Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina Report of what it's like to live there - 02/06/17
Personal Experiences from Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Not a first expat experience.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Washington DC. No direct flights from Sarajevo, about 13 hours through Vienna or Munich.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Apartments downtown, townhouses, houses with yards on the outskirts of Sarajevo. Sarajevo is a small town, the longest commute to the Embassy during rush hour isn't more than 30-45 min, 10 minutes without traffic.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
All basic groceries available and cheap. Wonderful fruit and vegetable markets. Good meat selection, however the cuts are different that in the U.S. and not all meat shops will sell pork.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Lots of good local restaurants if you like meat. Not many international chains - there is McDonalds and Vapiano.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
No insect problems.
1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Relatively cheap and available. Most people will have a cleaning person for one day a week, families with small children tend to have a full time nanny/housekeeper.
2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Limited availability. The Embassy has a small gym. There are couple fitness centers, yoga studio, crossfit for adults. Some opportunities for children to join local sport teams - soccer and basketball are especially popular.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards are accepted at bigger stores and upscale restaurants. ATMs seem to be safe to use.
4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Young people speak English. You don't need to speak Bosnian but locals would appreciate it.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Trams and taxis seem to be safe.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Smaller car for tiny downtown streets. However, given the harsh winters and mountainous terrain, an SUV worked out the best for us.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Easy to set up and reliable internet connection.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We used a local provider.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Unemployment in Bosnia is high, there aren't very many opportunities to work on local economy. Some expats teach at the international schools or volunteer.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
They are always looking for help at the animal shelter.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business for work, smart casual for the rest. People in Bosnia and Herzegovina like to dress up.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Nothing major at this point, pickpocketing just like in any bigger city.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical facilities are not great, I wouldn't have any major treatment done here.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Wonderful April-September, very bad October-March. The city is located in a valley surrounded by high mountains. As soon as it gets cold, people burn low quality coal which sits in the valley and causes major pollution. On the flip side, you can drive 15 minutes up the mountain and find yourself in a pristine winter wonderland.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Four seasons. Hot summers, cold winters with snow.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
QSI and French School. QSI was good for our small children, parents with teengers didn't seem to be very happy. It is a small school, options are very limited. Also the school is in Vogosca, 20-60 min drive from Sarajevo, depending on your location and traffic.
2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
QSI has a preschool. There are several local montessori preschools: Blooming Child, Montessori House, Garden House. We were very happy with the Garden House.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Swimming, tennis, skiing, ice skating, ice-hockey, soccer, basketball. Unless you hire a private coach, most of the instruction might be in Bosnian.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Small expat community, good morale.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
This is and easy town to walk around and entertain yourself. Lots of restaurants and bars, concerts, sport events...
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for families.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Friendly people, good food (if you are not a vegetarian), skiing, hiking, proximity to the rest of Europe for weekend trips.
5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Skiing on Olympic slopes on Jahorina and Bjelasnica, hiking with a local guide. Film festival in the summer, National Theater concerts throughout the year.
6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Bosnian wool rugs and other wool products, beautiful wood carvings.
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Low cost of living while enjoying European lifestyle.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I was more ready for the reminiscence of the war that is still visible in the city.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. But don't forget your:
Winter clothes and your skis!
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Ivo Andric - Bosnian Chronicle.