Have you ever considered living in Croatia? I’ve always thought of it as a great place to holiday, but I never really thought about a life in Croatia until I spoke to Ana. Ana is a fellow blogger and Zagreb local. In this post she gives me the lowdown on daily life in Croatia, the pros and cons of living there, the reasons to live in Croatia, as well as the problems living there. Is Croatia a good place to live? Read on and make your own mind up…
Ana and her life in Croatia
I was born in Croatia, so the country truly presents my home. It’s been 27 years now and even though there are so many beautiful and amazing countries out there, somehow, I do not see myself living elsewhere.
Maybe it is a simple habit I cannot break, but then again, there are so many spots, places, towns, villages, islands, and beaches I have not visited yet, so living in Croatia still gives me that feeling of wandering and exploring.
There is something for everyone, especially when it comes to wandering and exploring.
Almost my entire family lives in a small town near the capital city of Zagreb, while I moved to Zagreb a couple of weeks ago with my boyfriend.
Zagreb is a great place for young people but we’re planning on being there just for a couple of years. Since we both grew up in small towns, we do not see ourselves in the big city in a long run, especially in a big city such as Zagreb.
Some of the main benefits of living in Croatia are certainly the country’s versatility, cultural and historical heritage, interesting gastronomy scene, beautiful nature, Adriatic Sea, and amazing coast with more than 1000 islands. There is always something for everyone, especially when it comes to wandering and exploring.
Besides that, Croatia has a great climate which, of course, varies from one region to the other. Winter is cold and snowy in the continental parts, while it is quite comfy and rainy on the coast, especially in the southern parts of the country. Summers are really hot but there are a lot of pools and spas for refreshment. Besides that, the coast is close, so weekend gateways are always a good idea.
I also love the Croatian variety of food and how it changes depending on the region.
The best place to live in Croatia
Zagreb offers the best possibilities for young people. It has the best schools and colleges, as well as the biggest chances for getting that dream job. The biggest problem of small towns is finding a job, so people move to bigger cities such as Zagreb. Most young people move there for studies and once they finish school, they simply stay there because either they already have a job, or they will find it easier than in their hometown.
Besides that, Zagreb is a vivid city, and it has many activities which people find quite attractive.
Despite its urban beauties, I don’t see myself living in Zagreb forever. I love small towns and closeness with family, friends, and community. If I could choose to live anywhere, it would be the island of Korčula. I am in love with the sea and that small cove where we have a house. I’m going on vacation there every year for the last 27 years and it is simply a place to be and relax. I love the Mediterranean climate, natural beauty, and diet, and to wake up with the sound of waves every morning, oh, that would be simply amazing!
However life on the island is harder than in the rest of the country, especially when it comes to finding a job as a young person and due to that, people are moving to the mainland and bigger towns. That’s why many municipalities on the islands are trying to bring back people by offering them a variety of financial help. A similar situation can be seen in some continental parts too.
Since I already have a full-time job and I work remotely, maybe moving to Korčula is not that much of a fantasy! But my boyfriend is working in Zagreb in the office, so I guess I’ll have to wait before packing my suitcase!
Working in Croatia
I have a full-time job and I work remotely on a flexible hours basis. I work as a senior writer full-time, as well as a freelance writer and journalist. And it is quite an interesting job, I love it! When it comes to remote work, it is great to work from home and to make my own schedule, but sometimes I do miss waking up early, dressing up, and catching the first bus.
Getting a job in Croatia is really hard, especially in some specific areas of expertise. I was lucky enough to get a job right after I graduated college, but the thing is I worked during my studies and due to that, gained experience in writing and marketing. I worked as a proof reader, journalist, and content writer during those 3 years of college, so I had some experience to back me up while looking for a job.
Sometimes, even great experience cannot ease up the process of finding a job. Most times, you must have connections to find something good or a lot of years of experience (some firms require 10+ years of experience).
Is Croatia expensive to live in?
Depending on the regions, towns, and areas, Croatia can be very expensive. For example, we were looking for an apartment in Zagreb and it took us months and months before we found something which is suitable for our needs and financial possibilities.
We live in a one-bedroom apartment (624 sq ft) in a good neighbourhood and pay €450 + utilities. The apartment is new and modern, we decorated and designed it with details, so it looks quite industrial. And we love it!
The prices for one-bedroom apartments go from around €400 and up, while for 2-bedroom ones, the price goes from €500 and up. Of course, utilities are not included. These price ranges are for the apartments in the buildings. You can find cheaper apartments if you want to be a tenant in someone’s house (the entire floor is yours, of course).
Since Zagreb is a place to be and live, there are a lot of people looking for an apartment, so you have to be quick to view it and take it. You must prepare one deposit, as well as one or two rents in advance.
