Montenegro is pretty off the radar for digital nomads compared to Chiang Mai, Canggu or Medellin but it deserves to be much higher on the to-visit list – for both its lifestyle and incredible nature.
I was a digital nomad for four years and spent a couple of them bouncing in and out of Chiang Mai in Thailand – the town which sets the standard for cheap nomad living – and I would argue that Montenegro can have a similar cost of living, if not even less.
Plus – it’s a tiny but incredibly diverse country, with stunning natural beauty in every direction, medieval old towns and fortresses to explore, beautiful coasts and diverse beaches for swimming in the summer, skiing in the mountains in the winter, and exceptional hiking.
- When should I come to Montenegro?
- Where should I stay while I’m there?
- How much does it cost to rent a place?
- What about food and eating out?
- Is there coworking? What about coffee shops?
- How fast is the Internet?
- How do I meet people?
- What’s the visa situation?
- Do people speak English?
- Is it safe to travel alone?
- What if I’m vegan or vegetarian?
- How are the airport connections?
- What else do I need to know?
When should I come to Montenegro?
Anytime except July to mid-September, which is high season and usually crammed with tourists. My favourite time of year is May and June, when everything is green and lush, it’s warming up, and can even be warm enough to swim.
Where should I stay while I’m there?
If it’s your first time in Montenegro and it’s not winter, I’d recommend Kotor.
Kotor is the first town I stayed in as a nomad and I fell in love with the place. It’s a tiny town but it’s in a stunningly beautiful location on Boka Bay and has hikes, an atmospheric old town, and the stunning bay to explore. Plus, Tivat, with its airport and with some expat life is only ten minutes away by car.
If you want more low-cost living and city-style amenities like gyms, yoga studios, cafes, malls, and bars, and close access by car to the mountains, lakes and coast, then Podgorica is a better fit.
If you just want a super-cheap apartment near a supermarket and some nature to get work done, then come in winter and take your pick of any of the coastal towns like Herceg Novi, Tivat, Budva, or Bar. (Just check your apartment has heating as it can get chilly and rainy November to March).
How much does it cost to rent a place?
Montenegro has an undeserved reputation for being expensive for nomads, thanks to visitors coming to the coastal towns of Budva or Kotor in July and August. Yes – surprise, visiting the most touristed towns in the busiest time of year means high prices.
In reality, prices on the coast vary a lot depending on where and the time of year. Summer is crowded and expensive, while winter can have great deals as the towns empty out, bars and restaurants close and only locals remain. You can get an apartment in Budva (a huge summer party town) on Airbnb for 300 or 400 euro.
On the other hand, less exciting but more liveable towns like Bar or Podgorica are consistent all year round. Airbnbs by the month can be found for around 400 – 600 euro.
What about food and eating out?
Eating out can be so cheap I often wonder how the restaurant is making a profit on the meal. I can eat a main meal in Podgorica with wine for 5-6 euro. Local fast food – grill shops that sell hamburgers and grilled meats – are also abundant and offer cheap, filling meals for 2-3 euro. Coastal towns will be more expensive, but everywhere has a grill shop.
Supermarkets have plenty of cheese, wine, dairy products, meat and cold cuts, imported Italian and Croatian products (tomato sauces, pasta, tinned vegetables etc) but the international food selection is slim. (There are few stores in Podgorica, Bar and Tivat that sell a small range of Asian food.)
Processed foods in the supermarket aren’t that cheap in my opinion (presumably because it’s all imported) but local dairy products, meat and vegetables are relatively inexpensive. Every town has a green market (the local term for the fruit and vegetable market) with local and seasonal produce.
Is there coworking? What about working in coffee shops?
Co-working is relatively new here but there are a few spaces.
Podgorica has three co-working spaces, Digitalna Fabrika (which is completely free), WorkHub and Nest. Tivat has the Innovation Center at Porto Montenegro, plus Playworking, a co-working and co-living space on the Luštica Peninsula. Herceg Novi has Kolektiv Novi.
You can also work in cafes which are virtually on every corner, but there isn’t much of a working in cafes culture. Here, cafes are for drinking coffee and talking to your friends, not for sitting by yourself on your computer.
That said, sitting in cafes is the national pastime so you won’t have a shortage to choose from. Most have wifi but generally you won’t need it due to the incredibly cheap and generous mobile data plans.
How fast is the Internet?
