The majority of expats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the capital, Sarajevo. Most are employed by NGOs or international organisations. Entrepreneurs are also starting to see the potential of the country’s educated workforce and are choosing Bosnia and Herzegovina as a destination for setting up businesses, especially those that focus on computing and technology.

The cost of living in Bosnia is very inexpensive. The prices of food and transport are minimal and decrease the farther away one goes from Sarajevo. The country is known for its beautiful mountainous scenery and expats will be able to make the most of its many skiing and hiking opportunities. Art lovers will be in their element in Sarajevo which has a thriving cultural scene. The Sarajevo Film Festival and International Theatre Festival are just two of the prominent events on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s calendar.

English isn’t always widely spoken but the younger generations are becoming more fluent as they learn it as a second language at school. Expats will discover that local people are warm, vibrant and generous, which helps foreigners in settling down in a new country. Expats who take the time to learn at least a few phrases of Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian will find that they develop a deeper appreciation of the local culture. It is also important for expats to remember that the majority of Bosnians are Muslim or Serbian Orthodox so it is advisable to dress modestly and behave conservatively, especially in rural parts of the country.

Obtaining the correct visa or work permit for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a long process and expats need to prepare themselves for the bureaucratic backlogs. Due to the country’s high unemployment figures, trailing spouses might have some difficulty in securing a job in their field, so it’s best to be flexible and open-minded.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is not the ideal expat destination for those with children as there are very few international schools in the country, most of which are located in Sarajevo. The standard of healthcare is not up to the standard that expats from North America or Western Europe would be accustomed to. There is a shortage of medical staff in Bosnia and Herzegovina and while there are a few good private hospitals in the country, it is best that expats invest in a health insurance policy that covers them for treatment abroad.

Despite its troubled past, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country full of potential and opportunities for expats. Once new arrivals overcome the bureaucratic red tape, they are likely to find that life in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a unique and worthwhile expat experience.

Fast facts

Population: About 3.5 million

Capital city: Sarajevo

Neighbouring countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina is bordered by Croatia to the north and west, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the south.

Geography: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a largely landlocked country located in the western Balkans. It is home to the Dinaric Alps as well as a substantial number of lakes and rivers. 

Political system: Federal parliamentary constitutional republic

Major religions: Islam and Orthodox Christianity

Main languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian

Money: The local currency is the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mark (BAM) which is divided into 100 pfennigs.

Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 in during daylight savings time)

Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz. Plugs with two round pins are used throughout the country.

Internet domain: .ba

International dialling code: +387

Emergency number: 112

Transport: Cars in Bosnia and Herzegovina drive on the right-hand side of the road.