Herceg Novi Montenegro collage
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Small Space Living Around the World- Herceg Novi, Montenegro

Apartment Living

I think most people wonder what living spaces are like in other parts of the world. Today, we are going to take a look at small space living in Herceg Novi, Montenegro and give a glimpse into what that looks like.

Nestled on the picturesque shores of the Adriatic Sea, Herceg Novi, Montenegro, is perfect for those who dream of a tranquil, coastal lifestyle without the sprawling space.

In this edition of “Small Space Living Around the World,” we take you inside a charming 433-square-foot (41 M2) apartment that combines modern living with the rich history of this beautiful seaside town.

Geographic Spotlight -Herceg Novi, Montenegro

Location Details

This compact gem is situated in a hillside neighborhood on the east side of Herceg Novi, Montenegro. It is within walking distance of Old Town and the Fortress Spanoja.

Cultural Context

Herceg Novi is known for its vibrant mix of Mediterranean and Eastern European influences, which are reflected in its architecture, local customs, and cuisine.

The Living Space

Size and Layout

The apartment features a one-bedroom layout with an open-ish living and kitchen area optimized for space and comfort.

Ownership Type: The space is rented, with monthly costs significantly lower than the European average, making it an attractive option for young professionals and retirees. At the time of this writing, Montenegro is not in the EU. This means most Westerners can stay in Montenegro for 90 days out of every 180 days, giving you lots of time to slow travel and explore deeply.

Neighborhood and Community

Neighborhood Characteristics

The neighborhood is a blend of uphill and downhill. Up the hill, you’ll find a mix of old and new residential homes. Down the hill, you’ll find small neighborhood grocery stores, cafes, and transit lines that will take you downtown or to cities up and down the coast.

Local Lifestyle

Residents enjoy a close-knit community vibe, with regular festivals and outdoor events that make small town living vibrant and fulfilling.

Cats in the Balkans & Herceg Novi

You’ll discover an endearing feature in almost every residential area: stray cats roaming freely. These varied cats add a whimsical touch to the town’s narrow streets and lush gardens.

Locals often share stories of their daily encounters with these cats, who, despite their stray status, are generally well-fed and cared for by the community. These cats are a beloved part of the neighborhood’s character, contributing to the quaint and welcoming atmosphere that makes Herceg Novi feel like home.

Herceg Novi Montenegro cats and vines
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Vine Covered Pergolas

In Herceg Novi, as well as many parts of Eastern Europe, you’ll see these living pergolas, as I like to call them. The practice of training and pruning vines over pergolas is a tradition that stretches back centuries. Often crafted from wood or metal, these structures are commonly found in residential neighborhoods.

They provide shade and a burst of natural beauty. It can take several years to train vines like grapevines and wisteria to cover a pergola fully, but the result is a lush, living canopy that provides a fantastic retreat during the warm Mediterranean summers.

Grapevines are particularly popular. They yield clusters of grapes that hang tantalizingly overhead, hinting at the promise of homemade wines and fresh fruit.

With its cascading blooms, Wisteria adds a splash of color ranging from deep purples to vibrant blues, filling the air with a sweet fragrance during the blooming season. If you could time it perfectly to the blossoming time, it would be a perfect backdrop for a wedding.

These vine-covered pergolas are not just functional; they are a central aesthetic feature in many gardens, evoking a sense of enchantment and timelessness that enhances the quaint charm of the neighborhood.

Coffee Culture

While exploring the Old Town in Herceg Novi, I stumbled upon a quaint little shop where I discovered a charming antique coffee set, which I purchased for around 20 euros. Crafted from copper and tin, the set includes a tiny coffee pot, a sugar bowl, two delicate ceramic coffee cups encased in copper sleeves, and a matching serving tray.

This little treasure is perfect for brewing traditional Turkish or Bosnian coffee, adding authenticity to the experience.
To use the coffee set, one starts by filling the small coffee pot with water and adding finely ground coffee—with no filtering involved.

For Turkish coffee, sugar is added during brewing, not after, so it’s important to determine sweetness before heating. The coffee is then brought to a boil over low heat, twice, allowing a rich foam to form before serving it directly in the tiny cups.

While Turkish and Bosnian coffee share similarities in preparation and serving, Bosnian coffee usually involves pouring water into the cup before adding the coffee. This helps preserve the foam on top, which is cherished in the region’s coffee culture.

Unlike Turkish coffee, sugar is not typically added during the brewing process in Bosnian coffee; instead, it’s served on the side, allowing individuals to sweeten their cup to taste.

This subtle distinction reflects a regional variation that is both cultural and historical, offering a glimpse into the diverse traditions of coffee consumption in the Balkans.

Coffee set
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Grocery Shopping and Unique Products

Most neighborhoods have produce markets and small mom-and-pop grocery stores. Many of these tiny stores do not offer shopping carts because they would not fit in the narrow aisles. Instead, you shop with a plastic basket and shop more frequently than in the West.

There is a certain thrill and curiosity in shopping based on the images on the label. Sure, I suppose I could try to image-translate them, but what’s the fun in that? In the Balkans, I find lots of herbal and fruity teas, which are very enjoyable in the afternoon and evening when avoiding caffeine.

However, In the morning, nothing beats a good black tea. That is much more of a challenge to find here, and I have not seen any Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea. I do see lots of mint and chamomile tea.

This dish soap is very sudsy, smells fantastic, and isn’t hard on your hand, yet does an excellent job on the dishes. No dishwasher in the apartment.

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Neighborhood Parking

The streets are very narrow and don’t usually have sidewalks. Some residential homes have gated patios for their cars, but most apartments only have a few parking spots, which is not enough for all the residents.