The groceries can be found for a reasonable price (up to 200 kn or around €26), coffee too (mostly around 10 kn or €1,30). The cost of a meal varies and depends on what you want, but there are a lot of suitable restaurants, snacks, and fast food which won’t take over your entire bank account. But as you go from let’s say Zagreb to the coast or island, you’ll notice how the cost for groceries, coffee, and meal goes up a bit.
In Zagreb, public transportation is quite cheap, and you can get a 30-minute bus and tram ticket for just 4 kn (€0,53).
How well can a foreigner live in Croatia?
From what I can see, foreigners don’t have a hard time adjusting to life in Croatia. They enjoy the country’s beauties, different regions, and interesting cuisine, as well as the vividness of Zagreb, love for soccer and Oliver Dragojević, hours of drinking coffee because it is a thing in Croatia and the rest of the Balkans, and more.
Most people here speak English which is great because the Croatian language is one of the hardest languages to learn, speak, and write. But foreigners won’t have too much trouble because English is highly represented, especially in Zagreb, Istria, and other places which are top-tourists spots. Besides that, Italian and German are popular languages here too.
I think there is a mix of students, young professionals, and retirees. But I do see that once people visit Croatia, some fell in love so much, that they simply move here.
Daily life in Croatia
When it comes to the pace of life in Croatia, it really depends on the region. For example, region Dalmatia is known for fjaka (a psychophysical state when striving for nothing; don’t misunderstand fjaka for laziness; it is simply a sublime state of mind and body). The pace is a lot slower than in big cities such as Split, Zagreb, and Rijeka.
fjaka : the psychophysical state when striving for nothing; a sublime state of mind and body.
The bigger cities offer versatility, theater, cinema, a lot of cafes, and restaurants, so they are characterized by vividness, while the Croatian coast and islands, despite their quite good offer of nightlife, are ideal for relaxation and enjoying in good company with a nice glass of wine.
Due to this, the Croatian regions are quite different, but they have one thing in common – drinking coffee for hours. Drinking coffee here (and in the rest of the Balkan) is quite an important thing and people find it really interesting once they learn how to enjoy those hours of sipping, talking, enjoying, and relaxing.
Cultural heritage is one of the beauties of Croatia. Wherever you go (continental parts, coast, or islands) there are many sights to see, streets to explore, and museums to visit. In bigger cities, especially during the summer, there are many cultural events that will bring you closer to some of the Croatian traditions, as well as food and wine festivals, movies, theaters, and more. Of course, those who look for good nightlife certainly won’t be disappointed. There are many clubs and bars with live music events, and they offer quite a party.
I prefer to relax and enjoy a good time with friends at a nice cocktail bar or cafe, and Zagreb certainly has it all.
Besides that, there is a trend for renting a house for partying over a weekend. This is popular for years now, but it certainly gained more popularity during the pandemic.
Also, you do not really need to worry about making friends – Croats are super-friendly and open!
Healthcare in Croatia
In Croatia, the state provides access to healthcare. We pay for mandatory health insurance on a monthly basis and those costs are borne by the employer. The only thing we pay is supplementary health insurance which costs 70 kn (€9,33) monthly so we can have free medical examinations and care. Due to that, healthcare is available to everyone.
Healthcare in Croatia is considered high-quality. However, for some examinations, you must wait months and months, which sometimes gets really ridiculous.
Croatia is considered to be a safe country to live in. I must say, I do feel quite safe walking in the streets of Zagreb at night or in public transportation. But sometimes, there are situations when you run into unpleasant people but luckily, almost always there are people around you or some crowds, so you won’t be alone. All in all, I feel very safe living in Croatia.
Finding a home in Croatia
If you want to move to Croatia, especially to Zagreb, I recommend you start looking for accommodation early. Good and budget-friendly apartments are always wanted by the locals, students, tourists, and more. Also, look for newer buildings. There were two really bad earthquakes in 2020 which damaged the center and older buildings, so I would recommend you avoid that area and too old architecture.
Some of the best areas to live in are referred to as new Zagreb (Novi Zagreb). Those areas have newer and safer buildings. Also, Trešnjevka, Jarun, and Kajzerica are quite nice areas to live in.
All in all, is Croatia a good place to live?
Croatia is a good place to live. It is amazing how such a small country has so many different regions, interesting culture, and history, as well as untouched beauty of nature, not to mention more than 1000 islands to explore. Healthcare is available to everyone, and most costs are suitable for every budget. All in all, life in Croatia is really good.
However, it is hard to find a good job with a good salary. Also, the real estate market is going crazy these last couple of years and the rent prices (and selling prices) are ridiculous so you must act quickly if you find something suitable for your needs and budget.
Ana blogs at KitchenToast where she shares the beautiful gastronomy and recipes of Croatia. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter