Budva is a great place to stay for digital nomads who prefer working from home. It’s very central so that you can easily see a lot of Montenegro’s beauty.
If you want to spend some time outside the Schengen area, Montenegro is a great option. There are plenty of reasons to visit Montenegro, but why would you choose Budva over the other cities? Well, we actually chose Budva twice. Both times we stayed almost 3 months.
Reasons why Budva is a good choice for a digital nomads
Ok, let’s see what Budva has to offer for digital nomads.
1. Central location
Budva has a great central-ish location that allows day trips, short trips, and activities of all kinds. You can take the bus to almost everywhere in the country. Attractions, such as Kotor Bay, Sveti Stefan, Lovcen, Skadar, Herceg Novi, and Bar, are reachable within an hour or so.
2. Hop into the water in your lunch break
We often went to the beach for a quick cool-off during the afternoon. It was only 7 min from our apartment so it’s perfect for jumping in, enjoying the cool ocean, walk back, and continue with work.
There are plenty of beaches in and around Budva. So, you can also spend a whole morning or afternoon there if you wanted to.
3. Surrounded by mountains
If you like hiking, you can do so in the surrounding mountains. You can either take a taxi or bus to the trail heads, but it’s not very far. Only a few hiking trails really start in Budva.
It is one of the biggest cities in Montenegro so you’ve got all the necessities for a normal life. You shouldn’t have any problems finding things in stores, taking care of medical issues, or getting from A to B.
5. Affordable life
If you go to Montenegro outside the main holiday season (June to August), you’ll find it quite affordable.
We rented a 2-bedroom apartment for 350 Euro from September till December. The second time we paid 700 for a 1-bedroom apartment because it was during the summer.
So, the time really matters but that’s the case with any place at the Mediterranean Sea. They make the most money in summer and close down in winter.
6. Lots of available tours and trips
I mentioned the day trip possibilities, but you can also get on a group tour for many attractions. They offer a bunch of them. We only did two, and we weren’t really impressed, but we also don’t like group tours at all. We are more the self-guided travelers. However, you can see Ostrog, the Blue Cave, you can go whitewater rafting, and do many more things.
7. Weather is great
And it’s probably the best in whole Montenegro. Because Budva lays in a bay surrounded by the mountains, you’ll have great weather. The clouds just stay on the other side. If you’ll get a storm from the sea or mountains, it is over, though. It’s rare that it just rains a bit. It’s either sunny or super stormy.
Downsides of Budva
Let’s be real. Every place has its downsides. Without knowing them, you cannot make a proper choice.
1. Fast development
Some may find the fast-growing aspect of the city unattractive. The high-raised buildings do ruin the aesthetics that the medieval old town brings. And frankly, there are many new buildings each year. I was shocked how much Budva changed from our first stay in 2017 to the second in 2019 (about 1.5 years in between).
2. Smoking everywhere
Another thing that bothered me only a little bit, but may annoy others even more.
People just smoke e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e and everyone smokes. I don’t think restrictions exist, nor education. I mean I have seen a father smoking while holding a child in his arms, as well as a mother sitting in a café with her infant right next to her.
3. WiFi not everywhere
Unlike the cigarette smoke, WiFi isn’t available everywhere. For some reason, most cafés, bars, and restaurants don’t have internet. You can always get a SIM card with a bunch of GBs so you are not relying on WiFi when out and about. However, for people who love to work in cafés, it might be difficult in Budva.
4. Few coworking spaces
If you rely on coworking spaces, Budva may not be for you. There is no coworking in Budva. Edit: There is one coworking space now. It’s called Hubrela and it’s close to the central bus station. You can check it out here.
I always work at home. This way I can do that with my PJ, right when I get up. I know that some cannot function without an “office place”, though.
5. English isn’t that common
I had to add it because some people feel very uncomfortable when they cannot communicate in English. I, personally, don’t care and it’s a push to learn a few words in the respective language.
Digital nomad life in Budva
We really enjoyed staying in Budva. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gone there a second time. So, you probably wanna know a little bit more about living in Budva so you can make your own decision whether it is your cup of tea or not. Or to simply get to know the city more before you get there.
Where to live in Budva and how to find an apartment
Obviously, the closer to the old town you are, the more touristy and expensive it gets. I would never try to find an apartment there. Other than that, I have not personally seen a district that felt sketchy to me.
If you want to stay close to the beach I would recommend the districts Maini, Rozino, Velji Vinogradi, Babilonija, and maybe Centar. For Babilonija and Rozino, it might take you 10-15 min to get to the beach, depending on how much North it is. However, I did like the beach more toward the East anyways.
Our apartments were in Rozino district and we loved it. It wasn’t far from the beach. The old town was like a 30-min walk away (this counts the crowded paths in summer). We had the Garden Café and amazing restaurants around the block for dining out. There were 2 gyms and the central bus station close by. So, it was really convenient. We found it through the expats group on Facebook. We asked for help and some people messaged us with their available spaces.
