If you’ve ever hit ‘Croatia’ on a Google search, you’ll no doubt see a myriad of stunning pictures. It’s no surprise; we’re talking about an amazingly beautiful country here, and it’s somewhere people flock to during the summer months in particular. But, what if you’re thinking about staying there long-term? The good news is there are many pros of living in Croatia.
Having lived in Croatia for several months, I know just how chilled out the pace of life can be. It’s a very welcome break from hustle and bustle, and the beautiful beaches never hurt either. But, of course, like anywhere in the world, you have to think about the cons of living in Croatia too. To help you out, let’s take a look at both sides of the coin so you can see how you feel at the end.
15 Pros and Cons of Living in Croatia
There are both pros and cons to living in Croatia; there are some amazing things about this place, but I also found several things downright frustrating. Having said that, it’s always been the same no matter where in the world I’ve spent extended amounts of time. I thought about this one long and hard because I want to give you the full picture.
In the end, I realized I’d written a considerably longer list of pros, but the cons definitely need to be considered too. Choosing to live in such a beautiful and cultural country is never the hardest choice in the world, but as I found out, if you want the best experience, you need to be prepared.
Where is Croatia?
Croatia is a country located in the Balkans and it’s lapped by the clear water of the Adriatic Sea. During the summer months, its main resorts of Dubrovnik, Split, Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Lošinj are packed with sun-seekers, with Dubrovnik in particular being a major draw. You might have heard that several Game of Thrones scenes were filmed in Croatia too, which definitely adds to the tourism factor and interest in the islands.
The great thing about Croatia is the weather. The summers are hot, the winters are mild, and beach time is nearly always an option. I spent a considerable amount of time on Korčula island and really enjoyed the cooling Adriatic on those scorching days; for me, it was definitely one of the advantages of living in Croatia. The hottest month of the year is July when the temperatures hit highs of 29°C/84°F in Dubrovnik, but even in January, you can expect an average of 12°C/54°F.
Of course, it’s not all about weather. Croatia is influenced by the countries bordering it, including Slovenia, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. As a result, you can expect a multicultural feel, with a mix of authentic charm.
Pros of living in Croatia
It’s no surprise that there are plenty of plus points of living in this beautiful country. I mean, look at it! Staring at such beautiful scenery every day isn’t exactly a hardship. But, let’s dive in a little deeper and find out exactly what is so good about calling Croatia your home.
1. It’s a Super Pretty Country
Okay, I’ve already mentioned the fact that it’s a stunning country, and probably one of the biggest benefits of living in Croatia is being surrounded by its beauty every single day. Whether you choose to stay in a beach resort, on an island, or in the main cities, such as Zadar, you’ll always be blown away by how amazing everything is. I never got bored of looking at the same scenery, and it was equally as breathtaking on the day I left, as it was on the day I arrived.
There are many natural hotspots to visit in Croatia, including Plitvice Lakes National Park, which was one of my favorite spots overall. Visit Krka National Park and Brijuni National Park to name just two stunning locations, and you’re sure to fall in love. The waterfalls in Croatia are epic, and it’s no wonder these parks are so popular during the summer months.
Of course, there are also beaches – amazing beaches. Banje Beach in Dubrovnik was a favorite spot of mine, despite being close to the crowds in the city center. I also loved Lumbarda‘s sandy beaches on Korčula, but in all honesty, you won’t find a bad beach in Croatia.
2. Great Weather All Year Around
I already mentioned that the weather is good in Croatia, but it really is an all-year-round kind of deal. While you can find snowy weather during the winter months, you’ll need to head into the middle of the country, particularly around Plitvice Lakes. However, for the most part, you’re looking at hot summers and mild winters.
Croatia’s coastal areas have a typical Mediterranean climate, which means very little rain during the months between June and September. However, what I liked most was that although the summer months do get hot, particularly July and August, they’re not so scorching that you can’t move. For example, you can expect an average of 30°C/86°F in Split during July, and 25°C/77°F in Zadar.
All of this means that beach time will be on your priority list and sea temperatures certainly don’t let you down in the summer months. In fact, Dubrovnik’s sea temperature is a very comfortable 25°C/77°F in August.
3. Great Quality Healthcare
One of the pros of living in Croatia is the high quality of healthcare. Anyone employed by a Croatian business will be automatically registered with state healthcare, however, there are countless private insurance options available. You’ll also find many pharmacies, doctors surgeries, and hospitals across the country and they’re typically all very accessible to foreigners.
I had to go to the hospital during my time in Croatia, and it was a pretty simple process. There was a translator available, and everything went smoothly. You can also get medical advice on minor issues by going to the nearest pharmacy; it will help if you have a Croatian speaker with you, but you can get by with Google Translate if the pharmacist isn’t fluent in English.
