Expat Life – 5 Years Living In Croatia As A Foreigner

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Jesus H. Christ. What the f*!k have I done moving to and living in this Croatian insanity for the past five f*!king years? In this post, I share thoughts on living on the Adriatic Coast, plus tips on moving to Croatia and what to expect.

Note: We are not digital nomads but long-term residents of Croatia, and this post does not cover information on the digital nomad visa, temporary resident permit, long-stay visas, or any visa application at all. We have permanent residence and live an everyday life, albeit with no close family members in the country.

I never thought about the long-term realities of living in Croatia before packing up and leaving the sunburnt country I called home for 35 years. I was dreaming of the Mediterranean climate, quality of life, hot summers, mild winters, and having more free time.

But you should give yourself the best chance of success here.

Australia is the land of opportunities. Where government administration offices are open all day, without a ‘pauza,’ and the staff can hand you a brochure with a complete list of what you need to know.

Before relocating to Croatia, I only daydreamed about the Croatian beaches, raising bilingual kids, having coffee with my newly-made Croatian friends, and living a European lifestyle.

Oh, how foolish I was.

How foolish I still am. After all, I am still living here.

Heels stuck in the sand, desperately trying to make it all work and often faking the easy-breezy Dalmatian coast life, making it look like it all comes so naturally.

It does not. Not even close.

Croatia is flawed. This place is filled with nepotism. Bureaucracy gone mad – actually, sometimes, not even gone mad – often not even moving at all. Insane taxes. Bullshit builders. Workers who don’t show up on time – or never at all. A giant wind that’ll keep you housebound. Fake people are always trying to get you to blog about them for free. A place where, on an almost daily basis, I have to justify my desire to live here. In some cases (like at my doctor’s office), I have to explain my rationale every visit.

So, you may ask, what in God’s name am I still doing living in Croatia?

I love it. That is why.

I love it in equal parts as much as I hate it.

Three of us - Milina - Travel Croatia Beach

Sometimes, it does not sound like I do, but sincerely, I cherish Croatia. I am so thankful for my life here.

Kids are free to roam about. The playgrounds are plentiful and safe. In fact, the whole country feels safe; I have wandered the streets late at night and never once felt like a mugging was around the corner. The landscape is extraordinary – and right on my doorstep.  I have made a family out of new friends. We are in the process of building an excellent business.

My travel blog, THIS BLOG, has become exceptionally popular (2.6 million page views in 2017 and already 1.3 million this year)  – despite never getting a single shred of help or financial assistance from the Croatian National Tourist Board – I have asked several times. Still, alas, they won’t help me in any way.

Family - Living in Hospital
Friends that are now a part of my family

My good days are fantastic. The days spent with family and friends, eating and laughing, seeing my kids happy, playing and being loved by others, and traveling and exploring.

My meh days are when I barely manage to stay optimistic when faced with an onslaught of bureaucratic challenges or when I spend days at a time alone without speaking to or hearing from a single friend, and all I can think about is calling my sister and telling her to pop over for a visit.

My dark days are rare. But sheesh, they are harsh. Being an expat is much harder than I ever imagined. I try never to speak of them, as they are the days when, if spoken about, it is all people will focus on. I will hear people tell me to “go back home’, and that “nothing is stopping me.”

But there is one big problem with that. Something is stopping me. Croatia is my home now.

I can not imagine moving back to Australia.

Croatia is all my sons know. One came here when he was nine months old, and the other was born here.

I spent all my savings on building a (wonky-as-fuck) house. Despite the fact my windows and walls leak in the rain, and that the basement has been flooded three times, and more than one neighbor won’t speak to us,  I can’t leave my home. I love it too much.

And more than that, I feel I have given too much and spent too long pushing forward to give up – not yet, anyway. Each year that passes, it gets a little easier to adjust to the situations that might edge me toward those rare dark days.

I am a traveler and must keep exploring, so maybe, one day, I will move away. But there are no plans, too, and I would say the same thing no matter where I live.

In my first year of living in Croatia as a foreigner, I had short bouts of depression and anxiety. I still have them, but they are small periods, not everlasting.

The first 24 months came and went very fast; honestly, I was so busy building this blog. Building a house and being a new mum. I wrote a post back in 2015 about my experience and remembered writing that:

Life abroad is fun. Life abroad is scary. Life abroad is rewarding. Life abroad is wild. Life abroad is what you make of it. 

I also wrote that when you make the ballsy-ass move and leave everyone you know, everything that is comfortable, known, and easy behind you, and choose to throw caution to the wind and move abroad, there is stuff about the move that you can’t know until you’re ‘living the dream.’

Read any expat blog, and you pick up recurring themes of loneliness, adjustment periods, and exploration.

Back in 2015, when I wrote about my 11 struggles of being an expat, I thought I had come a long way in my first two years. Now, looking back over the past five, I laugh. The issues that held me back then still do, but I have grown as a person, and there are just some things I no longer care about.

Back then, I was always worried about being the ‘freak.’ I am ashamed to say but this still holds true. I am often too shy to join new social situations and make new friends for fear of being a freak and being rejected.

Then, of course, not speaking zero Croatian in my first two years was the primary issue. What the heck was I thinking of moving to Croatia without taking classes and learning this horrifically hard to learn the language? Like, der, rewind the clock and let me correct that colossal fuck up, please.

After five years, I no longer have sweaty palms and suffer from my heart racing when I walk into a grocery store and need to find something. Shopping, coffee shops, and all necessary doctor appointments are now made in Croatian. Yay, go me.

Let me not kid you, and I am not fluent. Far from it, in fact. Notwithstanding many readers over the years telling me things like, ‘Oh, I moved to Germany and became fluent in a year, so you should too’ or ‘Just watch Croatian TV and make more Croatian friends and you will learn,’ I have come to learn that I am a slow learner. So judge away as you will, but I am not fluent and often need the help of local friends.

I deprioritized many things to focus on building this blog, and then having a new baby, and then starting a business… and oops, as a result, my local language skills are way short of what they should be after five years. Even by my own standards, I am behind.

Roko and Vlad - Living in Croatia

But you know what, imagine if I did not spend the time building a business model to maintain our life here as I have – and had instead focused on speaking the language and making more local friends, that would have all been in vain. I would have returned to Australia broke and with my tail between my legs. Admittedly, that would have meant that I could have told the story of our failed Croatian adventure in Croatian – but for what?

I think I chose the correct linguistic path. Or, at least, that is what I tell myself. Only more time here in Croatia will tell. And I plan many more years here. God willing.

Expat living SJ on the balcony Croatia - Chasing the Donkey
Me one year on… more wrinkles, but happy.

Sorry, Croatia; I promise to try much harder over the next five years about learning to communicate better. In fact, I restarted my Croatian lessons again a few weeks back after an 18-month hiatus, and I was super impressed with myself for how far I have come. I completed the first few pages of the workbook with 98% accuracy – okay, so it was the beginner book, but, heck, five years ago, I knew zero on those pages—literally not one question.

The daily game of charades I once played now is more like once a month. I had some tradesmen return to my house recently, and I held a small conversation with them in Croatian – and one commented that five years ago, I was unable to understand anything he said, which was, in fact, true. He smiled and seemed proud of me. Warmed my heart for days.

Three years ago, I missed my friends more than I ever could imagine – ack, that was damn painful. But now, I am just sad that I have lost so many of them. Thrilled with my new friends but uber sad deep inside; those relationships with my girlfriends that I once thought would last a lifetime now no longer exist. Not even on fakebook.

Way back then, I could not accept help. I remember once I had no power for four days when I was alone with a baby, and I had Croatian people offering to have us stay with them. I declined. I wouldn’t say I liked the idea of needing and accepting help.

Not anymore.

Olive Garden - Chasing the Donkey

Now, I can proudly say I take help. I even asked for help – and at one shallow point last year, I accepted more help from several friends than I could ever have imagined I could. I realize that you need a community around you – no matter where you live – and even more so as an expat without any family of your own.

I have been back to Australia twice in 5-years and have zero desire to go again anytime soon. Not even for a vacation. I mean, who needs that when you have the Adriatic Sea on your doorstep?

I don’t dislike Australia; I don’t have a life there as I do here in Croatia. I would not have the work experience to get my old job back. My kids would be in daycare all week, and I’d probably be stuck living out in Western Sydney again, with no access to the beach, cafes, and traveling opportunities like I do here. No thanks.

Instead, I encourage the family and friends I do speak to to come instead to visit us here – we have a big house and live opposite the beach. Hint, hint.

And, when you come, please bring food – I miss so many Aussie treats.

Food from Australia

I have declined many requests from Croatian TV, radio, and some print publications to interview us in the past three years. I had a horrible experience with one newspaper article that took what I said out of context and made the dumbest click-bait style headline – for which I was roasted – and still feel the effects of it now. Since then, I have hardly written about my personal life – having two kids now makes me even warier in sharing details about my life.

Even this blog post took me weeks to write and days of editing before I was ready to click publish.