You can also book some nights in a hotel and then walk around. Click here to reserve a room for the first days! (affiliate link: Booking through it supports this blog) You’ll see plenty of signs for available apartments. This way you can also get a better feeling of the neighborhood and city in general. However, keep in mind that it can get tricky in the summer months (mid-June until mid-August). People rather rent to vacationers or ask for ridiculous amounts.
Babin Do wasn’t an area I preferred because it’s all built on the hills. If you want to go up and downhill for your daily workout, do you. Also, it felt more like the rich people’s area with fewer down-to-earth dining options.
Rental prices seem to vary a lot! One factor is the time of the year. Summer months are usually double or even triple. The other months, a 1-bedroom apartment can be as cheap as 250 Euro. Negotiation skills, location, as well as the quality of the apartment play a role, of course.
Reporting your stay to the police
I have found out that you are usually required to report your stay to the police. Honestly, I have never done it and never got into trouble. However, I also never crossed a border by land. I read that people had issues when they tried to enter Bosnia & Herzegovina. So, please, inform yourself about this. I am really not the best person to give advice on this.
Wifi & SIM Cards
I’ve been reading a lot that WiFi is horrible in Montenegro in general. I cannot say that at all. Our WiFi was always fast. We never had any issues with it. My husband does customer service via Skype/Google Voice, and he never complained. I guess it just depends on where you stay.
For SIM Cards, I bought the tourist package for 15 Euro from Telenor. It came with 10 GB for 30 days, I believe. So, it’s not super cheap but you also get quite a few GBs.
Cafés & Coworking
And this is where it gets tricky. I don’t think Budva has many cafés, where you could work at. There are some cute cafés but often they don’t have Wifi. If you are fine with hooking up your phone as a hotspot, you’re good to go then.
I have found one coworking space on Google when I was there but, honestly, I can’t even find it anymore. So, I just say there isn’t any coworking spaces in Budva. They seem to be less popular in this city.
If you depend on coworking spaces Herceg Novi, Kotor, Tivat, Porto, Bar, and Podgorica are better choices for you.
I eat where I live. So, I usually don’t go far away for that. The old town is insanely overpriced, so I cannot recommend anything. We’ve eaten there once at the Secret Garden, and I was just not happy with it.
Where you really have to eat is local restaurants with daily menus. They are the best! It’s like 5 Euro and you get a soup and a main dish. Sometimes it even includes a salad or dessert. It’s so worth it and, frankly, you could share it if you’re used to eating regular-sized meals. A bunch of places offer these daily menus, such as Stella, Relax Grill, and Pod Lozom. That’s all on Mainski Put.
Our favorite grilled meats were from Parma. We regularly ate at Garden Café. This wasn’t just because they were super close, the food is good, too. Especially the burgers and chicken meals.
When we went out for a more “fancy” dinner, we went to Teraca Restaurant on the main street (Jadranski Put). They serve typical Montenegrin dishes, such as Ispod Sac. The meat falls apart and it’s super delicious!
You should, of course, try some seafood, too. There are plenty of restaurants along the coast if you want to enjoy a nice view at the same time. I don’t have a favorite restaurant or dish when it comes down to seafood, though.
If you just want a quick snack, go to a bakery (Pekara) and get Burek. We love this stuff!
Expenses – How much does it cost to live in Budva as a digital nomad?
I obviously can only talk about our expenses. And in this case I can only tell you what we spent in summer 2019. We just started listing our expenses.
Here is our average spending (for 2 people):
- Rent (including utilities): 700 Euro (350 Euro off season)
- Food: 450 Euro
- Activities: 80 Euro (such as tours, beach chairs, kayaking, parasailing, etc.)
- Alcohol: 150 Euro
- Transportation: 30 Euro (busses, taxis, boats)
- Total: 1410 Euro (1060 Euro and less in off season)
Ok, let me explain this a little more. The food includes daily coffees at the café (1.50 Euro per cappuccino), as well as mostly dining out. I didn’t cook much. So, we spend about 100-150 Euro for groceries and the rest is restaurants and cafés.
With that in mind, we, of course, also spend a lot for beer. It was just nice to drink a cool beer on a beach chair every now and then.
What I am trying to say is we definitely didn’t save on dining or alcohol. So, if you live more frugal, you can surely do it for less. Also keep in mind that tours and activities cost more in high season.
Last but not least, I want to talk about the language again. Montenegrin is maybe not the easiest to learn but if you know a few words in it, you can communicate in Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatia as well. These languages are very similar. It’s like dialects or like American, British, and Australian English.
Another language that is useful is Russian. Most tourists speak Russian so that you will get around with it in Montenegro just fine.