April 21, 2020 - Do foreigners in Montenegro feel more or less safe sitting out COVID-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? A new series on Total Montenegro News, with Julie Barbidonskaja from Moscow in Budva as the first contributor.
Montenegro was the last country in Europe that COVID-19 penetrated. Since then, confirmed cases and deaths have remained low compared to the rest of Europe. But how do expats in Montenegro feel about being self-isolated in Montenegro rather than in their home country? In a new TMN series, we start by asking Julie Barbidonskaja from Moscow, who is currently locked down in Budva.
Everything is fine with me, despite all the hype with the virus and quarantine. I am in Budva with my husband. I was lucky enough to return from Moscow, where I was visiting relatives, a couple of weeks before the borders of Montenegro were closed. For now there are just over 300 people with the virus identified. Tests, as I understand it, are done selectively, mainly among the circle of people affected. Honestly, I am not so much concerned about the virus as about the situation with quarantine, closed borders and the economy. My work has partially stopped, because government agencies do not work with visitors right now, and clients cannot come. But now I have time to actively engage in developing my website, services promotion, and self-education.
Of course, all these restrictions are extremely unpleasant, especially those related to freedom of movement. It seems to me that in Budva, people tried to observe such measures as masks and gloves only for the first couple of weeks. Then everyone relaxed to some extent. Over the last week, you can see a lot of people on the streets who, despite the prohibitions on walking to the beach and walking in parks and other public places, actively walk there. In general, the restrictions do not affect me much because I work from home. Now I’m just a little bit more at home than usual. Relations with my husband are warm, we are used to spending a lot of time together))) So it is unlikely that we will fall into the 50% of couples who will divorce after quarantine)))
Perhaps when the panic began in Italy, and the EU states began to close the borders one after another. And a bit later, when the stock market collapsed on Black Tuesday. I started to read a lot of information in different languages both about the virus itself and about the situation in countries and the consequences for the economy.
Montenegro was very fast with preventive measures. But, unfortunately, a bit late in general. I think that if they started with the control of visitors earlier, when the first infected people in Italy were discovered, Montenegro would have been able to maintain its status of a corona-free country. In any case, it seems to me that Montenegro is doing its best. It is no secret that the country's healthcare system is not strong enough. So the introduction of preventive isolation measures probably gave some time for preparation.
In Budva, only 4 people have been infected in the last three weeks. Therefore, I have no concern about the epidemiological situation in the city.
It is difficult to compare Montenegro and Russia. Two different states: territory, economies and the development of the health system are completely different. But in general, for me, the most important thing is that here in Budva, unlike in Moscow, we are not locked at home. We can safely move around the city from 5 AM and until 7 PM during the week. This is not a problem for me. And in Moscow, you can not venture more than 100m from your home. And for larger movements (for example, to work, to the doctor, etc.) electronic passes are needed.
I came across this issue recently when I had to make an appointment with a doctor and make a pass for my old relatives. Since they themselves cannot do this at the age of 90, I did it for them, 3,500 km away. Oh, the power of the Internet! Yes, the Moscow authorities did their best to describe in detail how to obtain this electronic pass. But it takes time to manage it.
In addition to the fact that here, in Montenegro, we can freely leave the apartment, without any special restrictions, the weather is an absolute plus. Although I must admit, I have often envied those who have their own house with a small plot of land. Well, in Moscow at this time of the year the weather is not so pleasant. And there I would have to constantly stay in an apartment in a gassed city (my flat is in the city center). I am a sun addict, and I would go crazy in Moscow locked in my apartment.
So thank you to the Montenegrin authorities that they allowed free movement within cities.
I must say that both the Montenegrin and the Russian government were very efficient in terms of information. We listened to the first news about restrictive measures live on the Internet (we do not have a TV at home, use exclusively the Internet). I follow the Montenegrin government posts on their official Twitter page. Posts published right during online press conferences. There is also an English version. In Russia, the president was constantly speaking on TV, and I watched them on YouTube. Well, in both countries the media reacted very quickly - all new information became available very quickly.
The only problem, of course, was the rapid closure of borders - in 3 days, without warning. In Montenegro, that is how it was. The government in the evening, about 20:00, announced that the borders would be closed. And after 30 minutes the borders were locked. People were not ready for this. Many of them just had no concept of lockdown. There was a story of people coming back from Russia by car who got stuck between two borders: Serbia and Montenegro. The Serbs closed the border immediately after they passed. And the Montenegrins closed the border when they approached it. People were locked at the border for 2 days, while the Russian embassy and the Montenegrin authorities tried to solve the situation. Well, of course, there were problems with the cancellation of flights. Today people can fly, and tomorrow all flights are suddenly cancelled. This was perhaps the most resonant and difficult moment in both countries.
My life has not changed much in isolation. So I have everything that I need.
