Sea-View Homes in Europe’s Secret Riviera from $82,430

It’s a country with one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world…

Jacques Cousteau said that this stunning coastline was “the purest part of the Mediterranean.”

Running for 183 miles along the Adriatic Sea, this coast is liberally sprinkled with historic towns, lively beach resorts, secluded coves and white-stone fishing villages, all punctuated by strips of fine sand and pebbled beaches.

The country also boasts a wild and remote interior, a landscape of snow-dusted peaks, crystal-clear lakes, rivers, forests and canyons.

This is said to be the only place on earth where you can pluck an orange from a tree overhanging a sunny beach while looking up at snow-capped mountains. Even sophisticated travelers who have summered on Italy’s Amalfi coast or the French Riviera can be left speechless by this country’s sheer natural beauty.

Ancient and culturally rich, this country also has palaces as elegant as Venice, and towns as old as Greece, all under a Mediterranean climate.

And it’s where A-listers, oligarchs, and Gulf state billionaires are flocking to berth their super yachts. The stores rock high-end luxury brands like Dior, Rolex, Burberry, Balenciaga. And luxury penthouses sell for millions. The Saudi royal family even relocated its golden fleet of mega-yachts to here from Monaco in 2012 on a 30-year lease.

This is the tiny country of Montenegro…and it’s home to Europe’s secret Riviera.

Montenegro sits right across the Adriatic from Italy, and the people here share a similar laidback Mediterranean lifestyle.

If you’ve never heard of Montenegro, you’re not alone. Tucked away in the Balkans between a cluster of former Yugoslavian countries, Montenegro sits across the Adriatic from Italy, with Croatia to the north and Albania to the south.

At just under 5,550 square miles, it’s smaller than the state of Connecticut. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty.

The Bay of Kotor, in southwestern Montenegro, resembles a fjord and is dotted with coastal churches and fortified towns such as Kotor and Herceg Novi. Durmitor National Park, home to bears and wolves, has limestone peaks, glacial lakes, and the almost mile-deep Tara River Canyon.

Now, Montenegro has finally arrived as a destination. It’s being touted as the latest “it” spot of the Mediterranean…a place with the potential to have the same phenomenal tourism growth that neighboring Croatia saw over the past two decades.

Montenegro is being billed as Europe’s newest Riviera.

Montenegro is having its moment for Western visitors. Following the pandemic dip, tourism has bounced back in a big way. The number of visitors from abroad grew by 37.8% year-on-year this June, with international visitors accounting for 89.6% of all tourists. British, German, French, and Italians are coming in significant numbers. Americans are too.

Montenegro feels very internationalized. People are here from all over. Europe, North America, the Gulf States…

And there are historic reasons for this. The country sits at the crossroads of civilizations and sits on the historic border of Europe and the Middle East. It is a mix of Slavic, Byzantine, Muslim, and Albanian people, all living on top of Illyrian, Roman, Venetian, and Ottoman ruins. The influx of tourists and real estate buyers from the West is just the latest chapter in a millennia-old story.

There are other factors at play too. Montenegro is relatively new as an independent state, only getting its independence from Serbia in 2006. It joined NATO in 2017, has already adopted the euro, and is expected to join the European Union, with 2028 being the latest estimate. Then there are the low tax rates—individual income tax rates range from 9% to 15%, regardless of the type of income—and there are easy residency options (more on these later in this report).

Plus, the Montenegrin government is doing all it can to turn the country into one of Europe’s top destinations for the super-rich. A new tourism strategy will help this tiny nation rival Monaco as a hub for Europe’s wealthy and the global super-rich. Marinas are springing up along the coast—complete with luxury hotels, thousands of new villas and apartments, and infrastructure encompassing everything from supermarkets to luxury boutiques, restaurants, hospitals, and schools.

The world’s most exclusive hotels have already moved in. The Regent, the Chedi, a One&Only resort are all here, with a Ritz-Carlton set to open next year, and rumors of a Four Seasons on the way.

Yet despite this, you can still find excellent value real estate here.

Exploring the Montenegro Riviera : One of Europe’s Prettiest Places

The Bay of Kotor is Montenegro’s most famous location, on the northeastern coast, right across the border from Croatia. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and packed with ancient history.

Situated less than an hour from Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia and with its own regional airport at Tivat, it’s also one of the most accessible parts of the coast.

