Living In Albania: Essential Expat Guide 2023

Discover what it's like to live in Albania as an expat and whether this country can become your perfect home in the sun.

If you are moving to Europe, and climate, cost of living, safety, and long-term potential are important considerations for you, then Albania should be on your list.

Across the Adriatic from Italy, Albania is a 2-hour flight from anywhere in Europe and easy to reach by air, sea, and land.

Lifestyle in Albania

Albania can cater to any means, from modest budgets to modern luxury living. Though laid-back generally, Albania can also satisfy the active, even adventurous, lifestyle seekers.

Albania’s main seasons are basically spring, summer, and autumn. Most cities experience moderate winters and cool temperatures, with a snow flurry being a once-in-three-year event. If you enjoy the snow, Albania offers numerous snow-capped mountain escapes.

Summer days can average 90°F/32°C and dry. Late autumn is a wet season of approximately 2–3 weeks, and rains can be torrential with occasional flash floods in low-lying areas. Typically, only a momentary issue, though.

 The urban and modern capital city, Tirana, is a day trip to the full gamut of outdoor life, from the mountains to the pristine coastlines.

Demographically, Albania is a Muslim country, but the people embrace a secular existence. Nevertheless, Eastern and Western Rite Catholic, Christian, and Muslim holidays are recognized and represented in the country.

Albania cannot be considered an LGBTQ destination, and such public displays of affection are not advisable. However, there isn’t any prolific or aggressive harassment towards the community, politically or socially.

An official EU candidate with accession talks started in 2020, Albania joined the Council of Europe in 1995 and NATO in 2009. The official currency is the LEK, which has held strong against the Euro and US dollar while still providing a low-cost standard of living.

Can foreigners live in Albania?

Yes, foreigners can come and live in Albania as long as they comply with the immigration rules.

Living in Albania
The town of Pogradec and the Ohrid lake.

Foreign visitors are significant to Albania’s economy, and foreigners are welcomed everywhere. Albania is already a European vacation secret, with most tourists coming from the UK, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, and the Balkans.

Albania has a long list of countries whose citizens are allowed visa-free entry. As a rule, if you are allowed to enter the country without a visa, you are permitted to stay for a period of 90 days. To stay for longer, you need a residency permit.

The expat community grows every year. It’s composed of nationals from all regions of the globe, with a significant presence from Italy, the UK, and the US. And, with embassies representing virtually the entire international community, no one is ever far from their home or services.

Getting residency in Albania

Residency needs to be initiated within 30-days of entering the country. If you miss the 30-day mark, just leave the country for one day and enter again.

The process can be started using Albania’s electronic portal, e-Albania, offered in Albanian and English. But you will need to go in person to an immigration office.

As we mentioned before, Albania’s entry visa scheme is rather liberal, providing most travellers with visa-free entry.

The UK and EU have the typical 90 days, while Albania provides US citizens with a very generous 1-year stay.

US citizens should consider the potential costs of being subjected to both US and Albanian taxes if stay in Albania long term.

In 2021, Albania approved its version of the Digital Nomad visa.

Another consideration is real estate. Albania provides permanent residency to anyone who purchases real estate, though there isn’t a Citizenship by Investment scheme.

Is it expensive to live in Albania?

 Albania provides a low-cost but quality standard of living for foreigners. However, the cost of living, specifically rent and nightlife, is subjective to the time of year and area.

Living in Albania

Nestled among mountains in the northern part of Albania, Lake Koman has the looks and climate of Scandinavian fjords.

You will find that rent and nightlife along the Adriatic and Ionian coastlines are very expensive during the summer season. It can be very difficult to negotiate an annual rental agreement close to a tourist area for a reasonable price. Generally, if you move a bit away from tourist areas, you will find good value for your money.

The capital, Tirana, is the most expensive place to be. It’s especially noticeable with new property development prices in Tirana. Albania is undergoing a massive residential development phase with dozens of apartment complexes springing up all over the capital city.

These complexes are very modern and well-equipped, with all the essentials from markets, cafes, pharmacies, dry cleaners, barbershops /salons, gyms, etc. However, they average around $1400/1200€ per sq. meter.

Many are offered for long-term rental around $400-$500/350€-425€ a month for a 2-bed 1 bathroom apartment. Utilities can run approx. $100/85€ a month. Existing real estate is cheaper even in the same areas.

Near the beach in Durres, older 2-bed apartments can be found at around $50K/40K€. Rents for the same apartment could average $300/250€, depending upon the apartment’s summer rental history.

Tirana has a cheap public transport system (less than half a dollar/Euro) and is very walkable and bikeable.  

General items at the market are reasonable. A week’s worth of groceries for a typical family will average around $100/85€.

Local restaurants are cheap and offer various food from traditional fare to hamburgers, doners, and pasta. An expresso averages $.70/.60€.

There are some KFC and Burger Kings in Tirana that will cost more.

Tirana’s Blloku district is the country’s preeminent drinking and dining scene, and prices there will be very US/UK like.

Other everyday items in Tirana:

  • Petrol – $1.60/1.40€ per liter
  • A haircut – $4.50/4.00€, and
  • Typical monthly phone/10GB data packages – about $14.50/12.50€. You will need an Albanian SIM card for any long-term stay.

Is Albania safe?

Albania does have an issue with organized crime, but the most you’ll see regarding that is the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys showing off in Blloku on a Saturday night in the summer. Even with that issue, the US rates Albania at Level 2. In truth, unless you’re involved in such behavior, it will not impact your experience.

Living in Albania
Durres, a port city not far from the capital Tirana with a long stretch of beautiful sandy beach along the coast.

