Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Croatian Returnee Reflections: Klaudija Bozic, from Tampa Bay FL to Dubrovnik

September 22, 2022 - Whisper it quietly, but more and more people are relocating to Croatia from the diaspora. In a new TCN series, we meet them to find out how they are faring and what advice they have for others thinking of making the switch. Next up is Klaudija Bozic, who moved from Tampa Bay, FL, to Dubrovnik.

1. You made the switch to Croatia. Tell us a little about the decision process and how long it took for you to get on the plane.

I lived in the United States, and I decided to make a switch to Croatia due to my family being there. I thought I was going to have better care for my autistic kiddo. I got on the plane as soon as possible; it didn't take long for me to make the switch. 

2. What did your family and community back home think of your decision at the time?

My family did not agree with me switching because they thought I have bigger and better opportunities in the US.  They were painfully aware of the downsides of Croatia, so they thought that it wasn't a good idea. 

3. Where did you get your information about the realities of Croatia prior to coming?

I used to live in Croatia back in the day, so I haven't really researched much about it, I based my decision on my previous experiences with Croatia. 

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4. What were you most nervous about making the switch? What was your biggest fear, and what was the reality of what you found?

My biggest concern was if the things are the same as I left them back then. The Health System was worrying me, and I was wondering if my son is going to have adequate care in that sort of system. I was fearing him just being a number and not an actual person with difficulties, and unfortunately, my fears were justified. 

5. Think back to the time before you arrived. What were your perceptions about Croatia, and how were they different from the reality you encountered?

I think I was seeing Croatia through rose-tinted sunglasses. Everything was perfect, and I thought we were gonna figure out things as we go. Unfortunately, we encountered many roadblocks, healthcare-wise, on our path. 

6. You are still here, so obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. Tell us about some of the things that you love about being in Croatia, as well as some of the things you don't like.

What I love about Croatia is the people. Laid back, relaxed way of life. No one is in a major hurry; people are super polite and willing to help in any way they can. 

What I don't like is the tough economic climate, cost of living ( if you have a Croatian paycheck anyway), and the bureaucracy (everything takes weeks, if not months, to get done). Finding a job is tough, and even if you manage to find one, the paycheck is relatively low compared to other European countries.  

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7. What advice do you have for others thinking about making a move from the diaspora?

My advice to others is to think long and hard about making the switch. Weigh the pros and cons heavily before making the big move. Especially pay attention to the financial costs of everything in Croatia, and if you're going to be able to make it. Check job opportunities as well because you might find yourself in a position where there are no openings at all for your specific profession. 

8. How do you think Croatia can better assist those who are looking to return to the Homeland?

Croatia can better assist those looking to return by fixing bureaucracy, reducing the wait on visas, opening more jobs, and providing more opportunities, especially for younger people looking to move. 

In the end, I decided to move back to the United States. Unfortunately, as mentioned, I have an autistic son. The Healthcare system in Croatia is mostly free, yes, but waiting lists for everything are so long that you are forced to seek private clinics and doctors, even if your case requires urgent attention.

Therefore, healthcare cost in the end (for me) is more expensive than in the US. Including all the therapies and everything, the monthly cost of taking care of my son's needs is around 1000 euros, which is impossible to cover with a Croatian paycheck. People with special needs are not integrated into society as they should be, and that is something Croatia needs to work on majorly. Also worth mentioning, there are not a lot of kindergartens that are working with kids with special needs, and even if there are, prepare to wait for a really long time before you actually get a spot in one. Also worth mentioning, as a healthcare worker, paychecks are much higher in the US, which ultimately forced me to make my final decision to move back. Croatian health care workers are criminally underpaid, work crazy hours, and mostly there is not much space to get promoted or get forward in their field (they often do not offer any classes or schooling like in the US to actually help you forward with your career). I would also like to point out that I'm not talking in an ill matter or bashing Croatia in any shape or form. I love Croatia with all of my heart, and it's my home country, after all. I'm just pointing out ways in which Croatia could improve for its existing and future citizens.

Unfortunately, my son and I are not going to be a part of them, at least not in the near future. If things improve one day, we would be more than happy to go back home. 

 

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Thanks, Klaudija!

You can follow more stories in the Croatian Returnee Reflections series in our dedicated TCN section.

