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Wealthy Russians Escaping to Montenegro

Published: November 6, 2013 (Issue # 1785)



  • Russian investors are jumping at the opportunity to dive into the affordable Montenegrin real estate market.
    Photo: Felix Montino / Flickr

A small Montenegrin fort town on the shore of the Adriatic is now seeing a wave of Russian real estate buyers as its latest invaders.

Founded originally as a Bosnian fort in 1382, Herceg Novi has since played host to Ottoman Turks, Spaniards, Venetians, Dalmatians, Russians, Italians and any number of Balkan armies, all of which have left a unique and indelible mark on the look and atmosphere of this small fishing town whose population numbers 13,000. Its latest occupation, however, that of wealthy Russian property buyers looking for an escape from the stress of the city, is proving a more welcome one.

One such refugee, Olga Ogneva, 30, a freelance photographer, has swapped a life spent amidst the frustrations and traffic of Moscow to one where she can commute between cities by bicycle. From the start, my stomachache due to eating Moscow food every day cleared up, Ogneva said. My nerves settled. The pleasant climate, the sea, the mountains, the delicious natural food, plus the people, have all given me a peace of mind and a true enjoyment of life that I never knew in Moscow.

Attracted by plummeting property prices, Russian buyers are making their way to the tranquil Adriatic coast in droves. According to local real estate agency Adriatis, about 10 percent of property in Herceg Novi is owned by expatriates, about 6.5 percent of whom are Russians looking for an escape from harsh winters and traffic-choked streets. Less affected by the economic slowdown, Russian buyers have been quick to fill the gap left by nervous Western investors. With properties starting from as little as 40,000 euros ($53,000), it is clear why. The main peak was from 2006 to 2009, Adriatis general director Alexander Ivanov said. Currently, the price level of real estate in Montenegro has declined, with average prices in Herceg Novi standing at about 1,200 to 2,500 euros per square meter. Certainly there are cheaper and more expensive properties, but that depends on other factors, such as location. The fact is that for 2 million to 2.5 million rubles you can own an apartment by the sea.

Veselin Dragas, head of real estate company Forte Mare, sees cultural and historical affinities also driving Russian interest. The local people like the Russians, he said. We have similar languages, and the Orthodox Church. They blend in.

There are some associations where Russian people meet to talk, dance, watch movies, and so forth, Ivanov added. For those who want to plunge deeper into the life of Montenegro there is a Montenegro-Russian Friendship Society in Herceg Novi called Zajedno-Vmeste, or Together, which arranges thematic meetings every Sunday, travel trips around Montenegro, photo exhibitions of young Moscow photographer Leonid Mikhailov and meetings of the leaders of womens organizations of Russia and Montenegro.

The process of buying property is straightforward. It is a relatively simple process. All you need to do is just go to any real estate agency and make a request, said Vera Silvanskaya, a teacher from Moscow. They showed me all the possible options in different places in the country, so that first I chose the town and then I checked all the available apartments in that particular place. The notary work was also very simple.

As a result of the relatively low degree of development of the Montenegrin mortgage market, although loans up to the value of 60 percent to 70 percent of the property value are available, sellers are sometimes prepared to accept payment in installments.

Certainly, with its ever present army of somnambulant cats and white, narrow stone steps leading down to crystal clear Adriatic waters, Herceg Novi makes a tempting proposition at any price.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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