The 17-mile bay is completely surrounded by steep mountains on all sides. And between the mountains and water, there is just a sliver of land which packs in small Venetian fishing villages and a narrow road. There is very little developable land available.

The town of Kotor is the jewel at the heart of the bay and it stands as a sentinel of history. Its old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and hidden squares. The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, with its Romanesque grandeur, and the ancient city walls that snake up the steep hillsides, are silent witnesses to centuries of maritime glory and cultural fusion.

Kotor is spread along the edge of a deep fjord in the Adriatic, dwarfed by tall, limestone mountains and lapped by the calm waters of a shimmering bay that shares its name. Wherever you happen to be standing in Kotor, the view is always eye-popping.

By bus, it’s just under 60 miles from Dubrovnik in Croatia. Kotor’s permanent population of 14,000 swells to bursting point during the summer as tourists flock to its charming Old Town (one of the finest in Europe) and bask in its serene, balmy nights. Past and present mix seamlessly here: the occasional visiting cruise ship doesn’t detract at all from Kotor’s Old World appeal.

Kotor’s charming Old Town has been attracting in-the-know European tourists for years, but word is getting out about this gem.

When the sun is overhead, you can find a shady spot in one of the many cobblestone squares, sit back with an espresso and sample some black risotto (a dish made with cuttlefish—including the ink—and plenty of garlic and parsley) for a lazy lunch.

If you’re feeling more energetic, climb up along the castle walls to check out the incredible views from the lofty parapets of the Fort of Kotor (over 1,300 steps). Explore Venetian palaces and amble through the maze of marble lanes in search of a handicraft shop, ice cream parlor, or fresh fruit stall.

Cars aren’t allowed In the old town, so walking here is a treat. You’ll find an abundance of museums, galleries, World-Heritage churches, and opulent palaces. Kotor’s rich seafaring history goes back centuries, so it’s worth paying a visit to the Maritime Museum to learn more.

The nearby villages of Perast and Risan, each with their own unique charm, invite exploration. Perast, with its baroque palaces and twin islands—Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George—is a place where legend and reality blur. Risan, older still, whispers tales of Roman mosaics and Illyrian queens.

Then there’s the city of Budva, easily the busiest resort town on the coast of Montenegro…

About a 40-minute drive south of Kotor, it’s been nicknamed the “Montenegrin Miami” and in peak season is jam-packed with tourists, drawn to the town’s array of beaches, water sports, and nightlife. They sunbathe through the afternoon; stroll the atmospheric Stari Grad (Old Town) in the evening, stopping for ice-cream or palačinke (Montenegrin pancakes filled with Nutella, nuts or jam); and at night they party ‘til dawn at the many buzzing bars and nightclubs.

Surrounded by eight beautiful beaches, Sveti Stefan island is a must-see in Budva.

Despite the party-town reputation, however, it’s a pleasant and relaxed town (aside from the busy traffic). There’s no loud music spilling onto the street. And even the city’s construction is forced to pause during peak tourist season to maintain the peaceful atmosphere—a nice touch.

Montenegro is fairly compact so you can easily reach the country’s other must-see areas from Kotor, including Herceg Novi, and bustling Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital. You’ll also find handy bus connections to popular destinations outside of Montenegro including Skopje, Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Split, Mostar, and Sarajevo.

Biogradska Gora National Park has one of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests and is perfect for wilderness hiking.

Between May and October you’ll find excellent rafting on the Tara River, about four hours from the coast in the jaw-dropping Durmitor National Park. If serious wilderness hiking is on your agenda, head to pristine Biogradska Gora National Park, which contains one of the three remaining virgin forests in Europe. And if you’re a skier, forget the Alps—in Montenegro there are eight impressive ski resorts to choose from.

Real Estate in Montenegro

Right now, real estate prices in Montenegro are, on average, much lower than just a few miles away in Croatia.

But international real estate expert Ronan McMahon says it won’t stay that way.

Ronan says: “As more and more tourists spill over from more expensive Mediterranean hot spots in Italy and Greece, my thesis is that the next five to 10 years will see Montenegro’s real estate values converge with neighboring Croatia’s, particularly in tourist areas, as the country establishes itself as a go-to.”