Would you like your returnee story - positive or negative - to be featured in this series? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Poduzetnik Editorial: Jobs, the New Attraction for Foreigners in Croatia

September 21, 2022 - I am very grateful to the business magazine Poduzetnik, for inviting me to write the editorial for their September edition. The English translation.

My life has always been random, and if someone had told me a few years ago that I would be a 53-year-old YouTuber (how sad does that sound) on the cover of a successful business magazine, in a custom made suit as part of my role of the first international male model in the 100-year history of Varteks writing an editorial about why I am no longer interested in Croatian tourism, but something much more interesting and inspiring, the only surprise would have been that I made it to 53.

Jobs, the New Attraction for Foreigners in Croatia

I have had the most incredible summer in Croatia and, for the first time in 20 years, apart from 2 nights for the opening of the Peljesac Bridge, I haven't seen the sea at all.

And it has been fantastic.

I am trying an experiment, to live in an imaginary Croatia where there is no coast or tourism, just focusing on what remains. And what remains is quite exceptional. And full of foreign languages.

But these are not the voices solely of tourists on the streets of Zagreb, but of expats, new arrivals for our unicorns, Rimac and Infobip (and others), and a steady stream of digital nomads. In fact, take tourism away and look at what is left, and things get interesting.

Two years ago, nobody knew what a digital nomad was in Croatia. The pandemic, digital nomad visa, and award-winning Zagreb Digital Nomad Week changed all that.

The respected NomadList global survey placed Zagreb as the 5th most-liked city for nomads in the world, as well as the 5th fastest-growing remote work hub in the world. Co-working spaces are EVERYWHERE in the city, and arriving nomads are struck by the choice and diversity of workspaces.

They are struck too by the safety, the level of English, the parks, the nature, the authentic experiences, the lifestyle, the food, the wine, the people. The list goes on.

“The only thing missing in Zagreb for digital nomads,” said Israeli Dean Kuchel, “is more digital nomads. This place has everything.”

To mark my 20 years in Croatia, I recently wrote a series called 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years. It was intended to showcase the magic of Croatian with the right mindset, as well as a thank you to Croatia and its people. Doing business in Dalmatia, the olive harvest, bureaucracy and mindset, safety, raising children, getting sued, the Mighty State of Uhlljebistan.

The reaction was huge. SO many expats and diaspora. After part 7, safety, a Croat in Amsterdam messaged to say she was sending each article to the FORTY international colleagues at their new office in Zagreb. There was no book that explains Croatia to foreigners. We chatted a little – what if I turned this into a book?

“Then I will order 40 copies.”

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And so Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners was born. An affectionate but honest overview of the good, the bad, and the ugly through a foreign eye which has seen more of the country that most locals, failed at business, fought with bureaucracy, and revelled in the lifestyle. It took me 15 years to explain the secret of success in living and doing business in Dalmatia. Fifteen years and one sentence in the book.

Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you.

TCN editor Lauren Simmonds is co-writing the book, with a practical guide for new arrivals; getting an OIB, finding a dentist, residence permits, and opening a bank account. Pre-sales have been extraordinary, with one Croatian company ordering 1,000 copies for a branded edition.

And they are not alone. Working in Croatia is 'in', your safe, authentic lifestyle destination – and with mindset and wealth generation in the package. Tourism? What tourism?

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out in October. For pre-orders, including branded corporate copies, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

 

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners: Contents, Price, and How to Buy

September 21, 2022 - TCN CEO Paul Bradbury and Editor Lauren Simmonds will be publishing Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners next month. So what's in the book, how much does it cost, and where to buy it?

It started out as an attempt to experiment with content writing on LinkedIn and quickly developed into a 200-page book. And it is almost finished and ready for publication ahead of schedule. 

To celebrate my 20 years in Croatia last month, I decided to write a series called 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years on LinkedIn, a platform I had only ever used to post links on TCN. 

The reaction was quite incredible. More than 500 likes on LinkedIn (and over 700 on Facebook) for the first article, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 1. Business and Dalmatia

But the more incredible reaction was my red-hot inbox. SO many people contacted me - diaspora looking to return to the Homeland but struggling to find information; diaspora wanting help getting citizenship; people looking to buy real estate in Croatia or to invest; foreigners moving to Croatia in search of information; expats and locals appreciating the story and wanting to share theirs, and Croatian companies with international staff who were trying to find information tools to help their foreign employees acclimatize. 

