3 Nov 2020
Written By Jonathan Howe

Foreigners living in Montenegro series: Steve and Denise Boyton-Jennings

Steve and Denise Boyton-Jennings are a British couple who decided to leave everything behind to relocate and start a new life in Montenegro. Here is their Montenegro story…

After years of enjoying clothes-free annual holidays around the world, Steve & Denise decided to give up their high-stress UK corporate careers to chase a dream of operating their own clothing optional holiday resort.

The question was where? Their criteria included: warm climate, an emerging tourism destination, easy travel to and from friends and family back in the UK, and, above all, somewhere where property or land was affordable. The Balkan region seemed to fit the bill.

In 2006, they sold their 3-bed Semi in Watford, most of their belongings and set off in a red Transit van in search of their dream.

In 2009 they welcomed their first guests at Camp Full Monte. An off-grid, clothing-optional campsite and eco-project in Montenegro. You can check their reviews on Tripadvisor or you can easily contact them thru their Facebook page and Instagram account.

Find apartments and houses for rent in Montenegro here.
Learn more about living in Montenegro and temporary residency in Montenegro!
Foreigners-living-in-montenegro-series-steve-and-denise-boyton-jennings
Quick Facts:
  • Name: Steve & Denise Boyton-Jennings
  • Nationality: British
  • Moved to Montenegro: 2006
  • Town: Herceg Novi
1. When was the first time you visited Montenegro and what was your first impression?
We came for a week in October 2005 and were spellbound by the natural landscape - stunning mountain ranges rising steeply from a (relatively) undeveloped coastline. It was a little rough around the edges with many things not quite working. There was a simple, make do and mend culture but everyone was friendly, welcoming, and apparently not caught up in the consumerism that seemed to be dominating the rest of Europe.
2. What were you doing in your home country prior to moving to Montenegro?
Denise was an HR specialist, primarily in management recruitment, training and development.
Steve had spent his entire career in the IT industry and managed a team of network support specialists with a computer network management company
3. When did you move to Montenegro and how was the moving process?
We decided to make the move in October 2005, Steve resigned from his job and Denise took a redundancy offer. We sold the house within a week of putting it on the market. We leafleted our neighbourhood and had an open house contents sale. We also pitched up at as many boot sales as we could.

Things we wanted to keep were distributed around friends' lofts and attics. The rest we loaded into our Ford Transit van and we took to the road on the day of our house sale completion. We’d arranged a three-week rental in Herceg Novi having been told we’d easily find a longer term rent in that period and we did! In all, we made 6-7 trips back and forth to the UK in our van, each time bringing things we needed for our home and our development. All very easy really.
4. Why did you decide to move to Montenegro, rather than any other country?
The former Yugoslavia had a long history of naturist and nudist resorts dating back to the early 50’s but these were mostly in Croatia and were rather tired and “old hat”. We discounted Croatia because of that “competition”, besides it was much more expensive. We felt we had a good chance of tempting guests, who might otherwise visit Croatia, to venture further south in search of a new holiday destination.
We also looked at Slovenia but it was too cold in winter. Romania was cheaper but a bigger risk in terms of establishing if you were buying from the real owner. Bulgaria … simply didn’t have the same wow factor.
All roads seemed to lead to Montenegro, especially since we had a local contact there: a friend of a friend had hosted us on our first visit & was well-connected with expats & locals alike
5. What was your experience in applying for aTemporary Residence Permit in Montenegro during that time?
Someone recommended an accountant who helped us set up a company and deal with the residency paperwork. Even with their help it was a stressful process back then. A strange mix of absolute bureaucracy and the random application of rules. It’s much more clearly defined and constant now but our accountant still does all the work and even today I have no idea what the process is, or what the requirements are.
6. What do you for a living in Montenegro? How do you sustain your life here?
Revenue from the campsite can sustain us for some of the year but Denise has had to return to her HR career in the UK a few times to keep the bank balance topped up, mostly on short term contract or self employed consultancy basis during the winter months.
Steve does what he can doing odd jobs and handyman projects during the winter.
7. How much is your approximatemonthly cost of living in Montenegro? Can you compare it to the cost of living in your home country?
Including rent, food, consumables, running 2 vehicles, & costs associated with property & company the per adult cost is £700 (780 Euro) per month.
Although we rarely eat out, we eat (& drink!) very well and entertain regularly. Our life in the UK cost us approximately 5-6 times that but you can’t really compare the two lifestyles; they’re completely different but we’re much happier with our work/ life balance in Montenegro.
8. Why did you choose to live in your village?
It was conveniently situated for the area in which we wanted to establish the resort and we had an invaluable network of locals & expats.
9. What are the things/activities that you enjoy doing in Montenegro?
Steve loves running the campsite, meeting people, and hosting guests. It is more of a lifestyle than a job. He loves the challenge of living off-grid during the summer season, the DIY work of maintaining and developing the site and facilities. If he needs to escape the campsite, he spends time on the water with friends on a boat or he explores the maze of small roads and tracks that crisscross the country in a 4x4.
Denise enjoys exploring the outdoors with Daisy (the stray dog we adopted) and her many friends - hiking, kayaking & swimming in secluded parts of the Bay. We both love being so closely connected with nature, watching spring turn to summer and Autumn, watching our organic flower and vegetable gardens thrive but also learning about and observing the wild flora & fauna.We prefer home based entertaining and socializing with friends rather than in bars or cafes.
10. What are your top 5 reasons you love living in Montenegro?
The climate, the pace of life, proximity to the sea, diversity of the landscape, the natural beauty.
Foreigners-living-in-montenegro-series-steve-and-denise-boyton-jennings
11. What do you dislike, or would like to change in Montenegro?
Steve: The nepotism in the local and national government, the gender inequality, homophobia, racism & nationalism and apparent lack of any kind of strategic planning.
Denise: Nepotism in society; narrow mindedness; patriarchy; domination of short-term, tactical thinking over a long-term view.
12. What are your favorite tourist destinations in Montenegro that you always recommend to your family/friends?
The shores of the Boka Kotorska, particularly around the outer bay; the national parks, particularly the Durmitor region; and any of the walled cities.
Foreigners-living-in-montenegro-series-steve-and-denise-boyton-jennings
13. What’s your advice for anyone planning to relocate to Montenegro?
The diversity of location here is large (for such a small country!) so we recommend you come and spend at least a few months living here (including some winter months!) and exploring the country before making the move. Think carefully about how you'll sustain yourself here all year round.
As an immigrant in Montenegro, it is extremely difficult to succeed with any local business. With a population of around 600,000 spread over a wide area, market size will always be a limiting factor. That population can grow to 1.5 million in the tourist season, but it is short (about 4 months). Our advice would be to find employment/ a business in your home country (or a country with sufficient market size anywhere else in the world) that you can conduct remotely via the internet from Montenegro.

Fast Talk:

  • Favorite City – Herceg Novi
  • Favorite Restaurant (and location) – Ćatovića Mlini, Morinj
  • Favorite Hotel (and location)- None
  • Favorite Beach – Ada Bojana
  • Best Montenegrin Dishes - Sarma
  • Recommended Expat-Owned Business - A Day Out on Yacht Monty B: unique, affordable yacht trips in Montenegro on the gorgeous sailing yacht Monty B, skippered by Tim Layton (who has a wealth of info about his adopted country & its history) & his adorable dog Mollie
Read more Montenegro blogs