According to the Nomad List ranking and the Digital Serbia Initiative report, Belgrade was one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads in 2020. Even though the number of digital nomads coming to Serbia could be higher, those who decide to visit it tend to stay for a long period as she is a cheap city to live in and one of the best places to work remotely from.

Morgan Book, a management consultant born in Indiana, USA, spent 16 months in the country. He first visited Belgrade in 2017, but came back more than a dozen times, visiting other cities such as Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Niš, Subotica, Kraljevo, and Čačak as well.

serbian type of hospitality

The first time he visited Serbia, Morgan was 18 years old. He was a university student and during a three-month summer vacation he decided to hitchhike across Europe. He started in Frankfurt, Germany, and he just stuck out his thumb to see where he would end up.

Hitchhiking is a good way to save some money if you're a young person like me back then. I think most Americans would decide to go west to Spain and France, but I decided to go east, to visit these countries I’ve never heard of before.

While in Zagreb, Croatia, Morgan decided to try to get to Belgrade. A Serbian guy picked him up and told him that he could drive him all the way. He was the first Serbian person that Morgan met.

Once we got to Belgrade, he said that he’d like to take me out to dinner. He said it was his treat and that I shouldn’t worry about it. So, immediately, I got a taste of what Serbian hospitality was like. This guy I met was super friendly, warm, and grateful to have me visiting Serbia.

On this trip, Morgan was couchsurfing, and he had to arrange to stay with somebody in Belgrade. When Morgan told this to the guy during their dinner, he offered to go with him and meet the person he was staying with, just in case.  

He talked with my host, and when he decided that everything is normal, he gave me his number. He said ‘If anything turns out bad or dangerous, you're free to come stay with me’. I was like, wow, the hospitality here is unlike anywhere I've ever been.

approachable people and unique experiences

In 2018, Morgan’s university and the University of Belgrade established a partnership. It was a competition where universities from all around the world are invited to help out Serbian businesses. Morgan was a part of a small team and he spent two weeks in Serbia analyzing a couple of different businesses. 

As a result of that experience, he got to meet dozens of students and became friends with quite a few people. So when he decided to come back to Serbia for a longer period in 2019, he’d already had friends there. Regardless, Morgan emphasizes how easy it is to meet people in Belgrade.

There were a lot of instances where I would just go out by myself to a bar. I would just talk to the owners, or people working there, or other people in the bar. It's very easy to meet people in Belgrade, which is important for digital nomads. People are very approachable, and you’ll have some really memorable, unique experiences.

Morgan told a story about one time he went to a bar that serves the traditional Serbian brandy called rakija. 

I was sitting at the bar by myself, talking to the bartender, and he said ‘You have to try every type of rakija we have. Tell me which one is your favorite and don't worry about paying.’ 

It’s like 50 different types there, and I’m trying every type, so I'm having a great time. Some other people started talking to me and we formed a group. When the bar started closing up, they were like ‘Where do we go now?’

They were from some other city, and they weren't too familiar with Belgrade, so we just picked some random nightclub, and I partied until four or five in the morning with random people that I had just met.

a place you can't get bored with

One of the most popular areas in Belgrade is Dorćol, the oldest surviving neighborhood of Belgrade, near the fortress of Kalemegdan. There, Morgan found several cool bars he liked to visit, like Gunners Pub, Rakia Bar, and cocktail lounge Druid Bar. Even though he didn’t enjoy hardcore clubbing so much, he liked visiting KST. As he explains, it reminded him of college parties in the US, so it felt a little bit like home.

Belgrade is famous for its nightclubs on boats on the Sava and Danube rivers, and Morgan liked to visit Freestyler and 20/44.

There’s also a specific type of place, called kafana, which is a kind of restaurant with live bands playing Serbian folk music. I liked the atmosphere there. People expected me to hate the music, but I didn't mind it, I just like the high energy atmosphere. If people are having a good time, I don't care what kind of music is playing. And it seemed like people had the best time at kafanas.

Digital nomads wouldn’t be digital nomads if they didn’t like to experience new things. Morgan says that he has been able to do things in Serbia that most Serbians don't experience. 

I went to Novi Sad and there's tunnels, dozens of kilometers long, that go under the Petrovaradin fortress. A couple of my friends took headlamps and we did a tunnel trip, which was insane.

Morgan feels that there’s no reason to limit yourself to Belgrade, because the whole region is beautiful. His favorite hobby is hiking, and he says that Serbia is fantastic for hikers.

I’ve spent a lot of time in south-west Serbia which is extremely beautiful, with a lot of mountains, hiking trails and, of course, skiing. I went to Tara where I rented a little cabin on top of the mountain. It was a really nice vacation, just beautiful scenery. Near Belgrade you have Fruška Gora and, if you want to take a quick trip, it’s quite a beautiful place to visit.

you can leave serbia, but serbia will always stay a part of you

After the pandemic and lockdown started, Morgan went back to the US. He’s now living in Salt Lake City, Utah, but he kept in touch with quite a few people he met in Serbia. Those connections followed him even to the other side of the globe.

When Morgan was living in Belgrade, he had a roommate, a guy from Novi Sad, who is now one of his best friends. He told Morgan about a Serbian Orthodox priest who lives in Salt Lake City, and that he should connect with him.

When I met this priest, I told him that I used to live in Novi Pazar, and he was blown away because that’s his hometown. He said that the church provides him with this big house and any time I want to be there, I have a place to stay.

Starting from 2021, all digital nomads staying in Serbia for up to 90 days will be exempt from taxes. This will surely increase the number of nomads coming to the country, but Morgan Book’s story shows us that it is very difficult to leave this country and its people even after three months.

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