The Ultimate Guide To Living In Croatia For Expat Retirees and Digital Nomads



Overview: Living In Croatia


  • Cost of Living In Croatia for a single person = ~$1200 - $1500 per month <jump to budget details>.
  • A beautiful country with a high standard of living. 
  • A one-year visas and access to medical care is available most expats.
  • A gorgeous coastline, warm Mediterranean climate, and affordable living costs. 
  • No retirement visa or residency permit longer than 1-year

I unexpectedly fell in love with life in Croatia. I didn't know much about the country when I first arrived. After four trips and six months, I understand why expats, retirees, and digital nomads have made Croatia Europe's top moving abroad destination. 

Imagine a country that culturally feels like Italy looks like Greece, but with Bulgaria's affordable costs. It's easy to see the upside of immigrating to Croatia when you're on a beach enjoying an inexpensive Mediterranean lifestyle with outdoor cafes, 3,600 miles of coastland, and 250 sunny days a year.  

Whether you fantasize about your own Game of Thrones adventure (I'm still bitter about season 8's ending☹️), swimming in the cleanest and clearest waters this side of the Philippines, or exploring ancient Roman ruins, retirement in Croatia has a little something special for everyone.

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Quick Tips On Croatia

Understand updated Croatian visa rules- Croatia joined Europe's Schengen Zone in 2023, completely changing their visa policy. Speak with a Croatian lawyer to understand how to legally stay in the country long-term.

Do get travel health insurance. Your home insurance will not cover emergency healthcare overseas, but you can find affordable travel insurance for less than $50 that will cover your medical bills in Croatia.

Do learn some basic Croatian phases. 49% of Croatian people speak English. Learning some basic Croatian language helps. Get a FREE Language Lesson using the same learning technique used by the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military.

Set up a Traveling Mailbox- Change all your critical mailing addresses to a traveling mailbox. Don’t lose an important tax return, credit card, or government document in the mail. Sign up for a virtual mailbox, and you can keep a permanent US mailing address and check your mail via your phone or PC.

Save On Moving Costs– International moves can get expensive. Save hundreds of dollars by getting accredited moving companies to compete for your business. Fill out a quick form, sit back and let our moving partners get you five free quotes from trusted and reliable international moving companies.

Other Guides On Expat Life In Croatia

Anyone looking for a taste of Mediterranean life in Croatia needs to be aware of the pros and cons. Getting a residency permit here is not easy, and for many American expats living in Croatia, it will be impossible. This guide will walk you through the specific requirements, steps, advantages, and drawbacks of living in Croatia as an American.   

  • Get realistic examples of the Cost to live in Croatia and the kind of lifestyle that this monthly budget allows
  • Get local money-saving advice from people who have lived in-country on housing, transportation, and food.
  • Learn the multiple ways that you can legally retire and stay in Croatia long-term

Who is this guide meant for?

The power of Nomadic FIRE is combining Financial Knowledge with Minimalist Principles and leveraging Geographic Arbitrage to reach Financial Freedom in 10 years or less.

I have designed this series of Ultimate Overseas Living Guides for 3 types of people: 

  1. 1
    Digital Nomads working remotely and looking to jump-start their path to Financial Independence.
  2. 2
    Expats looking to live abroad and leverage Geoarbitrage.
  3. 3
    Retirees and looking to Reinvent their Retirement and upgrade their Quality of Life.

Don’t have time to read this whole 32-page Living in Croatia guide right now?

No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):

What Is Expat Life Like In Croatia?

Man enjoying living in Croatia by the sea

What is the quality of life in Croatia like?

Quality of Life

With the eye-popping natural beauty of the Adriatic Sea and warm Mediterranean climate, expats in Croatia have a desirable quality of life. The availability of one-year visas and affordable healthcare makes staying in Croatia less stressful than other EU countries, where 90-day Schengen visa rules require uprooting and moving every few months.

Do they speak English in Croatia?

English Score

49% of the country speaks English, and most people younger than 40 can communicate in conversational English. Also, anyone in jobs that support tourism can communicate fairly easily. The exception to this rule oddly seems to be any bureaucrat in government offices. This exception means applying for residency visas or any official permits particularly frustrating. 

How hard is it to learn Croatian?

