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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

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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