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Cost of Living in Croatia and is it Safe For Expats (and Geo Arbitrage)?

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Croatia cost of living and safety

Croatia is increasingly becoming a popular destination for people looking to relocate outside their own countries. It is located on the coast with beautiful, one-of-a-kind coastlines and has a considerably lower cost of living than other Mediterranean countries.

Croatia, known as the youngest country in Eastern Europe, declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Since then, expats from every corner of the globe have been drawn to this diversified country due to its Mediterranean climate, heavily forested mountain regions, undulating hills, and Adriatic coast.

Croatia is surrounded by Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro and also happens to be relatively close to Paris, London, Venice, and Berlin.

News sources have referred to Croatia as the “New Tuscany” for some time because many well-known celebrities have purchased private islands and houses close off its coast. The country’s capital, Zagreb, is also home to a sizable expat community.

Other Europeans, Americans, and citizens worldwide are becoming interested in the 1,100 islands and reefs around the Dalmatian Coast as retirement locations.

The Cost of Living in Croatia is Going Up!

Living costs in Croatia have been rising due to the increasing number of tourists and expats. Compared to other Eastern European countries, this country’s daily costs are higher. However, Croatian living expenditures are still cheaper than in Western Europe and the United States.

It’s no wonder many individuals wish to relocate there due to these factors, as well as the pleasant Mediterranean climate. Of course, one of the most frequently asked questions regarding relocating is how much it costs to live in a beautiful, developing country like Croatia?

large investment

Moving anywhere is a significant deal, but moving to a completely another country, such as Croatia, is much more so. However, our guide will tell you how much it will cost and how safe it will be.

To truly grasp the cost of living in Croatia, you must consider many main areas to spend your money. It also aids in gaining a better understanding of taxation and the healthcare and immigration systems.

Housing Costs in Croatia

If you’re looking into how much it costs to live in Croatia, you need to start by examining the cost of living in the nation. For expats worldwide, the most significant personal expenses are frequently housing and utilities.

housing

Sadly, Croatia’s rental alternatives are restricted. In big towns like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split, most foreigners have no choice except to rent a room or an apartment.

While this might not happen in other countries, it’s common in Croatia and creates a sizable speed bump for anyone moving to Croatia.

Rental Prices

Rental prices in the city center are greater than in other parts of the country, in most other countries. For example, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs roughly 3,000 to 3,500 Kuna per month, whereas the same size property in a less costly neighborhood costs 2,500 Kuna a month.

In the city, a one-bedroom house costs roughly 2,000 Kuna, whereas, outside the city, it costs around 1,500. These prices will, of course, change to some extent depending on whether the house is equipped or not.

renting

Additionally, for 400-600 Kuna per month, you might rent a dormitory or a sharing room. Some furnishings and utility costs may or may not be included in this figure.

A completely furnished apartment with all household appliances, including electronics, may be a viable option for some expats, especially if the company is ready to cover the monthly rent.

On the other hand, most long-term expats rent semi-furnished houses and buy electronics independently because they are very inexpensive. A high-quality brand microwave costs 600 Kuna, while a 40-inch flat-screen T.V. costs 2,700 Kuna.

Real Estate Prices

However, real estate prices are on the higher side. The average price per square meter in the city center is 14,000 Kuna, whereas, outside the major city region, it is roughly 9,350 Kuna. Keep in mind that foreigners must obtain approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before purchasing property in Croatia.

real estate

In Croatia, the cost of home utilities has nearly doubled in the last decade. This is partly due to the booming economy and the growing interest from new citizens all over the world. Electricity, heating, waste disposal, and water are expected to cost a couple roughly 1,250 Kuna each month.

Cost Of Living Index

Croatia is the fourth most expensive country in Eastern Europe to live in. However, when it comes to the cost of living, it is less expensive than 51% of the world’s countries.