The Croatian language is South Slavic and, like all Slavic languages, isn't easy to pick up. The language very little in common with English and ranks as a “Category III” difficulty language by the US State Department. You can plan on approximately 44 weeks (1100 class hours) to reach Professional Working Proficiency 3/3+ or C1 on the CEFR scale.  

Is Croatia safe to visit?

Surprisingly, Croatia is one of the safest countries in Europe—or the world for that matter (“Level One” by the U.S. State Department the safest category). While there is a criminal element in every country, the general public is very friendly and welcoming to tourists and expats. 

Croatia ranked 26th in the 2020 Global Peace Index, while the United States came in at 121th.

Learn about scams to avoid and local safety tips by reading my full post on safety in Croatia for expats.


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Tips for Moving to Croatia

Learn Some Croatian Basics- While you can get by only speaking English, knowing a little Croatian will go a long way in making expat life in Croatia easier. Familiarity with some of the basics will help you better navigate everyday situations, and the locals appreciate your efforts.

Here is the "Secret" method that the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military uses to learn new languages quickly and effectively- The Pimsleur Method

Avoid hours doing mindless repetitive vocabulary. Pimsleur focuses on quick, easy-to-digest organic learning to get you conversational as fast as possible.

Dos and Don'ts- For a complete list of cultural mix ups and social miscues, read my full article on the Dos and Don'ts In Croatia.


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Firsthand experience living in Croatia as a foreigner

Dealing with bureaucracy when living in Split

<biggest challenges?>. . .just trying to get the simplest of documents signed here. And the background check - almost impossible from Croatia. It sounds simple, but it's been a deal-breaker. Everyone is suspicious and doesn't want to help. It's just not worth it anymore. . .Ugh.

Andrea Woods‧ Canadian Digital Nomad

Living in Croatia as an American

Shopping in the US so much more convenient. Not only can I get pretty much anything delivered using Amazon Prime in two days or less, but there are also several stores in the United States open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, where I can get everything you need in one place. Croatia is not like this, and you will need to go to a few specific stores for several things. Good and bad, there is no 24-hour Walmart where I can get boxed cake mix, a laptop, and a socket wrench at 2 AM.

Rachel S. ‧ US Expat 

How Can I Get Visa For Croatia?

young woman live in Croatia by the sea

Can foreigners live in Croatia? Yes, there are legal ways to stay long-term.

Do I Need A Tourist Visa?

US citizens do not require a visa to enter Croatia. Americans visiting as tourists can enter the country without a visa for up to 90 days out of every 180-day period. 

Non-US citizens can visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for their countries' specific Croatian visa requirements.

Is Croatia part of Schengen? 

As of Jan 1, 2023, Croatia became the 27th country to join Europe's Schengen Area. This means foreigners can move freely between Croatia and 26 other European countries without a visa.

However, the downside to Croatia joining Schengen is that expats can no longer refresh their 90-day allowance for Schengen by staying in Croatia.

Digital nomads or retired expats looking to stay in Croatia long-term need to apply for one of Croatia's long-term visas.

Do I have to register with the police when staying in Croatia as a tourist?

Yes, even if you are in the country for a short-term stay, everyone must register within one day of your arrival. Usually, your accommodation, hotel, or Airbnb will register for you, but you should confirm. Also, if you are staying with friends or family, you will need to register. 

You can register in person at the local police station or using their online system.

 INSIDER TIP : EU Citizens registration in Croatia- The police need to record everyone, including EU and EEA citizens staying in Croatia.  EU Citizens can stay as long as they want, but the Croatian government needs to know when you arrived, which address you are staying at, and when you plan on leaving. 

Does Croatia Have A Retirement Visa?

With visa-free entry, it is simple for American expats to move to Croatia short-term. However, for a country actively trying to recruit retirees and digital nomads, Croatia makes it insanely difficult to stay longer than 90-days. 


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Expats who want to retire to Croatia can apply for a temporary residency permit to live in the country for up to one year. But Americans looking to retire in Croatia don't have many options. Immigrating to Croatia long-term requires either: 

  • EU or EEA citizenship
  • Croatian Parents or Grandparents
  • Purchasing real estate, but that investment only allows temporary residency up to 9-months 
  • Academic studies or Scientific research at a Croatian University
  • Becoming an unpaid volunteer
  • Starting up a new business, which requires significant investment and hiring local employees
  • Getting a job sponsored by a Croatian employer, or
  • Pre-paying for a one-year apartment lease
  • Generating income outside the country (i.e., Digital Nomad visa)

Compared to the other options, if you are looking to immigrate to Croatia, the last two possibilities look enticing. But, as many expats moving to Croatia have found, there are caveats. 