I also have declined many coffee requests from people who had just moved to Croatia or were planning a move – as I did not want to expose myself and wanted to stay in my cocoon. But that’s slowly changing now. I feel more settled and ready to meet new people, which I now realize is essential for making Croatia home.

So, yeah, what the fuck was I thinking about moving to Croatia? I guess I wasn’t, but I am okay with that, as I do (mainly) relish the life I have here.

Living in Croatia is no picnic, but neither is living in a ‘richer’ country like Australia, so you have to decide what is more important to you and go with that.

For me, I value working for myself for much less, being with my kids at the beach after work, and having time for coffee with my friends on a Tuesday, over a corporate career, driving a luxury car, and $5 lattes which I only have time to enjoy on the weekends.

Brands We Use And Trust

Tips For Moving To Croatia

Sigh, I get sick of being asked this question because moving to Croatia is not the same for everyone.

That said, if you plan to move to Croatia, do not take advice from anyone who does not live in Croatia 24/7 – 365 days a year – for at least a full year.

Anything less than a year (or two or three), they are too fresh to really know.

If they do not live here, 365 days a year, they have a skewed view of real life here.

I would say you REALLY need to be prepared. Come for at least six months, try it out, and do not come when it’s the summer season, sunny, and everyone has pockets full of cash.

Come and live here in the winter months, that is, between November and April, when the tourism and apartment money has been spent, and the weather is less than outstanding. Keep your eyes open, and be honest with yourself.

Don’t quit your job, pack a shipping container, or anything until you really know what you are in for. I have spoken to many people who returned after a failed attempt. They returned home almost always, as Croatia did not meet their unrealistic expectations about finding work and no longer has a low cost of living, etc.

Remind yourself that there is a reason that hundreds and thousands of Croats have moved abroad these past few years. This beautiful country can be a tricky place to live and survive – it is not for everyone.

Also, join all of the ‘expats in (city)’ Facebook groups (see below for the list of them), and start making connections with others who have situations like yours. Just don’t take anything that one person says as gospel. Not even mine.

How to Get from Split to Zadar Croatia

Cost Of Living In Croatia

The average salary in Croatia is €1130 per month (varies WILDY), while the cost of rent varies depending on location.  Utilities cost around €110 per month, internet and cell phone plans start at €35, and groceries average around €400 per month for two adults.

Public transportation is affordable, and healthcare and entertainment costs are reasonable. Rent prices vary depending on location, with Zagreb being more expensive.

Public transportation is affordable, and healthcare costs are reasonable.

Getting A Croatian Visa

Oh god, what a head fuck.

Getting a visa as a foreigner in Croatia is like winning a fluffy toy at the carnival – sure, it can be achieved, but it isn’t easy and will take many attempts. The only difference is it is free.

Oh wait, it is only free so long as you are from the EU. If not, be prepared to fork out thousands of Kune for the mandatory health insurance back payment fees. When you go to your local Hrvatski Zavod Za Zdravstveno Osiguranje (HZZO) office, you’ll discover that you have to pay for the 12 months you were not in the country. Ours was over 550 euro each.

The legislation is changing all the time, so be sure to ask at the Croatian embassy where you live – more than once. But be warned, most embassies are hopeless. They don’t always know the current legislation, and what I have heard from many people over the years – many embassies just do not want to help new people move back to the motherland. Head straight to the local police station (Ministry of Police -MUP) when you arrive and start the lengthy process of getting your temporary residence permit, work permit, or visa..

While we are on the topic of the MUP, be sure to take someone with you who speaks Croatian fluently. Even in the foreigner’s line, getting an English-speaking staff member is not always possible – and if it’s like the one in Zadar, the service will also be provided without a hint of trying to speak English.

My recent trip there to inquire about getting my citizenship was met with a deathly look of disgust; the women at the counter had to ask a colleague what the process was – and all they could agree on was that I should just come back when it expires and see what the rules are then.

Five years ago, I was told that once I made it to the 5-year mark, I could return to MUP  and be given my Croatian citizenship. But now I am not sure. So, back I go in a few months to see what rules apply and have changed now. I am mentally preparing to take the citizenship test. 

KRKA - Day Trip From Split


If you don’t speak Croatian, life will be tough. I know that everyone says that Croatians speak English – and they do, but not in all cases.

You’ll be able to communicate with the majority of people that are younger than 40. But even then, maybe the doctor will refuse, and you’ll find yourself explaining your symptoms with hand gestures.

Croatian is a damn complex language to learn and even harder to speak correctly. Why must there be so many crazy grammar rules? I mean, seven noun declensions……

Please don’t leave it too late to take lessons and get help. Trust me; you’ll need it.

I restarted my Croatian lessons and can genuinely say that life here would have been even more challenging had I not taken them.


The salaries in Croatia are very low when compared to most developed nations. Once you pay bills, rent an apartment, and buy food – not much is left over.

Now, on the other hand, if you have a salary from abroad, you’ll live like a King or Queen. If you plan to work locally, you’ll have to live like a local.

Eating out, traveling, or paying for services like a babysitter are affordable, so long as you earn more than minimum wage (or have those dollars from aboard on hand), otherwise you’ll be hard-pressed to get someone to look after your child. At the same time, you work, so you’ll need to enroll your kids in a kindergarten.

Want a job as soon as you arrive? Good luck. It’s not as easy as you think. Make your own plans to freelance or set up your own business if you need money straight away. Or else have savings to get you by until you can find work.

Travel Tips First Time to Croatia - Zadar Croatia Travel Blog


If you plan to move to Croatia with school-age children, then you’ll be happy to know that public education in Croatia is (almost) free. Just be sure to have money for many books and appropriate school clothing, as there are no school uniforms.

Kindergarten (suitable for ages 1-6) is not mandatory. While this is subsidized, it is not free and will set you back at least 70 euros a month, up to several thousand if you plan to go to the British kindergarten in Zagreb or other international schools.

Primary school education is, of course, compulsory – that begins at seven years of age.

The secondary education system is vastly different from what I am used to in Australia, and I have yet to master its complexities, so be sure to ask people with kids the same age as yours how it all works.

Tips for Travel to Croatia: Hvar Island
Hvar Island


Hmm, this one is tricky.

You can obtain primary healthcare all over the county, no matter where you live. You’ll just wait. And wait, and wait. I have heard of people waiting 6-12 months for an MRI for 6 Months for a mammogram to check a breast lump. We waited four months for a specialist appointment for my newborn son.

That said, my son was treated with immediate and astounding care when he was born with serious complications. He spent several weeks in Zagreb in the NICU  at the country’s best hospital – all expenses paid. His treatment of me was less than stellar (think plenty of tears and confusion),  but I never once doubted the care he received.

He also spent a week in Zadar Hospital, and I have zero complaints. Sure, the place is old and run down, and I had to sleep overnight sitting up on a desk chair, but his medical treatment is what I would have received in Australia.

Roko in Zadar Hospital - Living in Hospital

If you have a job, your employer will pay your essential healthcare contributions, and you can also pay a small amount extra to avoid paying fees when going to the hospital or each time you go to the doctor or dentist. If you do not work, budget around 400 Kune a month per person to pay for this.

BUT, and now this is the tricky part – getting access to this ‘free’ service (should you be eligible) is a royal pain in the ass. Leave around 2 or 3 days over three weeks to achieve the steps necessary to get access to this service, and then about another six months for your card to arrive in the mail.

My advice is to have a savings fund for emergency healthcare to go private. You can find blood tests, MRIs, doctors, dentists, etc., all over the country that you can see fast, provided you have money in that pocketbook.

As a rough guide, we paid between 200 and 300 Kune per appointment for private doctors to see my newborn son to avoid waiting months for the hospital to get him into an appointment.

Pula, Istria. Driving Zagreb to Dubrovnik

Retiring In Croatia

Sigh. Yeah, yeah, Croatia is an excellent place to come to live out the end of your days. But really, where are all of the young families, singles, hard-working movers, and shakers? This aging country does not need any more grey-haired residents just sitting around—# SorryNotSorry.

Open a business, mentor, and contribute somehow, please – our new country needs you. 


What a place to live. After five years of traveling this magnificent country, I can tell you there is no shortage of things to do and new places to discover. And, when you are bored with Croatia, we have so many neighboring countries just waiting for your euros.

Zagreb in Two Days - Croatia Travel Blog

Visiting New Friends

You’d be hard-pressed to find any Croatian family where there is not an emphasis on family, friends, and with that food. Hospitality towards your guests is critical.

Offering drinks, pre-meal snacks, a meal, a second helping, even a third helping, cake, coffee, and then more drinks to your guests is a must. Then your responsibility in return is not to decline… ever. Saying no would be plain rude.

To avoid being rude (or, in some cases, being nagged), here is what I suggest you do:

  • Take a small serving the first go, thus allowing plenty of wiggle room in your jeans for that second helping you will be required to consume. Failure to heed this warning will see you having to hear repeatedly how you are too skinny, you must be hungry, and so on.
  • Your host may also use guilt to force you into a second helping. My favorite one (yes, I have become one of ‘them’) is “Oh, did you not like the food”? Boom! Host 1-guest 0.