This leads to creative parking, lots of it.

Parking on the few sidewalks that do exist seems to be perfectly normal and legal. I have not seen any tickets, but I saw a flatbed tow truck in the middle of loading a car when the owner came running up.

An agreement or payment was made, and the car owner narrowly avoided being towed.

Walkability to Cool Places

Old Town

Herceg Novi Old Town is a charming area with a rich history that dates back to 1382. Founded by King Tvrtko I of Bosnia, the town has a strategic position at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor, making it a historically significant maritime city and a crossroads of various cultural influences.

The architecture in Herceg Novi Old Town reflects a mix of influences, primarily from the medieval period, as well as Venetian, Turkish, and Austro-Hungarian periods. This diversity is evident in the town’s fortifications, old churches, and public buildings. Notable landmarks include the Forte Mare fortress, built to defend against invaders, and the Kanli Kula fortress, which served as a prison and now hosts summer performances and events.

The town’s layout is characterized by narrow, winding streets and staircases, which add to its charm and old-world feel. The Stari Grad (Old Town) is also known for its vibrant squares, such as Belavista Square, which are often lined with cafes and shops that blend seamlessly with the historic architecture.

Herceg Novi is also known for its lush greenery and floral abundance, earning it the nickname “Town of a Thousand Steps and a Thousand Flowers.” This verdant setting makes the Old Town a historical treasure and a scenic one, enhancing its appeal to visitors and locals alike.

Every Old Town in the Balkans is full of history, charming buildings, and narrow alleyways.

In Herceg Novi, be sure to visit – “Probably the World’s Smallest Bookstore” just a few steps from the clock tower. The name is Mimosa Bookshop.

The bookstore is approximately 32 square feet or 3 M2. It has been open since 1993 and sells books, bookmarks, postcards, and artwork.

It’s a charming shop with a friendly owner. The shop owner made most, if not all, of the artwork, and he’ll likely recommend the book Legends of the Balkan Peoples, a quick and entertaining read. We love a small space, so consider supporting this tiny shop when you’re in the area.

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Fortress Spanjola

The Fortress Španjola, also known as the Spanish Fortress, is a prominent historical landmark in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Perched atop a hill overlooking the town and the Bay of Kotor, the fortress was built in the mid-16th century during the period of Spanish rule, which is relatively brief in the town’s history. The fortress’s strategic location made it a crucial defensive point against naval invasions and offered commanding views of the surrounding area.

Today, Španjola Fortress is a popular attraction for its historical significance and its panoramic vistas. Although partly in ruins, the structure itself stands as a testament to the military architecture of the period, featuring thick walls, gun positions, and old barracks. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past military strategies.

Surrounding the fortress, the area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly hikers. Several hiking trails wind through the hills around Herceg Novi, leading up to Španjola. These trails are well-marked and vary in difficulty, offering something for everyone, from casual walkers to experienced hikers. The paths are lined with lush Mediterranean and subtropical flora, creating a scenic and enjoyable hiking experience.

One of the popular routes starts from the Old Town, ascending through the forested areas and past smaller historical sites, before reaching the fortress. This hike provides a physical challenge and a journey through the area’s natural beauty and historical layers. The reward at the summit is a breathtaking view of the Adriatic Sea, Herceg Novi, and the surrounding mountains, making the hike a memorable part of visiting the Španjola Fortress.

Spanish Fort Herceg Novi
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Design and Utility of the Small Space in Herceg Novi

Interior Design

Several of the walls are shared with other apartments and, therefore, cannot contain windows. However, the walls facing the patio allow in lots of natural light via two glass double doors, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. The entryway and bathroom have rows of glass blocks that allow in light but provide privacy.

Space Maximization:

A large corner wardrobe has been installed in the bedroom, providing a deep storage area. There is room to store clothing and shelves to store linens and other items. Innovative solutions include a dining nook with built-in seating.

By integrating fixed seating into a corner, this design maximizes the efficiency of limited square footage and transforms an often underutilized area into a cozy and inviting dining space. This clever use of corners not only frees up room elsewhere but also enhances the space’s aesthetic appeal, making it feel more organized and spacious.

Bonus Space

The outdoor terrace is a fabulous bonus space, extending the living space and enhancing the overall square footage. Furnished with a charming table and chairs, this terrace serves as the perfect spot for indulging in a good book or savoring a cup of tea amidst a tranquil setting. Plants add greenery and bring nature to you.

Thoughtfully designed, the terrace features a covered section offering shade and comfort and an exposed area ideal for air-drying clothes under the sun. The crowning glory of this outdoor space is the view of the Adriatic Sea. If you stand on your tippy toes, you can see in the distance, but it’s there.

Work With What You Have

Living in a small rental property often comes with its own set of unique quirks that might not always be the way you’d like them to be. For instance, the apartment’s comically large electrical plug prevents the oven door from opening fully. Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle—especially when your heart is set on baking a big batch of cookies.

Yet, instead of viewing it as a major annoyance, I’ve learned to laugh at these peculiarities and see them as part of the apartment’s quirky personality. So, I adapt and bake smaller treats that can slip through the partially open door, or sometimes I skip the baking altogether.

It’s all about playing the hand you’re dealt with a smile. After all, every home has its character, and these little idiosyncrasies are what make living in a rental an engaging, often humorous adventure.

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This story is just one example of how embracing small space living doesn’t mean sacrificing quality of life. In fact, it has opened up new avenues to explore local culture and community more deeply.

Have you lived in a small space in a unique location? Share your story in the comments below, and let us know what you experienced!

Stay Tuned

Bookmark our website to read about the next city and see how others around the globe make the most of their small living spaces.

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