Tired of endless hours spent researching complicated visa requirements?

Knowing how frustrating it is to navigate a foreign country's immigration process, I started a new visa service to make life easier for expats who want to live and retire abroad,

I pre-screened and carefully select Croatian legal attorneys with decades of expertise helping expats like you cut through the government red tape, clarify the visa options, and ease your worries about moving to a new country.

Requirements for Temporary Residence in Croatia by leasing an apartment

The specific justification on the Minister of Foreign Affairs website for your move to Croatia is "for other purposes." The conditions state you can stay long-term if:

  • You have valid travel documents
  • Have a clean background check from your home country
  • You are not allowed to work (this is NOT the digital nomad visa)
  • *Prepay rent for one year
  • **Can financially support yourself

How much money do I need to show for "proof of financial support?"

A bank statement showing sufficient funds deposited (12 month totals as of 2021):

  • Single Person-  $6364 USD / 40,578 HRK 
  • Married Couple- $8,273 USD / 52,751.40 HRK 
  • Each Dependent- $1,273 USD/ 8,11,60 HRK

Disadvantages To Temporary Residency In Croatia

There are significant caveats that expats and retirees need to understand: 

  • A Temporary Residence Permit does NOT qualify you for citizenship or even for permanent residence
  • The permit cannot be renewed
  • After the permit expires, you need to stay out of the country for 90-days
  • You need to wait for at least six months before reapplying for another permit. 

The restrictions above boil down to this- There is no way for a typical expat retiree to stay in Croatia for longer than one year straight.

Unlike proper "retirement visas" from ColombiaSpain, or the Philippines, after the permit expires, you need to leave the country for at least 3-months. 

Can I Live In Croatia For One-Year?

Yes. While the restrictions above are a dealbreaker for long-term expats, there is a bright side. Croatia is a rare outlier; few EU countries allow temporary stays longer than three months. 

However, you can live in the country for up to one year. But one year is all you get. There are no extensions; Croatia's Temporary Residence Permit is precisely that- temporary. 

If the one-year limit doesn't restrict your retirement plans, you can download the Temporary Residence Permit Application Form here. 

Can I Apply For A Visa In Croatia?

Yes, you can apply for both the Temporary Residency Permit and the Digital Nomad Visa after you arrive in the country. However, note that if you did not start to gather the documents required back home, it WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT.

For example, some states require marriage certificates, adoption papers, or birth certificates to be requested in person, which is difficult when you are 5000 miles away. 

Read my complete How-To guide to learn more about the process of applying for a Croatia retirement visa.

Does Croatia Have A Digital Nomad Visa?

To attract remote workers and their spending money, Croatia created a highly anticipated Digital Nomad visa effective January 1, 2021. You can find the details on the Ministry of the Interior website on the Temporary stay of digital nomads. 

What Other Visas Are Available?

Working and Holiday Visa- Canadians and New Zealanders between the ages of 18-30 have the unique opportunity to work and study in Croatia for up to one year. Canadians utilize the program until they turn 35 years old. 

Did you know our 32-page ebook on Life in Croatia has even more detailed pictures and information?

Download a FREE copy of the PDF. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):

What Is The Cost Of Living In Croatia?

Do you want a realistic guide of monthly costs in Croatia? Here are examples of real-life expat budgets. 

My monthly budget as an expat living in Split, Croatia, was between $1200 - $1500 per month

A comfortable expat life in Croatia, including rent, will on average be 50% LESS than living in the US. For reference, Zagreb's living costs ranked 152th out of 210 cities globally.

My Cost of living in Croatia is equivalent to 981 Euros or 848 Pounds.

Detailed Monthly Budgets For Major Cities In Croatia

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How expensive is Croatia in comparison to other countries?

Although Croatia is a popular tourist destination and boasts a high quality of life, living in Croatia can be inexpensive for expats from North America and Western Europe. Croatia becomes very affordable for expats earning more than the average Croatian salary (roughly $1,200 per month), especially if your income comes from USD, GBP, or EUR.

Croatia’s cost of living index is the 12th lowest in the European Union; more expensive than known low-cost hotspots (Bulgaria or Romania) in Eastern Europe. However, basic prices are still cheaper than in neighboring countries in Western Europe (Spain or Italy).