If you have listened to this very sane advice, by this stage, you are still hungry, so when your hosts ask you to take another serving – you eagerly oblige. Everybody wins.

The tricky part is the third serving; you may want one, but chances are you’ve already indulged in two plates of  Kiseli Kapus and yummy ribe sa žara, so when that time comes, you’ll need to be polite and say no thanks. If you want to show off, you can use the phrase “ne mogu više, hvala,” which means you can’t take (eat) anymore.

Word of warning: be sure not to overuse this phrase, as your hosts may come not to believe you.

PLITVICE LAKES - Day Trips From Split


The same people in Croatia who will tell you that you look fat and gained 10 pounds are also the same people you can call when you need help. And you will need it.

Be warned that the Croatians are brutally honest – some too much so for my taste – but you have to roll with it for the most part. It will be worth it; my Croatian friends are worth their weight in gold – I treasure them dearly.

It is also the case that people can be such bullshitters. The plumber will tell you he will be at your house at 7 am, and by 10 am (if you are extra lucky), and you are into your second cup of coffee, he will knock on the door like nothing happened. Either that, or he will show up, have forgotten his tool, and say that he will be back tomorrow – which can quickly turn into a week. True story.

It’s always who you know. So, network. You will have to ask many people for references and help along the way. We never networked at the start; it seemed so fake. But now I realize, here in Croatia, that old saying rings true: it is not what you know – but who. Don’t fight it; go with it.

Government Administration

You will have to do many rubbish admin types jobs, just like anywhere in the world. But here, things are beyond disorganized.

While at government offices (and doctors), be warned. There are these breaks known as ‘pauza.’ It’s when the whole place goes on a lunch break, and you must wait 30 minutes until they return. Please do your homework, find out when they are, and avoid them like the plague.

If your request is out of the ordinary, or you need extra help, or the staff member is having a bad day, you’ll probably end up leaving in a bad mood and with nothing accomplished. I always assume that I can’t complete a task, and then if I do, it’s a win. But, usually, when I do not, I take myself to a cafe and, shake it off, and try again in a few days.


Tips For First Time to Croatia - Croatia Travel Blog


Racism in Croatia. I do not have any firsthand experience with it. I never confirm nor deny racism rumors in Croatia on my blog, social media, or any form.  And I do not plan to start now. If you want to read a post covering both sides of the topic, I suggest you start here.


These groups are handy for finding information about up-to-date info on the affordable cost of living, linguistic differences, long-term rentals, national health insurance system, general expat life, monthly income updates, business permit details, public transportation, bank account ideas, and such.


These posts will help you learn more about major cities, Croatia’s rich history, national parks, and more in my new home country.

Comments (134)

  1. I normally love everything you write, but totally turned off by your title and using God’s name in vain like that. Sure as an unfortunate way to capture attention.

      1. Why don’t you ask some people of colour about their experiences in Croatia? Maybe some of the refugees trying to get to west Europe.

        1. Nobody gives a fuck what a bunch of niggers and parasitic mud people feel, the less of them in Croatia, the better for Croatia! Make them feel unwelcome as possible, so Croatia will stay a safe place.

            1. Still believing in the imposture of multiculturalisme ?? Muslims are killing our people in France ! We now have over 200 000 rapes a year and over 130 stabbing a day, england has 55 000 stabbings a year ! who do you think is doing it ??? and you think we are racists ! why don’t you go spend a year in france, england, sweeden, italy, germany so you have a good taste of what is going on ?? you need to wake up, pal !
              and for your info, I am a us/french citizen.

          1. That racist comment summarizes mindset of a typical radical leftist Croatian. But don’t worry about those idiots, they are keyboard warriors and besides, there are plenty of good and honest people around you, thing is you just haven’t met them yet.

            Btw SJ, telling you all this as someone who lived in Croatia for 35 years before moving just a bit to the west, and as someone who is planning to come back in coming years to open my own business and fight windmills once again;
            you need to be more vigilant and aggressive with anyone and anything you face, whether it’s an institution, person or roadblock you face, that’s simply how we function.
            Croatian people are generally VERY hot tempered people, we are extremely proud nation despite all the corruption and nepotism, we are jacks of all trades, we are loud, we are noisy, we love our food, we drink a lot, we always have fun, we can love and hate shit at the same time and we don’t care about other people opinions. Simple.

            And to avoid any future problems similar to ones you already faced (f.ex. workers on your house) be loud, angry (you can fake that) and always have your stand, people will notice it and will treat you differently (in a good way ofc).

            So my advice (since i personally know many English speaking expats living in Croatia and you all carry similar traits :) ), don’t be a cocky westerner although i have a feeling you are past that stage. But yeah, no one here likes that attitude. Act like a local, meet your neighbors, find common interests, try to bond with them in any possible way, ask for help, offer help, call them over for bbq, invite yourself to their place (that is normal here), go for a round of beers to city center etc. Croatian are generally knows for sticking together when needed so just be bit a more engaging and you’ll be fine. Also
            And language is least of your problems, there are plenty beginner language courses and language learning groups and you can always pick up words and phrases on the go. Especially when your kids start school, it’s gonna be a piece of cake.

            1. Hello Marco,
              As a US/french citizen, I have just moved back to France from Oregon, I ll like to move to croatia, I am attracted to the beauty of the country and pristine waters. I love nature, so I am looking for a place in the country. I do not like crowds, do not like cities… Can you help me find a place to land until I can find a small house to rent ? I will be looking for a house with some land or a yard. cozy and clean…

  2. Wow SJ – great post. You guys are amazing. What a journey and inspiration to pursue a sea change!! Xxx

  3. My dear dear friend Sarah Jane – I try to call you SJ but it just doesn’t always flow.
    You are truly one of the most bravest of friends. I love to read and watch and see your life – I imagine and remember all the food we cooked and ate ( dumplings was always my most fondest ). I see your beautiful children and hear your voice speaking another tongue – I see Mate and can still hear him saying ‘ fat George ‘ to me it’s like I’m still so there in your life but I just can’t touch you. I miss you and in those moments a little more terribly.
    You have done amazing , you are living your dream.
    I love you lots and lots ❤️

  4. Last time I read your post you had just moved here and started this amazing chasingthedonkey blog. We worked together on a project (or two) and you did great. Today I see you have grown even more. Now you see Croatia as it really is, full of flaws, fake people, fake news, shallow, yet beautiful and irreplacable. I wish you and your family and business only great things!
    Ps. – Last year I renovated my house (before moving in with my newborn) and it’s true, if you have no connections nothing gets done! I even thought about building everything myself ???? Hope to see more of your posts ;)

  5. Every time I read your posts about bureaucracy it reminds me of moving to the Canary Islands in 2005.

    My parents are doing it all now, they speak no Spanish at all & I regularly take and make phone calls to sort out their residency and health care. The whole thing changes all the time, but because of the people I know & that I sound like a goat farmer when I speak Spanish (hooray for learning the local dialect) I get taken wayyy more seriously than when my mum attempts the same thing!! It is so incredibly frustrating, even now, but I’d say the infrastructure has gotten sliiiightly better in time.

    Does your youngest automatically become Croatian because he was born there? I can’t imagine waiting 6 months for a mammogram- I got diagnosed in weeks. Now recovery!

    Your blog is a huge testament to what you’ve achieved!! Such a shame the tourism board won’t help— you must be doing their work for them.

  6. I think your article was great very honest. Pointing out the good and the bad equally. Very helpful to anyone considering the move. Keep up the good work

  7. Brilliantly written, I moved from Ireland to rural Hercegovina 2 years ago and your story is so apt. Thank you

  8. Thank you for this post. My husband and I have always dreamed of moving to Croatia (also to Zadar since that is where are families are). We are aware of all the drawbacks (all of which you nailed on the head) and yet we still dreamed of the move…..and then we had children….three of them. And those drawbacks that I brushed off in my thoughts, turned into my biggest fears. My daughters are 3, 5, and 7. I guess my biggest fear is for the oldest and how she would adjust not knowing the language. She is starting second grade in the fall here in the states and I feel the longer we wait, the harder it will be for her. I’m really sorry to bother you with this but I just wanted to know what your thoughts were of the school system in Zadar. I know your children started from the beginning at the schools there so it was always their normal, but do you have any information on others that have transitioned later. I think my children being acclimated well is my biggest fear. As long as they are happy, I would be too, regardless of the other drawbacks because that stress would be on me and not on them (at least that’s the plan). Any information would be appreciated. Good luck with all your ventures and thank you for all your posts which I have read dozens of times. I applaud you for your bravery. God bless!

    1. My eldest son is 5, so he is not at school yet (he will start when he is 7). But I have heard that the public schools do not offer any support for transitioning, that said, you could look at the private school which I hear has some wonderful support to help with the language and transition. Good luck with your choice, as I can imagine how hard it is with kids to think about.

