I live in Serbia, and I've moved around the country multiple times. I went from the central part where I've lived for 19 years, then to the south for 5.5 years, and then moved north. I've been living in Novi Sad for 7 years now and I'm still as much in love with this place as I was when I first moved here.
Here's a bit of my background and reasons why I've decided to pursue fully remote jobs only and refuse to relocate for any job-related reasons. I'm writing this post as I have been declining job offers that required me to relocate, and some people couldn't believe that I don't want to move away from Serbia and move to a more advanced European country.
List of Reasons Why I'm Not Relocating Again
I'll start off with a basic list of reasons, and then I'll share my full relocation story. I've talked to some people who believe that they can just offer a lot of money and relocation perks to their job candidates, as that is the best way to build a strong on-premise team.
Hopefully, this list will show them why they're wrong and why they may lose global talent potential.
- Every time you move some personal relationships break. I really need the support of my family and friends and don't want to compromise those again.
- Why would I move to a place where I'd have to spend a bigger chunk of my salary on the basic costs of living?
- Work takes 40 hours of my time per week. Why is the job you're offering more important than 40+ hours I have for myself and my life priorities?
- I'm more productive while working from home than when I'm in an office.
- I don't want to waste my time commuting.
- I have no intentions to struggle with the bureaucracy of any other country, Serbia is hell in that sense, I don't need a new one.
- I'm perfectly fine with earning as much as I do online, I don't need your amazing relocation perks.
- Please don't assume that everything in Serbia is a pile of 💩 on fire.
This sums it up. Here's the rest of my story 👇
Moving To Study
In 2011, I was 19 at the time when I moved away from my hometown, really excited and extremely happy. I had finally left a place that was extremely small, where everyone knew each other, and which was limiting my personal growth.
In order for me to study English, which was my biggest passion at the time, I had to leave behind my family, dogs, and replace my house with a small room in an apartment that was good enough for its purpose. I had one task, to improve my English as much as I can and graduate.
My social life was amazing as I was meeting my peers and connecting with new people all the time. I didn't have to worry much about my family, things were a bit rough financially, but it was a standard Serbian story.
Fast forward to 2016. I'm still trying to get a degree, but I'm not very successful at it. I was struggling with balancing between my job and my studies. I had been working as a full-time English language teacher in one of the online schools that operated in Asia. I had to support myself financially, but that was hindering me to dedicate more time to finish all the courses.
I was also getting increasingly annoyed by that profession, and part of the reason why I didn't try harder to get a degree was the fact that I didn't want to pursue teaching anymore. I also wanted to work as a translator, but after some time I realized that translating isn't as exciting and as challenging, nor did it pay off as much.
Relocating Because of a Job
After some mental health struggles, I've finally accepted that the English language is not my biggest passion anymore and that I wanted to explore something that was always interesting as well - tech.
I wanted to learn how to maintain Linux servers and started reading a lot of books and attending free courses about it. Then, my best friend forwarded me a job ad that changed my life. It was a Technical Editor position. My love for the written word met my love for learning more about tech! It was a perfect match. I was successfully moving from one stage to another, and then in the final stage, I realized that although they were open for remote work, it was a position that required me to move to Novi Sad.
I have to admit that I wasn't putting down a list of pros and cons. I had to make a big change in my life and open myself to new possibilities. My friends were extremely supportive, my family was concerned, and my partner at the time was angry and broke up with me before I even got the job.
Briefly Leaving Novi Sad
After almost 2 years in Novi Sad, I got a really attractive job offer. This time I did make a list of pros and cons. The reality was that my social life in Novi Sad wasn't that amazing and that my job wasn't making me as happy as it did anymore. I needed a change, again.
At this point in time, I was also getting increasingly conscious of how "far" I was from my family, and it was easier for me to go to my hometown from Belgrade than from Novi Sad. I was relocating because of better professional growth opportunities, social life, and the hope that my family would come over more often.
I moved to Belgrade and 2 weeks later started dating someone from Novi Sad. Yes, my life is a telenovela sometimes.
Then, I started realizing the cons of living in Belgrade. The town is way busier than Novi Sad, I spent more than an hour in traffic every day which is even amazing for Belgrade standards. I was again spending a lot of time in Novi Sad during weekends to recharge as I hated the open offices in Belgrade and the overall Belgrade vibe. One thing lead to another and I decided to get back to Novi Sad.
Getting Back to Novi Sad
This was the first time I worked remotely full-time. I had to figure out some paperwork stuff and make sure I have a proper office corner. There's more to being able to work remotely, but that's not the topic of this post.
At this time I decided to rearrange my life priorities and question a lot of decisions I've made. After some difficult family events, I accepted that as much as I hate some parts of Serbian culture, that's also who I am. Family and friends come first, work comes second.
I don't want to be in a position where I can't just hop into my car and drive home when an emergency occurs. My family does not include only me, my partner, and our dog, but it also extends to my family and her family.
Overall, Novi Sad makes a lot of sense as well. It's more affordable than Belgrade, has a much more laid-back vibe, and it's easier for me to plan out my day and do multiple things in a single day.
What really pisses me off is when people assume that everything and everyone in Serbia is bad. The truth is that a lot of things that revolve around the government need to be improved, but as long as I'm able to support myself through remote work, I'm not lagging behind anything in my life. I'm happy, I'm independent, I'm surrounded by the people I love. Relocating may bring more $, but that won't bring me more happiness.
Relocating is Hard
I'm not saying that people shouldn't move around and hunt for better life opportunities, but I'm trying to say that $ isn't the only factor to think about when making such life decisions. Employers these days seem to forget that different people have different needs and that not everyone agrees with the hustle culture. Some of us just want to have a regular life.