Living Expenses


Total Monthly Budget






Cost of Living in Croatia vs. The USA

The cost of living in Croatia is much more affordable than in the US. Look at the chart above; moving from a medium-cost city (Portland, OR) in the United States to Zagreb would save you over 65% in living expenses. 

Is it expensive to live in Croatia?

Coastal cities in Croatia have a lot in common with all European countries with beautiful beaches and Mediterranean weather- prices peak on the coast during the busy summer tourist season. 

You can find some great one-bedroom apartments within walking distance to everything you need in the major cities for around $500– but summer rental prices get shockingly expensive at any of the tourist destinations on the Adriatic coast. Want to relive your Game of Throne fantasies in Dubrovnik during the warmer months? Expect to pay $2500+ per month between June-August.

Rental rates will also vary between long-term vs. short-term. Long-term rentals are considerably cheaper, especially in beach towns. Renting month-to-month during the busy summer season can triple your housing costs.

If you spend the peak season living like a tourist, sailing to different beaches, eating out at waterfront cafes, or cruising the nightlife on the celebrity islands, life can get expensive fast.

Average Salary and Minimum Salary In Croatia

You are unlikely to be reading a blog about financial independence and making a minimum salary. However, knowing Croatia's average salary gives you a good benchmark for the country's real cost of daily life. Logically, if your monthly income is greater than or equal to the average salary in Croatia, then you can afford a middle-class lifestyle in any of the major cities.  

Given the minimum income requirements to get a residence permit, an expat living in Croatia will automatically have a standard of living higher than the average Croatian.

What are the average salaries in Croatia?

The 2021 minimum income a Digital Nomad must show to live in Croatia is $2,738 per month. To put that salary in perspective, the average salary in Zagreb is under $1,200 per month.

Median Monthly Salary In Zagreb

  • WEB DEVELOPER- $1,373


Click here for additional salary data and cost of living in Zagreb.  

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What is the minimum salary in Croatia?

To locals living in any of the major cities, relative to Croatian wages, Croatia is an expensive country. Consider the average cost of living in Zagreb is $1300 per month, and as of 2021, the minimum salary in Croatia is $550 per month (net) or $670 (gross). A minimum wage here does not even cover the basic cost of living. This minimum salary is even an increase of 4.61% from last year.

What Are The Must See Places In Croatia?

A woman enjoying expat life in Croatia with a view of Dubrovnik

Get the highlights of the best things to see and best cities to live in.

What Are The Best Cities To Live In Croatia?


As Croatia's capital and largest city, Zagreb is the beating cultural heart of the country. There is an energetic city center, with a great mix of old and new, and a strong cafe and restaurant scene. The city has a long and rich history, but the fact does not weigh it down. The modern city of Zagreb is a youthful, energetic, and cosmopolitan capital.


Dubrovnik, the mythical Kings Landing from Game of Thrones, is definitely one of the most stunning cities in all of Europe. With its UNESCO-protected Old Town, Old Harbour with its formidable walls, and its picture-perfect location on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.


Even as the 2nd largest city in Croatia, Split remains overlooked. Yet, Split is my favorite expat city in Croatia.

Another UNESCO Heritage Site and Game of Thrones film location, Split, has one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture outside of Italy. The heart of the city's Old Town is the impressive Diocletian's Palace, built in the 4th century. 

While Split is the jumping point to ferry to many of Croatia's fantastic islands, the city should not be considered a simple waypoint. Surrounded by its picturesque beaches and home to a vibrant Riva seaside promenade, Split is an excellent expat destination for those looking for an affordable Mediterranean retirement. 


Rovinj is a smaller but charming town located on Croatia's Istrian Peninsula. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and a picturesque town center, this town is perfect for anyone who wants to live a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle without the hassles of a big city.

Once a part of Italy, eating out in Rovinj's city center, with its strong Venetian roots and abundance of fresh Adriatic seafood, is an exceptional treat. While plates of seafood, gelatos, and pastas are a delight, the star delicacies of the Istria region are the white and black truffles. There is even an annual Truffle festival held at nearby Livade.