      1. I have just moved here from Australia with my 3 kids, 1, 4 and 6 yes old. We are in a village on an island and the oldest two are in kindergarten. We have only been here 3 months lol. Fresh as! But they are loving it. As for us… The jury is still out. Kids adjust amazingly. They have friends they ride their bikes with around the village every day. They can speak English, mine speak limited Croatian but they manage! If it’s the kids your worried about, don’t. That’s the least of our problems! Haha.

    2. I moved to a small town (Metkovic) when I was 17 (year 12), and my sisters were about 14 and 12. I went from 6 subjects in Australia to 16 in Croatia, along with having to complete a ‘difference of subjects’ for all the subjects I never had in Australia (Latin etc.). While there was no formal transition program, I would not have completed my final year of high school there without the amazing support of certain teachers/professors and the school counsellor/psychologist. Of course there were some horrible teachers, but the ones that did help really went out of their way to make sure I passed all my subjects. Also, the support I had from my class was amazing. One thing that made high school so enjoyable was the absence of bullying, which unfortunately in Australia is a big problem in schools. I couldn’t believe how the whole class was able to get along and support each other without any problems. I just wish I had moved earlier. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other issues in Croatia which I’m sure you are aware of. That’s just my experience at one school, so I can’t speak for them all. While your kids are at school there you will need to be the one that teaches them creativity, practical thinking, and application of all the theory they’ve learned. I went to university there, worked there, and even got married there. We are currently in Australia (thought we’d give it a go here), and are planning on moving the family back to Croatia within the next four years. I definitely want my kids growing up in Croatia and I long for the life I had there – if you can, just try to go while the kids are still young, it will make the transition a little easier.

  9. I love this. I relate as I am currently living in Sarajevo. Life choices make you wonder what the fuck is going on in our heads sometimes.

  10. I agree with most of what you say SJ………..but, in many areas whilst brave you have not gone far enough.

    You have not hit the corruption, nepotism issue hard enough. It is so bad that I find many of my Croatian friends so disillusioned with this and the dire state of Croatian Politics that they are moribund and no longer even see the injustices all around them. In Starigrad Paklenica the Director of tourism was reported in the local papers, having been accused of giving favour and jobs only to family members close to her, it was not denied as it is true. I have not named the person here but Zadarski List did!

    It is sad to see a beautiful race in such a state of apathy that when you ask Croatians why they don’t protest or complain, the only answer you get is “What is the use, nobody listens to us”.

    I believe the population of the Country with the recent exodus of the young (2014 youth unemployment level was 45%) is now in reality below 4 million and the pool of people working is around 1.7 million these are employed in a roughly 50/50 split by the Government and Private Industry.

    I include under the Government employees those who work for local government, HAK etc. This means that the economy is hugely bureaucratic in structure, you could lose 50% of the government employees and not miss them. Sadly there is nobody else to employ them so the burden on public finances would absolutely rocket, it is already unsustainable, so they may as well carry on “acting busy”.

    The next major problem is the pensioners, there are around 1.3 million of them and 25% are war veterans who are a powerful political lobby. The war veterans are often drawing pensions related to not physical disability but PTSD which they suffer from as a result of their service. The level of these veteran pensions can be 2 or 3 times that of old age pensions so as a proportion of the total pension payout they are even more significant. The old age pension rate is around 50% of average monthly earnings of around 4,000Hrk. It is therefore obvious that the working population cannot financially support a retired person apiece, so the Government is constantly borrowing to pay the bill.

    Now we come to lawyers which you did not discuss, I am fortunate to have an excellent lawyer who has done sterling work for me. Generally speaking though in Croatia there are no specialist lawyers as we find in the rest of Europe. Every lawyer here covers property, commercial, company, fraud, criminal, family, immigration etc. and under the complex minefield which is EU Law this is plainly ridiculous.

    Finally I come to the good old Kuna, which is supported by government at great expense to stick at a level of around 7.3 to the Euro. A more sensible level in relation to international currencies would be in my estimation nearer to 10 or even 12 to the Euro.

    The effect of letting the exchange rate float and find its real level would be to:

    Bring about the return of a domestic economy that made and grew things for the people.
    Reduce the import of foodstuffs and simple items, we could grow and make ourselves.
    It would also do amazing things for the only Industry we have Tourism, the numbers would be 30 to 40% up as Croatia became a cheap destination for tourists, the season would extend to match our beautiful weather from Easter to the end of October.
    It might also allow the government to use the vast amount spent on propping up the Kuna on things we need, infrastructure, health, schools, investment in new business. (Although I accept we would have to find a way to stop the politicians simply trousering the extra hundreds of millions of Euros).
    Imports would be more expensive, but how often do any of us buy a car or television, washing machine?

    In short before Croatia joined the EU we grew and raised up to 80% of our food. Now the whole of Slavonia is a wasteland as we import 80% of our food from the EU. 50% of Croatia’s precious youth are working outside their own Country as the whole economy is broken, there is no work for them in Croatia.

    1. Having visited Dubrovnik for so many years I saw a change in the shops in the last 6 years from nice things made in Croatia crafts and jewelry, foods and essential oils farm grown etc. to Made in China souvenier shops. Why?? Why? Heard they make it so hard for the local citizens or those who open shops there in high tourist months..so unfair and heartbreaking

  11. Sarah, I admire you. I have been following you since you moved to my homeland and think you are very special. People of Croatian roots who move back have it much easier than you do being Australian. Yet you make it look so easy. You do not give yourself as much kredit as you deserve. Do you really know how far you have come? Croatia is blessed to have you as an example for many reasons, not just for your efforts to promote travel in our county better than anyone but for your willingness to share with the world how you can move and be a great success. God Bless you and your family now and always. Hvala

  12. Hi
    I think I know how you feel. I was born in Croatia and left almost 30y ago. I have live every year 6m in UK and 6m in Asia.
    UK there is no sun and had enough of it and Asia again too hot dirty not easy visa situation.
    I am coming back to Croatia to Brac this summer to work…I am not so happy about it but I have to.But everywhere is difficult, something good something bad..People in Croatia not so nice very insesitive but honest and veryhelpful.
    I Never had any help in UK but people are quite polite in a unsincier way.
    But I dont think I can settle forever there not yet..maybe when I am old and no money to travel anymore.In meantime I come back and forward to Asia India is my beloved country.
    All best to you and your lovely family.

    1. Yes, no place is 100% perfect. Each place has something, but for me Croatia’s lack of ‘x’ makes up for how much I love my life here. I wish you every love and success in finding your happy place/s. xx

  13. HI
    I’m at the cross roads of asking my self, how much longer can i call myself Croatian! i was 5 when we arrived to Australia 51 years ago, my wife and kids all born he. so i ask my self is it my dissection to change my history of origin for ever! we can all say I’m Croatian, the fact is it means nothing really more damage then good especially with the kids! i am a bit of a racist old basted its my life experience that has made me who i am. so my question is do i go back and be Croatian or forget it. my parents and my grandparents answer is obvious, as long as its archivable. i think we or i take this as the only chance you will ever get to be who you say you are, as the possibility is more possible then ever will be. i admire you determination to be Croatian, the problem is we who are are not, so for us who are afraid to make that decision, will change our history of origin for ever make no mistake about that, its your call as hard as it might be. you might say whats your problem just go back and forth and be Croatian, the point is my kids more than likely will marry other origins or religions, so that will be the end anyway. the odds are more than likely if the live in Croatia it docent matter who they marry they will be Croatian. what dose this mean to you?

  14. Hi,
    I really liked your post :). I am Croatian (Split) but living my whole life in Germany. Its like the 3rd time I am here for longer, now for 3 months exactly. I do have contacts here and family, but I find it VERY hard to connect openly with new people. Maybe it is just a coincidence , but I feel like everyone is just like: lets meet for a coffee and then NOTHING happens. They never call, so unreliable. I think its bc they are from here and have their friends for ages and no need for new contacts. Thats my experiencee. So here is my question: where can I find people to connect with. Open people that want to hang out? I have 2 very small kids, so talking to other adults is super necessary hahaha. I am super open and love meeting new people.


    1. You describe my experience while visiting Croatia (9 times now but not for more than five days each time ..still you build some relationships you come back and there is not follow up much In Dubrovnik they are very much to their own little group friendly superficially but that is it. I would not expect much more if I lived there which I so want to do I think they look at everyone as outsider even if you proclaim your love of their country they don’t care a lot of bitterness too because of low wages and other problems govt should take better care of their youth so they dont leave and their citizens. so sad I find this in NYC as well not much connection because everyone is so busy and they have enough friends not interested in new contacts. You can communicate with me! Where do you live in Croatia? My dream is to live there.. but why should it be so hard?

  15. You have what you wanted and knew where you were going to. Life in Croatia is challenging and a bit of both, positive and negative. However, you shouldn’t feel you are a slow learner. In time you will get how to live and be happier.

  16. Hello, do you know if permanent residents or citizens are exempt from paying the 400kn (now 500 plus as of 2019) HZZO monthly fees? Also have you heard of how as a citizen you can work a job that pays your fees and then even when you’re no longer working at all become exempt from the HZZO monthly fees? Thanks a lot, Dan

    1. When you move here from abroad – citizen or not – you have to pay. And yes, if you have a full-time job your employer pays this contribution.

