A glimpse into Milica’s life: from city living to successful entrepreneurship in Zlatibor

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End of December last year, I travelled with my husband and son to Belgrade. Upon arrival at the airport, we rented a car to continue our journey to Zlatibor, about 230 km from the capital, located in western Serbia. Zlatibor, known for its picturesque hills, interspersed with green valleys and clear lakes, is a beloved haven for nature enthusiasts. We had found a unique house online (link), situated in the middle of nature and tranquillity, with a breathtaking view and grazing cows and sheep in the backyard.

Adventure on the Road

On the way, it had already turned dark, and it began to snow, causing our spirits to sink quickly. We had to climb quite a few hills, and it was so slippery (even with winter tyres) that we slid off the road. Slightly panicked, I wanted to inform the owner of the accommodation, but then we saw a few locals accelerate and drive up the slippery hill. This gave us hope, and we did the same with success. We were back on the road. Fifteen minutes later, we were warmly welcomed by the owner, Milica. In the days that followed, we got to talking with her, and her story stayed with me; it is universal and about courage, perseverance, and strength. It is precisely these kinds of stories I want to share on the Balkanlocals platform.

Meet Milica

Before settling in Zlatibor, Milica lived in Belgrade, had been married for 25 years, had children who were then 11 and 14 years old, and had been working as a preschool teacher for 17 years. At some point, her life took a complete turn. “I went through a divorce, and since all the property was in my ex-husband’s name, I decided to take out a loan to buy an apartment. To repay the loan, I needed extra income. That’s how I came up with the idea of renting out the apartment I had bought, something I had never done before. I moved to another rental apartment in the same building and started renting that out too, and it went on until I was renting out 11 apartments.”

Renting out 11 apartments seems like quite a challenge; how did you manage it?

“My days started at 05:30, where I first went to the nursery school, and then after my working hours ended at 13:00, I began cleaning the apartments, receiving guests, renovating new apartments, cooking, and even helping my children with their homework. After finishing everything, I would wash, iron, and pack the bedding from the apartments for the next day. It was indeed a challenge, but somehow I found the strength to do it (laughs).”

In 2020, you changed course and bought a piece of land in Zlatibor?

“After various ups and downs, in 2020, I decided to ask my sister to take out a loan for me, as I could no longer get one on my salary. With this, I bought a piece of land in Zlatibor, intending to build a house there someday for my own peace. After some setbacks with the construction of the houses, I eventually decided to sell my apartment in Belgrade, pay off the debt, and use the remaining money to build two new houses in Zlatibor.” There are now three, and Milica rents out these weekend houses while living in a smaller house on the same plot.

In de tuin van Zlatibor Wild Nest

Your new life can start…

“In 2021, I said goodbye to my job at the nursery school and reduced the number of apartments in Belgrade to 7. My children were old enough to travel independently, so now I only needed to go to Belgrade for them.”

How do you like life in the countryside?

“Looking at the city now from my perspective as a countryside resident, I appreciate the tranquillity, the simplicity of daily tasks, and the ease of parking right in front of the door. Maintaining a large complex and ensuring everything runs smoothly is a big task, but the satisfaction I see in the eyes of my guests and the positive energy that fills the houses is the greatest reward for all my efforts. For travellers looking for a holiday destination that offers the perfect balance between nature and modern conveniences, Zlatibor is a perfect combination.”

Beautiful view of the hills of Zlatibor from the Wild Nest houses.

What are your favourite places to visit?

  • Stopića Cave is an impressive river cave with the Trnavski stream flowing through it. It is 250 km from Belgrade, 30 km from Užice, and only 19 km from Zlatibor’s tourist centre. The cave consists of three speleological and hydrological horizons and has some unique features, including impressive “siga” pools and waterfalls.
  • Ethno Village Sirogojno (Old Village Sirogojno). This authentic village houses real homes from various parts of western Serbia, making it a fascinating destination for travellers interested in the region’s history and culture.
  • Gostilje Waterfalls offer beautiful waterfalls amidst unspoiled nature.
  • Šargan Eight (Šarganska osmica). A ride on the museum train “Nostalgia” with a steam locomotive provides travellers with a nostalgic and scenic experience while enjoying the beautiful landscape of Zlatibor.
  • Tornik Ski Centre offers a cable car and adventure park, making it a great destination for families and adventurous travellers looking to enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities.
  • The Gold Gondola provides a beautiful view from the top of Tornik with a stop at Ribničko Lake, offering a panoramic view of the surroundings.

View from the Zlatibor Gold Gondola Lift, the longest panoramic lift in the world

  • Lookout Point Gradina (Vidikovac Gradina) features a free telescope that visitors can use to enjoy an even better view of the stunning surroundings.
  • Walking path to the monument on Šumatno Brdo and to the top of Čigota. For lovers of beautiful walks, the health path to the monument on Šumatno Brdo and to the top of Čigota is a true oasis, where they can enjoy peace and the beautiful nature.
  • The zip-line in Ljubiš offers an adventurous experience for travellers seeking an adrenaline rush amidst the beautiful nature of Zlatibor.
  • Mokra Gora, also known as the village of the famous director Emir Kusturica, offers a unique cultural experience and is a must-visit for film and history enthusiasts.

And which typical dishes should we definitely not miss?

“What you must try is the Komplet lepinja (a savoury dish consisting of a large flatbread (lepinja), filled with various ingredients, usually meat, cheese, vegetables, and sauces). Equally delicious are the hot lamb, veal under the lid, kajmak, and prosciutto, all specialties of Zlatibor.

Finally, how do you spend your free time?

“Zlatibor has countless places to enjoy, so it never gets boring. I regularly visit the places I recommended earlier. Each time I visit them, it gives me a wonderfully relaxed feeling, but I can also unwind in the garden of Wild Nest (the name of the accommodations Milica rents out). A barbecue with friends makes the day even more special, and a nice chat over a cup of coffee with guests makes my days even better.”