And nobody canceled the English language: in Montenegro they know it quite well, even most of the TV channels are broadcast in English with Serbian subtitles.
Personally, I managed to find a common language with the owners and view about two dozen apartments with virtually no knowledge of Serbian. I can argue that the language barrier is completely overcome. Especially if you are the one who pays the money.
My arrangement tips
Since the purpose of the visit is not rest, but work, it is worth looking for an apartment so that you can equip a secluded workplace: at least put a table and chair. If there is no such place in the apartment, you should think about renting an inexpensive studio apartment for work nearby. By the way, furniture in Montenegro is inexpensive: for ~ 100 euros you can find a table and chair acceptable for work.
It is important to look for an apartment with a Wi-Fi router. If the owner says that he has one router for several apartments, or, even worse, in a cafe in the neighborhood, expect connection problems that you cannot influence and cannot fix yourself. If the owner says that “we’ll put the Internet tomorrow” - don’t believe the Montenegrins are VERY leisurely in business and it’s good if you can get the network through at least a week and a half.
I advise you to choose an apartment with a good location. So it will be easy for you in a few minutes to drive to the sea, swim and continue to work.
I recommend taking with you not only a laptop, but also a large monitor, a wireless keyboard and mouse. On my first visit I worked for a 15 ”laptop, and in the second for a 24” monitor. With a monitor it turns out more efficiently. By the way, you can buy a monitor here, the price tag is about the same.
Internet in Montenegro
Everything is fine with the Internet in Montenegro, although not so cheap. T-Mobile's 20 megabit fiber optic cable costs € 30 per month. 1 gigabyte of mobile 3G Internet for 15 days from T-Mobile costs 3 euros. 3G coverage is good.
Speaking of the mobile Internet: at the end of the package’s validity period, the Internet does not disappear, but it starts charging at wild prices. Notifications about the expiration of the package do not come. It is believed that the system made so stupid is intended to receive additional money from tourists.
But with Internet services in Montenegro, the trouble. Online stores, food ordering services via the Internet, ordering a taxi online, there are simply no adequate message boards. The design and usability of most local sites causes almost physical pain. There is a feeling that the local Internet is stuck in the middle of the two thousandth. And it seems that this completely suits the Montenegrins.
Wake up at 8 am, work 3 hours, swim in the sea, work hard during the heat of the lunch, get out at 5 p.m. on the beach / nearby attractions, return at 8-9 p.m. and do time-consuming tasks until noon, until no one distracting. At the weekend, in the morning, in a couple of hours, to clear up the problem and deal with fast tasks, and then rush off on another trip along the mountain roads, inspect another abandoned fortress, or high-mountain lake, or a deep canyon or monastery of the 13th century, or rock paintings, which are several dozen thousand years. In the evening - return and do business until late at night.
I can say that I began to spend less time on work, mainly due to traveling on weekends. But it feels like the work efficiency has not decreased, rather the opposite: due to the variety in the schedule, it became easier for me to write texts, come up with unusual ideas, and an almost lost drive appeared.
The main and not entirely expected difficulty that I encountered when moving was solving everyday problems that are time-consuming and distracting from business. Finding an apartment, arranging a workplace, buying the necessary trifles - all these small tasks as a result consume quite a lot of time and energy. As soon as these problems are resolved, working life enters into its usual measured channel. In my second visit, I already knew a lot about Montenegro, and the solution to everyday problems turned out to be much faster and painless.
In addition, it is important not to lose contact with colleagues. No matter how distracting everyday problems are, one must still be as close as possible with remote work.
And you also need to convey to your colleagues the idea that your wife and daughter rest on the beach day and night, and you are still in the ranks, fully working with one hundred percent return.
What did not like
Yes, there are negative impressions of Montenegro. A little, but there is.
Montenegrins have an awesome nature and there is absolutely no understanding that it must be protected. Garbage in Montenegro can be found not only in secluded places where tourists do not look, but also taking just a step away from the hiking trail. It is dirty here because they don’t clean it and because they litter everyone who is not lazy. Throwing a plastic bottle into the bushes or a cigarette butt past the trash is a common thing.
Montenegrins smoke a lot. It is impossible to sit with a child in any cafe or restaurant, as several people smoke at the neighboring tables without stopping. Why, even in a shopping center, leaving a child in a playroom is problematic. After all, next to it is a cafe, each visitor of which smokes several cigarettes in ten minutes - so that a real smog hangs in the air of the shopping center.
After some time, the lack of thought and carelessness in the urban infrastructure begins to catch the eye. Broken tiles on the sidewalk, curved asphalt with crumbled concrete patches on which it is impossible to walk normally with a pram. There are no sidewalks in half of the streets, despite heavy traffic. Traffic lights burn so that only half of the road can be switched to “green”. Grass on the lawn is often unkempt. It happens that there are no lights, although the nights here are by no means white. In general, in some places Montenegro resembles an untidy Soviet sanatorium.
Would stay for a lifetime?
Absolutely not. In addition to the above disadvantages of Montenegrin culture, there are a couple of significant disadvantages of immigration to Montenegro.
Firstly, Montenegro is small and provincial. For example, a modern cinema, a large shopping center, a theater is only in the capital and then only in the singular.
Secondly, in the winter in Montenegro it’s very sad: the weather is cool and rainy, and social life, unlike the house, is completely silent.
Thirdly, in Montenegro, laws work as decided by the local leadership, and most cases are decided by acquaintance. It is also difficult for immigrants to do business here because of the very close attention of the inspection bodies: they turn a blind eye to violations by Montenegrin companies, but they judge in all severity for the slightest fault of the company of our former compatriots.
Would you recommend coming to Montenegro to work remotely?
If your work does not depend on a specific office, be sure to come. This is a great experience, a great opportunity to change habitat for a while and breathe new life into what you do.
Now I’m still in Montenegro, but the last time, upon returning home, I painlessly returned to the previous rhythm of work, retaining the drive charge for the whole of the next year. By the way, it’s worth saying that for the first time in my life, my family and I never got sick. I am sure - the matter is in the sun and the healing air of Montenegro.
By the way, I calculated that due to inexpensive rental housing and cheap products, my three-month trip for expenses turned out to be equal to three months of living at home, plus a two-week vacation at sea.
I think it’s damn cool to work just like at home, only within walking distance of the beautiful warm sea and the stunning high black mountains. I can say for sure that the time spent here in Montenegro is one of the best in my life.
Original article posted on AIN.UA .
About the author
Alconost localizes applications, games and sites in 60 languages. Native translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources.
We also make advertising and training videos - for sites that sell, image, advertising, training, teasers, expliner, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.
Read more: https://alconost.com