It did not take long for me to realize that there was a niche in the market that could be filled with a book. And when, after the 7th article in the series - 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 7. Safety - a Croatian business executive in Amsterdam messaged me on LinkedIn to ask if there was a chance I could turn this into a book. She explained that her company had opened an office in Zagreb and she was desperately looking for a book that could explain the mystery of this flawed but beautiful land to incoming foreigners, as well as some practical advice for survival, in a language that they could understand.

"If I do it, how many copies will you buy?" I asked.

"At least 40, one for each foreign colleague," came the reply. 

And then I saw it. 

Rimac, Infobip, and many other Croatian companies are now importing quality skilled labor from abroad. There is a growing trend of foreign labor moving to Croatia. Suddenly I realized that here was an opportunity to do something more than a book on my musings over the last 20 years, but to create the (updatable) bible for foreigners coming to this land. A selection of well-written observations on many aspects of daily life here, but also a very practical guide on how to move to Croatia and cope with the daily grind. I could probably have done it on my own with a little effort, but why bother when you have...

TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds has dedicated much of the last 5 years to producing excellent guides on residency and citizenship on TCN, as well as helping countless people in the expat forums. Lauren is also one of the few people who can explain how to open a bank account and make it sound fun. I was delighted when she agreed to write the bulk of the second half of the book - even more delighted when I read the content. Beyond superb. 

So what is in the book,  how much will it cost, when will it be available, and where to buy it?

Let's start with the contents: 

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners

by Paul Bradbury and Lauren Simmonds

Croatia, perfect for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for a 12-month living? Or is it?

Meet Paul, who has survived 20 years in Croatia and is loving life more than ever, with an honest appraisal of the good, the bad, and the ugly of full-time living in Croatia. And Lauren, who is going to equip you with all the tools you need to beat the bureaucracy and get the best out of this flawed but magnificent country? As more and more people discover remote work and Croatia, your safe, authentic lifestyle destination, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is a loving and practical insight into the realities of life here.

Part 1 – 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years

Introduction

1. 13 Years Full-Time Living on a Dalmatian Island

2. Dalmatia and Business

3. The Olive Harvest

4. Croatian Wine

5. Business Meetings and Café Culture

6. Raising Children

7. Safety

8. Bureaucracy and Mindset

9. Croatian Language and J*beni Dialects

10. Dalmatian Wikipedia, The Bench

11. Moving Vegetables

12. Three Stages of Learning for Foreigners in Croatia: Love, Hate & Nirvana

13. Running a News Portal

14. Dealing with Online Trolls

15. Slavonia

16. Vukovar

17. Getting Sued by a Croatian State Institution

18. The Mighty State of Uhljebistan

19. Croatian Food & Drink

20. Reflections on 20 Years and Embracing Croatia 2.0

 

Part 2 – A Practical Guide to Living in Croatia

1. Arrival in Croatia

2. Emergency Services

3. National Holidays

4. Getting around on the ground, at sea, and in the air

5. Driving in Croatia

6. Snakes, sharks, and Croatia’s big three

7. Pets - Laws, strays, dog beaches, and Dalmatians

8. LGBTIQ

9. How to obtain Croatian citizenship

10. Residence Procedures

11. How to get an OIB

12. Opening a Croatian bank account

13. Health insurance

14. Finding an apartment

15. Working - How do I do it legally?

16. Finding a job

17. Volunteering

18. International schools and kindergartens

19. Learning Croatian

20. Meeting people, expat groups, homesickness, and more

21. Buying property

22. Comparison is the thief of joy

 

So where will Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, be available?

It will be available online on Amazon, both as a paperback and also on Kindle.

We are in the process of finalizing agreements with several major bookstores and souvenir shops all over Croatia.

When will Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, be available?

The book will be available online on Amazon in both printed and Kindle form next month.

It is planned for the book to be in the shops in Croatia also next month, but there are things beyond our control on this, so we will keep you posted. But in plenty of time for Christmas for sure.

How much will the book cost?

We are still finalizing pricing, but as a guide, it will be in the region of:

Amazon paperback - US$18 and other currency equivalents.