The crisis confirmed the importanсe of some basic rules related to the organization of personal finances, business, understanding of global processes and psychological feelings. The lives and business of many people around the world are crumbling. People are panicking because of their fear of the future, of the virus. Many of them can not resist the pressure. And, as I see from many thousands of discussions in social networks, many were not ready for the crisis - neither economically, nor morally. Although in the Balkans, and especially in Russia, people know well enough what economic crisis is. Analysts constantly talk about the cyclical nature of the crisis over the span of 10 years. Each new crisis in Russia entails the collapse of the rouble. I am glad that in general the current situation has not affected me either financially or morally. In terms of the virus itself, I am not an alarmist so no fear. As for the financial situation we have savings, enough for a family of two for a reasonable period. There are no renting obligations because we bought our own apartment. Work is organized in such a way that there are no financial losses. We continue to work actively and prepare for a quick restart as soon as the borders are reopened.
Thanks, Julie. Stay safe and see you on the other side. You can connect with Julie via her MNE Consult website.
If you would be interested to record a video version for our partners www.rplus.video please let us know in the email. Thanks and stay safe.
Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer Than in Your Home Country?
Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.
What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)
When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue?
What is your impression of the way Montenegro is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?
Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Montenegro doing better/worse?
What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?
What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.
One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis.
TMN has recently become a partner in Robert Tomic Zuber's new R+ video channel, initially telling stories about corona experiences. You can see the first TMN contribution, my video from my home on Hvar, Croatia, talking about the realities of running a news portal in the corona era below. If you would like to also submit a video interview, please find Robert's guidelines below
VIDEO RECORDING GUIDE
The video footage should be recorded so that the cell phone is turned horizontally (landscape mode).
There are several rules for television and video news:- length is not a virtue- a picture speaks more than a thousand words
In short, this would mean that your story should not last more than 90 seconds and that everything you say in the report should be shown by video (for example, if you talk about empty streets, we should see those empty streets, etc.).
How to do it with your cell phone? First, use a selfie camera to record yourself telling your story for about a minute and a half. Ideally, it would be taken in the exterior, except in situations where you are reporting on things in the interior (quarantine, hospital, self-isolation, etc.). Also, when shooting, move freely, make sure everything is not static.
After you have recorded your report, you should capture footage that will tell your story with a picture, such as an earlier example with empty streets.
One of the basic rules of TV journalism is that the story is told in the same way as a journalist with his text. Therefore, we ask you for additional effort. Because we work in a very specific situation, sometimes you may not be able to capture footage for each sentence of the report. In this case, record the details on the streets: people walking, the main features of the city where you live, inscriptions on the windows related to the virus, etc.
The same rules apply if you are shooting a story from your apartment, self-isolation, quarantine. We also need you to capture footage that describes your story.
When shooting frames to cover your reports, it is important that you change the angle of the shot (in other words, shoot that empty street from several angles). Also, when shooting a detail, count at least five seconds before removing the camera to another detail.
The material should be about 5 minutes long (90 seconds of your report + frames to cover your story).
Wash your hands.
US Bloomberg ranked Montenegro among the top 20 destinations that will be particularly popular this year.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Damir Davidovic, said that at the same time, China Travel Agent magazine awarded Montenegro as China's most popular niche destination last year.
This, he said at a press conference organized by the National Tourism Organization (NTO), shows that the results and potential that the state has achieved have been recognized.
The director of the NTO, Zeljka Radak Kukavicic, said that last year was a record year and that they can boast a good start this year.
"On New Year's Eve, we had 60,000 guests and good attendance on other days," said Radak Kukavicic at a conference organized by the NTO in cooperation with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism.
US Bloomberg recommends 20 inspiring destinations that will be especially enticing this year. Thus, Montenegro found itself ahead of Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Bolivia, Mozambique, Jamaica and Cairo.
Bloomberg writes that the tiny Balkan country has slowly positioned itself as the new jewel of the Adriatic, with a mix of centuries-old villages, aristocratic mansions and numerous challenging locations beyond gravel beaches.
NP Durmitor - Black Lake - photo Boka News
"On your Montenegro adventure, you may encounter a brown bear, a gray wolf, a Eurasian lynx and other endangered species in Durmitor and Biogradska Gora National Parks," Bloomberg states.
After the wild beauty, they recommend going to the "sunlit" shores of the sea.
“Be sure to visit the luxury marina Portonovi in the Bay of Boka Kotorska, where the first European resort, One & Only, will open in June. Cruise the sea or fly Lufthansa to Tivat, a seaside town with an airport. Whatever you choose, you are sure to bypass the crowded Dubrovnik in neighboring Croatia," the author said.
Bloomberg also recommends when it is best to visit Montenegro and when not, with a handy overview of annual accommodation rates.
According to them, the weather in Montenegro is warm enough for bathing until October, when the prices are the most affordable.
"You will have a good time in the late spring as well, when the nights are warm but pleasant," recommends this eminent media.
Text by Boka News, on January 9th, 2020, read more at Boka News
During 2020, 540 cruisers will sail to the Kotor Harbor.
The first arrival this year was recorded on January 3, when Costa Deliziosa sailed to the port.
"The first larger ship will sail again on April 1st. It is a cruiser - Aida Blu, and in the meantime, we have the constant arrivals of Athens and Artemis, smaller ships with a length of 58.80 m and 1,206 GRT," said Port Director Branko Kovacevic.
