Expats thinking of immigrating to Macedonia can look forward to living in an exquisitely beautiful country with lush forests, majestic mountain ranges and many lakes. Although fortunately spared much of the violence its fellow Balkan states have had to endure, Macedonia has had its fair share of economic struggles and political instability, which have in the past dissuaded many expats from moving here.
Living in Macedonia as an expat
Macedonia is a lively and diverse melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures and influences. That said, ethnic tensions have plagued the country in the past and pushed it to the brink of civil war in 2001 when Albanian extremists declared war against the Macedonian state. Although a peace treaty brought an end to the violence, tensions remain high and expats should avoid discussing this sensitive issue.
Most expats living in Macedonia are employed by English language schools or NGOs that are involved with relief work and technical training, and the majority are based in the capital, Skopje.
Cost of living in Macedonia
Compared to the rest of Europe, the cost of living in Macedonia is extremely low. However, the wages in Macedonia are also much lower than in most European countries, and expats should make sure to negotiate a fair salary in order to live comfortably and to enjoy the country’s many great offerings.
Healthcare for expats in Macedonia
Macedonia’s healthcare system has undergone considerable improvements in recent years. Primary public healthcare is now freely available to all citizens, including registered expats, under a universal state-sponsored health insurance scheme, which includes unlimited visits to primary healthcare professionals and services. Employers and employees are obligated to pay monthly contributions towards this scheme. Private healthcare is also available with a number of new clinics emerging in recent years. Expats are also able to take out additional private insurance to cover services not provided by the state system.
Expat families and children
Primary and secondary education in public schools is free in Macedonia and compulsory for all children. Classes in public schools are taught in Albanian, Macedonian, Turkish or Serbian, but there are also a number of private schools in the country that offer bilingual classes for foreigners. However, most expats choose to send their children to one of a handful of international schools in Skopje.
Expats looking to take a family trip out in nature will be spoilt for choice with the number of exquisite lakes and national parks dotted around the country. Macedonia is also host to a number of historical sites and monuments that are well worth a visit for any expats wishing to learn more about the country’s culture.
Macedonia is a small but beautiful country that is situated in an ideal location for any expats wishing to travel around Europe. Along with great healthcare and schooling benefits, and a below average cost of living, the country boasts scenic views that would take one’s breath away. Despite its somewhat volatile political state, Macedonia is a wonderful place for expat families to settle down in and enjoy new experiences.
Population: About 2 million
Capital city: Skopje
Neighbouring countries: Macedonia is a landlocked country and is bordered by Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Albania to the west and Kosovo to the northwest.
Geography: Macedonia is positioned on a plateau and is segmented by rolling hills and mountains. Though landlocked, the country has three large lakes and a number of rivers.
Political system: Parliamentary republic
Major religions: Orthodox Christianity and Islam
Main languages: Macedonian and Albanian
Money: The Macedonian Denar (MKD), which is not divided into smaller units. Expats should easily be able to open an account at a bank of their choice. ATMs are also easy to find and access.
Tipping: Tipping is not expected but is appreciated.
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. European-style plugs with two rounded pins are used.
Internet domain: .mk
International dialling code: +389
Emergency contact: 112 (general emergency) 192 (police), 193 (fire department), 194 (ambulance)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Expats should be aware that roads are not always in good condition and drivers often ignore pedestrian crossings and red lights. Macedonia has a well-developed bus system, and taxis are also a popular and affordable mode of transport.