I’ve been visiting Slovenia since 2007 and living here since 2017. Slovenia is the sixth country and on one of three continents I have lived, so I have some perspective on life in other parts of the world.
In the interest of balance, I also wrote a ‘5 Worst Things About Living In Slovenia’ article too. That was however, a considerably shorter piece, and one that is vastly outweighed by the positive aspects of life here.
In fact, I love Slovenia so much, I founded BREG Apparel, a brand of Slovenia-inspired t-shirts, celebrating this amazing country that I now call home.
1. Natural Splendour: Slovenia Is Extremely Good Looking
I have lived in Europe, North America and Asia (see: For Fukui’s Sake: Two Years in Rural Japan), yet no country I have visited is as consistently beautiful as Slovenia. It’s the type of beauty that punches me in the stomach and gives me a funny feeling.
And it’s not just a handful of hotspots either. Yes, Lake Bled and the old centre of Ljubljana and Piran are the pretty pin-ups of the country, but almost everywhere, from the spikey mountains of the Julian Alps, to the vineyards of the south, to the terracotta towns of the coast, to the villages of the Slovenian hinterlands, makes my heart go boom.
2. Weather: It Has A Great Climate
For me, Slovenia has an almost perfect climate. If you like snow, you’ll enjoy Slovenia’s proper, cold, snowy winters. There are ski areas dotted all around the country including Krvavec which is just 30 mins from Ljubljana, plus many more a little further afield.
Slovenian summers are hot, meaning lazy days cooling off on the coast or by one of the lakes or aquamarine rivers. Spring and autumn are ideal inbetweeners; warm days, and crisp evenings. Plus Slovenia gets some really good, heavy thunderstorms, and everyone loves a good storm – right?
3. Lingo: The Level Of English Is Amazingly High
Most Slovenians of a certain age speak English as a second language to a level only rivalled by Scandinavians. Indeed, it would not be possible for me to work for a Slovenian company, were it not for my colleagues’ impressive ability to speak English so fluently.
This is however, a double-edged sword; if you’re trying to learn Slovenian, (which I am), practice at speaking the language on a day-to-day basis can be in short supply. In fact, many Slovenians are tri-lingual, often having a working knowledge of German or Italian in addition to English and their mother tongue.
4. Location: It Has A Great Central Position In Europe
Slovenia prefers to be deemed to be in ‘central’ rather than ‘eastern’ Europe and for good reason. Geographically, it’s much further west than many might realise, bordering Italy and Austria, as well as Hungary and Croatia.
Ljubljana is only 2.5 hours from Venice, 3.5h from Vienna and 2hrs from Zagreb. Politically and culturally too, Slovenia seems to have more in common with western Europe than the (former) eastern bloc, and is modern, developed and advanced.
5. Crime: It’s Super Safe
Though not completely non-existent, crime rates are very low in Slovenia. It’s a country where kids still play in the streets without parental-fear, you can walk most anywhere at any time of day, and people often leave their cars unlocked when in the shops. Statistically, murder rates in Slovenia are the lowest in the EU.
6. The Great Outdoors: It’s Clean And Green
Slovenia has done well to preserve much of its natural beauty and most of the population are respectful of their environment. Litter levels are low and recycling provision is high, and it’s ranked the 3rd most forested country in the Europe. Slovenes love the great outdoors and spend plenty of time hiking, skiing, kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing etc etc.
On a more day-to-day basis, I have been particularly impressed with Ljubljana’s provision of bike lanes. Almost all major roads, and many minor ones, have a designated bike lane, and many even have a bike lane completely separated from the road. This is vastly superior to what I’m used to in the UK and enables me to cycle around much of Ljubljana, without having to worry about getting run down by a car, and encourages the population to use their bike.
7. Tech Jobs: Slovenia is a Blockchain Hotspot
There are lots of interesting start-ups and several established tech companies in Slovenia. A high level of developer talent, combined with a high level of English and a pedigree of programming has led to a petite, yet healthy tech-scene. Some Slovenians have historically sought employment in Germany, the UK or elsewhere, but the growth of Slovenia’s tech scene (especially blockchain and ‘crypto’) is also drawing foreigners to move here.
8. Rural Traditions Remain Alive
In contrast to #7, sometimes living in Slovenia feels like a welcome step back in time. Many things that UK hipsters deem ‘artisanal’ or ‘craft’ and pay big bucks for back home, are just part of everyday life here.
Growing your own vegetables or butchering your own meat and making your own sausages for example. Or making your own schnapps, cider or wine; many Slovenes have hobby vineyards with little wine cottages. These are all common aspects of Slovene life, which are less common now (or non-existent) in the UK, outside the said expensive ‘artisan’ arena.
I do wonder however, if the next generation of Slovenian teenagers will continue with such a way of life, when it’s often easier, cheaper and quicker to buy such supplies from the local supermarket, rather than spend two days butchering a pig and making your own sausages, or tending your vineyard every weekend .
I once joined my friends Rok and Ivo at their dad’s wine cottage during the grape harvest. They complained bitterly that they had to put in a huge amount of work throughout the year in order to make wine which was inferior and in the end, more expensive, than what they could buy in the supermarket.
Though I could see their point, I love this aspect to life here, and I hope Slovenes will keep it alive for a long time to come.
9. Slovenes Are Friendly
My overriding experience, having been visiting Slovenia since 2007 and living here since 2017, is that 99% of Slovenes that I have interacted with have been kind, friendly, welcoming and helpful. I have had only a couple of bad experiences (see: Battling Bureaucracy: A Taste of Red Tape in Slovenia), and most Slovenes have gone out of their way to assist me when I’ve been in need. Which has been quite often (see: Barcelona to Breg: Road trip from hell | Part 2).