What are the Top 5 Things to See and Do In Croatia

If you live in Croatia, you'll be Split (no pun intended) between living near the Roman ruins and UNESCO sites of the mainland or sail to one of Croatia's famous islands. The good news is life in Croatia can include both. If you get tired of city life and bored of the historical monuments, head to the Adriatic coast, jump on a ferry, and check out the Croatian islands of Hvar, Brac, Krk, Rab, or Korcula. Croatia is a beautiful country with loads to do that don't keep you cooped up in a city. Here are my Top 5 Must-See Attractions that aren't in major cities.

  • Trogir- Only 30 minutes from Split, Trogir is perfect for day trips. Trogir is a picturesque UNESCO heritage site and was the filming location for Qarth city in Game of Thrones. 
  • Pag- the island has a little bit of a party reputation, but there are more than just Zrce beach bars and party yachts. You can explore over 200 miles of gorgeous coastline. Plus, Foodies will love sampling Pag's cheese, brandy, and lamb.  
  • Klis- Another Game of Thrones film location, initially built in the 7th century, this fortress was a central defensive position for the Dalmatian coast against the Ottomans. 
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park- this gorgeous national park, home to 90 waterfalls, is one of the best reasons to leave the coast and head inland. Especially during winter, where the park's higher altitude makes for dramatic wintertime pictures. 
  • Hvar-  The view from the 6th-century Hvar Fort (Tvrdava Fortica) down the lavender-covered mountains, past the Old Town, to the Paklinski Islands and turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic coast is one of the best views in the country.

What Is Healthcare Like In Croatia?

If you are from the US, you will find Croatian healthcare refreshingly affordable. Here is information on the cost and quality of care available.

Health Care

Croatia’s health care system ranks 43rd out of 191 countries by the World Health Organization. For reference, the US ranks only 6 spots higher at 37.  A more recent study by the Lancet medical journal ranked Croatia 30th out of 195 countries, one spot below the US at 29. 

How Much Is Healthcare Coverage In Croatia?

Americans moving to Croatia will need private healthcare coverage during the initial residency application process, but travel health insurance meets that requirement.

However, once an expat becomes a temporary or permanent resident, they can access Croatia's public healthcare system.

Private Health Insurance For Expat Residents- It is mandatory to enroll in Croatian Health Insurance (HZZO) to complete the residency application process. Access to medical coverage requires a one-time "prior year pay-in" fee equaling 12 months of health care premiums. Monthly premiums vary, but most expats should budget roughly ~$75 a month per person.

 INSIDER TIP : Bonus Healthcare Savings For Expats- Croatia's public healthcare comes with a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EHIC provides expat residents medical coverage anywhere in the EU. With Croatia health insurance, you can cancel your travel insurance if you stay within the European Union.

Money and Taxes In Croatia

If you plan on being in Croatia for longer than six months, then there are some things you need to know about Croatian taxes. 

As of January 2023, Croatia has dropped the Croatian Kuna (HRK) for currency and fully adopted the Euro. The rates below are for reference only. At the time of this writing, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar = 6.16 HRK. For reference, 1 Euro = 7.51 HRK. 

  • $1000 = 6,164.50 HRK
  • €1000 =  7517,72 HRK
  • £1000 =  8756,06 HRK

 INSIDER TIP : Don't get confused, but the Kuna is shorted to HRK at banks and currency exchanges, but you will likely see the abbreviation Kn in markets and stores.

Moving Money

Foreign exchange and international wire transfers play a crucial role in expats' daily lives. It’s important to understand how foreign exchange works and the effects international transfer fees can have on your cost of living.

Getting paid in USD, but paying bills in a foreign currency can kill your local buying power, especially if your bank gives you crappy exchange rates and charges you foreign transaction fees or international wire transfer fees. is the easiest banking solution I've found for living abroad

Receive money as if you were still at home.

You don't need to hassle with multiple bank accounts. Receive your rental income, salary, pension, etc., using your Wise banking details.

Move your money between countries.

You can send money to more than 70 countries, always with a low and transparent fee. With Direct Debits in the US, UK, Europe, and Canada, paying your bills and subscriptions across currencies is easier.

Spend in local currency with your card.

Don't worry about currency rates when changing money. You can use a Wise debit card to always get the best exchange rate and avoid sneaky bank foreign transaction fees.

Save even more for big-dollar transfers.

Need to show a large cash reserve for a visa requirement? Maybe you are buying property or a business. If you need to transfer large amounts of money abroad, Wise is about 5x cheaper than major US banks. And with tiered pricing for large amounts, you get an even lower fee on any transfers over 100,000 GBP or equivalent in USD (~$141,000).


