Last year, German citizens and companies invested the most money in the purchase of real estate in Montenegro out of all foreigners. Some are also selling property in Germany in order to start a tourism business in Montenegro.
The Oberender family of five from Coburg in the German federal state of Bavaria visited Montenegro for the first time in June of last year. Just two months later, they bought a house in the coastal settlement of Utjeha near Bar. They returned to Germany for a short time, only to permanently replace it with Montenegro from November.
“We asked friends about several countries, Bulgaria, Hungary, even Mexico. As children, we were several times on vacation in Yugoslavia, in Dubrovnik. We have long liked the mentality of the people here, especially when they say: “You work in Germany and we live in Montenegro,” Anja and Ralf Oberender told DW. Both are computer scientists and Ralf is an electrical engineer. Daughters Hana and Ela have already enrolled in elementary school in Ulcinj and are learning the Montenegrin language, and little brother Max will soon follow in their footsteps. They put their home in Germany up for sale and are waiting for a buyer.
More and more Germans in Montenegro
The Oberenders are just one of the German families who moved to Montenegro in the last year. According to the data of the Montenegrin Ministry of Internal Affairs, more than 700 German citizens currently reside in Montenegro, which has about 600,000 inhabitants.
The fact that last year German citizens and companies invested the most money of all foreigners in the purchase of real estate in Montenegro shows that the interest of Germans in coming has increased. Foreign citizens and companies bought real estate worth 370 million euros in the first 10 months of 2022, according to data from the Central Bank of Montenegro.
The Germans are In first place with 57 million euros, followed by the hitherto undisputed Russians with 50 million. This was certainly influenced by the Government’s economic citizenship program, that is, obtaining a Montenegrin passport in exchange for investments.
“It is not a surprise to us because we have heard from many people that they bought houses in Montenegro or moved here”, say the Oberenders, but they also emphasize that Montenegro is not quite a “paradise” because some Germans complained to them that they paid too much for their real estate in relation to real quality.
Germans in Montenegro are mostly concentrated in Bar, so they are already called “Bar Germans”. The most famous is Mihael Bader, who has been living in the Utjeha neighborhood for 15 years and is the “first aid” for many compatriots when they arrive in Montenegro. That’s how he helped the Oberenders as well. In Germany, Bader lived near Koblenz, in the federal province of Rhineland, and after the Montenegrin referendum on independence in 2006, he bought an apartment in Montenegro, as he says, “purely for vacation”.
“At that time, I wasn’t thinking about tourism or any other business. However, soon, quite by accident, I rented out that apartment and the first tourists arrived. The next year, even more came. Then I realized what a development opportunity it was, so, step by step, I replaced Germany with Montenegro,” Bader tells DW.
Since then, he rents out apartments and with the help of his partners organizes trips and tours around Montenegro, and he founded the “Future of Montenegrin Tourism” foundation. He is focused on tourists from the German-speaking area and, together with two other Germans, tirelessly promotes Montenegro as a tourist and cultural destination, and he is especially proud of the promotion through German TV stations such as SAT 1, WDR, SWR and ARTE.
Some sell everything in Germany and invest in Montenegro
Bader explains that Germans come to Montenegro for several reasons.
“Some are no longer satisfied with the political situation in Germany. Others want to live where there is a better climate, more sun, where there is sea and mountains. German pensioners come because it is financially easier for them to live here. The prices of energy and other things have risen sharply in Germany, and this affects them in particular. The average pension in Germany is 1,400 euros, and it is difficult to live on that, and in Montenegro, with 1,400 euros, you are a “king”, Bader is picturesque.
Apart from the fact that the cost of living is significantly lower, Montenegro is also attractive to Germans because of lower taxes for those who want to do business. These are mostly individuals or couples without children who work more or less online. Another type are those who focus on tourism.
“There are Germans who sold everything in Germany and bought real estate to live and work in Montenegro. Others buy them as an investment for the future and are not always there, but use the houses only during vacations. And of course, those who planned to engage in tourism bought or are building rental properties,” says Bader.
Among them are the Oberenders, who plan to rent out their new house in Utjeha.
“We think it’s a good opportunity because we see that the number of German tourists is growing. If we sell the house in Germany, we plan to buy more tourism facilities in Montenegro. In addition, we plan to attract digital nomads from Germany who can work here via the Internet”, say the newly minted citizens of Montenegro.
The latest tourist surveys show that as many as 3.8 million tourists from Germany are planning or considering visiting Montenegro in the next three years. For many, the “first gate” will be their compatriots in Bar. Bader says that a completely different society awaits them in Montenegro.
“People are friendly, open and help each other. That is no longer the case in Germany, because everyone only looks at themselves,” Bader claims, while he and the other “Germans from Bar” are trying to contribute to the new community, so last year they donated money to the fire department in Bar, after its heroic fight against fires.