It goes without saying that healthcare is a major consideration when you’re thinking about moving to any country, but in my experience, Croatia’s healthcare system is top quality.
4. Cost of Living is Affordable
Like anywhere in the world, the cost of living has increased a little over the last couple of years, but it’s still lower or on par with most of Europe. Croatia adopted the Euro in January 2023, which has caused a slight increase in the cost of some items, but overall, it certainly isn’t an expensive country.
According to Numbeo, a single person can live per month in Croatia without rent for around €686.30, but of course, there are ways to cut costs. I cooked at home a lot of the time and avoided tourist hotspot restaurants. I also went to free beaches rather than bar-owned ones that ask you to purchase food and drinks.
There are many hostels and Airbnb choices you can look into when you first arrive and I recommend searching for a place to rent long term. This can be a lengthy process in some situations but looking beyond tourist resorts can often yield beneficial results.
5. There’s a Digital Nomad Visa
Good news for digital nomads! There is a digital nomad visa available in Croatia which lasts for a year. The downside is that you can’t extend it, but you can work out your plans from there. It’s one of the advantages of living in Croatia for remote workers in particular because you can keep earning while you enjoy everything the country has to offer.
This visa is relatively new, having been established in January 2021, and it’s caused a boom in nomads deciding to spend longer amounts of time in the country. Naturally, this has also led to a more cosmopolitan feel, and there are now many coworking spaces and great cafes to spend the day working from.
6. It’s a Generally Safe Place to Be
I never felt unsafe in Croatia, even in the largest city of Zagreb. It goes without saying that there will always be odd situations such as pickpocketing, but in general, this is rare. You can massively increase your chances of avoiding all of this by simply using your common sense.
Croatia overall is considered a safe place to visit, and I can back that up with my own experiences. As a lone female walking around, I never encountered any situation that caused me to feel wary, and I never experienced any unwanted advances. I found everyone to be friendly (more on that shortly), and even in more remote places, such as the national parks, I felt comfortable.
That doesn’t mean you should push aside your common sense and intuition. Never walk around on your own at night and stick to well-lit areas. Don’t flash your valuables, and don’t be too trusting of people you’ve only just met. In all honesty, it’s not rocket science, but there are very few places that made me feel safer than Croatia.
7. Friendly Locals
While you’ll probably find that not everyone speaks English, that generally isn’t a problem because most people are so welcoming and warm. There’s a real focus on hospitality, especially for people from other countries who want to learn more about Croatia.
I sat for a few hours with a lovely local lady in Vis who taught me how to make burek and served me endless cups of tea. It wasn’t an isolated experience either; I found the same level of kindness in many other places too, and while you’ll always get the odd grumpy person, in my experience, Croatia has some of the friendliest people around.
It always helps to learn a few words of the language if you can, as this will help you to communicate and the locals tend to really appreciate your efforts. One tip I should pass on is that if you’re invited to someone’s house for tea or dinner, remember that as long as they keep giving you food, you’ll be expected to eat it! It’s considered rude if you don’t.
8. Amazing Food
Oh, the food! I have to say, when I first went to Croatia, I didn’t expect to be that impressed by the food. Balkan food in general never struck me as being that amazing, but I was so wrong! I’d highly recommend you head away from the tourist spots and try local food in an authentic restaurant—ask a neighbor or a local shopkeeper where they go if you’re unsure.
The food is definitely one of the pros of living in Croatia and the number one thing you have to try is ćevapi, which is a delicious grilled meat dish that’s found all over the place. I mentioned burek earlier, and that’s one of my top dishes too, but don’t miss out on štukli—the cheese version is delicious.
Each area of Croatia is famous for a different type of local produce, and it’s a great excuse to travel around and try different things. If you’re a truffle fan, head to the Mirna River in Motovun Forest, cheese fans simply must check out Pag, and olives and local olive oil are also notable additions to your list.
9. A Traditional Way of Life is Easy to Find
The great thing about Croatia is that although it’s touristic in a lot of places, it’s not difficult to venture somewhere authentic and experience a traditional way of life. The islands are a great example here, especially Pag. You can find amazing beaches and great food, but you can also find a slow pace that helps you learn more about the history and traditions of the island.
I found it easy to dip in and out of touristic fun. Zagreb is a city packed with modern-day amenities and the usual shopping and nightlife fare, but if you head inland of the country, it’s a totally different story. There, it’s more about nature and living in tune with everything the land provides.
I spent a lot of time on Korčula, and I found it had the perfect blend of old and new for me. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll meet lots of friendly people along your way and that’s where you can ask questions and learn about traditions and the special culture in each area.
10. A Ton of History to Explore
If you’re a history buff, you’re not going to be disappointed with Croatia. While modern-day Croatia gained its independence in 1991, its story began way before that. Dubrovnik is packed with historical sights, but the downside is that everyone else is trying to see it at the same time. If you want to head there (and you should), I recommend visiting during the winter months, unless you like crowds.
