Digital Nomads

TravelOffPath's Kashlee Kucheran on Croatia's Digital Nomad Potential (Interview)

By 24 October 2020
TravelOffPath's Kashlee Kucheran on Croatia's Digital Nomad Potential (Interview)
All photo credits - Kashlee Kucheran

October 24, 2020 - As the final details of its digital nomad visa are ironed out, a look at Croatia's digital nomad tourism potential from a global perspective via Kashlee Kucheran of TravelOffPath.  

It has been a challenging year to be a travel blogger. 

Back in March, as Croatia locked down and TCN provided its comprehensive COVID-19 coverage, including daily live updates, life was not much fun. While the information and updates were appreciated by many, writing about death and disease 7 days a week took its toll, quite apart from the challenge of trying to keep on top of the information in a fast-changing situation. And we were only focusing on one country. 

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Meet Kashlee Kucheran, a digital nomad with itchy feet, whose TravelOffPath website is growing rapidly in popularity as she focuses on an opportune niche to provide readers with the very latest updates on travel during the corona era. But not for just one country, as we did, but for the whole world. 

Keeping such a close eye on the latest developments all over the world, as well as moderating a very active online community for digital nomads looking for the best places to travel to in this strangest of years, Kashlee has a very rounded perspective on current digital nomad trends, interests and preferences. As such, she was invited to be a keynote speaker at the recent Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference, where her presentation was one of the highlights of a very entertaining opening day. Read more in  "Croatia Has the Potential To Be World's Number 1 Digital Nomad Destination"

I contacted Kashlee after the conference, and she kindly agreed to an email interview about Croatia's digital nomad opportunity. 

1. You have been on the road for more than three years, and your successful Travel Off Path blog has become essential reading for digital nomads in the corona era. Tell us firstly when Croatia first came on the radar for you as a digital nomad destination.

Being a digital nomad, I am always on the lookout for new and trendy options to base myself out of for a while. Most of the places nomads frequent are destinations like Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, etc, and as much as I love them all, they all start to blend together. Personally, I have been yearning for a digital nomad destination that has a different feel and scene to it. When I stumbled upon Croatia as a new potential country, I had that “Aha! This is what I’ve been looking for” sort of moment. A country with totally different vibes, from the architecture, to the culture, to the weather, all of which completely appeal to me.

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2. During the conference, you stated that interest in Croatia was 'absolutely buzzing' right now. When did you notice the rise in interest in Croatia, and what do you think caused it?

If there was a way I could extrapolate the use of the word ‘Croatia’ being mentioned on my website, in my Facebook groups, and in my DM’s, you would see a graph with a sharp and sudden rise. Croatia has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately, especially with American digital nomads, who by the way are a group expected to reach 10 million in size by the end of 2020.

I first noticed the extreme bump in popularity when the rest of the European Union, along with all the South East Asian countries that nomads frequent, shut their doors to most foreign tourists. American, or US citizens, make up the largest group of worldwide nomads, and they found themselves locked out of all their normal go-to destinations. However, Croatia made the bold and progressive decision to allow American tourists, along with all other nations, as long as they came with a negative PCR test, showing they were virus-free.

What happened was a massive surge in stranded tourists making Croatia their destination of choice, since the nation was welcoming them with open arms. We saw people from all over the world, but especially the USA, suddenly changing their itineraries and plans and making their way to Croatia.

3. What advantages does Croatia currently offer the remote worker on the road in these crazy times compared to more established nomad destinations.

Well, the first advantage is that Croatia will actually let them in! Like I mentioned before, Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Bali are all still closed for tourism. Colombia, another up and coming nomad hotspot was closed from March, finally reopening just this month. The choices for nomads is slowly starting to rebound, but still a fraction of what it was pre-pandemic.

Another advantage is cost. The Caribbean nations currently offering digital nomad visas, like Barbados, Bermuda and Anguilla, all have an astronomical cost of living. Bermuda is in fact the most expensive country to live in on the planet, and if there is anything a nomad values, it’s a reasonable cost of living.

Croatia, while still being in the EU, thankfully has a very reasonable cost of living coming in lower than Germany, France, Italy, and even Greece. It also has a much lower cost of living than the countries where most nomads are from, including Canada, the US, Australia, and the UK.

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4. Let's imagine life goes back to normal and everything opens, and it is as safe to travel again as before. Would the Croatian nomad beacon still be shining as brightly, or is it largely due to a specific set of circumstances?

If tomorrow the pandemic suddenly ended, and all countries reopened with no restrictions, I still firmly believe that Croatia is still positioned to be one of the top, IF not the top, digital nomad destination.

Some of my reasoning for this include:

Fear of the unknown – Even if the pandemic ended, people are going to be apprehensive about travelling so far from home, to countries that experienced extreme lockdowns. They are going to want to stay a little closer to home, a little closer to first-world health care, and to have easier access to international airports. Heading back down to South East Asia might be overwhelming for many who are concerned about second-waves, re-closures and potentially getting stranded once again.

The romantic European dream – Who doesn’t daydream about sipping wine beside the Adriatic sea, while strolling down cobblestone streets, past ancient ruins, into a cute café to set up their laptop for a few hours work? There is an entire romantic notion about Europe that a lot of nomads, especially ones from the West, fantasize about. Sure, nomads can still land in places like Germany or Italy, but those countries don’t have official/legal nomad programs, limiting the amount of time you can spend there, and technically not permitting you to actually ‘work’ from those locations.

