Zagreb is a very diverse city, with a rich cultural and night life, so moving there from a bigger city shouldn’t require so much acclimatization as it would if you were to move to a small town on the coast, for example. Unlike many other Croatian towns and cities where there is a huge difference in the number of people between summer and winter months, the city is very much alive during winter months as well, so you won’t be alone on the streets.
First, I want to mention some of the negative things that might need some getting used to.
Number one is going to be the bureaucracy. Every kind of document that you need is going to require standing in lines and waiting, and then waiting some more for them to be ready. Rarely can you find a document that you can apply for online, especially if you’re not a Croatian citizen.
Number two is the high cost of living. The average salary (5,000kn or €660) doesn’t leave you with much, once the rent and utilities have been paid. The rate of unemployment is also very high (almost 15%), so it might prove tricky to find a job if you don’t already have one.
Croatia became part of the EU in 2013, meaning that the free movement of people principle applies here as well. If you’re a resident of an EU country and have valid Schengen documents, you do not require a visa to stay or work in Croatia. However, there are still some restrictions for citizens of Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the UK. Unless you’re a self-employed citizen of one of the mentioned countries, you can work up to 90 days in Croatia on the basis of a work registration certificate, and then you have to apply for a residence and work permit.
If you’re a non-EU national and you are planning to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days, you need a temporary residence permit issued by the Croatian Embassy in your country, and if you’ve found a job with a Croatian company, you need a work permit.
To apply for a residence permit in Zagreb, you need the following:
download, print and fill out both pages of this form: https://www.mup.hr/UserDocsImages/Dokumenti/OBRAZAC%201_preb_bor.pdf
a valid passport/travel document
a proof of residence (which can be a purchase contract, if you own an apartment, or a lease contract from your landlord, if you’re renting an apartment).
The address of the police station where you apply for your permit is Petrinjska 30, Zagreb and working hours are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. You can get any other information that you might need by calling the information desk (+385) 01/4563 670, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
The office is located on the ground floor of the building, you need to take a number from the ticket dispenser and then wait for your turn (booths 10-14 are for residence permits). Be patient because it is going to take at least an hour. If you have family members, the best idea is to go together and avoid having to queue multiple times.