Year of return: 2017
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
MOVED TO MEXICO
EARTHQUAKES,POLLUTION,SAFETY ISSUES IN MEXICO
Maja started to worry about her family’s safety as
the crime rates in their dense urban surroundings
started to raise. Relaxing evening walks would cause
great fear for safety. The city with a population of 21
million poses a health threat for the respiratory
system as the air pollution rates are rampant.
TESTING PLACES TO LIVE
When the family decided to leave Mexico City they set out to test
three cities and explore how they feel living there. First, they moved
to Puerto Vallarta, a Mexican beach resort city situated on the
Pacific Ocean for 3 months. After a summer spent in Puerto Vallarta
the family realized that this place is very much adjusted to the needs
of tourists and has nothing to offer during the rest of the year.
Then they considered moving to Chicago so that the family can
spend more time together but integration was a great challenge as
the problems of densely populated metropolitan areas would still be there.
The last trial was spending a few months in Belgrade. This experience was much more encouraging so the family decided to settle there.
Nevena was born in 1979 in Jagodina and has a Master’s degree in Media and Communications. She now lives in Belgrade with her daughter and Mexican husband, who lives between Belgrade-Chicago. Nevena met her husband by chance, in Geneva. He won her over with his manners and after a brief period of dating she moved to Mexico and then after 9 years along with her husband and daughter she moved to Belgrade in 2019.
Both Nevena and her husband are educated people with careers they have built so it was an easy decision to make for them to start living together in Mexico. Nevena doesn’t regret it at all because she now has a wonderful husband and the experience of two cultures. She used to work a lot and earn a lot but she realized her job belonged tom a group of spin jobs through which one can earn plenty of money in a short period of time. It ceased to fulfill her and now she wants to find a peace she creates for herself.
In Mexico, Nevena had nice and positive experiences but because of her daughter she decided to move to Serbia with her family. They chose Belgrade because it was the easiest choice for them – the little girl will be able to socialize with children her age and it is easier for Nevena and her husband because of his work.
Why no to Mexico City, and why yes to Belgrade
The reasons for Nevena and her husband to choose Belgrade are multiple. Safety comes first. For starters, Europe is more stable than Mexico, which is still compared to third world countries. One of the items on their list are the frequent earthquakes for which Mexico is known. Nevena has lived through three or four such earthquakes one of which was a 7.2 on the Richter scale. Then, Mexico City is a city with 20 million inhabitants and air pollution is high. Children there often develop respiratory system illnesses. When Nevena was told that Belgrade was polluted a lot as well, she merely laughed for it wouldn’t even be close to the level of pollution in Mexico.
Besides, Mexico has become unstable. Even Nevena, who used to live in a well-off neighborhood, no longer felt safe in the streets. Due to the nature of his job, her husband was away a lot so Nevena used to spend a lot of time alone with her child. They made a decision together to change their life, for the sake of a better future. Nevena is not tied down to one place in particular, but three factors are important to her quality of life: stability, safety and the nearness of an airport. Belgrade checks all three boxes so that is where they chose to move upon returning to Serbia.
Child-rearing was also an important factor. To Nevena, it was most important to come back to the earth. In a big city like Mexico City, doing that is unthinkable. Nevena realized that it is crucial that her daughter should know what earth was, what a farm animal was vs. a wild one, what the forest is, walking through puddles…She could not have had those experiences in Mexico, but they were feasible in Belgrade. The economic situation of the two locations is similar, except Belgrade is a few shades cheaper, but in everything else, as far as day to day life is concerned, Belgrade is way ahead. There may be more things to be offered in Mexico City, but basic things are not available to them, like freedom of movement. The point of coming to Belgrade was for her daughter to have a nature-adjacent upbringing and she has found this in Serbia.
First impressions on Serbia
Upon returning, Nevena noticed that the problem of corruption was similar to the one in Mexico and the difference is in Mexico people are allowed to keep something for themselves and in Serbia corruption is extremely snobbish. It is discouraging that she noticed that in Serbia people don’t have the right to say anything and when a person doesn’t have a right to say anything, they ask themselves: Who is going to protect you? There is no protection. Nevena cannot see how anything will be better in Serbia in the future. Fortunately, the economic situation in Serbia doesn’t reflect on her and her family because her husband cooperates with clients outside of Serbia.
