My Experience of Frugal Living in Albania

Ana Goldberg
by Ana Goldberg

I want to share what living in Albania is like in our current apartment and the tips we're following for frugal living.

I'll also rant a bit about a financial nightmare I'm in now as a Russian. Frugal living has become more critical than ever to us.

Living in Albania

Living in Albania

Right now, we're in the lovely city of Shkodra, Albania, fresh from a tiny vacation in Montenegro. We had a few beautiful days there before hopping on a bus that brought us here in just an hour and a half, with no border crossing issues.

Stepping off the bus, we immediately felt at home. Shkodra is stunning, with its human-sized architecture that doesn't make you feel cramped. I adore the vibrant colors, the sense of history, the cyclists of all ages, and the abundance of cozy cafes and thrift shops to escape the heat. We've decided to make Shkodra our home for a while.

While we're not committing to a month just yet, we might extend our stay. Luckily, neither Brian nor I need a visa for up to three months, which is super convenient.

Plus, we need this time to settle into our new life together after years of being apart. Brian found this gem of an apartment on Airbnb, which offers significant discounts for monthly rentals. We paid around $500 for the month, which may not be the cheapest option, but it feels safest for us right now.

Apartment tour

Now, let me give you a quick tour of our cozy space. First up, our entryway.

Living in Albania

We're so happy to have a washing machine here — it's a game-changer for us since we're constantly doing laundry.

We also have a full-sized fridge and freezer, which are perfectly sized for us. That's pretty much all we have at the moment, but it's all we need.

Next up is the living room, which doubles as our kitchen.

Living in Albania

I'm over the moon to finally have my own work desk here, and Brian's been so kind to share the kitchen countertop as his workspace.

It might be a bit cozy, but it works for us!

Let me give you a glimpse of the fantastic views from our apartment.

Living in Albania

First, we have a view of the nunnery, which is quite a sight, especially in the evenings when we spot nuns taking leisurely strolls and chatting.

The Albanian Alps add a magical touch, and the picturesque houses make it all so enjoyable. The air conditioning is a lifesaver during these scorching days when temperatures soar into the upper 90s Fahrenheit.

Living in Albania

Moving on to our dining area, we've got a handy foldable table where we enjoy our meals.

Our sofa is big, comfy, and perfect for cozy movie nights. Now, let me show you our well-equipped kitchen.

Living in Albania

We've got everything from a toaster to a kettle and even a blender. Plus, there's a nice view from here too.

Frugal rule number one

Our tiny pantry might not look like much, but we make the most of it.

Fruit and veg

We've adopted a frugal rule not to buy more than we need for a day or two, especially when it comes to food.

This helps us avoid waste and be more mindful of our meals. As for dining out, we save it for special occasions since Shkodra's cuisine leans heavily towards meat and fish. There are very few vegan or vegetarian options.

Living in Albania

Now, let's peek into our minimalist yet cozy bedroom.

It's got everything we need, including some artwork on the walls. The balcony has a handy laundry drying rack— a real time-saver.

Living in Albania

In the bathroom, we've prepared for occasional water outages with emergency supplies.

But overall, our utilities are covered in the rent, which also includes bed linen, towels, and even some decorations.

Living in the city center means we're close to supermarkets and street markets, so we can easily get what we need without a car.

Frugal rule number two

Gratefully accept everything that is offered. This isn't a frugal tip but more of a tip for a fulfilled life. Plus, we've learned to gratefully accept help and support from others, which has made our journey here possible. Life isn't always perfect, but we're choosing to stay open and optimistic, repaying kindness wherever possible. After all, it's the fair thing to do, even if it takes time.

We were over the moon to have found such a fantastic place to live, hoping for a bit of stress-free time. But as they say, nothing in this world comes without a hitch. We ran into some unexpected financial trouble related to my savings back in Russia. It's a bit of a mess.

The bank back home slapped on all these strict rules and fees out of nowhere, leaving me unable to do anything with the dollars I'd saved. It's frustrating, to say the least. I can't even send the money to Brian because of some absurd restrictions, and converting it to rubles within the bank comes with a hefty loss.

To make matters worse, my YouTube earnings are stuck, too. Because I'm registered as Russian, I can't link a foreign bank account, and my bank's new policy slaps on a $200 fee for each transaction. Can you believe it? It feels like daylight robbery.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but it's been weighing heavily on my mind lately. Despite everything, I'm trying to stay positive and proactive.

Frugal survival rule number three

Never wait for the financial situation to get better. Always take immediate action if there is any threatening sign. It's not alarmism. I guess the only sphere of my life where pessimism helped me a ton is the financial one. Here, I'm not hoping for the better; I'm preparing for the worst.

Thanks to my financial pessimism, we managed to avoid a much worse situation with our savings in Russia. Global and national financial systems don't wish us ordinary people anything well. So that's why it's so important not to be delusional. Anyway, thanks for sticking around till the end of this rant. I appreciate your support.

Frugal living in Albania

Feel free to drop any frugal living tips in the comments or say hi. Let's keep the conversation going. Stay safe, keep your chin up, and hopefully, I'll catch you again soon.

Next, check out our Minimalist Reset in Our New Home.

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