If you choose to live in one of the luxury residential communities, those types of individuals, as well as ambassadors, politicians, and celebrities, will be your neighbours. But, regardless of where you live, encountering any violence is rare.

The most common crime you’ll see is traffic violations. Albania is very safe for single travellers, females, families, LGBTQ, and the elderly.

Regarding COVID, Albania handled the issue comparatively better than many other countries. Albania has an effective vaccination program (including US and EU-approved vaccines), and everyone is eligible, including non-residents.

Albania has maintained one of Europe’s lowest infection and fatality rates from COVID, has had only 1 national lockdown, and restaurants/cafes are functioning as normal, with masks and other health security precautions. 

Healthcare and health insurance for expats in Albania

Albania has a functional nationalized healthcare infrastructure, and everyone is eligible for emergency treatment. Anyone can go to a local doctor’s office and get basic treatment and prescriptions for approximately $25/20€.

However, valid health insurance is a residency requirement.

Albania has a very modern private medical sector, with hospitals accredited by the US, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. These private hospitals and clinics are equipped in all medical areas, including cosmetics for both men and women. They’re very affordable and depending upon your deductible, the bill is usually quite affordable.

Compare your international insurance options

To find out how you can protect your health abroad, talk to specialists in expatriate healthcare for multiple destinations across the world. Our partners International Citizens Insurance compare plans across the major providers to find you the best deal possible. Request a free quote now.

Taxes in Albania for expats

The most common tax in Albania is a sales tax of 20% on virtually everything, already in the price. Paying income taxes in Albania requires an accountant.

Personal income tax (23% average) is based on residency status. Residents pay taxes on all global income, but pensions are tax-exempt. US citizens will pay both US and Albanian taxes. Non-residents pay taxes only on Albanian income.

Can I retire to Albania?

Along with the Digital Nomad visa, Albania has modernized its retirement permit. The new policy allows retirees to receive residency based on basic requirements, including a pension, a notarized rental agreement, and private health insurance.

Considering the cost of living, modern private healthcare and caregivers, affordable housing, year-round good weather, and tax-exempt pensions, Albania is an appealing retirement option.

The pros and cons of living in Albania

As with any destination, there are good and could-be-better elements in living in Albania. Regarding the Balkans though, Albania has much more to offer than most other countries. Nevertheless, some things are lacking, but Albania is working to improve as it moves towards EU membership.

Living in Albania
Dajti Ekspres cable car takes you up Dajti Mountain so that you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Tirana.

The pros of living in Albania

1. Best food scene in the Balkans

Tirana undeniably has the best food scene in the Balkans. The majority of the options are concentrated in the Blloku district, but you can find amazing places to eat all throughout Tirana.

From US-style steakhouses to some incredibly fresh and excellent sushi, virtually every cuisine is available. There is even an all-you-can-eat sushi event (average $20/17€) every weeknight.

2. Amazing nature and history

Running the full length of the country’s western border Albania’s Adriatic and Ionian coastlines are an absolute joy for the eyes. The picturesque mountains offer an unparalleled alpine experience all year long, from camping to skiing.

Albania is littered with ancient Greek and Roman remains and has four UNESCO sites and numerous more under consideration.

3. Very hospitable locals and culture

Albanian people are incredibly welcoming and hospitable. The millenniums old culture strives to maintain authenticity while working towards modernization. The Albanian code of ‘Besa’ invokes a duty upon every Albanian to provide warmth and security to all visitors to the country.

The cons of living in Albania

1. National bus system

Though there is an effective public transport system in place within the cities, going from one city to another can be very time-consuming and overwhelming.

You may need to take four buses and nearly two hours to get from Tirana to the beaches of Durres (30 minutes west) in the summertime. And these buses terminate rather early. Often, the final return is around 19:00 (7 pm).

2. Import tax

It’s very expensive to have anything internationally mailed to you in Albania. The import tax (Dogana) is nearly 25% and applies to the total value, including the cost of shipping.

3. Albanian is a difficult language

Learning Albanian may be a bit too difficult for many people. With an alphabet of 36 characters, some are pronounced with sounds most native English speakers will find difficult to make.

Italian is widely spoken in the country. English is common in Tirana. People in all private hospitals, many government agencies and tourist areas speak good English. Most of the youth and young professionals also speak English.

Where expats live in Albania

The expat community is scattered throughout the country, as Albania offers every environment.

Those who prefer a truly urban setting live in Tirana. The beach life is focused in cities such as Durrës, Vlora, and Saranda. If you desire history and tradition, head inland to Berat, Shkoder, Gjirokaster, and Korca.

For more information on various locations, read our “Best Places To Live In Albania As An Expat” guide.

What you should know before you move to Albania

Albania is still very much a cash-based society. In the malls, large markets, hotels, Blloku district, and tourist venues, credit cards are accepted. Expect to pay rent in cash. Always use the local currency as a very high conversion rate is applied.

Living in Albania
The central streets of Vlore are very colourful and picturesque, and the whole place has a very distinct Italian edge to it.

The communications infrastructure is modernized and provides very good and reliable internet. The significant exception is in the mountains and some places in the northern regions.

Albania has three international airports and three international ferry ports. Be cautious of ‘fake’ taxis due to excessive prices; real taxis have yellow license plates.

Tirana has several very nice malls filled with high-end brands. Regardless of where you choose to live, you may need to go to Tirana to get certain things done or find certain products.

Expect to drink only bottled water.

Pork and spicy foods are available but not common.

Smoking is ubiquitous, and driving can be treacherous.

As locals earn roughly $18/15€ for an 8-10 hour shift, a 10% tip is considered generous and very appreciated.

