What I Love About Albania

It’s been pointed out that some people seem to think my life is nothing but adverse events, and that I’m only here because it’s cheap. I really hate when that happens!

It’s a sad truth that I definitely can’t afford to live in the US. I’d need around another $800 a month in order to live comfortably in the states, even though there are no utility bills at my AZ tiny house, and taxes are only $29 a year. And it is true that I initially moved here because of the cost of living, but also for the quality of life and ability to live without owning a car.

I think Albania suits me and is a good fit for me. I’m pretty health-conscious and the food here is far superior and healthier than in the US, plus here I’m forced to get my lazy butt up off the sofa and walk to get groceries, etc. instead of walking 20′ and jumping in a car to run errands. The most recent life expectancy figures rates Albania higher than the US. Here there are very few overweight people and the older folks seem more vigorous and healthy.

I have never been one to eat in restaurants, especially in the US, because of cost and how unhealthy the ingredients are that they use.  I still don’t eat in restaurants much, mostly because I’m such a fussy eater and I like to cook, but if I did, I can get an omelet and cappuchino for $4.00 or a chicken breast dinner for $6. (and a 10% tip is considered pretty generous!) A delicious 10″ pizza is from $4.50 to $8.00! Pizza is one of my most favorite foods and it kills me to not eat it here where it’s so good and so cheap! (Too many carbs). Here’s part of the pizza offerings from Patio Restaurant, where we have our Game Night gatherings. (Right now 100 ALL = $1)

The meats are all free-range, antibiotic and hormone free. They’re also really lean and without a lot of fat marbling, so not as tender but are so delicious! GMO foods and the use of Glyphosate (Round-Up pesticide) and many other pesticides are strictly forbidden. Produce is local, seasonal, incredibly cheap and insanely delicious.

The climate here is pretty nice, apartment rentals are ridiculously low (my very nice 2 bedroom apartment 1 block from the beach is €250 a month in the off-season) and the sea view is great. There’s a 5 mile long promenade along the beach for walking.

Albania is super-safe. Like 10 times safer than anywhere in the US! I feel 100% safe walking here at any time of the day or night. Albanians are very friendly and kind (unless you’re trying to get on a bus, then it’s every man for himself!) And they’re especially nice to the elderly, which apparently I am, though it’s really hard to wrap my mind around that concept.  (Wasn’t I whitewater kayaking and rock climbing just a few years ago??) Anyway, no matter how many people are on the bus, a younger person will almost always get up and offer me their seat. And if not, the money-taker guy will often make someone get up so I can sit.

And the big bonus is that I have local friends here. I really haven’t had friends near me to do stuff with since I moved from Michigan to NC in 1979. Luckily I’m very self-sufficient and I have plenty of good friends, they just didn’t live very close. The weekly Game Nights and occasional coffee or breakfasts with friends here is priceless.

I admit my start-up and Residency expenses have been more than I anticipated but I also got about $22,000 of dental work for $1200. It’s hard to beat that kind of savings. I literally never would have been able to get my teeth fixed in the US, and that would have affected my health sooner or later. I’ve been surprised at how much more confident I am when meeting new people and how much more likely I am to smile, and to not cover my mouth with my hand.

Some of the things I do miss about the US are my sweet tiny house and the night skies there, filled with millions of stars. Some food products and supplements are just not available. And I wish the time difference wasn’t so great. Six hours is a lot.

What I’d really love is to have enough money to be able to stash a minivan somewhere in the US and go back for a couple months a year to travel around and visit my friends, camping in the van and seeing the sights along the way. I don’t feel I was really done yet with US travel and there are many places I’d love to revisit. While that’s a really pleasant dream, it’s just never gonna happen.

Yesterday I asked myself the hard question….if I could afford to live comfortably in the US, would I move back. Shockingly, even to myself, I concluded that the answer was a resounding NO! I really am happy here.

So please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not in exile here! It’s a great country and now that I’m here, I selfishly want to close the borders so hordes of expats like me don’t descend and change everything. I think Albania is going to be a hot destination for expats, especially Americans, in the future. And that’s usually not a good thing for the adopted country. We need to tread lightly.


8 replies on “What I Love About Albania”

I’m happy you love your new homeland. I did feel bad you had so much trouble with residency but that is now done. So stay happy and healthy and have fun!


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