Pula Arena is an imposing sight, and it’s conveniently close to some pretty stunning beaches. One of my favorite places was Bokar Fortress, which dates back to 1570. Make sure you check out the Walls of Ston, which are the longest in Europe. Oh, and add the Zadar Roman Forum to that must-see list, too.
Being around so much history is absolutely one of the benefits of living in Croatia, and if you decide on staying long-term, you can take your time visiting all of the most notable spots at your leisure.
Cons of Living in Croatia
There are some cons of living in Croatia, I can’t lie. The good news is that the pros definitely outweigh them. What you need to decide is if they outweigh them enough for your own personal situation.
I experienced a few frustrating situations during my time in Croatia; let me share the main ones with you so you can make an informed choice.
1. A Myriad of Red Tape
Without a doubt, the biggest annoyance about living in Croatia is that you can’t get anything done without cutting through a ton of red tape first. It doesn’t matter how simple it might seem at first, you’re sure to experience a hiccup or two; it’s inevitable and just part of life in Croatia.
It could be something as “easy” as opening a bank account – you’ll find tasks a lot easier if you have a friend who speaks Croatia to help you out. I’m quick to get frustrated if I can’t do something myself, so it’s certainly a challenge you may need to overcome. If you ask most foreign people who live in or have lived in Croatia, they’ll no doubt tell you that red tape is or has been the bane of their lives.
Can you get around it? Yes, you can, but it will take time. The best piece of advice I can give you here is to be patient and take a deep breath (maybe more than one!).
2. The Language Barrier
One of the biggest disadvantages of living in Croatia is that English isn’t as widely spoken as you might think. Croatian itself isn’t the easiest language to learn either. Around 60% of the population speak English to some degree, but you may still find yourself stuck in some situations.
The good news is that people are pretty friendly and they’re unlikely to dismiss you just because you’re unable to communicate. Google Translate is always a useful tool, but you’ll find that if you can speak at least a few words of Croatian, you’ll manage to make yourself better understood.
Again, it’s more of an annoyance than an actual issue, but it’s something you need to be aware of if you want to make your new life in Croatia as easy and as enjoyable as possible.
3. It Can be Very Quiet During the Winter Months
Much of the Adriatic coastline is touristic, which means that during the winter months, it can become extremely quiet. Most of the bars and restaurants close down from the end of October until the beginning of April, and while it’s a chilled-out time, it can be a little boring at times.
This may not be an issue for you, but it’s something to mention. One of the biggest downsides of living in Croatia is that it’s seasonal in terms of entertainment. Some of the national parks also close during the winter months, and if they do remain open, it’s for a limited time only.
The plus point is that you’ll experience much less traffic and this is the best time to visit Dubrovnik, despite some things being shut. Having said that, if you want to live in Croatia, maybe a more chilled-out way of life is what you’re looking for, and if so, this probably won’t be the biggest problem you face.
4. Hard to Find Employment in Croatia Itself
One of the biggest downsides of living in Croatia is that finding employment can be difficult as a foreign person. If you’re a remote worker, you’ll be able to apply for the digital nomad visa, and can continue your work that way, but if you want to work for a Croatian company, be prepared for a challenge.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible, just that it could take some time. It’s best to have savings to keep you going for a few months while you job search. You also need to obtain a work permit to work legally in the country and that also includes a whole lot of the aforementioned red tape. Keep in mind that trying to work without one is really not advisable.
5. Public Transport Could be Better
Croatia’s public transport system isn’t terrible, but it’s not the best either. I spent many wasted hours waiting for a bus that never came or trying to find a taxi that didn’t seem to want to find me. The public transport system is probably one of the downsides of living in Croatia, but it would be unfair of me to say that it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced.
The most important thing is patience. Buses in rural areas or during the summer months in coastal towns may say they’re going to arrive at x time, but don’t count on it. Thankfully, public transport in large cities like Zagreb is a lot more reliable, and the ferries between islands do tend to run to schedule, (except during poor weather in the winter months).
To get around this, you can either suck it up, or you can drive. Croatia’s roads are well-maintained and it’s easy to hire a car as long as you have a valid license. Plus, it’s a really good way to get around the country and see a lot more.
Is Living in Croatia Worth It?
Now you’ve heard my pros and cons of living in Croatia, what do you think? I cherish my time in Croatia, and it’s certainly somewhere I’d like to spend more time in at least once more. As with everywhere in the world, there are good sides and not-so-good sides, but overall, the pros definitely trump the cons.
If you’re willing to work your way through a potential language barrier and remain patient in the face of formalities, you’ll certainly find Croatia to be an amazing spot to relocate to. With so many amazing sights, stunning beaches, and delicious foods to try, what’s not to love?