      1. Sorry people but employer usually don’t pay this extra health care fees, you pay it for yourself.

  17. I have really enjoyed reading your article. As I live now abroad, I will come to live back in Croatia in a month and already filling a bit scared. Birocracy is the pain in the ass, and if you need anything done, you have to prepare your mind and soul. As you live in the south, I can imagine how many troubles you have with the workers. Most of the good workers leave in Germany or Ireland nowadays. And also, the thing I have to mention to you: opening a business in Croatia is the craziest thing you can do in your life! :D So I want to say just keep swimming and everything is going to be even greater! Wishing you a lot of strength and luck!

  18. I’m Croatian by naturalization; I will retire as soon as I’m prepared! with prepared I mean deciding whether I moved to Croacia or not. It is a very strong option. I will receive my retiring money for life, international insurance, etc. My concern is my husband, he is not Croacian, he does not have any retirement plan, only insurance, furthermore my daughter and 3 kids want to come too!
    The more I read the more my concerns grows!
    Please just tell me that things are not that bad!!! it is scary….

  19. Just thinking of moving to croatia,just wondering if things are getting any better or worse.I was thinking of buying some property or something existing and renting it out on airbnb. My wife and i have an apartment we rent in warsaw and its working well.I am coming from america and she lives in Poland.She can use her EU citizenship.
    We are coming to Croatia in Sept. Would love to meet if it is possible.

  20. You are brave! Bravo! I am Croatian who lives abroad, actually recently moved abroad again, UK….I also have experience living in Switzerland. Croatia is some 15-20, maybe even more, years behind these countries. But it is moving forward slowly…. I notice also differences between UK and Switzerland, like UK is behind Switzerland….so there are differences….good and bad sides everywhere. But Croatia is behind Western countries in many ways, economy especially and government administration, too many procedures, too lengthy, too many steps involved, too many people, and nobody is responsible for anything. We need to catch up. Also Zagreb is ahead of other cities. Zadar is same as Split in that respect, behind Zagreb. I know all three cities, lived in all three of them. We need more foreigners to help us, especially our own expats who want to return and who government is not inclined to help in any way, which is a huge shame. Croatians are happy when they see foreigners want to live in Croatia, it feels encouraging :) and proud you chose to raise your kids there. UK is wonderful, but….weather gosh! weather is a horror! and so windy! ok bura is cold, but winter is winter and summer is summer in Croatia. And there is nothing dangerous in our sea! Nothing will eat you! :) And it is so safe! You are right about that. Switzerland is also safe country, not UK though.
    I m tutoring some people in Croatian, it s mostly love stories :) that made them learn Croatian (not advertising here lol, I dont have time right now). I think you will learn more Croatian when your kids start going to school, and you will have to. Songs are a great way to learn, we have beautiful music, if you love it….
    If only Croatian government would copy paste other successful countries. They dont really need to invent anything new. It could be like Switzerland, we have all the resources to be successful. I believe it is moving forward, it is much better than it used to be, believe me :). Now we can communicate with various government offices online and get all kinds of certificates online, which is a huge step forward. Not there yet, but big change!
    Anyway, need to go, keep up the good work, your house is beautiful, and I m sure Australians will be coming more! Maybe you can open advisory services for them :))
    God bless!
    if you need any advice or information, you can contact me on keytorebeka@yahoo.com

    1. Been here 35 years from UK originally, yes its a very frustrating place and I have seen lots happen in my 35 years …yes I love the place but wow can it be frustrating and backward, so many intelligent people not making things work here, stems from olden times and change is hard, just enjoy the lifestyle and stuff all the paperwork, the paperwork will still be there long after you have died so live and enjoy, its a retirement and tourist country only now, all the young people have gone or going as the employers pay poor wages and are greedy, politicians were to slow to see this and its all too late now they have gone, they will return but not for along time, I have now retired and enjoyed a UK salary whilst living here so lived like a king, I know the place inside out good and bad, just roll along everyday and enjoy dont go through the officialdom it will only make you poor and frustrated and waste your time, bollocks to this, my life is rich and everyday is enjoyed and I will continue this as long as i live.

      I have travelled more than most to over 150 Countries in the world so can compare good and bad and Im ok here ….Love Croatia hate the corrupt bastards and the system, they can do anything right and if you want to make it hard they know how to do it, very backward thinking, but a great life, I would not be anywhere else, GOOD LUCK ALL

  21. Hey there

    Two aussies here who are currently journeying around the world in a expedition truck.. we are currently in Croatia ( Rovinj ) and we are out of vegemite. Any ideas where we can pick some up ?

    where abouts are you livin ?


  22. Hey Sarah Jane, I love this post having read it after googling “why I left Croatia”. (I haven’t left.) (Yet.) You made me chuckle when I needed to.

    Three years into my own Balkan ride, based in Spalato with a little Sarajevo thrown in, your cons and pros are so spot on. I have WTF moments in a daily basis only to be countered with a walk along the Adriatic that captures my heart. But, not even 20 years of living amongst Bosnians in the US or a lifetime of having an extremely eccentric Herzegovinian father prepared me for hitting the grounds over here.

    The most important Croatian word to learn if one wants to live here is STRPLJENJA (patience) because a lot of it is required.


  23. A really good blog. I have come to Croatia from England to live. I am 45 years old and I am looking for work. My family are all Croatian from the islands but I was born and raised outside of Croatia, we all speak English at home. My mother was raised in Australia and my uncle, her brother, was born there and has dual nationality. He goes there from time to time.

    I agree that the difficulties of living in Croatia are real difficulties here, but there are opportunities for those with an open mind.

    I see that you live somewhere in Dalmatia and was wondering if you wanted to meet up? We could put our heads together to try and find a way to make some money, is what I was thinking, as well as any general socializing. We may be able to help you perhaps?

    Fell free to contact me by email!

  24. Hi! I posted a comment about a year ago when my husband and I were deciding on whether we should move to croatia along with our 3 children. Well this summer we took the plunge. We have been here since the beginning of August and it has been wonderful. We moved to Zadar and I am just in love with the city. My children have transitioned nicely and the support in her school has been amazing. They struggle with the language as do I but we are trying our best. I do have to say that it is difficult to make connections here. Although everyone has been very cordial, it’s hard to connect when your humor doesn’t translate over very well. That part makes me a little homesick bc it makes me miss the friendships I left behind. But it’s still early and hopefully time will change that.

  25. I must have say this blog totally uplifted my broken spirit. Over a year a go I met the love of my life… and it just happened that he is a pure Croatian from Zagreb. We are now planning my move to Zagreb and it just freaks me out!! I have a pretty well established life here in US and job that I love but ohh well. My biggest fear was the forthcoming outsider syndrome but after reading your blog I now know that there is many more outsiders than me and the struggles are bearable.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and the “healthy” humor in all of this craziness called relocation!

  26. I love this! Thanks for being real. We discovered Croatia about 5 weeks ago and can’t stop saying how much we love it. We’ve been slow traveling, mostly coastal. Of course it’s off season so it’s hard to tell if we’ll enjoy the busy season but we are looking forward to diving these crystal clear waters! We are nomads looking for a place to retire so your perspective was very useful. I’ll admit, the language scares me the most! Everyone has been so gracious helping us in English, but of course if we settled down we would need to stop laughing at where Google Maps tells us to turn because it sounds unpronounceable.
    I do love the people, the safe feeling and the scenery…the combination is enticing!

  27. Absolutely Brilliant Blog! Thank you for giving me so many answers what I have been searching for over a year( since i have started to research of moving to Croatia). I’m Hungarian, Hubby and child British; so very aware of the health system +burecracy; which is like a door where you have to knock three times and ask three times before you get any answer. I’m very happy for your persistence and positive experience regarding friendships and school. Sounds brilliant. Myself; thinking of Opening an english teaching kindergarden on the dalamatian coast; after your blog seems to be the best business option. Thank you again

  28. I was born and raised in Philippines but currently living and working abroad. Im planning to move to Croatia with my husband in couple of years. I like the Atmosphere in Croatia and enjoy the food and clean air.
    Your Blog inspires me and answered all my worries.

  29. Wow, leaving Australia to live in Croatia .. You must be out of your mind, or a convicted criminal looking to escape justice :-) I think that I can give a fair opinion because i) I was born in Yugoslavia (Croatia) and grown up there (still go on vacation) ii) I lived in Australia for 2 years (Melbourne) and visited almost the whole continent in 4WD so I know the country a bit. BTW I have been living in Switzerland for the last 20 years, and planning to move to Canada.

    I can’t see just ANY advantages to live in Croatia for a westerner IF you were not BORN in Croatia. If you were not born there, people will NEVER treat you like you are one of their own – just forget it, you will always remain a stranger.
    a/ If you were born there and have a lot of money from abroad, you are king.
    b/ You will be OK if you are a stranger with a lot of money, people will like you somehow mostly because they can see the advantages. However consider my remark above.
    c/ If you are a stranger with NO money, you should better go to mars it is more immigration friendly.