The cost of living index can help you figure out where the most costly places are in the country. The cost of living index examines cities across the country and calculates an average on a scale of one to one hundred. The higher the number, the more expensive the area is to live in.

budgeting

If a city receives a lower score, you should anticipate it to be a less expensive location to live in. Similarly, a greater number suggests that the location is more expensive. Some instances are as follows:

  • Zagreb 107
  • Split 106
  • Zadar 103
  • Dubrovnik 99
  • Rijeka 98
  • Pula 90
  • Osijek 85
  • Slavonski Brod 83

To put things in perspective, even more, consider the following numbers, which indicate how much more expensive different items are in the United States compared to Croatia:

  • Rent prices are 181% higher in the U.S.
  • Groceries are 36% higher in the U.S.
  • Consumer prices are 24% higher in the U.S.
  • Restaurant prices are 40% higher in the U.S.

The Cost of Food in Croatia

Thanks to extremely low prices, food is one of the cheapest expenses you’ll have in Croatia. If you want to save money, the quick idea is to buy fresh local foods in local markets. You can save a lot of money by doing this instead of going to the grocery store.

market

Some instances are as follows, converted into the American dollars for easy reference:

  • 1 Dozen Eggs sells for $2.50
  • 16 ounces of cheese sells for $7.00
  • 2 pounds of potatoes sells for $1.00
  • 16 ounces of beer sells for $1.37
  • 1 bottle of red wine sells for $8.00
  • 1 pound of boneless chicken sells for $5.00
  • 1 quart of milk sells for $1.00

Eating Out in Croatia

You might not always want to eat at home. When you want someone else to cook for you, you’ll need to know how much it costs to eat out.

If you’re at work and want to take a lunch break in the commercial district, your meal will cost you around $9. When you’re in a rush and want to eat fast food, a combo meal will set you back roughly $6.

Tipping?

Tipping is a common means of expressing gratitude for good service. However, unlike in some other nations, most Croatian service workers do not rely on gratuities to boost their pay.

You can tip as much as you want, considering the quality of service you experienced and the amount of your payment. While outsiders, particularly North Americans, are more likely to tip 10%, locals are more likely to leave their loose change in pubs and cafes.

tipping

Before paying a bill, most Croatians will go over it with a magnifying glass. If the establishment has charged them for bread, they do not tip. This is a change of pace for tipping procedures when compared to Americans.

While offering an extra tip at pubs, restaurants, and cafes is customary, tipping is not required for taxis or other services.

Cost of Transportation in Croatia

Because Croatia has a well-developed public transportation system (better than in most cities in the United States), most people living in the country commute to and from work by bus. For around $50, you can get a monthly pass.

Taxis are also readily available, with fares starting at around $3. Of course, Sundays, holidays, and after 10 p.m. have increased rates.

bus

While public transportation is widely used, many people who relocate to this country also possess cars. A new Volvo automobile with the standard equipment will set you back around $24,000 on average. And how much will it cost to fill that car up? A quarter gallon of gasoline costs around $1.50.

Entertainment in Croatia

Life isn’t just about paying rent and driving and buying groceries. That means that if you are thinking of moving to Croatia, you should be aware of the cost of entertaining yourself while you’re there.

Without a little entertainment, life would be dull, and watching television is possibly the most popular source of entertainment. In Croatia, a 40-inch flat-screen T.V. would set you back around $300.

If you like to go out rather than stay in, keep an eye out for tourist traps. These locations will cost you a lot of money and are rarely worth it. That’s true for every nation.

But, Croatia is growing in popularity and is presenting even more attractive locations to those new to the area. And since there is such a boom in these locations, the prices are increasingly higher and higher.

clubbing

Do you want to see a movie with a friend? For two movie tickets, you can expect to pay around $11, which is better than most parts of the U.S. Would you rather watch a theatrical production? A single theater ticket costs around $35.

Hitting the clubs is another option. Your favorite drinks in a club will set you back about $8, while more high-end establishments and those near the shore will charge you more. Remember, many of those nightclubs are considered “tourist traps” and will be costing more because it’s bringing in the vacationing crowd.

