housing in belgrade

So it finally happened: we found out where we will be living for the next two years! One of the many perks of Foreign Service life is that we are usually assigned housing from a pool of properties owned or rented by the US government. The size of one’s house depends on the availability and timing as well as the FSO’s rank and family size, and the buildings themselves have to have proper security measures, which can sometimes limit the types of housing available.

Our home in Tashkent was big for the two of us, and while it had its quirks, it really was a great place to live. We were near the embassy, there was actually a closet in one of the bedrooms, and we had a nice place to walk Scarlett. When she was a tiny puppy and didn’t venture far from us, she enjoyed a leash-free yard; however, as she got older and bolder (and friendlier!), we stuck to using a leash or a tether because she could get through holes in the fence and loved to go say hi to people.

This past October, we filled out the housing survey for Belgrade. After a lot of research and back-and-forth, we decided to prioritize living downtown, in the city center. We had heard great things about the housing in one particular suburb, which is supposedly kind of like living in 1950s America. As we have no children (human children, I should specify, since Scarlett is our dog-child), we thought it would be fun to live closer to everything, even if it meant giving up the living space that we Americans love so much. I will admit I was a little worried that were we to live downtown, our apartment would have a European-sized oven… now that would be a problem.

Needless to say, after having sent in the survey in October, we were more than ready to find out our housing, and we checked e-mail almost every day in anticipation of the email that would finally reveal everything. When it finally came, it was not what we had expected. Instead of being placed downtown, we found out we would be living in a neighborhood outside of town, near the new embassy (they are supposed to move into the new embassy before we arrive). If I said I wasn’t devastated when Grant shared the news with me, I would be lying. 

The problem is that I had been picturing my life in Belgrade in a very specific, city-living way: exploring the city streets with Scarlett after a breakfast at “my” cafe, people watching from my table at the kafana (local restaurant) from which I am working with my laptop, wandering around at night to find a restaurant for dinner, etc. While none of that is impossible now, it will all be a bit more difficult, and my day-to-day life certainly won’t be the same. So I’m working on re-imagining what our life will be like.

I am getting over the whole location thing and getting more and more excited for our actual apartment. While we have not seen pictures of the actual interior, it is a modern building with all the amenities we wanted, including parking and a fenced-in yard for Scarlett! I am also really happy that we will have room for visitors (*hint* *hint) and an office for me (and Grant, of course; at this point I’m planning on doing some freelance writing when we’re there, so a space reserved for that will be nice). Plus we’re near the embassy and public transportation. It’s hard to believe how quickly our time in DC is wrapping up, and housing definitely makes everything seem so much more “real.”

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One comment

  1. I absolutely understand how you felt when the housing email came through and it wasn’t what your mind had mapped out. I remember when my husband got ours. He was in Chinese language class and I was sitting in CONGEN, trying my best to learn everything so I could qualify for a job in a country without a bilateral work agreement. I’d seen friends going to China get amazing apartments, so in my mind, I was ready for that! Except, I was headed to Chengdu- not exactly Shanghai quality housing here! The thing that made tears spring to my eyes that morning though was the fact that we were assigned to live on-compound. The only thing I had truly pushed for in our housing survey was to be off-compound. I was heart-broken in the moment.

    But, jump forward a few weeks to when we received a second email from the housing board, asking if we would be willing to switch our assignment to an off-compound apartment! YES!!! A family who was off, wanted to move on, so they were willing to trade straight across.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, as we get ready to bid again the summer, my goal is to not get my heart set on any one thing. I’m trying to make that little pumping muscle in my chest a bit more flexible for this next round. Lesson learned!

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