By Jelena Jovanovic
Belgrade June 26, (SerbiaToday) - Living costs in Serbia are pretty high. This year, in global climate of the economic crisis, things are even worse. The great problem of Serbia today is unemployment, as well as low life standard. Economists agree that standard in Serbia is extremely low although there is certain improvement in relation to the year 2000. Real life costs are much higher than the statistic says.
Most people in Serbia make about $400-450 USD a month. It takes two incomes in a family to pay for apartment rent, food, clothing, etc. To make ends meet is not easy for most of the people. For example, living costs for one young couple, without children, are:
Apartment- 300 Euros ( about $420) - for small apartment, living room/sleeping area, bathroom, small kitchen, wood floors and a small terrace. (Municipality sevices for such apartment are aproximately 2000 dinars)
Food – 10 000 dinars per month (If you cook at home)
Bus Fare – 42 dinars for each trip (2500 din per month if you travel by bus every day)
Bills:Electricity - 1500 dinars per monthCable TV - 300 dinars per monthPhone – 1500 dinars per monthInternet- 1000 dinars per month
From the beginning of 2009, citizens of Serbia were confronted with reduction of salaries (influence of the economic crisis) and with the rise of prices (current, fuel, gas, food …).
Many people are forced to look for second jobs and aditional source of income. Working two to three part-time jobs is not unusual, and there is also a sort of black market, where people do business without reporting their income. People also use advantages of their bank accounts (allowed overdraft), loans etc, and manage to save some money by shopping in bigger and cheaper stores with special discounts or lay-away plans.
Average salary in Serbia, in April this year was 344 euros ( about $500), 6.2% less than in March. Statistic says that food expenses make 40% of one month salary. Living costs, municipal services and heating make another 15%. Other services make 12% , and the rest of monthly income goes to all other needs (clothes, cultural needs)
Health insurance in Serbia is free but there are many expenses that should be paid (some medicals, examination etc). Statistics confirm that minimum of needs for one family with four members is 78 000 din per month ( about $1200).
The fact is also that there are 60% people with a salary less than the average. The latest research of the Centre for Economic Research of the Institute of Social Science has shown that 2-3% of the Serbian population (around 250,000 people altogether) is extremely rich. On the other side there are extremely poor people. Serbia is country in transition process , and the fact is that the prime pre-requisite for democracy is the existence of a stable middle class.