If your dream is to retire somewhere in Europe and enjoy its rich cultural heritage and natural beauties, but want to avoid some of Europe’s most expensive countries, we recommend considering Croatia. Over the past few years, Croatia became widely famous due to the fact that Game of Thrones was filmed there. So if you enjoyed watching it, maybe it’s time to pay a visit to “King’s Landing” and get to know a bit more about stunning Croatia.
Where is Croatia
The Republic of Croatia is located on the east coast of the Adriatic sea, at the crossroads of the southeast and central Europe. Currently, it has around 4,300,000 inhabitants. Since 2013, Croatia has been a member of the European Union. But they do not use euros, they still use their national currency called the Croatian Kuna. For example, for $10 you will get 65.90 kunas.
According to the latest data for 2019. the average monthly wage in Croatia is around $980. You can tell right away that compared to the US, their cost of living is lower, therefore more advantageous for retiring in Croatia.
Croatia’s capital city is called Zagreb, and it has around 800,000 inhabitants, not even a million. The size of Zagreb could be just perfect, it is not too small or too big. There are no crowds or traffic jams, so you can easily get around. Currently, no direct flights are connecting Zagreb to the US, but there is a seasonal direct flight during the summer months from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik. If you are close to Toronto, you can catch a direct flight from there as well.
How to get a Residence Permit in Croatia?
As foreign citizens, we can stay in Croatia up to 90 days, but if you want to stay longer than that, you will need to apply for temporary residence at least 30 days before the expiration of your 90 days. As a non-EU citizen, you will have to submit some paperwork, so make sure to check what it is necessary and bring them with you once you leave the US. All up to date information can be found on the webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the US embassy in Croatia. There is no such thing as a specific category for people who are retired, but having a property in Croatia, or even a small boat can simplify this process.
In order to get a permanent residence in Croatia you will need to submit several things, but most important is the proof of living there for 5 years as a temporary resident, and knowledge of Croatian language, which is not mandatory for people who are unemployed or older than 65. Officers at your local police station will provide you with all the information and details about that since it can vary.
Is Croatia expensive?
Costs of living in Croatia can differ. For example, Zagreb is pretty inexpensive, but if you want to settle somewhere on the Dalmatian coast or islands, then the prices are higher, but still reasonable compared to the US standards. For example, in Zagreb, you can rent a decent apartment in the city center for around $350 per month, or even less if you go further away from the town center. To eat in a restaurant will cost you at least $20, coffee is around $2.50. Public transportation is also cheap. One ride is less than a dollar. So with rent, bills, and everything else, you can easily enjoy Zagreb for $650 per month.
Besides Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik are probably the most popular towns in Croatia; hence, they are more expensive. In these tourist hotspots, eating out will cost you more than in Zagreb. A cup of coffee in Dubrovnik can cost you above $4.00. Groceries are not so expensive, but overall, you will need to spend more on a monthly level.
Medical care is another important thing. Since we, as tourists, cannot enjoy the perks of the Croatian public healthcare, we need to rely on private practices and clinics which can easily be found all over Croatia. You can make an appointment for $20 or $30, or pay for private health insurance. In any case, it is significantly cheaper than in the US. Similar to nearby Serbia.
Where to settle in Croatia?
If you are not into “big” cities, try Croatia’s region of Istra. Well-known for their vines, you can find many quaint old stone towns with an Italian-like charm and architecture right on the coast. You can explore and enjoy the seaside, amazing history and architecture. Don’t be surprised if you hear locals speaking Italian more often than Croatian in Rovigno.
If you have ever heard anything about Croatia, it was probably something about the Croatian islands. Islands have a completely different vibe, and Croatia has more than a thousand of them. There are actually 1244 islands, to be precise. They are the reason why Croatia is known as European Maldives. The amazingly clear, turquoise water, laid back lifestyle, fresh seafood, and wine, are the reason why island life is everyone’s dream life. However, only 48 islands are inhabited, and some of the most famous ones such as Brač, Hvar, Krk, Cres, should be mandatory on your list of things to explore in Croatia.
Things we recommend in Croatia
Typical Croatian cuisine incorporates a lot of seafood. Every region has its own unique culinary tradition, and they tend to have various different names for the meals that are basically the same. Here is a brief list of traditional foods you should not miss tasting:
- Istarski fuzi
- Black risotto
- Fritule and Štrukle
Places to visit in Croatia
If you have decided to retire in Croatia, then you will have enough time to explore all of the amazing things this country has to offer, here are our recommendations:
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Roman Amphitheater in Pula
- Diocletian’s Palace in Split
- Pakleni Islands
- Krka National Park