Croatia checks all the boxes – Digital nomads have a mental checklist of what they require in a live/work environment, and Croatia checks all the boxes, including:

  • Access to great health care
  • Favorable weather
  • Good cost of living
  • Fast internet speeds
  • Connections to major airports
  • Accessible entry requirements
  • Emerging nomad infrastructure
  • Safety
  • Trendy culture and community

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5. Croatia has announced that it will introduce its own digital nomad visa, planned for early 2021, making it only the second in Europe after Estonia, and the seventh in the world. What advice do you have for the Croatian government about the conditions of that visa? I understand that they will include proof of no criminal record, health insurance, and a regular income which is planned to be lower than the 3500 euro a month in Estonia and $5000 a month in Dubai.

If I had a direct line to the government of Croatia with advice on how to effectively proceed with the framework of the Digital Nomad Visa, it would include these tips:

Make requirements accessible: Find the sweet spot of making the requirements high enough to attract the target nomad, but not too high to discourage growing entrepreneurs. Since Croatia’s cost of living is lower than many EU nations, the minimum monthly income should reflect that.

Keep entry open: Keep Croatia’s doors open to all nations, with PCR testing of course, to ensure that nomads can continue to have faith in making plans to settle in Croatia.

Make the visa affordable: Estonia’s Visa costs only 100 euros, while Georgia’s is free. Keeping the visa under a few hundred Euros is key to attracting nomads. Some Caribbean nations are charging $2000 for a 1-year visa, completely missing the mark. When nomads come, and their entire budget isn’t eaten up with legal formalities, that is just more cash they will inject into the local economy.

Re-consider taxing nomads: Under all the current digital nomad visas being offered worldwide, only ONE of them (Estonia) taxes nomads, and that is only after 6 months of being in the country continuously. If Croatia is considering taxing nomads under their DN visa, I believe the program will crumble. Nomads will instead choose other countries with less restrictive programs, or continue to live/work in countries, mostly in South East Asia, on (albeit technically illegal) terms.

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6. During your presentation, you said that Croatia has the potential to be the number one digital nomad destination in the world. And you have yet to visit! You clearly have unique insights due to the website that you run. Why do you believe Croatia can be number 1?

I believe Croatia can be number one because of its great placement in Europe, having less repressively year-round hot weather that many nomads are looking to escape, having a unique culture and history, and of course being drop-dead gorgeous.

It sounds funny to make such a claim about a country I have yet to visit, but being a digital nomad myself for years gives me an insight to what nomad ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are.

For many years, I chose South East Asian countries because quite frankly that is where everyone went, the DN infrastructure was set up incredibly fast, and there were hardly any other options that offered an actual above-board program. Having options beyond the well-beaten nomad path is a breath of fresh air to this lifestyle.

7. You source information about the latest corona travel restrictions all over the world to help travellers, which must be an exhausting job. How do you source this material to stay up-to-date - both globally and specifically from Croatia.

You’re right! It is an exhausting job, but I love it.

Travelers all over the world are beyond frustrated at the ever-changing travel bans and strange new rules, and I love being able to offer some clarity and assistance in these trying times.

Our team at Travel Off Path work tirelessly every day to get the most up to date information about worldwide travel news, entry requirements, and other vital resources for traveling in a Covid-era world.

We get our information direct from government sources, like embassies, consulates, border police, Ministries and other local authorities, in order to be as accurate and helpful as possible. Sometimes we use local press, like Total Croatia News, who are on the ground and have valuable insights that government sites don’t report on. We also have a Facebook Group where world travelers share their personal experiences around the globe right now, offering first-hand insightful perspectives.

With the information we have been able to consistently source from the Government of Croatia, and local Croatian news, we’ve made in-depth guides how to enter Croatia during Covid, especially for travellers who are locked out of most countries


8. The Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference was the first such conference for Croatia. Together with the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Tanja Polegubic and her fabulous Saltwater team, and Total Croatia News, we will be organising an international competition for digital nomads to stay for a month in Dubrovnik for free, while helping the city (and wider region) develop a strategy to make it more welcoming and visible to the digital nomad community. During the conference, you said that you would be happy to join us in April. Can we get a confirmation, and how does the prospect of a month in Dubrovnik in April sound right now with you back in British Columbia with the Canadian winter to look forward to?

As you’re interviewing me, I’m looking out the window of my hotel room in Osoyoos, British Colombia Canada, and it’s snowing. As a nomad who hasn’t seen winter in over 5 years, the sound of coming to Croatia in April has me packing my bags with anticipation!

I am overjoyed and delighted to be a part of testing out Croatia’s new digital nomad visa, and I honestly cannot wait to see first-hand what all my readers are raving about.

I have no doubts that Croatia won’t just be a place I visit for 1 month but will most-likely become a part of my future story.



Itchy feet in these uncertain times? Follow the latest on where and how to travel with Kashlee Kucheran's TravelOffPath website, or join the TOP Facebook community.  

More from the Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads conference:

Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad: Croatia Courts the Global Workforce.

Reflections on Croatia's First Digital Nomad Conference in Dubrovnik.

After the Visa, Jan de Jong Announces Croatian Digital Nomad Association.

"Croatia Has the Potential To Be World's Number 1 Digital Nomad Destination"

For the latest about the digital nomad scene in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN news section.