Podgorica, being the biggest city and administrative centre, has the best and fastest Internet – I have fibre optic internet to my apartment building in Podgorica and speeds are usually around 50Mbps down, 25Mbps up.
Bigger towns generally have decent internet, but if you’re in the mountains or small towns it can vary from good to non-existent (some mountain towns barely have 3G, and once you’ve seen the landscape you’ll see why).
That said, the mobile Internet network is fantastic. Tourist data plans offer an incredible 500GB for 10-15 euro a month. I spent a summer living on the coast just tethering to my phone for Zoom calls and didn’t even bother using the apartment wifi.
How do I meet people?
As it’s a small country, and a pretty unknown destination for nomads, there aren’t a lot of English-speaking meetups so it’s a better destination for exploring nature or putting your head down and getting work done.
That said, the area around Tivat and Kotor tends to have the most English-speaking nomads and expats who moved to Montenegro by choice, while Podgorica has diplomats and people who came to the country for work (plus a few nomads who like being central and having more access to yoga studios, dance studios, cafes and stuff to do in the winter).
In normal times, you can meet people through co-working spaces, Internations meetups, and a few expat gatherings.
What’s the visa situation?
Easy. It’s a 90-day stamp on arrival if you’re from an English-speaking country. You can use all 90 days in one visit, or break it up over 180 days from your first entry.
Every other country around is also outside Schengen and gives anywhere from 90 days (Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Croatia) to a year (Albania) on arrival. You have plenty of nearby options to wait it out until your visa resets, if you have used up your 90 days and want to come back to Montenegro again.
If you need more info on how to calculate your 90 days, read this other post of mine, How Long Can I Stay in Montenegro?.
Do people speak English?
You’ll get by. Almost all young people (under 25 or so) speak decent English as it’s taught at school. In tourist towns like Kotor or Budva the bar staff, waiters, workers at bus stations, etc will also speak some English.
Older people usually won’t speak English at all (they learned German or Russian at school), and with middle-aged Montenegrins it can vary a lot depending on education and exposure. Generally the further you go to the north or into the countryside, the less English is spoken.
The exception is Ulcinj on the southern coast, where the population is majority Albanian and waiters are far more likely to speak English than Montenegrin.
Is it safe to travel alone?
Absolutely. One of the reasons I like it here so much is that I feel safe walking alone day or night and even going home from bars alone.
There is very little crime on tourists or foreigners; you will never get mugged or attacked (unlike, say, Barcelona). The worst that is likely to happen here is if you left your phone unattended on a table in a popular bar street it might disappear.
If you’re a woman, men can stare a little more than you might be used to elsewhere, and may be more forward about approaching and saying hello (especially if you’re naturally friendly and smile at everyone), but they don’t take it further if you don’t respond.
What if I’m vegan or vegetarian?
Eating out is going to be difficult, sorry. The local diet is heavily meat-based. Vegetarians can manage (and eat a lot of the northern potato-and-dairy-based meals) but vegans will be cooking a lot at home. In Podgorica My Brilliance Cafe has vegan options, as does Paradise Food (and they also have another location in Budva). There is also a restaurant, Bonjour, with vegan options in Tivat.
How are the airport connections?
There are two airports in the country. The one in the capital, Podgorica, has year-round flight connections to Istanbul (and onto the rest of the world thanks to Turkish Airlines) plus cities in Europe. Podgorica also has multiple (hour long) flights to Belgrade a day which is a decent hub to go elsewhere.
Tivat has a tiny airport which is mostly seasonal with connections in summer to the rest of Europe (and especially Russia).
Dubrovnik airport is also literally just over the border in Croatia and has the best connections of all.
What else do I need to know as a nomad in Montenegro?
You’ll miss Asian and Mexican food (it might exist here, but don’t bother as it will be heavily altered to Montenegrin tastes and will be really disappointing) but the abundant wine and cheese will make up for it.
Also keep in mind you’re not in the Western world and things work differently. Polako, polako (slowly, slowly) is the national motto. There’s no Starbucks, no Sephora, no Uber, no Grab. Clothing, technology, and the range and quality of goods in general is going to be more limited than you are used to. But that’s all part of the charm, it’s not like anywhere else.
Any other resources?
Word of Mouth – WOM – Montenegro Expats and Visitors Club – Really excellent, well-moderated Facebook group for even the most obscure questions about Montenegro
Enjoy your planning, and hit me up if you have any questions about where you would be best suited to stay or anything else nomad-related.