Amazon Kindle - US$11 and other currency equivalents

In bookstores in Croatia - 119 kuna 

Or buy on the 7-city Book Signing Tour

We are really thrilled with both the level of interest and pre-sales, but also the willingness of Croatian bookstores to stock the book. Discussions are ongoing, but Paul plans to do a 7-city book signing tour (Lauren and Nik Titanik - who did the cover - will join on the Zagreb event) before Christmas to the following cities in partnership with local bookstores:

Varazdin, Zagreb, Split, Zadar, Rijeka, Osijek and Vukovar. 

We will create Facebook events for these, as well as announce them through TCN and social media channels. Paul will also present his Vukovar Card concept in Osijek and Vukovar. 

These book signings will be about an hour in the store, followed by 'Pints with Bradders' in a nearby hostelry, where you can also buy the book. There will be a 10% discount or free drink for purchases on the night. 

Are you a Croatian business interested in a bespoke and branded edition?

The pre-order of 40 copies from the Croatian lady in Amsterdam showed that there was perhaps a market for bespoke and branded editions of the book. After reaching out to some companies and getting a positive response, we have decided to offer this option. 

With a minimum order of 100 copies, but also available in 200, 500, and 1000 copies, the bespoke edition would include a chapter on the company (written by the company), as well as a welcome message from the CEO. The company brand will appear on the cover, and there is the additional option of Nik Titanik incorporating symbols of the company into the caricature. A great addition to the welcome back for new employees or a Christmas gift to friends, family, and business partners. 

Lauren and I are truly grateful for all the phenomenal interest in the book so far, and we are confident that we will deliver a product to match your trust. Thank you!

If you would like to pre-order Croatia a Survival Kit for Foreigners (we are trying to get an idea of how many to print), please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 years TCN

If you are interested in discussing a corporate branded edition, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Corporate. 

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

 

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

30,000+ Illegal Buildings in Istria, Labin Mayor Announces Measures

September the 21st, 2022 - There are a shocking 30,000+ illegally constructed buildings in Istria, and Labin Mayor Valter Glavicic has announced measures to combat such ''wild'' construction practices.

As Morski writes, the topic of the illegal felling of as many as six hectares of forest which stretches across the protected Labin-Rabac-Prtlog area by a private company called Mari Top from Zagreb has opened pandora's box when it comes to illegality in Istria. The subject was broached by not only the Labin Mayor, but also by the director of the Natura Histrica Public Institution, Silvia Buttignoni.

This led to discussions about illegal deforestation, subdivision, and of course, the topic that plagues Croatia - illegal construction. Unfortunately, the wider area of Istria County has been dealing with this for decades, but it was only a few years ago that the problem apparently came to the fore of the public's mind, as reported by Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

When the topic became much more of a burning one, local self-government unit leaders decided to tackle the problem more intensively, and now increasingly drastic measures are being announced. Local leaders are therefore asking the state to put the proper mechanisms in place in order to make it possible for them to finally start demolishing these illegal structures.

It is interesting to mention that the Labin Mayor, Valter Glavicic, also announced that they are keeping several suspicious locations in the wider area under surveillance and that the authorities will react by reporting any sign of illegal activities, all in order to start solving the problems from the very beginning. Unfortunately, all these plans are still no obstacle to private companies coming in to destroy forests and build illegal buildings everywhere.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Guaranteed Croatian Gas Prices Until April 2023 for Some This October

September the 21st, 2022 - Croatian gas prices are set to be charged at a guaranteed price for some in the country, which will definitely result in a sigh of relief.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, all public service suppliers will have enough gas for households this winter season, emphasised Ivo Milatic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economy after a meeting with gas suppliers that provide such public services.

About 100,000 people in the country who want to change their gas supplier and connect to the public service can wait for the cold weather to come in a more relaxed frame of mind, because gas from the new supplier should start arriving from October, and it will remain at the same price until April the 1st next year. There will be enough gas for all, but certain technical problems should be expected because a huge number of requests will need to be processed in a very short time.

This encouraging message was delivered by representatives of the Ministry of Economy on the sidelines of the recent Government session, which was chaired by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic recently after he recovered from COVID-19 and came out of isolation, as reported by Novi list.

State intervention

The Zagreb gas plant (GPZO) is under the greatest pressure from people who more than understandably want cheaper Croatian gas prices, a service to which about 70,000 people want to switch. Its director Jeronim Tomas said that the connection of new consumers is expected by October the 1st, with a guaranteed price set in stone. This should not be a problem, but it is important, he warned, to solve the technical difficulties implied.