Do I Pay Taxes If I Live In Croatia?

Expats living in Croatia must pay taxes on any Croatian-source income. In addition, foreigner resident permit holders or anyone who lives in Croatia over 183 days are considered tax residents. Croatia taxes residents on worldwide income. 

 INSIDER TIP : American Expat Taxes- The United States does NOT have a double taxation treaty with Croatia. US citizens living in Croatia may be liable for income taxes to both the US and Croatia. Consult with a tax specialist to understand your specific liabilities. 

National Income Tax Rates

  • 20% up to HRK 360,000.00 (up to 30,000 kuna per month)
  • 30% above HRK 360,000.00 annually (above 30,000 kuna)

International Tax Treaties

See which countries have a taxation agreement with Croatia to understand your tax liability.

Local Income Tax 

Local areas may also charge additional income tax based on their size:

  • Communes: up to 10%
  • Population up to 30,000: up to 12%
  • Population over 30,000: up to 15%
  • The city of Zagreb: up to 18%

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Croatia?

Man enjoying beach life in Croatia

Since its introduction of the Digital Nomad Visa, Croatia's popularity as a tourist destination has zoomed to "it" destination status. But expats moving to Croatia need to be aware of the downsides of living here. It's not all sunsets and beaches. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of living in Croatia that isn't immediately obvious.

PROS- Benefits of LIFE in Croatia

  • Expat life is cheap compared to the US- Cost of living in Croatia is between $1200 - $1500 per month in any of the major cities besides Dubrovnik.   
  • High Quality of Life with affordable healthcare and low crime- Postcard perfect nature, inexpensive living costs, universal healthcare, and low crime make Croatia an ideal expat destination.
  • Beautiful national parks, islands, and beaches- The Adriatic coast rivals more expensive and more crowded locations in nearby Italy and Greece. 
  • Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine is mild winters- While most of Europe deals with snow, December in Croatia still hits highs of 53°F and lows of 40°F with only 8 days of rain. 

CONS-Problems with LIFE in Croatia

  • Little chance of permanent residence. This is a biggie, and there is no workaround. Unless you have Croatian heritage or your immediate family are Croatian citizens, you will be limited to a maximum of one year; then, you cannot reapply for another permit for another six months.
  • The bureaucracy. No matter the country, dealing with government agencies is never fun. Americans like to joke about going to the DMV, but Croatian bureaucracy is DMV times ten. Paperwork takes forever to process, even if you do everything correctly. You will be given wrong and oftentimes contradictory information. Be mentally prepared to think you've diligently completed all the steps required, only submit your paperwork to a bureaucrat in a bad mood who will make you start over. Simple tasks like submitting a visa application will take weeks, if not months, of running around. 
  • Off peak season blues. If you choose to live in Croatia during the colder months (winters are fairly moderate, especially on the coasts), be aware that the crowds that flock to the sea during the summer evaporate once fall hits. While this sounds great (who doesn't like fewer crowds), many bars, restaurants, and beach activities shut down during the winter months as well. The off-season vibe mellows dramatically. Be prepared.

Expat Resources And FAQs

This section is a one-stop resource of essential links to immigration and expats services, FAQs, foreign consulates, and embassies.

Useful Official Croatian Websites

FAQs: Immigrating To Croatia

Can US citizens retire in Croatia?

Croatia does not have a retirement visa, so the short answer, no. Not in the "retire for the rest of your life" sense. If you mean a nomadic retirement, where you are off on another adventure after one year, the long answer is yes; the country has two ways for Americans to stay longer than 90 days: A Temporary Resident Permit for a prepaid one-year apartment or real estate purchase and the Digital Nomad Visa.

Otherwise, unless you are an EU or EEA citizen, have immediate family that are Croatian citizens, or marry a Croatian, you will not be able to stay longer than one year.

How much money do you need to survive as an expat or retired person there?

Expatriate life here is affordable, especially on an American salary. The monthly cost for a single person averages $1200 to $1500. The budget covers your basic cost, plus weekends socializing, enjoying the cafe culture, and lounging on gorgeous beaches on the Adriatic coast.

Can I extend a temporary residence permit?

Regrettably no. You get one year maximum; then, you need to leave the country. After six months outside of the country, you can reapply for another permit. 