I often think that a Slovene living in the UK would not have experienced as much kindness from the Brits, as I have here, especially considering I am no where near fluent in Slovenian (though I am learning: see: Struggles with Slovene: 6 Months of learning Slovenian).
10. The Quality of Life is High
Slovenians on the whole enjoy a high quality of life and there seems to be, overall, a good level of equality across the country. Saying this, I have found that Slovenians are a little over-obsessed with salaries.
I often hear them complain that salaries in Switzerland, or Germany or the UK are so much higher than in Slovenia. Whilst it’s true that the average salaries are higher in those countries, I feel Slovenes sometimes overlook the much higher living costs of those countries, and are therefore missing the bigger picture: the actual quality of life in their own country.
Beach time, mountain skiing, great weather, good quality food and great wine, a clean, green and safe country, are all aspects of Slovenian life accessible to the average Slovene, which can’t be said for the UK.
Do you agree with my list? What do you like about living in Slovenia?
If you are a Slovenia fan – show your Slove with a BREG t-shirt:
I absolutely agree with your list and as a Slovene myself, I am sure I would find many more for this list to continue and no doubt I would find some more for the “bad side aspects” of living here.
I would and I do however need to completely agree on the last point and the fact that too many Slovenians are blind too the natural beauties, the life style options and all other very good things this country has to offer.
There are so many people across the globe, that can only dream of living in the country where all this is possible and given… But as in many other countries “the grass at is always greener at the neighbours house”.
I do hope this changes with the younger generations, that get to travel and explore around the world more, and there for hold a wider horizon on the life possibilities we have been given here.
Kind regards from Rogaška Slatina and Srečno 2019,
Thank you for interesting categories of “life quality “ described as living in Slovenia.
My questions to you are based on some discussion with other foreigners:
1. It is obvious that you have been invited to Slovenia, maybe you have special skills and knowledge, maybe you are connected with Slovene colleagues trough international company, and working in high tech (Blockchain). What would happen if one will arrive in Slovenia and try to find job without connections? How and to what extent are Slovenian open to employ foreigners in other industries/branches beside high tech?
2. How do you see business practices and culture comparing to other countries that you have been living? What are pros and cons?
3. How do you evaluate capabilities of Slovenians (beside high tech) to succeed outside Slovenia ? What are pros and cons?
Thank you in advance and kind regards
Hi Boris – thanks for your questions. I’ll try my best to answer them.
1. Actually – I wasn’t invited to Slovenia. I came here without a job and with no professional connections. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble! I did have experience in a particular area, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Slovenia has quite an active start-up scene – which I came to learn about (and eventually get offered a job in) just by attending tech ‘meet-ups’. So my personal experience has been that by being pro-active, getting out there and making connections – it’s possible to find employment.
I can’t really comment much on other industries as I don’t have personal experience of that. But from what I’ve heard, it’s not so easy to find employment in Slovenia in general – especially if you don’t speak Slovene. But it really does depend on your skills and background. From what I’ve seen – it’s the more entrepreneurial foreigners that seem to succeed in finding or creating work for themselves.
2. Again – I can only comment from my experience of working for a small, tech start-up – which has a culture very similar to other tech companies around the world – but is not typical of the general Slovenian work culture. One thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a lower level of entrepreneurialism in Slovenia overall. I’m not sure if that’s down to culture, or government policies which aren’t encouraging enough (or actually dissuade people from creating new businesses). On the flip side – if you have a good business idea – then there’s probably less competition in Slovenia than you might find in the UK.
3. It’s really impossible to generalise for 2M Slovenes – but I think it’s fair to say that on the whole – Slovenes have a high level of education, and a high level of English. These two factors put them in pretty strong position to find employment outside of Slovenia and indeed I know many who live in the UK, Germany and the USA who are doing very well. Certainly – there’s no reason I can think of to prevent Slovenes who have the will to work outside of Slovenia – from doing so.
I love Slovenia – Piran, Lake Bled, Ljubljana – wonderful places – BUT I have been to over 50 countries, some of them several times, and I’ve been robbed twice – once in St Petersburg and once in Ljubljana, pickpocketed on the funicular. And I didn’t find the police very helpful. They just shrugged their shoulders. These things happen. Which is true of course. Maybe I was statistically very unlucky.
My wife and I , asking with our two children are wanting to before expats. Slovenia is on the list. Thank you for this post. Any other information you could email me would be very welcomed.
I have to say as an American who has a Slovenian wife with a big Slovenian family who mostly all live in the same region you nailed it about Slovenes. I have been to Slovenia about 15 times and have spent as much as 7 weeks there in a single trip. They are friendly, and make my lack of command of the Slovenian language not a problem as they speak English. The countryside is picturesque and the rural traditions are very much alive! Good job!
Slovenia is a country we are considering to retire. My husband in Serbian and I am English we live in the US and are getting very disgruntled with life here. However, I know the Slovenians do not have a high regard for Serbians so that is a concern I have for my husband. I wonder how it would be for us, certainly wouldn’t be happy if there was any racial issues. I would love some input?
Absolute nonsense, Slovenias can barely speak any English except for professors in universities. The others not only don’t speak English *at all* but their ego gets insulted because you just made them feel less than they could’ve been.
@Bla Bla – you clearly have spent very little time talking to Slovenians in English. I have spoken with many hundreds of Slovenes in perfectly good English, none of whom are university professors.