Serbia is a modern country with an improving economy and lifestyle. Boasting several world heritage sites, a rich cultural heritage and a reputation for hospitality, it is certainly a good bet when considering investing in property. Considered to be very safe for foreigners, in Serbia many locals have a good understanding of English and the pace of life is generally a little more relaxed than in the UK.
Belgrade is an especially appealing destination for property buyers, thanks to its thriving nightlife, contemporary shopping facilities and vibrant social scene. At the epicentre of sporting and musical events, Belgrade offers bars, restaurants, attractions and facilities to suit all ages and tastes. With an excellent public transport system, there is no need to drive around the city, and there are both traditional areas that have an authentic atmosphere and modern districts that are considered to be very desirable because of their proximity to the river or green spaces. Belgrade has a small but significant ex-pat community, and there is a more forward thinking and cosmopolitan feel in the capital than in some of the smaller towns, although some of the other larger cities such as Novo Sad and Nis are also moving more into the 21st century and are proving to be more popular with foreign investors.
There are several cultural differences between the UK and Serbia, with some ways of life possibly appearing to be old-fashioned or at odds with the traditional way of doing things in the UK. As there is a lot of local unemployment and lots of families are on low incomes, the standards of living may seem lower than in other European countries, and although there are plenty of amenities, levels of cleanliness may not be quite up scratch to British eyes, as well as attitudes and manners being somewhat different to the British norm. Nevertheless, most UK citizens could enjoy an excellent quality of life in Belgrade, with plenty of opportunities for socialisation, entertainment and relaxation.
Belgrade boasts a large metropolitan area of around 360 square kilometres, although in fact the major tourist sites are all located in one small area. The city is divided by the River Sava, and those searching for historic properties should look to the right bank, while those who are interested in finding a bargain among the more recently constructed buildings should look to the left bank, where Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) is situated. Although less attractive to the British eye than its older counterpart across the river, there are some new exclusive developments being constructed here that are well worth investing in.
When it comes to searching for properties in Belgrade, there are several areas that are considered desirable. The Dorcol and Vracar areas close to the city centre are among the best for those looking for a central location, while Dedinje and Senjak, although a little further out, are among the best places to find a larger and more luxurious property. These days, there are exclusive modern developments both within a few minutes drive of the heart of the city and on the outskirts, that are becoming ever more popular with foreign investors who are looking for a more luxurious lifestyle within easy reach of facilities.
Although many of the city’s districts have seen considerable modernisation and improvements over the last few years, there are still some areas that appear very run down. Savamala, for example, is yet to see any revitalisation and may not appeal to UK investors.
In the city centre, there are plenty of apartments, although depending on the chosen district these could be either character properties or more modern flats, usually with one or two bedrooms, ideal for young professional couples or singles. The average price of a Belgrade apartment is between €1,600 and €2,100 per square metre, with more high-end properties starting at an asking price of €2,200 per square metre of space. Many property experts in the Serbian market recommend that UK investors look to the central districts of the city and snap up some of the beautiful historic properties that are available for purchase at very reasonable prices at the current time. These characterful buildings tend to have more appeal than the plainer concrete blocks that were constructed during the Communist era, although those less attractive homes do have a lower price tag which may appeal to investors looking for good returns.
There are some real estate advisors who recommend that investors look for a property of between 100 and 150 square metres as this size of property is most likely to achieve an attractive rate of return.