Living in Albania – summary

Albania is very much a diamond in the rough, and you do need to know it better before making relocation decisions. Start with Albania as your summer getaway, and let it become your home.

The greatest element of Albania is the ability to enable you to invest in a very promising future while being able to enjoy today as well.

Didn’t find what you were looking for or need further advice? Comment with your question below, and we will do our best to help.

Other locations in the Balkans to consider:


  1. Hi Tom!
    I enjoyed this article. I just arrived in Tirana, planning to stay a year moving between cities. I went to get some cash and learned that my ATM card had expired the last month.
    I can Western Union cash from my account, but it’s a 6% fee.
    I’m really in a pickle.
    I booked some Air Bnbs with my credit card, so I have lodging and I can get cash through western union. My plans have certainly been altered.
    I would like to have my son mail me the new ATM card. However, I’ve heard international postage to Albania is high, mail is slow to arrive, and that mail is held at the post office rather than being delivered. And it’s an ATM card, so I don’t really want it in the mail any longer than necessary.
    Should I contact the embassy?
    Do you think I could have the ATM card mailed to an Airbnb host?
    Any suggestions?
    I don’t know what to do.

    • Hey Dan,
      Thanks for reading my piece and contributing to our knowledge base.
      Dan, I wish I had an easy solution for you, but there really isn’t one at the moment.
      I’m going to post this info here, as it may help others, but if you need any more specific information, I recommend you email me privately.
      To begin with, this really matters exactly where you are in Albania.
      It will be best if you can be in Tirana or Durres. I have personal experience (with such a situation) in those 2 cities.
      The government post is out of the question, so don’t even consider that as an option.
      Your only options are either DHL or UPS – and yes, both will be very expensive.
      I recommend not using FedEx as FedEx employs a local carrier to transit postage from the airport to their local distribution centers and that local carrier taxes you as well. And just adds one more set of hands for things to get lost.
      Thus, that means you should not use international mailing through the US Post Office as they simply hand it over to FedEx.
      You’ll need to go and pick it up in all situations in which they think Dogana (import tax) must be paid.
      You won’t owe any in this situation, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try, especially if the contents of the package are not clearly identified in the postage manifest (which I recommend not doing).
      Simply, call it a personal legal documents.
      But, in most cases, unless you are in a very commercial area or a newer residential community, they are probably not going to deliver. You may have noticed that many houses don’t even have address numbers on them. The post is definitely an element of the infrastructure that needs critical attention.
      So, expect to have to pick it up and if you need to go and pick up the package at the UPS/DHL office, the ones in Tirana and Durres at the easiest to get to.
      On that note: DHL & DHL Express are 2 separate entities and have separate offices, so be sure you know which one to go to. In most cases, your son should be able to ask the location when he is mailing it, but just back yourself up with your own research as well.
      Do not activate your new card until you receive it. If need be, have your son activate it after you let him know that you have it. But inform him to send the card just as it was received in the mail.
      I would not bother with the embassy. They are not going to consider this an emergency and will probably question you about why you didn’t notice the date prior to leaving the US and so on.
      How I did this:
      In my experience, I found that this is the best, safest, and most reliable way to receive anything important via the mail, but it does add cost.
      I went to either Kosovo, Macedonia, or Italy and booked a room at a good hotel. I used Marriott hotels as I am a Titanium Elite member, so they handle things very well for me.
      I used the hotel address and had it sent there. Especially in the Balkans, there is a very good reason to do this, but for here, just know that it’s the best option.
      It arrives at the hotel every time. You could try a hotel in Tirana such as the Plaza or the International, but at this time of year, they may be full.
      Email or call the hotel first and ask them if the package would be delivered to them or not.
      I hope that helps Dan. Like I said, its not a problem with an easy solution unfortunately as of yet.
      Finally, for securities purposes, just keep your old card and don’t simply toss it out. After about a year, then tear it up, burn it, and get rid of it.
      Thanks again Dan for your comment, questions, and contributions.
      Julian – Global Talon
      Explore, Experience & Engage

  2. We are Indian nationals who have been living in the UAE since 1996. We are interested in information on Albanian permanent residency and would be grateful if you could put us onto a reliable agent.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you and best regards

    • Hey Nadeem,
      Thanks for reading my piece and contributing to our knowledge base.
      Permanent residency in Albania is essentially earned.
      You have to first obtain a long-term visa, a Type D visa, and then you are eligible for permanent residency. The process used to take 5-years from first entry to permanent residency.
      Since November, the parliament has been changing the law, then it has been rejected and changed back, and so on. And they have added new visas, such as a Digital Nomad visa and a Retirement Visa.
      The changes were meant to streamline and simplify the process, as everything is done online now.
      In your situation, the process would essentially need to follow this process.
      As Indian nationals, you need a visa to enter Albania. So, you would want to apply for a Type D visa.
      Again, the new process requires that you do everything online.
      This is the site:
      Again, you want to apply for a Type D.
      You can read more about the process on the Albanian gov’t site:
      Also, be advised (as you did not mention when you intend to make this move) that Indian nationals can enter Albania visa-free for short-term stays between April 20-December 31.
      In that case, you must begin the long-term visa application, Type D, within 30 days of arrival. Otherwise, you need to leave Albania and re-enter to restart the 30-days.
      After you submit the online application, you will receive an email with further instructions, which requires going to the immigration office in Tirana.
      So, make sure that you know how to get to Tirana if you are not living in Tirana.
      You will need to take all the paperwork required with you to the visit. Make sure everything is translated into Albanian by a certified translator, and all Indian documentation must also have an apostille.
      Probably just as the process was for you to live in the UAE.
      FYI, this is the site for the Albanian Embassy in the UAE:
      Most people have told me they have done the entire process themselves without any issues.
      I do provide online consultations about connecting people to my network as well as addressing more involved inquiries.
      Feel free to email me to discuss that option.
      Thanks again for your comment, questions, and contributions.
      Best of luck!
      Julian – Global Talon
      Explore, Experience & Engage

    • Thank you for all the information. Do you happen to know any reliable agent or lawyer in Albania who can assist us with the process?