Here are some listings that are currently on the market up and down Montenegro’s coast:

On the country’s south coast, in the resort town of Bar, is this one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on the second floor of a new building. It has an open-plan kitchen/living area that opens out to a terrace that overlooks the city and the nearby mountains. The bedroom has sea and mountain views. The whole apartment has underfloor heating and comes furnished. Price: €77,000 ($82,431).

On Montenegro’s southern coast, in the city of bar you’ll find this cozy apartment that’s a short walk to the sea on the market for less than $85,000. See the listing here.

Located in a new complex in Kotor, is this one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo with sea views. It has an open-plan kitchen/living area and a balcony that the bedroom and living room both open onto. It also comes fully furnished. The building has a shared pool and rooftop restaurant. Price: €180,000 ($192,200).

This new two-bedroom apartment in Kotor has sea views, access to a rooftop pool, and comes fully furnished. See the listing here.

Six-hundred meters from the beach in Budva, is a newly renovated apartment with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It’s divided into two units (a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom) and has two kitchens and two living rooms but could be combined into one apartment. Price: €281,600 ($302,720).

This three-bedroom apartment can be used as two separate units. See the listing here.

At the western entrance to the Bay of Kotor is the charming coastal town of Herceg Novi. It’s here you’ll find this 1,700-square-foot, two-level house. It has three bedrooms and plenty of large terrace space to enjoy the sea views. The ground floor has underfloor heating and there is also a garage on the property. Price: €320,000 ($345,120).

The terrace of this Herceg Novi apartment offers beautiful sea views. See the listing here.

If your budget is a bit higher, there’s a six-bedroom, three-bathroom, renovated house in the popular historic town of Bar. The stone house has just over 2,600 square feet of living space, a kitchen, and a living room that has access to the garden and outdoor swimming pool. There’s also a summer kitchen and enough parking for several cars. Price: €500,000 ($539,220).

Private, yet with stunning views, this renovated home in Bar has plenty of room for friends and family to visit. See the listing here.

Cost of Living in Montenegro

Montenegro ranks favorably on Numbeo’s cost of living index. It is only slightly more expensive than the Philippines, and is rated as more affordable than Nicaragua, Thailand, and Panama.

A pint of draft beer will set you back $2 to $3, a good Italian pizza in a respectable establishment costs $8 to $9. A large loaf of delicious local bread will be about $1. These are the prices on the coast, in the touristed areas.

Inland, or in the capital city, Podgorica, you can find pints of draft beer for $1.50 and tasty pizzas for $5.

Overall, Montenegro is a very affordable destination if you avoid some of the luxury developments, and even there, prices are quite reasonable. A pizza in a nice restaurant at Porto Montenegro costs about $15.

Visas in Montenegro

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter and stay in Montenegro for up to 90 days. Upon entry, a passport must be valid beyond the planned departure date and have one blank page. Travelers are required to declare currency exceeding €10,000 or equivalent upon entry or exit.

U.S. citizens who wish to extend their stay beyond 90 days must apply for a temporary residence permit at least one week before the 90-day period ends. Due to lengthy administrative procedures, you should apply as soon as you know you will stay longer than 90 days.

A temporary residence visa is valid for one year and is renewable. This permit is granted for employment, students, researchers, those receiving medical treatment, or engaged in humanitarian work. It is also given to visiting foreigners who are homeowners in the country, or those with resorts or other reservations.

Mountains, castles, beaches, lakes, scrumptious food, cosmopolitan cities, dazzling history, friendly people, and affordable living—there’s a lot to love about Montenegro.

Once a secret gem that the northern Europeans kept to themselves, today, it’s stepping into the limelight. The super wealthy have been drawn here by the country’s exclusive resorts and ultra-luxe marinas. Nature lovers come for the extraordinary Bay of Kotor and its beautiful mountains. And tourists are drawn by varied history, medieval monuments, and the laidback Mediterranean vibe.

And retirees are discovering that this is a safe European destination where they can live on less than it costs in some Central American countries.

Expect to hear a lot more about this stunning little country as the rest of the world finally uncovers its secrets.

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Transparency is important to us, so you should know that properties and development projects detailed here may be clients of Pangaea Limited, a real estate advertising company managed by Ronan McMahon and Margaret Summerfield. Should you purchase one of the properties, Pangaea may receive a fee from the property owners, real estate developers and/or real estate agents. International Living Publishing Limited along with certain marketing companies who work with Pangaea may receive a portion of that fee.

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