    With all due respect, don’t be stupid and naive, and decide to move to Croatia based on a blog post from somebody who just arrived, doesn’t even speak the language and has no clue about Croatian mentality.

      1. Wow no, I am not angry when somebody thinks otherwise – you shouldn’t be either. What I saw in comments is a bunch of people looking for reassuring info. Well moving permanently to Croatia for strangers is not A++ rating everywhere, so these people should get balanced info before making such decisions. And I took some of my time to give an opinion for free.

        I don’t see any anger in my comment, so respectfully yours is just plain stupid.

        1. I see you like using the word stupid. Hmm, interesting.

          So, it’s okay for you to leave Croatia 20+ years ago, live around the world, moving from place to place, but no one can have that opportunity in Croatia? It’s strange to me that you’re keen to give “free” advice to people about a place you have not lived in for two decades. Yet, at the same time say that people from abroad (well, outside your ridiculous rules) should not come to Croatia. I did not just arrive, I have been living in Croatia for almost seven years and visiting the place for 20 years. I am raising two children here, as well as running a business here. So, it’s fair to say, I know a thing or two…

          Ps: There are THOUSANDS of people NOT BORN in Croatia, LOVING life here. Many with businesses, families et al. Come back live here and see for yourself how wonderful it is.

          1. He rightly used the world stupid, because that describes your comment so well. As though anyone who speaks the unpleasant truth must automatically be angry. Yep, stupid assessment. Dumb blog, by the way, you have no clue.

    1. I was living in Prague for 15 years between stints at sea. I worked the deep ocean. I left Prague as one of the last “old timers” because I was getting older. In a foreign land an oldster can easily be a target for the disadvantaged, gypsies for one example, Turks for another. I realized I moved slower. Most these attractive Central European countries are attractive but a large part of that is based on “walking around”. I learned after I returned to my country of origin that I like the food better, I like being one of my own people, and I like the respect along with the help I often get as an elder. The term I learned for me is “bomerrang expat”. Since I was one of the last to leave you can imagine the truth, most expats eventually return. My own parents lived foreign for 14 years and returned to die in their homeland by preference.

  30. I’m an American and I’ve been in Croatia 5 years. I moved here after 10 years in London. In the first 2 years, everything and everyone seems nice, the honeymoon-phase. My GF were prepared mentally for the red-tape of getting our first 1 year permit to stay, although my GF did break down in tears once in the police station. My advice – hire a lawyer to do all of this and stay away from govt offices as much as humanly possible!

    We bought a house in a small town and almost immediately we fell under the microscope of the locals. Gossip travels extremely fast around here, it’s almost like everyone’s hobby. People do watch you and notice what you’re doing, if only to have something to gossip about. The few times I’ve needed to visit the local doctor were noted and talked about. I imagine the same thing happens with the pharmacist, so if you want to keep your medical issues private do that business in the nearest city. Croatia is not the West.

    Just to continue with petty gripes (that do get under your skin), people park anywhere they want to like your driveway and in the middle of roads. Also, lane-splitting is so common that I don’t know why I don’t see more accidents. Tail-gating inches from your bumper is so common that I figure people do it to use your car to break the wind so they can save a kuna on gas rather than pass you. And I drive faster than the average person.

    Petty theft is common, but people won’t break into your house. Don’t leave anything of value out overnight. I honestly think that people take things because they rationalize that no one is using it at the time and giving it a new home is appropriate. Also, cutting in line is normal. I think Croatians hate lines and would rather use the funnel approach/survival of the fittest to see who gets served next. If an elderly person is in line at a busy market holding a only can of soup, and a new register opens up, the person behind with a full cart of groceries will bolt for the new register rather than give the opportunity to the elderly person. This is not considered rude. It’s culturally normal. A lot of things that would be considered rude in the West are culturally normal here.

    Anyway, just some thoughts.

    1. Thank you thank you thank you for mentioning the depression and anxiety that randomly hits. Sometimes I feel alone for experiencing this, so it’s good to know I’m somewhat normal.

    2. Croatia isn’t homogeneous. Mentality of the people varies depending on the region, and also, it’s not the same living in a small town and in the city. That gossip mentality that you speak of is seen predominantly in smaller communities. So no one who’s lived only in one place/region can know what’s it like everywhere in Croatia. And cutting in line and such things are not “not considered rude”. They are very common, yes, a lot of people are rude and have no manners. But anyone who’s normal and raised well, anyone from my family or my friend group for example, would consider it to be rude. Again, I don’t know what’s it like in your small town. Maybe there people really don’t think it’s rude. If you’re in Dalmatia then it’s possible that’s the case.

    3. The bureaucracy is a nightmare here, no doubt about it. I’ve been an expat in several countries and have now lived (read: survived) in Croatia for about three years. Government offices are indeed a struggle, so I feel your GF’s pain, but I would advise people to BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN HIRING LAWYERS!!! I cannot stress this enough.

      Some are valuable assets when processing one’s residency permits, but others are complete hacks who will rip you off yet say they’re “offering you a discount”, give you contradicting advice (presumably because they don’t understand the intricacies of their own job), and will still send you to the government offices because they’re “too busy” to do it themselves. I’m sure you can gather that I speak from experience, as do my expat friends.

      My advice is to do your homework ahead of time, and don’t be wooed by any of them just because they speak English. It’s better to be armed than to put your faith in an incompetent quack who makes Lionel Hutz look like an expert. Good luck everyone :)

  31. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  32. I didn’t like the tone of this blog, article, however you want to call it.
    I sure hope the author exercises more restrain from the “f”s while Congress communicating in person.
    As for me, such polluted language turns me off right away and interferes with my reception of the subject.
    Speaking of which, those are extremely subjective views and impressions, which I mostly found to be unkind and not very accurate.

    1. Sadly, she didn’t mention crime rate in Croatia (gang shootings, kidnapping and beating, break ins, PUBLIC shootings, etc.), and number of missing children , maybe then your reception of the subject would be different. Unfortunatelly, this post didn’t show reality of Croatia in its fullest. And what about “legal” crime? Grey zone as they call it. Where companies hide their real profit whilst stealing from you tourists on vacation, overcharging every single time, being friendly and smiling — taking your money in their pockets ;). And it is not just tourists, people who live here have low salaries, I’ve read on internet that they say it is about 6000-7000 kn monthly? Lol, let me tell you, I can ask three buildings next to me (where in every lives more than 60 people) about their salary and they will all tell you they work for minimum, around 3900-4800 kn. Their bosses don’t put them on papers with real salary (for example – they pay them 5000 montly (a bit in cash) they put in books that they paid them 3900, goverment doesn’t check regulary on companies, and that boss pays less for that worker. In the future when that working person is old – income from pension is clearly low because they didn’t work in books with their real salary, that person cannot enoy their old life hungry, they have to work hiding it from goverment, for small money). Everyone in coffee shops talks about how they work for nothing their entire lives. It is worse than you think. And I am a young person who will in 1-2 years definitely leave for Germany or Ireland, at least they appreciate their workers!!

    2. Place the cursor over the Right Chevron and click NEXT. Geez, is it necessary to be so judgmental? Get a life!

  33. Hmm, I am born in Croatia and I have a friend from kindergarten, who I went with to the same elementary school too, who I still hang out to, today. His mother is from Vietnam and father from Croatia. At first, in kindergarten, I felt very sorry for him because he got constantly bullied because the other kids there were saying he was “chinese” and doesn’t belong here. Seriously! This stuff happens in kindergarten?! So I wanted to become his friend. After kindergarten, he introduced me to various different things from Asia, like asian food, asian shows, mostly manga and anime, and made me eat spicy ramen. Well, he was very kind and cool. I don’t know, I just wanted to share this. Have a wonderful day.

    1. You’re obvs a great person to notice that from a young age. I hope my children are as kind as you and would do the same. Thanks for sharing Rafi.

  34. I love your blog and am highly entertained with your experiences living in Croatia. We are in Australia and as a child who left at the age of 4 1/2 we returned with my family as teenagers and lived in a small town for 2 years. At that time, though it was still Yugoslavia, the communism in the country was so prevalent. Even with this, my heart was content being amongs my own. Walking to the slastičarna as a Teen and being surrounded by people of my own kind and culture “I was home”. It’s now 40 years since our return to Australia yet I still feel “incomplete and unwelcome” though I spent more time here than in Croatia. My heritage and roots still draw me to returning “home”. I am not sure when but I know I will return to my homeland and my heart will be full. PS the red tape of government departments is just as bad here.