Nevena has created for herself a micro world in Belgrade – she is focused on enjoyment and free time which she has now because she can work on herself now and get to know herself. Since she no longer eats meat, in Mexico she often ate seasonal fruit, of which there is an abundance, and it is much cheaper than in Belgrade. For example, avocados cost more than they do in Mexico. Since her family travels a lot, they are currently in Serbia resting from all the trips. Her daughter has spent three months in Jagodina, in a private kindergarten and she spent time with her grandmother. She loved going to kindergarten, and it was important for Nevena that her daughter had adjusted nicely which was confirmed by all the kindergarten teachers.
She was pleasantly surprised by Belgrade due to the influx of tourists but this very fact also discouraged her because she noticed that it was only Belgrade as a capital that functioned while the situation in other cities was different. She loves going to restaurants alone or with her husband when he is there, but since they are both non-smokers they have issues with smoke in restaurants during winter time. She would like there to be non-smoking areas like everywhere in the world – to have these non-smoking areas free of smoke and not only have the smoking and non-smoking tables separated within a singular space, which causes smoke to be mixed with clean air.
Administration, healthcare and schooling system in Serbia
As far as her child’s passport is concerned, both Mexican and Serbian, they were able to take care of it straight away but her husband still has no right to obtain a Serbian passport, for he has to stay in Serbia for a few years. For now, that is impossible and maybe he will be able to take care of it when he is older. She doesn’t frequent state Healthcare institutions, unless when it comes to surgical matters. For anything else they go private. She takes her daughter to a private physician when she is ill so she can be diagnosed immediately, and she pays for her own health insurance via the company she opened. They enrolled their daughter into the British International School because they wanted the child to learn all three languages simultaneously and speak the two languages that her husband and she speak (Serbian, English and Spanish). However they are not satisfied with the level of professionalism in that school, for the children are not given enough attention individually.
She would like that she and her husband sell real estate they own in Mexico and buy a large apartment in Belgrade but she has yet to find out how the money transfer works. She will probably seek advice from an accountant or a bank but at the moment she is in no hurry.
Social aspects of life in Belgrade
What is causing distress is people around her that have a frown on their face and are not satisfied and it seems to her that in Serbia people have the syndrome of blaming others for their mistakes. On the other hand, she is in awe of the kindness of people because she grew up in the socialism of Yugoslavia. She is pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere in the kindergarten and has a positive image of people because they are less cold today than they were before.
For now Nevena’s family is happy with life in Belgrade. Her daughter already speaks two languages, her dad is often home or they go visit him in Chicago. Nevena admits that she misses the warm weather and the warmth of Mexicans, but in Belgrade she has good friends – 3,4 female friends and 2 male friends. Her circle of friends may not be big but she has friends she can rely on and they can rely on her, not just financially but mentally as well or in any other way. She has a friend from kindergarten who she grew up with and a neighbor – friend who is a woman of broad horizons who used to live in Spain. That is Nevena’s micro world.
She also noticed a difference between extended family in Mexico and in Serbia. Her parents are lovely but they worry too much. Nevena thinks that such a relationship is toxic and that she and her husband are not allowed to be themselves. In Mexico there were no such toxic invasions – when they made decisions in Mexico none of the family members meddled or ruined their plans.
Business opportunities and plans for the future
She does not consider business opportunities and the business scene in Serbia relevant and her husband doesn’t want to co-operate with anyone from Serbia because Serbia is not a member of the European Union and many things are left in disarray. Nevena and her husband know that they will not be living in Belgrade forever. This move was an easy going solution to their lifestyle and the upbringing of their child – since due to the nature of his job her husband spends all his time on a plane, Nevena finds it easier to be in Belgrade with her daughter where it is safe and where she is surrounded by people and family she can rely on.