Digital Nomads

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Marlee McCormick

By 20 October 2021
Marlee McCormick interviewing Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelka Tepsic, live on her Dallas radio show
Marlee McCormick interviewing Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelka Tepsic, live on her Dallas radio show

October 20, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN catches up with some of them 6 months on, starting with Marlee McCormick from Texas. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 


The program was all the richer for the presence of Marlee McCormick, who broadcast her Dallas radio show each day from the Lazareti coworking space just outside the historic Old Walls of Dubrovnik. Together with husband Jeff, Marlee had a great month in the Pearl of the Adriatic. TCN caught up with Marlee 6 months later to get her current perspective on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad journey.


1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

Is it a cliché to say being selected for the DNIR program was a life changing experience?....because that's really an accurate description.  Being able to live and work in a wonderful and inviting city like Dubrovnik was an opportunity and an experience that will stay with me forever.  My husband and I had been wanting to try living abroad for quite sometime, we just had to wait for the right opportunity and for the kids to grow up and leave the nest.  The pandemic made that dream a possibility and the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad program made it a reality.  Once I started working remotely from home, I tested the waters by taking my show on the road, a week here and there.  Those trips were more of a working vacation, but I learned how to make it work and with good WIFI, I could work from anywhere in the world. 


It wasn't until coming to Dubrovnik that I truly got to experience what it would be like to live and work abroad.  I was able to do a job I love in the U.S. while living as a local in a beautiful European city.  When you add in the facts that I didn't have to get up at 4am for work because of the time difference, had a 10 minute stroll through the old city to the Lazaretti workspace instead of a long commute in traffic, and a postcard view of the Adriatic Sea..... well I would say quality of life just doesn't get any better than that.  My husband Jeff was also working from home and able to join me for our test run at being digital nomads.  Not only did we quickly adapt, we thrived!  Although the DNIR program was only 30 days, we can both see ourselves coming back for extended periods of time and now thanks to Croatia's digital nomad visa, we'll be able to. 


2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

We have kept in touch with the other nomads in our group despite the time differences and the geographic challenges.  Social media is a great way to stay connected.  I consider these people as sort of an extended family.  We were all very different, but each brought something unique to the table and we all got along so well despite our differences in age and backgrounds.  There have been talks of a reunion get-together in the future.  I really hope it happens.  Jeff and I also made friends with people outside of our core group and we look forward to reuniting with them as well.


3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

In my opinion, Croatia and especially Dubrovnik's foresight to get out of their "seasonal tourism" comfort zone and attract visitors year-round was smart planning for the future.  There is so much more to this community than just a daytrip to the old city for gelato (Although, full disclosure, I do love the gelato in Dubrovnik) during a cruise ship stop.   I really hope we DNIR's helped bring that to light.  I know every situation is different, but compared to where we live in Dallas, Texas, we found the cost of living in Dubrovnik to be very reasonable - options for every budget and lifestyle.  Since returning home I have kept up with happenings in Croatia thanks to Total Croatia News.  Croatia is gaining more prominence on the world stage away from tourism.  Businesses are growing and moving there and I'm excited to see what happens with the transition into the EU.


4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

Without a doubt, the Dubrovnik digital nomad program got the world's attention.  The DNIR roadmap is being used by other countries as a model to launch their own digital nomad programs.  I think we all, including the City of Dubrovnik, the tourism board, TCN and of course our champion Tanja Polegubic at Saltwater Workspace can all be proud of what we accomplished in blazing the trail.  My time as a digital nomad was brief and I'm definitely a newbie, but my experience has allowed me to encourage others to take that leap and even give advice to those that already have through a Dubrovnik Digital Nomad Facebook group. 


5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

It's encouraging to see that the city has taken some of our suggestions and ideas to move the digital nomad program forward.  I hope when the pandemic is over and tourism fully returns, that Croatia as a whole will stick with the program to attract more dn's from across the world.  Word of mouth and the sharing of information is the best way to do that.  Total Croatia News has played a big part in that.


6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

There are so many great memories to choose from - a boat day on the Adriatic with the other DNIRs, dining on Peka at an amazing restaurant owned by two brothers on the island of Korcula, having coffee and people watching at cafes on the Stradun.  One of my favorite memories was interacting with the Dubrovnik cats.  I'm a big animal lover and its a charming aspect to the old city.  I left a little piece of my heart in Dubrovnik.  We can't wait to go back next spring and pick up where we left off.  


For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section