  35. Dude I am croatian. I have read something like 70% of this blog and I just want to tell you that at some point your blog made me wanna cry for you. I am glad things got better later in the blog ;)

  36. I don’t agree with most of what you wrote. It is obvious that hate (for some reason) is behind your words. To say that noone will ever accept you just because you are not born in Croatia is pure malice if not ignorance. If you are an asshole, you won’t be accepted anywhere, but if you are normal, open, honest – you will get a lots of friends, just as you will get respect from others. I can say this with absolute certainty – treat others as they treat you, but start as “I treat others as I would like to be treated by others”. Same goes for when taking out some papers or in store – be nice. If they are not nice, than you can take stand for yourself – ask for his boss, make an official complaint… and you’ll see that things CAN be sorted faster. I can understand that foreigners have difficulties in understanding how life works here but that is mostly because most of them don’t see deeper into Croatian history and how life treated Croatians through time. This can sound empty, but it is true nevertheless. NOBODY will give you any respect if you didn’t deserve it, but if you did, you’ll get best and most loyal friends, better than you could imagine.

    1. You don’t have to agree with this post in part, or in full. This has been MY experience. I stand by everything that I wrote back then, and in follow-up posts since.

      1. We have been back in the UK since 2012 having lived in Croatia for ten years and your words captured our own [personal ]experiences exactly. We still miss Croatia and have retained a soft spot in our hearts, but the endless bureaucracy and unnecessary slow pace of everything and everyone ground us down and drove us nuts in the end. We also got fed up of being seen as ‘wealthy’ foreigners and getting ripped off many times both by people we employed and also by those who would call us friends. Your blog is honest but I would have to disagree 100% with your suggestion that people should set up business and invest their Euros in Croatia. DONT DO IT! The business entanglements in Croatia are far worse than living there as an individual and you will likely experience open corruption if you want to get anything done. It’s not for the feint hearted that’s for sure. I wouldn’t say that we would never go back, for a vacation maybe, but not for business reasons, there are much easier and more business friendly places in Europe to invest. Hvala, vidimo se kasnije

        1. I am sorry you left, under those circumstances, life here isn’t easy that is for sure. Wishing you much happiness and prosperity.

    2. I agree. This post was incredibly arrogant as well. I stopped reading at, “I was super impressed with myself.”

  37. This comment deserved a reply from somewhere in the Universe. Here it is. Absolutely hilarious… Hope this is actually true…

    1. I’m not sure what’s going on anymore. I tried to reply to a comment. Love this article very much! I’m from California and visited Croatia last Summer, for the first time. I can’t stop thinking about it

  38. OMG , that was at the same time inspiring and upsetting at the same time. The “waiting “ for “majstor” to arrive (if they do at all) it’s a maddening experience I’ve felt one too many times not only growing up there but particularly now that we live abroad. I commend you for your attitude and honesty. Very refreshing in today’s world. Sretna Nova Godina and wishing you continued success ( don’t worry about the haters , you’ve accomplishments speak for themselves. )

  39. Love is about Entanglement, Felicity is about Oxytocin and continuous stream of fond memories uninterrupted.

  40. Throughly enjoyed reading your post. I love your honesty. We are Aussies considering a move to Croatia, Dubrovnik, and have lived in France, Spain (currently in Spain) and Italy and the bureaucracy is challenging in all of them and still makes my head spin.
    God – another language to try and learn badly (my head hurts) lols

    1. Hi Rose,

      I just came across your reply. I’m in the same situation willing to move to Croatia and currently staying in Spain. If I may ask what makes you leave Spain for Croatia? Thank you

  41. This was a very interesting read. I do take exception to this statement, however: “This aging country does not need any more grey-haired residents just sitting around.”
    We are an older couple (60’s) and my spouse is retired and I am about to retire in a year or so. We both are physically quite active – we don’t “just sit around”. Regarding leisure activities, we hike, bike, rock climb, etc. We are active volunteers in our community – animal rescue, trash pickup, meals on wheels, etc. We would seek to volunteer anywhere we lived.

    Furthermore, we are very well off financially and one would think that even retirees in a new country could contribute by injecting money into the local economy.

    It’s not necessarily a negative thing to be older and retire in another country. There is a lot of concern about racism and sexism, etc., but ageism is alive and well and it is a puzzle to me as to why this is still considered to be an acceptable form of discrimination.

    1. I completely agree – that was a very unnecessary comment!
      As a 20 something, it makes me sad that people think ageism is not – it’s not! Every person is valuable, regardless of age.
      I for one appreciate that you do volunteer work and love that you and your hubby keep yourself active. Thank you for all you do.

  42. Croatia is a beautiful country. And I am not talking about the beautiful land/views/beaches/forests/nature. I am talking about the culture. Croatians have the greatest traditions and culture and this is what makes our country so bonded and united. However, PEOPLE LIKE YOU COMING HERE TO SHIT ON OUR COUNTRY IS ABSOLUTELY DISGRACEFUL AND PATHETIC. Then you wonder why Croatians are not so nice to you. please leave!☺️ hvala!

    1. Shit on the place? Dude, I have no idea what you are talking about? #FactsDontLie
      People who live here 24/7 – 365 know the truth. Let me guess, you live in USA/Canada and come to Croatia for the summer for 10 days and think you know life here? Huh, what a laugh. I ain’t going no place, but you can fuck off my blog anytime you so please.

    2. Last 3 builders I used all ran off with the money… Give me. Some. Exams of. People. Capping on yoir country… I have had no expereince in. 30 years. Of this, many many Croat friends and understand the system very well.yes u are right its a beautiful. Country and has fantastic potential just use it, Croatia deserves alot better.

      Need other people from. Outside to run this country it would do better, this may be emotive but I can give u a million reasons why… The people. Deserve better…. And the country, don’t make out Croatia does not come with alot of. Faults.

      Very hard place to do business in and Croatia should welcome outside investment its crucial, only 4 million bit so hard to do any business here… Compare to other countries surrounding.

      1. Good for you SJ, these people think they know life in Croatia. They clearly do not. As an ex-pat here for 25 years, I can say what you have written is more than fair – things here are MUCH MUCH MUCH worse than you’ve written.

    1. Blog is very honest and one families experiences, very honest statements aboit Croatia, I’m in the same situation a big supporter of Croatia having been here 30 years now from UK with Croatian wife and children all. Grown up now so very expereinced and very well travelled too, oh they know how to do it wrong here if it’s getti g something done, can’t get a straight answer ever, bit for all this its a great country and deserves alot better for the people, its a country of no reward for young people and run by dynisties, you all. Know what i am talking about and its not a comparison but the truth.

      Great place will get better smart educated people, certainly in the cities, villages are another topic.

      Bad builders for the most always turn up with no tools, had all that expereince, guarantees worth nothing, but still am here as I love it i just accepted the imperfections and expect this.

      My builder was called to leaning tower of piza to repair it and when he arrived he said there was nothing wrong with it….. Got to love Croatia…. But it has to do better and follow. Other countries successes especially in EU, that’s why all young families have left as there is clearly no reward, its tourism and retirement only.

      A Place where your wealth far exceeds your income for government officials everybody knows and does nothing about it.

      Still a great supporter as the future is good, good way to start a small. Business here is to start a big one first… Dont do business here 8tw not geared up for business at all.

      If u disagree tell me…

      Good. Luck all

  43. Hi I just cam ehere to say that You should hire some professional help, the frustration You are emitting is toxic so much that I feel truly sorry for Your familiy. Move on, Croatia is definetely not the place for wimps. A diet would help also, less junk more fresh veggies, Coratia has a plenty of those. Maybe then You would be less pissed of with the world that is not tailor made for Your needs, obviously

    1. Pppppf l was happy to move out from that shit from country… salary so low that you can’t even buy basics. On job they treat you like the piece of shit. Awfully unfriendly people. I was born there and left it after 33 years. Yes, if you have money from abroad you can live nicey, but don’t expect that somebody will talk english, coz mostly they don’t speak english. People who promise so much, and give so back so little…
      It is just made for turists, nothing more than that.

  44. As a “native” Croatian I can say that most of this blog entry is correct. But all those issues are not only related to foreigners but to local population too. Nothing rings more true then “It’s not what you know but who”. That, in Croatia, is number one rule… Sadly. No matter how educated you are or how right you are or even how much law is on your side it all comes back to who you know and your connections. Which for a lot of people is none. That is why you have Croatians that come here filled with false sense of patriotism hating on your blog. Because they didn’t have to expirience how fucked and broken system is. Because they have good connections, wealthy family or something to bail them out from any problematic situation. Just the fact that they sum up issues about bieoucracy, false prides from people in place of power (doctors, teachers, etc.) under “Oh you hate this country, you should leave” shows how much they live in their own little bubble. And that they even openly admit that they didn’t even read the whole blog entry. That’s a big problem here. Nepotism, corruption and lots of people that only see themselves and can not relate to problems that others face. I was bourn and raised here and yet the small town mentality is upon my neck every day. Untill someone faces the same issues you have and even then sometimes they won’t admit that you were right.