''People will have to read all of their gas meters by the end of this month,'' Milatic pointed out, adding that everyone who wants to switch from market service to public service must be allowed to do so by October the 1st, 2022. However, he noted, this transition could take longer due to the large number of requests that have come flooding in, so there is a possibility that some time will pass before people begin receiving their first bills with these set Croatian gas prices on them.

"We asked HERA, the gas supplier and distributor, to publicly and clearly explain all this to the public by the end of the week," emphasised Milatic, adding that the suppliers do happen to run out of gas, the state is more than ready to intervene and help them.

"If one of the suppliers does begin to experience a supply problem, HEP Plin (Gas) is a guaranteed supplier and it would once again assume the obligation to supply those same people with gas,'' Milatic assured. The onslaught on public gas suppliers in many Croatian cities occurred after many smaller suppliers on the market could no longer deliver gas to people at more favourable prices.

Recently, the government lowered the price of diesel fuel, which now costs 12.29 per litre, a considerable 59 kuna less than before. Petrol will be being sold for 10.58 kuna, one lipa more, while the price of blue diesel will remain the same, which is 8.49 kuna per litre.

"Since diesel prices on the Mediterranean market dropped significantly on Thursday and Friday, we decided to go with this new regulation, because this reduction in the market will be reflected in the reduction of retail prices here," explained Davor Filipovic, Minister of Economy.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

5000 New People Employed in Croatian Public Sector in Just Two Years

September the 21st, 2022 - The over-inflated Croatian public sector has become richer for a massive 5000 new employees in a relatively short period of just two years.

Many people refer to the public sector in this country as being bloated, with others considering that the vast majority of the jobs people are employed for within the sector no longer necessary. Hopes were high that the digital era that Croatia has been more or less forced into by the coronavirus pandemic would see enormous changes to this, but it doesn't seem as if things have gone quite as digital with less people involved as we initially hoped.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, from the pandemic-dominated year of 2020 which changed the way the world worked as we knew it to the end of June 2022, judging by the data provided to Lider by the Ministry of Justice, the number of employees in the Croatian public sector increased by five thousand new employees.

As such, on the last day of June 2022, 175,913 people were employed in the Croatian public sector, and on June the 30th, 2020, 170,915 people were employed by the same state body.

In their second mandate, HDZ Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's government employed around 1,500 new people in state bodies alone, this includes the government, various different ministries, central state offices and the like.

At the beginning of the year 2020, 31,954 people worked there, and at the end of June of this year, 33,105 people were employed in those same state bodies.

However, it's worth noting that this number does not include employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MUP), given the fact that an enormous 25,431 people work within that system, and in the two pandemic-dominated years of 2020 and 2021, the number of employees there also grew - but only by six people, Lider writes.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Croatian Cannons Used in Homeland War Now Defending Ukraine

September the 21st, 2022 - Croatian cannons and other weaponry which were used to defend the likes of Zadar, Sukosan and Sibenik from Serbian onslaught are now being used once again to help defend Ukraine from Russian aggression.

Croatia's more recent experience with war than any other European country puts it in a better position to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia than most other nations, and to know that the weapons used during the Homeland War which saw Croatia become an independent state and fend off Serbian aggression are now aiding Ukraine in its mission to send the Russians packing is one of those full circle stories.

As Morski/Jurica Gaspar writes, the recently delivered Croatian cannons (M-46, 130 mm caliber) are already being used on the front lines in Ukraine, and these weapons are precisely those cannons which once defended Sukosan, Zadar and Sibenik, and were also an important factor in the Maslenica liberation operation.

''The Ukrainian Army is already using them on the front lines in the Donetsk region. In addition to the M-46 cannons, the Ukrainian Army received a significant amount of ammunition,'' it was announced on the Ukraine Weapons Tracker Twitter page.

''Those Croatian cannons were also with us in Zadar. More precisely in Sukosan,'' explained Zadar Weekly journalist Sinisa Klarica, who himself participated in the Homeland War in the 112th brigade of the ZNG and the 159th brigade of the Croatian Army.

''I saw them when I went to intervene in Debeljak in the 159th brigade. They were right next to the cemetery in Sukosan. At that time, we camouflaged the cannons well, so I'm not sure how many of them there were.