  3. hello
    Im an older lady in her late 50’s. I have a pet Chihuahua and I am on SSDI for the rest of my years. I wish to live out of the USA for the remaining of my years. Is it an easy process for an older person like myself to travel alone to Albania? I had planned on staying at an Air BnB at first for long term and then take it from there. Any basic advice?

    • Hey Lydia,
      Thanks for reading my piece and contributing to our knowledge base.
      Regardless of age, life in Albania is good for anyone. You have your choice of the mountains or beaches, or both if you want. You can be in the very busy urban capital or choose a slower pace in one of the smaller cities.
      The summers do get sort of busy and crowded everywhere, so keep that in mind.
      The idea of finding an Airbnb host to rent long-term is a good idea. That is exactly what I did.
      I would suggest however to use VRBO instead of Airbnb. VRBO is the European version of Airbnb and is only for European properties. It is much easier to move the conversation off the platform and to Whatsapp or e-mail if that is a better situation.
      Be advised, that the host will probably only want to rent the first month on Airbnb or VRBO and then handle the remaining months as cash. Simply due to the 20% cut Airbnb takes.
      You did not mention when you are intending to make this move, so let me offer this. I would not plan from May to September. That is tourist season, and it will probably be very difficult to secure a long-term rental at a reasonable rate in most places.
      I would recommend trying to make the move between October to February, as that would be the best opportunity to secure a good apt in a good area for a good rate.
      Also, be sure to tell the host about the dog, as some people do have a cultural/religious issue about keeping dogs inside the home. Otherwise, you could get here and have an issue.
      The likelihood is low that you would have any problems of any kind, but I always inform people about every possible scenario.
      Finally, I would recommend establishing a bank account that offers free international ATM use and no foreign transaction or currency exchange fees.
      Most places are still cash only, so you will be using that often, and thus those charges can add up.
      Well, Lydia, I hope that was helpful.
      Also, please note that I offer video consultations if you would like to talk more in-depth and or about more specific things.
      Simply, email me for details.
      Thanks again Lydia for your comment, questions, and contributions.
      I wish you the best in your next stage of life!
      Julian – Global Talon
      Explore, Experience & Engage

  4. “Pensions are tax-exempt.” Does that include US Social Security? But investment income is taxed. Is there a tax treaty with USA to avoid dupe-taxing?

    • Hey Wes,
      Great questions!
      Thanks for reading my piece and contributing to our knowledge base.
      And, Happy Fourth of July!
      The use of the word “Pension” is one of those significant differences between US and European culture.
      In Europe, a pension is the monthly allotted government money that is provided to people who have reached the age of retirement or cannot work any longer.
      So, while the law does not use the term, US Social Security has been consistently considered the same as a pension in Albania.
      In regard to a tax treaty, the answer is No.
      There is no tax treaty between the US and Albania (at this time) so double taxation is a possibility.
      I am currently writing a book that I hope to publish soon about being a Digital Professional and I discuss this topic, as there are some options available that can help prevent or mitigate this issue.
      Much of the information in the book will be useful for expats.
      When published, I will announce it on my website and on social media. Hopefully, it will be useful to you.
      Thanks again Wes for your comment, questions, and contributions.
      Julian – Global Talon
      Explore, Experience & Engage

  5. I’ve been here in vlore and durres for 3 years now, with the 3 month breaks.
    Love it, the people are awesome in vlore you drink water right out of the tap.
    As for driving its safer then new York or DC.
    We rent a 3 bedroom fully furnished 50 yards from the beach utilities included for $680 a month. It is great for everything.
    No Walmart’s no big box stores. And it’s cheap. Glass of red wine $2.70
    Vegetables are dirt cheap. And taste like vegetables. Property prices are starting to go up so be quick. Dental $20 for check up and cleaning and the dentist’s are as good as the states.
    Prescriptions are cheap.
    Plenty of business opportunities if that’s what your looking for.
    And crime is basically non existent.

  6. School life in Albania very much depends upon where in Albania it is and the income level of the family.
    Outside the big cities, such as Tirana, I have some areas that are pretty much only 5 or 6 rooms and are for grades from 6 to 12. There were no computers or not even very good heating.
    However, in the big cities, the public schools are generally well equipped and large.
    The private schools are very close to want you would expect in EU countries, such as Germany and Italy.
    The school day is generally shorter in Albania, typically starting around 8am and the kids are out by 2pm. However, there are times during the year that school day can start as late as 12.
    The schools do try to integrate all the kids in class, including special ed students. They simply assign a trained teacher assist to attend the classes with the child.
    Most schools do teach foreign languages, including Italian, German, and English.
    Unfortunately, I do not know of any videos, but if you contact some of the private / international schools in Tirana, they may be willing to do some sort of online get together with your class. Just keep the time difference in mind, Albania is 6 hours ahead of the US east coast.
    I apologize for the lack of information, but I have been trying to look into this for a few days, but things are sort of crazy in Europe right now.
    Feel free to contact me again however, and I may be able to help out more.
    Thanks for reading my piece and contributing to our knowledge base.
    Thanks Jean
    Explore, Experience & Engage.
    Julian – Global Talon

  7. We have a group at school studying Albania. We wondered how schools in Albania differ from those in the U.S.? Do you know if any video resources about the day in the life of an elementary or middle school student? Thank you!