    Croatia is a beautiful country. 100% worth to visit. But to live in… Not so much. Yes, you will find friendly people. And yes most people will be open and warm hearted if you ask for directions in the street or some other simple thing. But as soon as you need help with some serious issue, that is when a lot of Croatians show their true colours and you can see your “friends” fading away. Once again for those that will no doubt leave hate comments, I was bourn and raised here, I’m not an expact. But I am also not blind and I have to face and fight same problems. There is a reason why so few countries are willing or do invest in Croatia. There is a reason why our parlament , instead working on serious issues is still discussing WW II situation and whos grandpa was a commie or fascist. In 2021 with covid… Croatia is … Complicated and very hard to live in country. We act like we are in same range like Germany or France or Spain but truth is we are not even close. And that is why I hate when people from other countries say how easy it must be to live here. But then they are baffled when i tell them that some things that you can do in their country in 5 min are impossible to do here whatsoever. Or that prices are insane compared to paychecks and that so many are on brink of poverty. Honestly all of you that come here to shit post well written blog just cause your fake sense of pride was hurt are proof of everything that author of the blog talked about.

  45. Please take your leak and flood situation seriously. Toxic mold only takes 48 hours to take hold and can cause serious health problems for you and your family.

  46. It is heart-warming to see you and your family enjoying your life in Croatia. I was born there. And lived for 8 years! I still remember the white snowflakes falling during winters -place where I was born, and I remember the old town with its streets almost deserted in summer- grandparents place we visited every summer. Although my parents were high-school teachers, they would work hard every summer there. For me it was picture perfect.
    But when we were leaving for Australia 25 years ago, I was 8 years old, I remember my dad told me: “ In this country one fears its fellow men, not streets, rocks… It will never change.” (translated). I wrote it down in my diary although I didn’t understand what he meant.
    We visited Croatia many times, to see our family there, and each time dad would ask us if we saw any changes from the last time we were there. Me, my sister, and brother would come up with things we thought improved. Then dad and mum would start naming all the things that didn’t change. And every time my dad would say “Remember this, every year spent in this country reduces your lifetime by three years. You can always come here, understand what people say, read books in Croatian, and enjoy your time on the sun but never, never forget that what looks like a picture is often an illusion…” My parents would then point the finger to examples when nepotism, racism, extreme nationalism or any type of stigma was still there but for some reason we missed it. And then when we were a bit older, they didn’t need to say anything, we noticed those things. Our family and friends would complain too. Our dear friends, my godparents with their adult sons, left for Germany just recently and said they should have done it many years ago. Must say this – my dad is now more leftie although he wasn’t when we lived in Croatia!
    Don’t get me wrong. I do love Croatia and I am proud to know the language and its culture, and people are great but I would not live there.
    My mum said how when she first came into the shop in Melbourne, she felt appreciated for the first time as a customer. People welcoming at every step – shop, bank, hospital. We never waited more than 15 minutes for appointment. Never expected to pay bribes. Dad finished Masters and got a good job- no connections, mum finished hers and got her license as a GP. Me and my siblings finished unis and have our own reasonably happy existence. So, this is just my experience. I wish you continue enjoying your life in Croatia but have some safe haven just in case.

  47. I’m Croatian and moved to Australia because my husband is from here. It’s not much better here than there… as you criticized my country there is same amount of criticism for yours too (and every other I would say).
    My visa application here was a nightmare, no one to talk to, stressful, submitted 77 documents and still not sure what is happening, spend over $8000 and waited over 2 and a half years. Had to get and pay a lot of money again to an immigration agent to finalize it. Not impressed.
    Workers here are the same, late and doing lousy jobs on and around our property.
    Medical system, don’t have words… just praying God not to get sick here. Kids don’t have access to a pediatrician, it’s ridiculous. When our daughter got sick waiting list was 6months to see one! Luckily we still have Croatian pediatrician that is assisting us through emails and photos.
    If we want to have a coffee/tea with friends in the afternoon there is nowhere to go, they all close at 2-3pm And it’s like a ghost town after 5pm. Towns look very Asian, no beauty in them.
    People here are very happy and friendly but a bit superficial and you can’t make friends, they are not letting you in.
    We do have struggles in Croatia but I can’t wait to go home.
    Enjoy Croatia and go visit my town Opatija!

    1. They were not criticisms, but observations based on my experience. Just as what you have written about Australia. I agree Croatia is better than Australia, no doubts about it. I’d never willingly go back. Wish you have a safe return back to the motherland soon.

      Ps: Been to Opatija several times, including for Christmas 2021.

  48. I must say that you don’t deserve to live in Croatia. You are not even a human being, you are a street person that curses like a prostitute. How your children are allowed to still be with you is beyond me. Shame on you. You look like a fat cow, maybe living in pastures would suit you better. Mooooooo

    1. Let’s meet up for coffee Maryanne, I’d love to hear more from you. Sounds like you have a lot to say via your keyboard, would love to see you say this to my face..!!!

    2. What a nasty whence you are. Don’t like the way she writes, well
      do a departure and don’t read it. I for one enjoy it very much.

  49. had to write. i loved this! i hope you aren’t put off by the negative comments (cursing like a prostitute is a win) and big women rule! don’t ever change.

    1. Thanks so much. I try not to let the pathetic trolls get to me, but yeah, I write way less personal posts cause I can’t stand the fuckers. Peace and love to you.

  50. Thanks for sharing this insight! :) As a Croatian who moved to France, then Norway I was wondering what expats who move to Cro think. Now i think it is inevitable to always miss food from you country, and specially now in Norway i miss it.
    And i kudos you for learning Croatian, i think that Croatian has ridiculously too complicated grammar. But even speaking in infinitives will be understandable I believe so for everyday situations no need to learn perfectly.

    Ignore negative comments, there are always some better people around.

    Lucija :)

    1. I speak Croatian perfectly…..the app I use is fluent hahaha
      I also speak Japanese, Chinese as a matter of fact just about all languages. Smartass? YUP!!!
      WITHOUT the app? 4.

    1. Using the word “fuck,” should not bring up disgusting copulation images….if it does, it’s your mind therefore your own fault. So fuck it!

  51. What a treat! Holy moly! I enjoyed reading this thoroughly. I’ve been toying with the idea to move to Croatia at some point (don’t worry, I won’t ask you for advice ‘just yet’ lol, doing my homework dutifully and looking for resources). I am lucky to have stumbled across this amazing blog post and can’t wait to read more from you. It’s so refreshing to read an expat being brutally real and incredibly insightful at the same time. I too am an expat, currently based in Hong Kong and I have a blog / journal where I describe both the pleasures and intricacies of being an expat here. Having lived and worked in Greece, I see many similarities with you. It’s life in Balkan. It’s truly a different world but can be extremely rewarding. I am grateful for the honesty with which you write. Despite often feeling like cursing too on my blog, I often tend to change my mind. But you are doing it so well. I am naturally inspired. It’s a powerful style and I can’t wait to read more! I’ve giggled as I read your lines, recalling many of the stories from Greece or even Malaysia where I lived before HK. Wishing you all the best. Keep the amazing spirit up and I’ll keep reading your hilarious account of life in Balkan. What a treat, indeed!

  52. Great article / blog piece based on your experiences and point of view heading to Croatia via Australia – many people replying don’t realise / don’t wish to comprehend that your word is not gospel, but it’s your truth and one can either read and take note or simply read something else.

    Few questions if I may; which state in Australia did you live in prior to making the move?
    Where did you end up settling in Croatia?
    Would you build again with the contacts / knowledge you now have?

    Thanks and keep well.

    1. Yeah, that right’s it’s just mine experience – and it was five years ago. To answer you:
      which state in Australia did you live in prior to making the move? NSW
      Where did you end up settling in Croatia? Zadar
      Would you build again with the contacts / knowledge you now have? Yes, but we would do things differently. ||

      thanks for stopping by.

  53. Wow, thanks for this blog post, I know it is old but I have been researching Croatia for my family of 5, but I think maybe it would be too hard for my older kids (12 years old, 15.5) to transition. So maybe we will look elsewhere, but your blog is the first “real” assessment I’ve seen.

    Any tips or info on teenage kids transitioning to live in croatia would be appreciated!


    1. Heya, well, I do not have teenage kids, and my kids were either born here or came as babies, so I can’t share that experience. That said, look for places that have an international school to help kids with the language transition (Split & Zagreb as examples).

  54. Was here for 2 years before we went back to my Motherland Singapore (for last 3 years) and of course C-bug and babies, but now Revisiting this page about “settling down in Croatia” and I must totally agree with the bulk of frustrating experiences which you have with MUP, shops, plumbers, etc.. things that totally blow my mind on how do things even work here, but the most captivating of all, is absolutely resonating.
    – For me, I value working for myself for much less, being with my kids at the beach after work, and having time for coffee with my friends on a Tuesday, over a corporate career, driving a luxury car and $5 lattes which I only have time to enjoy on the weekends.
    Life with family friends and food, that’s what its all about.
    So nice to “meet” you SJ

  55. All I have to say about your article is spot on – nepotism and bureaucracy over here is way too much to handle at times and even applying for permanent residency after having completed 5 years of temporary it’s a hustle. Authorities totally unhelpful. Apart from that life just like anywhere else is great if you have money, And forget getting quality job.

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