Low Cost Albania – by Robin Holleran

by Aug 30, 2021Destinations, Living in Albania, Tirana

Low Cost Albania

Newspapers and television broadcasts might be filled with stories of economic rebounds and dropping unemployment rates, but there is still an undercurrent of uncertainty among many Westerners about the security of their financial future.

One option, in this case, is to move to a low-cost country. And at the top of my list is Albania.

The age of digital nomads

Working remotely was forced on many employees during the pandemic as offices locked their doors and people avoided contact with others outside their immediate circle by working from home (or wherever). The success of this social experiment was not lost on employers, and many companies are now looking to keep their staff working from home full- or part-time.

I’ve been working remotely for 20 years. But for the last four years, I supported clients in the U.S. from my apartments in a small town in the northern mountains of Albania as well as from the capital Tirana.

Most times, those on a Zoom meeting had no idea I was in Eastern Europe—and probably didn’t care. The Internet may not have been as powerful as I was accustomed to in New York, but it was perfectly fine for the work that I needed to do.



Despite occasional power outages, what made this working arrangement particularly attractive was that I was able to bill my clients at American rates but pay Albanian rates for my living quarters, food, and healthcare—all of which were between 10% and 30% of what I would have been paying back home for comparable products and services.

As a result, I was able to pay off a considerable amount of debt that had been hanging over my head for years. I did not live extravagantly but was able to eat out at restaurants when I felt like it, enjoy an occasional massage, go to the gym, and vacation throughout the Balkans and some of Europe (this was easier pre-covid, of course, but Albania is in a strategic location for anyone who enjoys travel).



Stretching retirement budgets

For some approaching retirement age, their pensions (if they even have one) and government subsidies seem frighteningly inadequate to support any kind of decent independent life in a Western country.

Again, living in Albania as a retiree is a wonderful option and gaining in popularity especially in some of the coastal towns with ex-pat communities and low living costs.

One objection that I’ve heard from retirement-age folks is access to quality healthcare. Albania does not have the greatest reputation in this area—and yes, there are some doctors I would avoid here. But there are a good number of doctors in U.S. I would avoid too.

If you do your research, you will find what you need here. The private health care sector offers a high standard of service and facilities and is accessible through private health care insurance which most expats can afford quite easily.  And if you don’t find what you need in Albania, it is easy to get to Italy, Spain, Austria, Turkey, or pretty much anywhere to find a particular specialist.



But again, I am a woman “of a certain age” and have been more than pleased with the healthcare I received while living in Albania.  In my experience, the doctors here take their time, remember your name, and listen to what you tell them—which is more than I can say for what frequently happens when meeting with harried physicians in the U.S.

My father is a retired physician and reviewed my tests on several occasions when I had medical issues—and each time agreed with the approaches being recommended by Albanian doctors (most of whom spoke good English, by the way).

I have public health insurance that I purchased for very little to cover any emergency, which thankfully never happened. But I often paid cash for the services I received because I opted to go to a private provider. Even in these cases, the cost was less than what I would have paid for just the deductibles in the U.S.

You really can’t ask for more than that.


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