Last year, 529 smaller and larger cruise ships sailed to Boka Kotorska bay, with more than 600,000 tourists.
Text by Boka News (source Radio Kotor),on January 9th, 2020, read more at Boka News
The high point of the “From Christmas to Christmas” event, and a great joy for the very youngest audience is of course the Children’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which will be organised on Monday, 30th December beginning at 4pm at the Arms Square in Kotor.
Santa Claus and his elf helper will be preparing various surprises and a big party, which is not to be missed. For kids, there will be a super-fun interactive show called “Love One Another - This is the Year of Love”. As with every year, an integral part of the programme is when Santa Claus comes to hand out New Year’s presents to all children gathered on the main town square.
For little ones who are too ill to attend the festivities, distribution of presents will take place at 12 noon at the children’s ward of Kotor Municipal Hospital, as a continuation of the “Fairy Tale for Health” event that has been held since 2015 as part of the From Christmas to Christmas project.
The last day of 2019 will close with a fantastic concert by the group “Perper”. The New Year will get off to a swinging start with a fundraising party.
NGO Karampan invites everyone to come down to the main town square on 2nd January at 8pm sharp and join the festivities, with the lively band “The Grupa” and the fantastic hits of the well-known Montenegrin artist Sergej Ćetković.
December 19, 2019 - The real estate market in Montenegro is booming. Buyers from all over the world are coming to buy houses and apartments on the beautiful Montenegrin coast (and increasingly inland as well), as the country's reputation as the new global luxury tourism star continues to grow, flight connections continue to improve, and new tourist facilities continue to appear.
The conditions for investing in Montenegro appear to be favourable, with additional paths to investment offering something a little different. This includes the introduction of the recent Citizen by Investments programme, which was recently introduced to Montenegro.
Starting at just 250,000 euro in northern Montenegro, the Citizen by Investments programme offers investors a Montenegrin passport, with all the advantages of residence and onward travel that this offers, in return for concrete investment in the development of the country. TMN caught up with one of the bigger players in the current real estate market, Kristina Ivanovic, Sales Manager of RE/MAX Montenegro office in Podgorica, to learn more about the general rise in foreign investment interest, as well as some of the specific attractions of the citizen by investments programme.
Montenegro continues to attract attention of international travelers, but also companies. What is it that makes the country so attractive to foreign businesses?
Montenegro has been working hard on improving its quality of life, business climate, stability, and safety. It became a member of NATO in 2017 and is on its way to joining the European Union. Many procedures related to doing business have been simplified, with international investors enjoying the same rights as the domestic ones. Costs of running a business are lower than in many European countries: flat tax system (9% tax on corporate and personal income), 3% property transfer tax, 21% VAT (7% for 5* hotels), office space can be rented at €10 to €15/sqm, depending on company’s needs.
Accommodation is also more affordable when compared to European business centers. For example, one can rent a beautiful, fully furnished one bedroom apartment in the business district of Podgorica for €350-€400 per month. And apart from the business side, Montenegro boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage, beautiful nature, mild climate and 280 sunny days per year, which makes it very attractive as holiday and second-home destination.
Montenegro is home to some of the largest investment projects in Europe right now, numerous world-known hotel brands (such as Hilton, Aman, Regent, Sheraton, Chedi, Melia, Falkensteiner, Iberostar) while many others are just starting their projects, such as Ritz Carlton and One&Only. Large international corporations, such as Deloitte, Microsoft, Coca Cola, KPMG, Ernst&Young, together with well known international banks such as OTP, ERSTE, NLB, etc, are already operating in the country.
The Citizenship by Investment program was launched earlier this year. In your opinion, how will this affect the real estate market and the Montenegrin economy in general?
The Montenegrin economy was noted to be one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with economic growth rates in 2017 and 2018 being 4.7% and 4.9% respectively. Thanks to an open approach to economy within a business-friendly environment, Montenegro has attracted a lot of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) over the years. The total net inflow of FDIs in the first nine months of 2019 was €227.3 million, which is 48% more than during the same period last year. Now with the launch of Citizenship by Investment program, interest in the country is expected to increase even more. The new investments will ensure continuous sustainable growth of the economy.
The list of the tourism projects that are included in the Citizenship by Investment program includes projects in the South and in the Central and Northern regions. Some of them are planned as a time sharing investment, while others offer a simple purchase of the unit within a four or five star hotel resort. Apart from tourism projects, applicants can obtain Citizenship by investing in agriculture or wood processing sectors.
By becoming a Montenegrin citizen, one has gained a visa-free entry to 122 countries, including Europe’s Schengen Area, Russia, and Turkey.
It is strongly advised to consult a real estate agent who can provide guidance and advisory based on applicant’s needs and help them choose the best investment option.
RE/MAX Montenegro has offices in Podgorica, Budva, Tivat and Kotor and has a team of 25 real estate consultants and sales agents, all specialized in different regions of the country and different property types. With over 3.000 active listings in our database, from development land to residential and commercial properties to investment projects, we can advise on choosing the best investment option with a realistic return on investment.
For more expert advice on investing in Montenegro, as well as a comprehensive overview of those listings, visit the RE/MAX website.