The Croatian cannons that defended Sibenik and were also key in the Maslenica liberation operation, and they're now doing the same job over in Ukraine in some of the areas of the country where the fighting is most intense.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Croatian Returnee Reflections: Kristina Svalina, from Melbourne to Sinj

September 21, 2022 - Whisper it quietly, but more and more people are relocating to Croatia from the diaspora. In a new TCN series, we meet them to find out how they are faring and what advice they have for others thinking of making the switch. Next up is Kristina Svalina, who moved from Melbourne to Zagreb.

I feel like I can't sum up my life in Croatia in 1 paragraph, so I won't lie and say I'll make it one, rather I'll try to keep it as short as possible. I feel like I should be in a Nicholas Sparks novel at times, that's how it's all been. 

I moved to Zagreb when I was 21 from Melbourne, Australia. I came in July, and I was soon to find out that is the worst time to come to do paperwork and uni/school enrolments. I wanted to enroll in university, but one of the papers I needed to go to the enrolment test was Crotistika. This is a Croatian language test. On the door of the office, it said holidays until the 20th of August. From that day, we would go every single day to the office and call, and there was no one. We finally got them the day before the test, and we said where have you been? They said we decided to extend our holidays for 2 weeks. My partner said, but the uni test is tomorrow, and we need the Crotistika test. They said sorry bad luck! Then to get my high school diploma verified, I spent 8000 kuna on nothing. No one knew what I need to bring them or what I was bringing them they all told me something different. 

In the end, we were so mad, and after 2 months of being here of going door to door for paperwork, my boyfriend said you know what let's get married. I said what? He said what's the difference now or in a year's time I love you, and I think you love me, so let's get married. So, I said, "ajmo ća"! And after 2 and a half months after being here, we married, and I got my papers.

We got married and don't worry; we are still together 16 years later.

kristina-svalina_2.jpg

The biggest thing in Croatia is word of mouth, even to find an apartment if it's in a smaller town, but in Zagreb, it's ok you have the oglasnik (trading post).

I came here I must say Croatia is very much who you know and how much you are willing to push to get something done. It was a lot harder back then as not so many tourists and people coming to Croatia as they are now, so I am sure they are more switched on and in tune with what papers you need. I came here with no fear I decided 2 months before I came that I would go try uni here, I didn't do any research. Maybe a bad decision, so you recommend searching all the places you are in need of where you are here. 

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The cons of living here are how long it takes to make any document. Going to the police station is a nightmare. You can never do anything in one trip, so be prepared, but as I said, don't give up because, in the end, I would never trade this life for a life back in Australia. Also, everything is old when someone sends me photos from Australia or Australian parks, I'm like, WOW! Also, everything takes time here, even building a house. One thing I will never get used to is swearing and littering. I still tell strangers off for this as I think it's beyond a joke and quite sad. 

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I have 5 kids (Kaja 14, Eva 12, Nikola 10, Sofija 6, Vida 3). And you can't put a price on the fact that they walk to and from school on nice days. They go play basketball at the school on weekends; they hang out until midnight in the village with the neighbors over the summer holidays, they go with friends out for pizza and to the movies, and their freedom is the main factor I love Croatia. Australia never gave me that freedom, and I see how much my kids enjoy it.

Kids here are more serious about school and education, and kids are very hands-on here. 

My husband is a winemaker and a professor at the uni in Knin, and my kids know all the mushrooms that are edible they go out a pick wild asparagus, or they help with the planting in the garden. Right now, there are outside helping pick the plums and walnuts last weekend; it was the apples.

I never knew where a potato grew, but my kids are very independent and have such a broad knowledge of life skills. I never got that living in the suburbs.

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I recently opened up an orbit (business), and I got funding from the government to pay for my super and taxes for the next 2 years and to buy all new equipment.

Croatia right now has so many opportunities to get funding for someone opening up a business, so use it! The best thing here is to make sure you have a kickass account that is switched on and knows what she is talking about mine is a start, and she has not missed a beat. So if you don't have a kickass account in Croatia and you thinking of opening a business,  get one!

My parents even sold everything after me being here for 5 years, put it all in a container, and made the move; my mum loves it here. She goes to mass every day she has no rush, no worries like what she did in Australia. But my dad, so so. He is finding it hard to adjust to the unorganized system, and I think he misses his long-time friends. 