  8. Hi Tom,
    I am a retired teacher her in he USA. I receive Apx. $2,500 ,per month in social Security benefits. I am planning to marry a girl from Bajram Curri and move there, Can you give me any information about that City and the living conditions there ?.
    I have never been to Albania and don’t know anything about the country except what my fiancé’ tells me. What is presently the Exchange rate to the US dollar?.
    How safe are the Banks in Albania to transfer my savings ?. Are there any American Banks in Albania ?.
    Your help is greatly appreciated.

    • @Algernon Bhoomz, Hello Al
      Thanks for the comment, finding value in the article, and contributing to our knowledge base.
      The exchange rate, like everywhere else, is terrible. Just a bit of advice, if you are planning on living long-term in any foreign country, then you do not want to exchange money on a monthly basis for the remainder of your life. I have been a digital nomad in Europe for a decade and haven’t paid for foreign transaction fees, ATM fees, or conversion rates in years.
      There are no US banks in Albania. There is the American Bank of Investments (ABI), but it is not a US Bank, it is a bank owned by US investors and founded on US funds. It is also one of Albania’s biggest banks. There are Greek, Italian, and Austrian banks as well. The banks are safe, but unless you are planning to get residency, its best to just leave your money in your US bank and withdraw what you need from an ATM.
      However, you won’t have access to ABI in Bajram Curri, or much else for that matter. The closest branch would be in Shkodër, which is about 4-hours west. Bajram Curri, is not a city, not even a town really, it is a small mountain village that has not changed much in decades. English won’t help you much, you will need to learn Albanian in that area, and it is also a bit of a different dialect than most areas of Albania. It is a very small village, only a few thousand people live there and they are all from a handful of clans.
      Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, I also offer online relocation consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.
      Explore, Experience, & Engage

  9. What a fantastic read.

    We are a UK couple approaching retirement. Lived in Turkey for 6 years in our 20’s and have since travelled through Europe extensively but never made it to Albania. You’ve whetted our appetite.

    Is there much in the way of sailing on the coast (husband is a qualified RYA Dinghy & Windsurf Instructor)?


    • @Kath Davies, Hello Kath,
      Thanks for the comment, finding value in the article, and contributing to our knowledge base.
      Yes, the Adriatic provides some incredible sailing, primarily in the south, Sarandë and Vlore. One of the things that the Albanian gov’t does to make Albania attractive, specifically for super-yachts, is that they offer incredibly cheap fuel. This is the primary reason Bezos’ Flying Fox makes a stop every summer.
      And, as you could imagine, water sports in general, like windsurfing, are big business for the resorts during the summer season.
      Also, in Tirana, a sailing school / agency opened as well.
      I would say that it is a bit of a secret and developing destination for sailing, as Greece, Croatia and Montenegro are years ahead, but Albania is in the mix.
      Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, I also offer online relocation consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.
      Explore, Experience, & Engage

  10. Hello, I want to thank everyone who is reading and finding value in our articles and especially thank everyone who is contributing to our knowledge base and helping Expatra grow as an incredible resource that everyone can benefit from.

    On 1 February 2022, in a rather unexpected move, Albania changed its entry law regarding US citizens. US citizens continue to enjoy visa-free entry, however now US citizens are restricted to a 90-day stay in a 6-month period. This new law mirrors that of the Schengen zone and Albania is hoping to begin accession talks this year,thus it logically appears to be a move to demonstrate conformity to EU policy. It’s unfortunate, but was inevitable, as Albania will most likely join the EU in the next several years.
    For US Citizens who are currently in Albania and 90-days has past since entry, I have reached out to my professional network in Tirana to learn of what the best course of action is to take. I will post it here when I receive it. This is very much an issue in development and in-progress.
    However, the option to leave as soon as possible is what many are currently doing, and they are reporting that they are being assured at the border they were not being charged with overstaying and could return in 90-days.
    Of course, you should reach out on your own as well to either the immigration office or a private expert.
    Thank you and we will update as possible

    • Hi Julian,
      Your posts on Albania are invaluable as I research European retirement destinations. I am a US citizen living in Budapest since 2020. I saw this 90-day entry law change for Americans, but then read that it was temporary and has changed backed to one year. Do you have an update? Thank you so much!

      • Hello Lindsay,
        Thank you very much for reading and finding value in our articles and especially for contributing to our knowledge base and helping Expatra grow as an incredible resource that everyone can benefit from.
        Yes, the Prime Minister changed the 90-day entry rule back to the 1-year stay in March 2022. It has gone into effect and is now the current law. So, things are exactly as before.
        The article has been updated and 100% current and relevant for everyone and in regards to everything you need to know about Albania.
        If you are considering a visit, the Adriatic Riviera is about to come to life with the 2022 summer season, and everyone is promising to make up for the lost summers due to COVID.
        A couple of weeks ago, all COVID regulations were removed, and everything is back to normal here for the summer. Those some places still require masks as a safety measure. But everyone can enter with a vaccine certification or test.
        BTW, Budapest is one of my favorite Eastern European cities. I have been there several times, just recently in February on my way to Croatia to write my 2 latest pieces you can find here on this site.
        Thanks again for the comment Lindsay, and FYI, I also offer online relocation and expat consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.
        Explore, Experience, & Engage

  11. Hello Tom,

    Thank you for the valuable information you provided in your article about life in Albania. My partner and I are retired and moved to Albania in July 2020. We purchased an apartment in Vlorë in June 2021. We obtained our residence permits in Sept. 2021 and are now looking into the income tax situation. Our income sources are from IRAs and SS. Do you have some insight to share about working with an accountant to file our Albanian taxes? Also, you say pensions are exempt from taxes. Is that the full pension or a partial amount? And we have one other concern you may be able to shed light on. Our certificates of ownership for our apartment were not properly completed by the Cadastre. They are made out in our first and middle names only with no last names on either mine or my spouses certificates. We have been working with our notary to get the Cadastre to correct this for more than 6 months without success and are now about to turn it over to a lawyer. Do you have any thoughts on how best to deal with the Cadastre?

