Forget everything you have learned about Eastern Europe when you are planning to go to Albania. Don't think you can understand its people by simply transferring your own experience from other poor countries you have already visited. Albania is something unique and it will remain unique in Europe for a long time ahead. Nevertheless, Albania's economy remains one of the fastest growing in Europe (averaging six percent growth each year for the last four years), inflation has been under control for over seven years (currently ranging between two and four percent), the local currency has appreciated significantly in value over the past year, and the local financial sector has been gaining strength and has taken the lead in bringing more formality and certainty to economic transactions.

Don't rely too much on the internet as a source of information. Most real estate companies in the country don't even have an idea what the Internet is about. In a society with only 20,000 phone lines, the communications are made by word of mouth. When you are an Albanian businessman and want to check the market situation in the near town, you simply get on the car and go there. To get an even more finely-tuned picture, note that the majority of the population doesn't have running water; that almost half of it hasn't electricity; and that even in the capital of Tirana the rubbish is not collected by a local service but simply are amassed on the streets and burned.

Like the most high landers, Albanians put the family values and links above all. If you want to establish your business in the country, the state approval is one thing but the strong-man approval in the given region is also vital. Frankly speaking, it is far more important than any state authority regulation. Closer relations with the local strong-men mean access to many services at cheaper rates.

Without good relations with the local elite, you will never achieve your business goals and will soon return home. When returning, don't forget to pay your visa because the entry visa tax in Albania is paid when you are leaving the country.

Real estate prices in the capital seem very high considering that the average salary in the country doesn't exceed $100 a month. Most apartments vary between $300 and $650 per square meter (1 sq.meter=10 sq.feet).

The relatively high prices on the Albanian real estate market can be explained by the fact that more than half of the Albanian males in the active age range (700,000) work abroad, mostly in Italy and Greece. According to the unwritten family code they are obliged to send home part of their salaries, usually $200-$300 a month. These $150-200 million are distributed among the relatives and later are literally thrown on the market which explains the relatively high prices.