Ljubljana, Slovenia Report of what it's like to live there - 06/22/22
Personal Experiences from Ljubljana, Slovenia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I’ve previously lived overseas in Latin America, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
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?
United States. It’s a fairly easy flight, typically about eight hours from the East Coast to Frankfurt, then one hour to Ljubljana.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
A few years.
5. 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?
U.S. Embassy housing is great. There are a few locations in the city center and a few areas outside. Most individuals I knew had commute times of fewer than 10 minutes driving.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Availability of groceries is great. Unless you are looking for certain niche items or brands, you can find practically everything here. The quality of groceries is high and the prices are fairly low.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
The U.S. Embassy has a DPO, so shipping anything here isn’t really necessary. Maple syrup, whey protein, hot sauce, jalapenos, and certain health foods are what I typically shipped to Ljubljana.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Slovenska hisa: the best Slovenian food I had in the country. Generous portions and fairly inexpensive.
El Patron: best tacos I’ve had outside of the United States and Mexico. This place holds it own vs. taco shops in certain major metropolitan areas in the United States.
Le Petit Cafe: best brunch in Ljubljana. Quite affordable. Recommend reserving a table on the weekends.
Pop’s Place: solid burgers, nice beer selection.
Verace: best pizza in Ljubljana. Neapolitan style.
Robba: good all around restaurant. Nice lunch menu options.
Atelje: was recently awarded Michelin Star, I believe. Dinner is quite expensive, but they offer very nice and affordable lunch menus.
Maharaja: surprisingly decent Indian food. Not the best you will find in the world, but works in a pinch.
On Thai: my favorite Thai spot in Slovenia. Good and affordable. More of a take out place, there aren’t many tables.
Sushimama: good sushi.
For drinks, I would suggest the following:
Kolibri: craft cocktails in a speakeasy type bar. Best drinks you will find in the country
Lajbah: great craft beer bar
Spica: nice outdoor cafe/bar along the Ljubljanica river
Hotel Slon bar: nice environment
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Local post is probably fine, I didn’t use it. DPO and Pouch are the way to go.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I hired a housekeeper to come once every two weeks. I paid about EUR 11/hour.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There’s a few gyms in Ljubljana, including a crossfit gym in BTC. I paid about EUR 70/month for a gym that offered group classes, a sauna, jacuzzi, and swimming pool.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
You can use credit cards nearly everywhere. ATMs are common and safe.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None, Slovenians speak English extremely well. Fluent Slovene would likely help with integrating and meeting groups of locals, but it’s a difficult language and you really need to be motivated to get to that level of fluency.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
To some degree, yes. It’s a Central European country, and not all buildings are accessible.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
I would bring a small sedan so that you could park easily.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, and make sure it is installed before you arrive. It could take a while to get internet up and running if you don’t.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Bring an unlocked phone and get a local SIM card.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
I don’t know. Slovenia seems to be a very dog-friendly country. You can bring dogs to many outdoor restaurants/cafes.
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?
I was not aware of any U.S. Embassy spouses/partners working on the local economy. I imagine you would need to speak Slovene fluently. There are a few positions at the U.S. Embassy, but not that many.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Many. Slovenska Filantropija is a great place to start. They promote volunteer opportunities and are a fantastic organization. You don’t need to speak Slovene.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Suits and ties for formal meetings. Otherwise you can get by with more business casual attire.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Slovenia is a very safe country, but do not go to Tivoli Park at night. I know two individuals who were robbed there at night and one at gunpoint. Avoid that and you will be fine.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is pretty good here. For anything serious, I would probably go to Vienna or London.
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?
It’s good. I did not experience any issues.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Slovenian restaurants do a good job at listing food allergens in their menus.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Not really. The winters can be dark. I would strongly suggest skiing or snowboarding during the winters.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
You will experience all four seasons, but everything is fairly mild. It can get fairly hot and humid in the summer (upper 80s Fahrenheit).
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Very small and fairly insular. Most people at the U.S. Embassy had good morale, but I would assess the morale among the other members of the expat community to be fairly low.
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?
Internations is ok, but a bit small. There are online meet up groups for certain hobbies, like hiking and yoga.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Families: Ljubljana is a fantastic city. All of the families I knew loved it here.
Couples: Ljubljana would be a great place to live if you love the outdoors. It’s a small town, however.
Singles: I wouldn’t really recommend Ljubljana. Unless you absolutely love the outdoors. This is a very family-oriented country and it is quite difficult to make local friends. The expat scene is pretty small.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
This is a tricky question. On the one hand, domestic partnerships are legal, Ljubljana is a fairly progressive city, and there are openly gay NGOs and one gay bar in Ljubljana. However, the LGBT scene is quite small, and there has been a resurgence of anti-gay sentiment in recent years. Outside of Ljubljana, attitudes towards the LGBT community are neutral or negative. An unknown group of assailants attacked Ljubljana's one gay bar when I was posted there.
5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Unfortunately, no. Most of the expats I knew told me they had lived in Slovenia for years without making any Slovenian friends.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There are definitely anti-migrant/Muslim sentiments. Slovenia is a very heterogenous society.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Too many to note. There is an incredible amount of beautiful lakes, hiking trails, mountains, and a small coastline. Skiing and snowboarding are fantastic and affordable. Great cycling. Quite affordable and a very high quality of life.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Nature Reserve Strunjan - seaside hike.
Trieste and Miramare castle.
Bovec area -- great outdoors.
Ptuj, especially for the Kurentovanje festival.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Very easy access to incredible outdoor activities. Many excellent European cities are only a short drive away. Make sure to plan some road trips while you're here.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How difficult it would be making friends with locals and how small the expat scene was.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes. Slovenia is incredible. Just manage your expectations if you are coming without a family. Make sure you get a car here. Slovenia is not well connected to the rest of Europe via trains or planes.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
10 months of intensive Slovene language training. Seriously.
4. But don't forget your:
Hiking boots and ski poles.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Surprisingly small lack of books, movies, or series about Slovenia, but definitely read up on Yugoslavia (and its dissolution) in order to better understand the region.
6. Do you have any other comments?
Make sure to use this opportunity to explore the Balkans. This region of the world is underrated and a real hidden gem. You're quite close to them, make sure to visit these countries, and not just Western and Central Europe.
Everyone knows about Croatia already. It's expensive and filled with tourists. Try some of the others.