    Thank you so much for giving my concerns your consideration.

    • Hello Marjorie,
      Thank you for reading the article and contributing to our knowledge base.
      In regard to your pension, the law simply states that they are exempt, thus, as it does not state anything about partial or a percentage, it should be interpreted as 100%. Keep in mind, that as you have residency, Albania taxes all global income.
      Working with an accountant is generally straightforward. If there are any local businesses that you have a good relationship with, you could ask them which accountant they use. That would at least give you some direction since the business is still open and operating that their accountant has some credibility.

      I have created and maintain a network of reliable and experienced professionals, primarily in Tirana, that deal with a multitude of issues.

      You will want your accountant to be local to you. So, my best advice here would be to talk with a local business owner to get a recommendation.
      Your property issues are a very different matter. Since the election, and you have probably seen this occurring, there has been a major move to tear down buildings that were illegally built, received approval illegally, or due to the earthquakes, are not considered safe.
      The Cadaster is a newer agency, it’s only been around since March 2019. When you say certificates of ownership, I’m guessing you mean the Hipoteke. Part of the new law was that all property deeds were required to be formally declared online and undergo a preliminary registration to investigate and ensure all legalities. That should have caught your name issues, but obviously didn’t, which means something or someone failed in the process. There is a clause in the new law about altering the Hipoteke and factors such as timeliness, overlap, etc, which requires it to be denied.
      Thus, dealing with the Cadaster is simply bureaucracy, and unfortunately you will need a lawyer to help with that. That’s really all I can tell you here. I hope that is helpful.
      Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, my email is in my bio if you would like to reach out.
      Best of luck Marjorie

  12. Hello Sheelie, thank you for reading the article and contributing to our knowledge base.
    As a US citizen, you can simply enter Albania and remain here for a year, no visa or paperwork to worry about. After that year, you are required to leave the country for 90-days. Then you can re-enter Albania and start all over.
    That is the easy part.
    The job is far more difficult. I can’t go into too much depth here, but the odds of you finding and securing a job that you could actually ‘live’ on, will be rare. It’s a developing economy; with tourism and call centers being the largest work forces. Both require being multi-lingual, or at least bi-lingual. Its amazing how many languages people in the Balkans speak! Many Albanians who work in call centers speak 3-5 languages! I am guessing that you don’t speak Albanian. However, being fluent in Italian would also be a huge benefit.
    Your absolute best option is to live in Albania, but work remotely with a US or EU based company. I simply need to advise you of not relying , as plan A, of finding a job in Albania, as many Albanians are trying to do the same thing. But again, skill-set, connections, and other specifics all factor in to that of course.
    I hope this was helpful and addressed your needs.
    Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, I also offer online relocation consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.

  13. Hi! I’m so glad to read this article. I’m a US citizen and I’d like to relocate and live in Albania. I’ve been here before and just loved it so much!
    How could I find a job to work here and reside? Could you clarify what you mean about staying in Albania for a year visa-free? What would happen after that 1 years over? Could I still reside in Albania for following years thereafter?

  14. Hello Kim, Thanks for the comment, finding value in the article, and contributing to our knowledge base.
    To preface this, I want to address your 2 specific conditions of not too expensive or congested.
    Tourism is one of the largest elements of Albania’s economy, and many smaller areas actually only operate during the summer. As such, those places need to earn an entire year’s income in only those 4 months. Couple that with the fact that you are looking to use their rental for the entire summer season, and [i’m just guessing] you will probably be looking for 3-4 bedrooms, so that rent may be a bit steep in coastal areas. Also, keep in mind that during the summer / tourist months, all of the coastal areas will have a lot of tourists and activity late into the night.
    Just as an up-to-date factoid, I’m not sure where you are coming from, but Europe in general, and especially the Balkans are in a bit of an electricity crunch which has caused the bill to increase dramatically. Albania’s PM has stated that it won’t affect residences, only business, but which one of those categories these apartments fall into is still unknown, so that may affect the short-term rents as well.
    If you won’t have your own car to make those drives to Tirana, then the best option would be both the city of and general area surrounding Durres. It is a big coastal city, but much smaller than Tirana. Durres has some very nice smaller communities which dot up and down the Adriatic coastline as well. You may want to look into the areas of Plepa and Golem / Mali Robit. I lived a year in each of those and they are very nice during the summer months.
    Plepa is basically a community just on the outskirt of Durres city center, just look for Beach of Durrës on Google Maps and focus on/around the street called Rruga Pavaresia.
    Golem/Mali Robit is a small town about 20-minutes down the coast., look for Plazhi i Golemit on Google maps and that is the general area.
    To avoid the tourist crowd, the next closest city to Tirana would be Elbasan, about an hour away. But if you not crazy about Tirana, you won’t want to consider Elbasan in my opinion either. Its just a big and urban, but less modern.
    Keep in mind that Tirana is a rather large city, so there may be areas in Tirana that you may want to consider, such as Don Bosco.
    I hope this was helpful and addressed your needs.
    Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, I also offer online relocation consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.
    Who knows Kim, we may run into each other in a few months, LOL.
    Enjoy your time in Albania, it is a very nice destination.