Do you recommend living in Croatia long-term?

  • Yes, if you are okay only staying one year then moving to a different country. Croatia is a beautiful country, and there is plenty of culture, natural landscape, and history to experience in a year.
  • No, if you want to become a permanent resident. Expats without Croatian family will not qualify for permanent residence. 

Can you survive in Croatia without learning the language?

Croatian people are warm, welcoming, and friendly. After an adjustment period, you can survive here on English alone, but you will run into bouts of extreme frustration. Going to any Administration Office to deal with a bureaucratic process while not being able to communicate will stress your patience. 

Taking the effort to learn a few Croatian phrases is always appreciated by locals. 

About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

  • David Michael Waggoner says:

    How depressing….Given the complex array or “got-chas" you have listed, we can’t understand why anyone would want to endure this suffering when there are many other “wonderful retirement destinations" ….too bad…as Croatia is truly beautiful and the “authorities" are there just waiting to soak you for experiencing the country…we must all remember: They dont really want you…they just want your money. Thanks for writing this and saving my wife and I countless hours of research only to find the bured details will NOT ALLOW anyone from USA to actually “retire" there.

    • Hi David,

      I agree with you. Croatia is an awful option for someone who wants a permanent home base. Such a great country that ticks many boxes I was looking for as a retirement destination, but the retirement visa situation is terrible. The flip side to that is Croatia is one of the few EU countries offering an easier one-year visa to stay more than 90-days. While Croatian visas might not work for everyone, there is some positive trade-off.

      Have you considered Portugal’s D7 Visa?



  • If you qualify for and obtain a digital nomad visa, good for up to one year, are you able to travel outside of Croatia during that year, or is travel restricted or a limit imposed on being outside of Croatia?

    • Hi Rick,

      Yes, you can travel outside of Croatia. To clarify, most countries’ resident visas don’t restrict you from leaving the country. Instead, if you are outside of the country for too long, they won’t allow you to renew your visa. Croatia is different in that they don’t allow you to renew your visa regardless. After your Croatian visa expires, you need to leave the country and reapply after 6-months from your visa expiration date.

      If you have any other questions or concerns, please drop me a line.



  • Marco, I’m slightly injured so older than my 61 years. I hold a EU passport. My husband and many friends have passed and wherever I move to for example Croatia, I need to make friends. I’m lonely where I am, as I’ve moved a lot around the world, there is no where to call home. Would Croatia suit me. I’m intelligent, friendly but not very fit but recovering. I really, really, hope you can help. Patricia

    • Hi Patricia,

      I like Croatia. People are very friendly, but I wouldn’t say it was easy to build my social circle. Three things might make it difficult for you:

      1. Language – I found roughly 50% of the people I met spoke English. However, that average is heavily skewed higher for Croatians younger than 30. If you plan on making friends in your age group, learning to speak Croatian would almost be a requirement.
      2. Tourism – Any town that has a significant inflow of tourist have locals that dislike the crowds, drunkenness, noise, and traffic that tourism brings. And to most locals, tourists = all foreigners.
      3. Visa Restrictions- As an EU citizen, you will not have any issues with staying long-term in Croatia. However, all other non-EU citizens can only stay in Croatia for 6-12 months without having to leave the country. This visa restriction limits the foreigner retiree community and encourages a transient expat community that does not live in Croatia year-round.
      4. Have you considered countries in SE Asia? Several countries like the Philippines are not only extremely welcoming toward foreigners, they encourage older retirees to move into the country, and the cost of living is low enough that you can easily afford in-home care if your health is still recovering.

        Let me know if that helps or if you have more questions.



  • hi , thanks so much for that info .
    quick question if i want to benefit from the no tax after 6 month being in Croatia under nomad visa is it that I need to stay 6 month straight or can I go and come back ?
    do I need to file my taxes anyways in Croatia or ? can I leave Croatia to visit countries outside EUROPE and come back with my visa ?

  • Excellent article. I would also add that to combat Croatian summer blues the price of flying during non-peak season is very low. Flights from Split to Rome are known to be 75 Euros and lower. The whole of Europe is your oyster during non-peak months.

    • Great tip. You are 100% correct, flights within Europe are a crazy value. My all-time low was my girlfriend getting a Vienna, Austria, to Larnaca, Cyprus, for ~$10. The Uber ride to the airport was more expensive than an international flight.

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