Foreigners living in Montenegro series: Hayley Wright
Real-life experience of being a foreigner in Montenegro
Hayley Wright is a British mother of two and the owner of Black Mountain adventure travel company with her husband, Jack. Being a graduate of the Russian language, she has previously worked and studied in Russia, but now lives in Suscepan, Herceg Novi with her husband and two children aged 10 and 14. After 15 years of building a life and successful business here, they plan to stay in the Balkans and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! Here is their Montenegro story…
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- Name: Hayley Wright
- Nationality: British
- Moved To Montenegro: 2006
- Which Town/City? Herceg Novi
1. When was the first time you visited Montenegro and what was your first impression?
It was in late summer 2000, I came here on business the first time and loved the beautiful landscapes of the Bay of Kotor and Adriatic coastline. Knowing people here already made it quite a different experience from visiting as a tourist since my colleagues from Montenegro and Serbia knew the best beaches and restaurants to go to and we had leisure time to explore etc. Montenegro at that stage was still not re-established as an international tourism destination.
2. What were you doing in your home country prior to moving to Montenegro?
I worked in the oil industry for 10 years which got me my first introduction to the Balkan region as the company I worked for had a lot of business in the Western Balkans and strong connections to the area.
3. When did you move to Montenegro and how was the moving process?
We moved here in February 2006. The moving process for us was pretty easy as we had already been travelling / living abroad for the previous year and so our UK life was already pretty much closed down. We packed our Land Rover with our gear and drove from the UK to Montenegro, we had an apartment rental already set up through friends from Herceg Novi who lived in London and having already spent a fair amount of time in Montenegro and the Balkans region made it a fairly smooth transition for us.
4. Why did you decide to move to Montenegro, rather than any other country?
I had already been working in the region for some time, we had considered a move to Australia after spending some time there but decided it was too far from our families who are UK and Canada based. Jack loves the sea: sailing, diving and I love the mountains: hiking, skiing etc – so Montenegro was actually a perfect compromise for us both. We were setting up an adventure travel business and this was the perfect location, still very unknown at the time. I also spoke basic Serbian at the time which made things smoother for the transition.
5. What was your experience in applying for a Temporary Residence Permit in Montenegro during that time?
It was very ad hoc, there was no proper system in place and basically everything depended on the Inspector for Foreigners and whether or not you could find him at his desk when you turned up to apply or renew. The documents required were never provided on a list or website. The Inspector would tell you what to bring and then add to the verbal list whenever he remembered something else. It was not a consistent or transparent process back then (I would argue that it is still not transparent today, but the process has improved!).
6. What do you for a living in Montenegro? How do you sustain your life here?
We established an adventure travel business when we moved here and Jack also set up a business consulting on sustainable tourism development which has taken him all over the world in the past 10 years. Both businesses took a while to get established and for the first 3 years I worked remotely for another company to earn an income while we established our businesses. Since 2009 these two businesses have sustained us for the time we have lived here.
7. How much is your approximate monthly cost of living in Montenegro? Can you compare it to the cost of living in your home country?
We live here for approx 1/2 to 2/3 of the cost of living in the UK per month. Some things are less expensive but others are more expensive (especially electricity, some imported goods such as certain brands of coffee etc).
8. Why did you choose to live in your town or village?
Herceg Novi was the first town I visited when I came to Montenegro, I had friends and colleagues who lived here or had holiday houses here. When we decided to move here we did look at other places in Montenegro to live but in the end we could not find anywhere we liked as much as sunny Herceg Novi with its wonderful 7km waterfront promenade, historic old town, sense of community as well as the Bay of Kotor and incredible Mount Orjen on the doorstep. We have never regretted the decision to live in Herceg Novi.
9. What are the things/activities that you enjoy doing in Montenegro? (Hobbies/ gatherings)
Hiking with our dog, swimming in the sea, rivers and lakes, kayaking/SUP, winter sports, visiting local friends to eat great food with fantastic company.
10. What are your top 5 reasons you love living in Montenegro?
The climate, the outdoor lifestyle, the community, the food we grow/buy here, the relaxed lifestyle.
11. What do you dislike, or would like to change in Montenegro?
The trash issue, cleaning up the environment. We are part of community groups which do this and have been doing so for years but the task is far from done. Montenegro is a very long way from being an ‘ecological’ state, despite declaring itself one in 1991. We also need to work for better transparency in business and state institutions.
12. What are your favorite tourist destinations in Montenegro that you always recommend to your family/friends?
Piva Mountains / Piva Canyon, Orjen mountain, Biogradska National Park, Komovi and Prokletije, Stari Bar and Stari Ulcinj and finally Ada Bojana!
13. What’s your advice for anyone planning to relocate to Montenegro?
Learn the language as much as you can (I appreciate it’s not an easy one, but it’s so important when moving to a new country) and get involved with your local community. There are wonderful people here, who are educated and informed, and many are very well travelled, have lived or studied overseas etc. There are expat communities in some areas, but this is not Dubai. I would recommend anyone moving here to be invested in their local community and ensure that their presence here and their business (if running one) will benefit local people, and respect local values and culture.
- Favorite City – Herceg Novi (of course!)
- Favorite Restaurant (and location) – Konoba Skver, Herceg Novi for the seafood and Adriatik. Rose for the views and just for being there!! (p.s. this is a very hard question – I could list so many more amazing restaurants and their amazing locations!)
- Favorite Hotel (and location) – Klinci Village (Lustica) and Palata Venezia (Stari Ulcinj) – for their locations and history, Lazure Hotel & Spa, Herceg Novi for the facilities and architecture/design, plus all the eco villages in the north!!! This is also a very hard question to narrow down!!
- Favorite Beaches – Big Beach (Ulcinj) and Morinj (Bay of Kotor), however I prefer lake swimming and all the northern lakes are wonderful for uncrowded swimming – Piva, Black Lake, Biogradska!
- Best Montenegrin Dishes – Black risotto on the coast (although not exclusively Montenegrin, more regional) and kačamak in the north.
- Recommended Expat-Owned Business (and brief description) – Undiscovered Montenegro – for fantastic family-friendly activity trips in the beautiful Skadar Lake area.
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