In a very short time, Ljubljana has wormed its way into my heart as a wonderfully diverse, progressive, and fun city. As I wander its clean and colorful streets, I think about what it would be like to live in Ljubljana. Based on my travel experience, it seems like it would be awesome.
Ljubljana has turned out to be far more beautiful than I expected. I consider Prague to be the gold standard of beauty and I’m not just saying that because I live there (I live there because it’s beautiful.) But dare I say it, I think Ljubljana is even prettier. It’s not quite as green but it is surrounded by mountains which is one of my favorite things. The city itself is trendy but also down to earth. It has a lot of variety when it comes to food and hang out spots, so I would feel right at home no matter what my mood is. I can go to an upscale white linen restaurant or hang out in a pop up artsy club in an empty parking lot drinking cheap beer all within a 1km radius.
Despite that, because it‘a such a small city, I worry it would get boring. Certain bars are only open on weekends, not as many concerts stop here, and as beautiful as it looks, it doesn’t have as much to see and do over a long period of time to keep me entertained.
In a lot of ways, Ljubljana reminds me of Denver, another city I consider to be very livable. Though there is no subway or trams, there are buses which have their own dedicated busway through the heart of the city. Though I honestly don’t think I would make much use of public transportation because you can get from one side of the city to the other in 30 minutes on foot. There may be suburbs that sprawl farther out but I would be more interested to live in city center. And I could probably easily afford to.
One of the most advantageous things about Ljubljana is that for being such a metropolitan capital, it’s really affordable. A two-room apartment could be as little as 600 euros which is a better value than I have now. Eating and drinking out is also extremely affordable. Cocktails are anywhere from 5-7 euros on average and if you drink beer and wine, you would probably get black out drunk before you spend 12 euros. A good brunch for two doesn’t have to be more than 20 euros, and God knows there’s nothing more important than good and cheap brunch. It’s definitely one of the most affordable destinations I’ve visited in Europe.
I’ve never worked so hard to remember how to pronounce the name of a place as I have Ljubljana (Lyoo-blee-a-nuh). But that’s about the most difficult thing about it because almost everyone speaks perfect English everywhere. Dining out and interacting with locals is a breeze. This would make it considerably more comfortable to live in than other European cities where it can be difficult to communicate in everyday life if you don’t speak the local language.
Slovenes in Ljubljana are very kind and sweet. They have that Balkan attitude about them where they always seem very happy to see you and want to give you the best of everything. That being said, they’re not excessively friendly, which I sometimes find suffocating and off-putting. They’re just the right amount of nice and just the right amount of detached.
My only complaint about the people of Ljubljana is that they love biking. And as a pedestrian, sharing the road with a lot of bicycles can be kind of annoying, especially because they don’t always stick to their designated bike lanes. It seems like no matter where you move to get out of their way, they want to go, too. I could live without that.
Total Livability Score: 8/10
Despite some minor ticks in the negative column, it seems like Ljubljana would be a charming place to live.