The longer you live in Croatia, the cheaper the entertainment price will be. That is because you will find local places off the beaten path and not nearly as popular or on the radar of vacationing visitors. You’ll know all the cool spots that aren’t attracting swarms of those from other countries.

Clothing in Croatia

The current average expenditure on clothing, accessories, and footwear in Croatia is just about 600 Kuna, depending on the brand, of course. A pair of jeans can set you back roughly 500 Kuna. Casual clothing of other varieties is less expensive.

clothing

Want to dress up? You’re going to want to have a higher budget too. For both men and women, formal clothing in Croatia is highly costly. A man’s outfit costs 1,500 Kuna on average, while a woman’s suit costs just about 1,300 Kuna.

A pair of shoes costs between 500 Kuna and 700 Kuna for both men and women. Like most other places, formal footwear is significantly more expensive – at least 100 Kuna – than sports shoes.

Healthcare in Croatia

Like many nations in Europe, Croatians don’t have to open their wallets when they walk into their doctor’s office or the hospital.

It’s great news that Croatians have universal healthcare, but sadly you won’t be eligible for it until you’ve been in the country for at least three months. You’ll also have to start paying into the system at that point.

Three months isn’t that bad, though, so if you’re planning on spending years there, you only have to wait a short bit before you’re entitled to this great, modern form of healthcare.

healthcare

In the meanwhile, a doctor’s appointment will set you back about $40. An antibiotic prescription for a dozen pills costs around $8. For a six-day course of over-the-counter cold medicine, you may expect to pay around $7.

These numbers are superior to those you would find in the United States.

And what about staying healthy and physically fit? A one-month gym membership costs around $43 for individuals who want to avoid the doctor and maintain good physical health.

Immigration Costs in Croatia

You do not need a visa to enter the nation if you stay for less than 90 days. You will, however, require a passport. You will not have to pay anything to enter the country if you already have a passport.

However, suppose you intend to stay more than 90 days and are not a European Union citizen. In that case, you must apply for a visa and a temporary residency permit or temporary stay permit.

You must do this at the Croatian Embassy or Consulate nearest you. You will be allowed to stay in the nation for one year before having to reapply.

passport visa

The permits might set you back up to $1,500. It costs $110 to obtain a visa.

If you want to become a permanent resident of Croatia, you must stay in the nation for a minimum of five years. Once you’ve been here for a while, you’ll need to show proof of your income and other personal information.

You must also be able to communicate in Croatian at a basic level.

If you want to become a permanent resident, keep in mind that you’ll have to give up your U.S. citizenship. Croatia does not allow dual citizenship, unlike the United States, which does not compel persons to give up previous citizenship.

Is Croatia Safe?

Here’s some good news if you are thinking of moving there: Croatia is one of the world’s safest countries. The U.S. State Department rated it as “Level One” in February 2020, the safest level. Croatia has a low rate of violent crime and a low total crime rate, making it a safe place to visit.

Even yet, there are a few Croatia travel cautions to be aware of before visiting this Balkan country. Pickpocketing and petty theft are frequent in this city, as they are in most big tourist sites, so take the usual precautions, such as keeping your cash and phone in your front pocket and investing in a slash-resistant handbag or backpack.

police

Also, significant political tensions persist from the Croatian War of Independence, which gained Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995. According to the U.S. State Department, this suggests that racially or ethnically motivated crimes occur occasionally.

Furthermore, while terrorism is a problem throughout Europe, the U.S. government deems Zagreb to be of “minimal risk.”

Aside from criminality, there are other aspects of safety to consider. It’s important to remember that Croatia is on an earthquake fault and is regularly vulnerable to mild earthquakes. These have not been severe in recent years.

Conclusion

Over the last few decades, Croatia has become a popular destination in Europe for both visitors and permanent residents.

The cost of living in Croatia is favorably compared to many other countries, especially and including the United States.

Luckily, this nation is also rather safe for most everyone, although there are a few special points to keep in mind.

On the whole, Croatia is a great place to put on your map and explore and possibly move to. With low prices, safety, and some beautiful vistas, it doesn’t get much better than this young, vibrant European country.

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