What It’s Like Living in Albania

What It’s Like Living in Albania

 

Nearly every day I have to slap myself that I live in Albania.  A country that I knew nothing about 6 months ago but have been back to 4 times since April.  Now as I sit here overlooking the ocean, I thought it would be the perfect time for a little life update and tell you guys what it’s really like living in Albania, and why I choose this destination over others.

 

I fell in love with Albania in March when I took an overnight road trip with some people I met in a hostel in Kotor, Montenegro.  We decided on a spontaneous trip to Albania.  By the time we got to the north of Albania – Shkodër it was late afternoon.  We checked into our hostel (The Wanderers) and for €5 we got a bed, a beer, and free breakfast, I couldn’t believe it.  It was almost like we had transported ourselves to Asia where the prices are incredibly low.  We then went out for a meal we ordered a table full of different dishes plus wine and it cost no more than €6 or €7 each.  What was this place?

If you haven’t already noticed Albania’s prices are crazy cheap compared to the rest of Europe.  A hostel will cost you next to nothing and so will your meals.  It’s the perfect place if you want to explore and spend next to no money at all.

For example:

  • A loaf of bread – 60 LEK (€0.44)
  • Souvlaki – 180 LEK (€1.30)
  • A draught beer – 150 LEK (€1.10)
  • A Greek salad – 300 LEK (€2.20)
  • 1.5 litre of raki (the local moonshine) – 600 LEK (€4.40)
  • Burek – 50 LEK (€0.37)

 

I currently live in a city called Saranda, which is along the Albanian Riveria although I don’t class it as a city because it’s super small. It’s a fantastic base because it has an abundance of good restaurants, pumping nightlife in the summer, and from there is good transportation throughout Albania and onwards to Athens or Corfu.  If I am catching a flight to Europe I will catch the ferry over to Corfu (which takes half an hour), as flights are normally cheap and easy to get from there.

 

What it's really like living in Albania

I rented a brand-new apartment right on the beach and about a 15-minute walk if I want to be right in the heart of the city.  Where I am located now is lovely because it’s a little quieter than if I was to live in the city and the beaches are nicer here.  I pay €150 per month for rent and then €80 on top of that for power, water and fast WIFI.  All together that’s €230 a month for my own space right on the beach, which is perfect for me because according to studies, living by the beach is where you are the most creative, and as a blogger, I need my creative juices to be flowing always!

what it's like living in Albania

Is living in Albania safe?  This is probably the number one question I get asked.  There are a lot of misconceptions about Albania and its safety.  Albania is not full of gangsters, sex traffickers and mafia walking around on the streets.  Every country in this world has its share of bad people but in Albania, I haven’t met any yet. I feel safer here than in most western European countries.  The tourist crime rate here is low.  Albania also has a code of Besa which is the highest ethical code and roughly translates to ‘to keep the promise’.  Albanians are very loyal people and if they see tourists they feel it is their duty to keep them safe and feel welcomed.  There have been multiple occasions where Albanians have helped me tremendously.

When I arrived into Tirana in April, I needed to catch a bus down to Saranda.  When I arrived, there were about 15 men asking where I was going.  When I yelled Saranda they all look worried and as I looked up, the bus was pulling onto the highway.  All of them started yelling at the bus driver to stop, some even stood in front of the bus, one man picked up my (huge and heavy) bag and another waved me to come hop on.

Another time when I was catching the overnight bus from Athens to Albania I sat next to an Albanian lady who insisted on feeding me.  She pulled out toasted sandwiches from her bag and even though I said no thank you, she grabbed my hand and insisted I eat it.  Then at around 1 am, we had a stop near the border.  She noticed that I was running low on water so she went into the shop and bought me a new one.  How sweet is that?!

Instances like these happen nearly every day and it’s a big part why I love it here so much.  Not only that, but as a digital nomad this is an affordable place to base myself and it’s not part of the Schengen zone and also I can stay here for 3 months at a time, or go to the police office and apply for residency to stay longer.  If you’re from the US you can technically stay here for up to a year!

what it's like living in Albania

Living in Albania does have its struggles though.  Food is limited to variety. You will find an abundance of Greek, Italian and obviously Albanian food but if you’re craving something spicy or even just a burger, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find that.  Also, the postal service here is non-existent so I cannot get anything sent here but I feel like that’s a small price to pay to live in such an untouched and beautifully raw destination like Albania.

Life in Albania is slow-paced, relaxed and it’s probably my favourite place I have lived in so far as it’s so different from anything I have experienced.

If you have any other questions about me in living in Albania feel free to leave them below!

 

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What It’s Like Living in Albania

 

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9 Comments

    • September 15, 2017 / 1:35 am

      Thank you 🙂 I hope you come to visit Albania soon!

  1. September 15, 2017 / 3:24 am

    SUPER interesting. I’ve wanted to visit Albania since I went to Croatia like 15 years ago. It’s even better than I thought! Super cool move.

  2. September 15, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    Living in Albania sounds amazing! I was hoping to visit on my travels earlier this year but didn’t quite make it that way – will definitely make sure it’s on the ‘must-visit’ list when I am back in Europe soon! x

  3. September 17, 2017 / 6:10 am

    Hi Anita, great post and well done on taking the plunge. A friend of mine and me are coming to Saranda next Friday and plan to visit Butrint & Blue Eye from there and travel to Tirana on Saturday. Do you know the easiest way to travel. I saw there was a Riviera bus via Durres but not sure if it is running. We would love to go by train but I hear this may be hit and miss. Any insight you have will be fabulous. Wilbur.

    • September 22, 2017 / 5:15 am

      Hey, thank you for reading 🙂 That’s amazing, I hope you love Saranda. Yes, there are local buses running from Saranda to Butrint and Blue Eye. To the blue eye, you will need to catch the bus that goes towards Gijrokastor. On the way back you will need to hitchhike though as its never sure when the buses come back through. You can also catch a taxi which is much easier and for a very good price (they will wait at the blue eye and then take you back) as soon as you are limited in time. To Butrint there are buses every half an hour leaving from Saranda and a ticket costs 100lek. Don’t catch the Riveria bus, it’s over-priced! There are a few buses to Tirana, including an overnight one. I think the ticket is about 8-10 euro if I remember correctly. There are no trains here unfortunately so it’s all buses! If you are confused on times just ask a local as they will know exactly when they leave etc, especially as it’s the end of the season and bus times may change a little. Have fun!

      • September 22, 2017 / 7:34 am

        Thanks Anita, we will put it into practice tomorrow. Wilbur.

  4. September 18, 2017 / 6:05 pm

    Nice article. I have been in Tirana 2 years ago, when we crossed the Balkans towards Greece. I can confirm that food is super cheap and people are nice. It was surprising to see all the last decades at the same place (’50s, ’60s, etc until now).
    PS. One correction though. Albania doesn’t have an ocean but a sea.

  5. September 20, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I really enjoyed my recent trip to Tirana. You are so right about how friendly and honest the people are, they’re a big part of why I loved Tirana so much: http://www.lemonsandluggage.com/blog/eight-reasons-tirana-is-my-favorite-city-in-the-balkans-so-far

    It sounds like you’re living a great life over there. I live in Athens, and I would say it’s similarly difficult to find international food here, but it’s a big city, so in Saranda it’s even more expected, I guess. Slowly, slowly there is more variety here though and even some vegan places. I like that you wrote an honest post about the pros and cons, and I always try to do the same when I write about Greece: http://www.lemonsandluggage.com/blog/whats-it-like-in-athens

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