    • Thank you! This is really helpful. We actually found a retired American couple who will rent us their 3 bedroom house in Arapaj (a suburb of Durres) for $550 a month so we’re strongly considering it.

  15. Such great information. We’re planning on leaving for Albania late May and staying 4-5 months with our four children–teens down to 6. We homeschool so aren’t worried about schooling and aren’t in love with the idea of Tirana. Any second best options that aren’t as congested and expensive? We’re looking for a mid-size city/large town near enough to Tirana for emergencies with charm and affordable rent prices.

  16. Hi Tom,

    Thank you very-very much for detailed response – I truly appreciate you finding time to do so. The health insurance ‘deal’ is much clearer now and I feel more comfortable with our planned (temporary) hideout in Albania… The final destination is just across the sea and easily accessible by the ferry 😉
    I added your email to my contacts and there is a good chance I’ll be in touch – ether when in Europe already or just before the trip.. No worries – I don’t plan to be a burden – I myself traveled to Europe excessively (work related and vacations-wise) and won’t bug you with too trivial stuff.
    Thank you once again.
    Best wishes with your endeavor. I’ll try to spread a word about it too.
    Kind regards,
    Alex K

    • Hi,

      I am wondering if to live in Albania for a year (the easy that rewuires no paperwork) we need comprehensive health insurance or if we can just do traveler’s insurance? I have Lupus so it is nearly impossible for me to get affordable comprehensive health insurance because they won’t cover Lupus but I could get basic travelers insurance for emergencies. I have a stash of medicine that would tide me over, my Lupus has been very quiet for a few years though I do take meds as mentioned, and I’d return to the usa if I had any major problems. My family of 3 (me, retired husband and 14 year old son) are contemplating a move and Albania being less expensive and having beautiful nature and strong internet for my online business seems a good possibility. Also Tirana sounds expensive in season and I prefer smaller or at least easy access to nature, hiking etc but need strong internet . Where would you suggest? We have an income of about 3,000 from my hubby’s pension for thr 3 of us and I hope to generate more income from my new online business but it will just be starting up so may not be much

      • Hello Elizabeth, and thanks for the comment, finding value in the article, and contributing to our knowledge base.
        The insurance type is really based upon how you may need to use it. You probably won’t be required to show proof of it upon entry, but there is always the possibility they will ask due to the global COVID issue. In that event, the insurance only needs to cover the time-period you intend to stay. as well as everyone in the group. Also, it should be usable for an emergency situation, though hopefully that will never be necessary.
        I don’t know much about Lupus, so I am not providing any form of medical advice or information, but I do know that the private hospitals in Tirana have Hematology and Rheumatology departments, if that is of any help to you regarding that issue or concern.
        An income of 3000+ USD a month is very good, even for 3 people and in Tirana. Not much worry there.
        Other than Tirana (which is best for the medical issue) I would suggest Durres or one of its surrounding towns, simply due to the proximity to Tirana, and Durres has some satellite clinics of the private hospitals.
        Nature is very easily accessible and available pretty much everywhere in Albania, both Durres and Tirana will offer that. Durres of course offering the Adriatic as well.
        Both have great internet options, including fiber optics. I have relied upon internet in both places myself over the years.
        Also, you don’t mention it, but I will just put it here, both Durres and Tirana are the options for an international school for your son, if needed.
        Tirana can be expensive, it depends upon the lifestyle you want.
        Having said that FYI, I rent a 2 bedroom (use 1 for an office) and 2 full bath new construction (about 5 years old) for about half of what a 1-bed/bath cost me in the US, and I’m about a 20-minute walk to the city center.
        In Durres, cost of living will rise a bit in the summer as its tourist season, but saying expensive is in regards to Albania, the Balkans, and parts of Europe, not in the conventional US sense, so keep that in mind as well.
        I hope this was helpful and addressed your needs.
        Thanks again for the comment, and FYI, I also offer online relocation consultations if interested. Just email me at for more info about that.
        Enjoy your time in Albania, it is a very nice destination.

        • I found this very informative ! Every question I would ask as a Newley retired pensioner thinking of spending several months at a time in this beautiful country. Thank you so much for in-depth in sight of the country .

  17. Hello Alex,
    Thanks for reading the article and contributing to our knowledge base.
    For clarity:
    1: Yes, Alex you need international health insurance and for several reasons, including but not limited to: some countries may spontaneously ask for proof in order to enter (esp. due to the COVID issue), the policies typically include other services like repatriation assistance which (hopefully not but should always be prepared) may be needed at some point, and if you do intend to seek residency anywhere the insurance will be required for the application process. After you obtain residency in any European country, you will be enrolled into their nationalized public health insurance system, but private hospitals/providers may still require international health insurance.
    2: Specific to Albania, the issue is two-fold.
    First, the cost of services are significantly less than in the US and thus the typical deductible. For example, I get a thorough physical exam each year which includes complete blood work and a chest x-ray for approximately $100. All of my medical needs have been normal preventative care. I carry a $2500 deductible to make the policy cheaper and have never satisfied that. But, as medical issues become more serious, the price increases obviously (though it will always be a fraction of what you are used to in the US). My deductible of $2500 is my ceiling (so to speak) and the insurance is the backup for the worst case scenario. That is how I approach the issue.
    Second, in Albania I have never found a provider that will bill the insurance. You have to pay out of pocket first and then file the claim yourself to get reimbursed. If the insurance company wants hard-copies of the receipts and forms, to mail from Albania to the US using DHL or UPS (only options) the cost is mind-blowing, and we are back to the cost outweighing the purpose. So, keeping the deductible in mind, its typically cheaper just to pay, but that is not a substitute for having the insurance, but simply to approach your deductible as a means of reducing the cost and understanding your ceiling.

    As a side note, though you didn’t mention this, medicines (including OTC) in Europe are completely different than the US. Albanian pharmacies also, my experience, will not accept your international health insurance. You will need to file that claim, which can be quite often. Talk to the insurance company about this before buying if you need to include prescriptions and medicines in the policy.

    As you know, Medicare is not going to travel with you, but I would also suggest maintaining that in the event you chose to return to the US at some point.

    Finally, Albania is a great choice for your 2-year window Alex, for many reasons. Very good choice.

    This should clarify the issue Alex, and thanks for the comment and reading the article. I am genuinely surprised at how people are responding to my pieces about Albania.

    As a side note, I offer relocation / expat consultation services (via Zoom or Skype) and can provide more in-depth information about Albania (and Europe) if anyone desires.
    Just email me: and mention the Expatra piece you read for a 10% discount.

    Thanks Alex
    Explore, Experience & Engage.
    Julian – Global Talon

  18. Hi Tom,

    Thank you very much for your article – very useful and informative. I still have a question though. I am nearing “early retirement” age and planning on retiring to Europe with my wife. Considering that the main source of income will be US social security, we are contemplating an option of “waiting out” a year or 2 before starting collect SS… You know how it is if you start right away, say at 62, you get X-amount of benefits, but if you start 2 year after that you get a few thousands more, which in retirement is quite helpful 😉 Provided that Albania has a very generous 12-months visa-free entry for US citizens, it seems to be a very good place to “wait out” the needed period.
    I’m doing my homework trying to find answers to those questions that seem important for our move, but one of them is still a “black hole” for me. And that is in regards to health insurance. In your response to Julian you mentioned that”Health insurance is a great idea, but you probably won’t use it much. The private hospitals are cheaper than most deductibles.”… We are (knock on wood) are in relatively good health, but still (just in case) we would like to feel safe knowing that if (God forbid) a need to visit a doctor present itself, we would be able to do/or afford it. It seems that you suggested just to go to a private doctor and pay cash rather than having (a quite expensive sometimes) insurance.. Please confirm that this is indeed the case. No obligation of course – just a clarified advise 😉
    Kind regards,
    Alex K

  19. I am a single,73 year old man, US passport, living last 5 years in Thailand.
    Considering a move to Albania.
    Income is US social security $2200.00 per month.
    Love history, literature, music, good wine, long walks, and dogs.
    Like to hike and fish, both fresh and salt water.
    Health Insurance?
    Good location to rent?
    Ability to travel from?

    • Hello Dale,
      Thanks for reading the article and contributing to the knowledge base.
      Wow, 5-years in Thailand, I’m jealous LOL. On my list though.
      Albania is definitely a good choice for you. As a US citizen you can live here for 1-year on an entry visa, no paperwork necessary!
      Your income, well you can live like a king.
      Everything you love is Albania in a nutshell.
      Health insurance is a great idea, but you probably won’t use it much. The private hospitals are cheaper than most deductibles. It really comes down to the claim. They typically do not bill insurance, you have to get pre-approval and file the claim for reimbursement. I haven’t learned of any exception, including SS coverage, but things change all the time.
      But, you will need it for the purposes of traveling in general, so yes you should have/keep it. Remember, you need to exit for 3-months and return to re-start your year.
      Tirana is a great choice, as it offers everything except the coastline.
      But Durres is also a good choice if you require the coastline.
      Tirana has the best choice of new development, Durres is probably going to be an older apartment.
      Tirana has the airport, Durres the ferry port, both have main bus stations.
      So, from those 2, all of Europe and Albania are open to you.
      Down south, Vlora and Saranda, are also good options, more seasonal and in season very expensive. Vlora also has an airport.
      Let me know if you need anything else/more info.
      Best of luck Dale and thanks for the comment.

    • Hello Dale. I hope you find your dream. I’ve been in North Africa for a number of years now and wanted out but waited to see what the Brexit terms were (worse for we Brits wanting to live in Europe) and then “Covid” hit. So, plans stalled for several years…. Like you, I love history and much prefer things like museums, art galleries, a book club or trip out than say, lying on a beach. Certainly more a lake and trees person than the beach but not yet found it!
      Anyhow, I’ve recently met up with some Americans where I live, who spent a few years in Albania and said how much they liked it, particularly the warmth and kindness of the locals. Their eldest son even married an Albanian lady! Having done an international move once, the negatives for me are the annual necessity to re-apply for residency and where I am, the locals don’t integrate. Almost all the ex pats I’ve known have left and the rest with plans to do so, so community is key. Best of luck.

  20. Hi Tom
    Were would you recommend a family of 5 to move in Albania? Kids age 15, 10 and 6 proberly in need of a school for 1 to 2 years duration.

    • Hello Janne,
      Tirana, the capital city, has the most options for your educational need. Durres has a good school for those ages as well, but only 1. These are English language schools.
      With the educational need however, to make your life much easier, you would want to be in one of those 2 cities. However, both offer very nice rental options. Durres is a coastal city along the Adriatic. Tirana does not have the beach, but it is a very modern urban city, with a beautiful and large city park with a lake.
      Hope that helps. Thanks for the question and reading the article. If there is anything else I can assist you with, please ask.

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