For anyone thinking of moving here, don't be scared to rely on family here if you have them. It takes a village to raise a child, as they say, but it also takes a village to help you make a move.

They can help with work, telling you where to go for what papers, and everyone always has some connections, so use them when you need to unless it's morally wrong, I'm sure you know where to draw the line. Also, find a good understanding doctor. I am so satisfied with Knin hospital, and we got there as soon as we need something, not to Split. 

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Also, it's hard to find work for someone who does not speak Croatian well, so I recommend Upwork. I was blessed to find work for an Irish company, and I have been there for 2 years, and I am the manager there now it's great. Would not swap it for any Croatian job. I work remotely; I am able to watch my kids, do school pick ups drop offs, and take them to train. It's amazing. I have always said to myself that rather regret something I have tried rather than regret something I didn't try at all. So just do it if you have nothing to lose, get on that plane, move here and try. We are all different, but when I see how relaxed life here is. The freedom my kids have an easy-going lifestyle, and there is always time for coffee. Then I'm staying right here.

You can't put a price tag on all of the above. Anyone who does not believe me, come see for yourself. I miss my family in Australia, but Sinj is where I call home. 

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Thanks, Kristina!

You can follow more stories in the Croatian Returnee Reflections series in our dedicated TCN section.

Would you like your returnee story - positive or negative - to be featured in this series? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

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Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 20 Years Book

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Huge Five Million Kuna Sisak Supernova Project Begins

September the 20th, 2022 - The Sisak Supernova project, worth five million kuna in total, is going full steam ahead and will last for a twelve month period.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, grants were awarded to the company Supernova projekti d.o.o. as the project holder for a project aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy sources in its shopping centres in Croatia, specifically in Sisak.

The Sisak Supernova project is otherwise being co-financed with funds from the financial mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA), which will contribute to the goals of the European Green Plan through the installation of solar power plants at the Supernova centres in Sisak.

The member companies of the Supernova group - Supernova projekti d.o.o. and Supernova Sisak West d.o.o., as well as partner company Sirius Sisak East d.o.o. are planning the implementation of three pilot projects for the construction of integrated photovoltaic power plants on the roofs of the Supernova Sisak East and Supernova Sisak West shopping centres. The realisation of the project will last for one year, and one of the main goals of is to promote the use of sustainable energy sources in the trade sector in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the security of supply and contribute to the goals of the wider European Green Plan.

The latest investment follows the green transition of the Supernova Group and its partners through the use of electricity from photovoltaic power plants and in other Supernova centres across the Republic of Croatia where this will be possible. The project down in Sibenik has recently started being implemented, while preparatory work is being carried out at the facilities in both Karlovac and Buzin.

The total value of the latest projects at the Supernova centres in Sisak will amount to more than 628 thousand euros, or almost five million kuna. European Union (EU) funds will co-finance 41.64 percent of the total value of the project, which is slightly less than 2 million kuna, more precisely 261,564.08 euros, while the rest of the costs will be covered by the applicant's and their partners' own funds.

The Sisak Supernova project proposal envisages the construction of three integrated photovoltaic power plants, SE Sisak East and SE-1 Sisak West and SE-2 Sisak West with a total installed capacity of 722.42 kWp, which will produce 751,224 kWh/year of renewable energy. In accordance with the achieved increase in energy production from RES, the project will contribute directly to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the amount of 119.14 tCO2 per year. Thanks to the installation of solar panels, the Supernova Sisak West shopping centre will provide 30 percent, and the Supernova Sisak East shopping centre will provide 40 percent of the total required energy from renewable energy sources.

"We started with the green transition project and the transition to our own energy sources a few years ago, and I'm particularly pleased by the fact that we'll be implementing it in Croatia, an extremely important market for our business. Currently, with the energy produced on the roofs of our shopping centres, we're covering more than 35% of the energy needed for their operation and supply. With this almost five million kuna investment in Sisak and the overall implementation of the green and sustainable programme of our group, together with our project partners, we'll directly help to reduce environmental pollution and improve the quality of life in all environments and countries where Supernova centres operate. We're also going to operate in accordance with high environmental standards," said Markus Pinggera, the CEO of Supernova Group.

Shopping centres are experiencing an increasing need for electricity, thus creating huge costs when it comes to the supply of energy, which negatively affects business and the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Guided by the principles of sustainable growth and responsible management, the Supernova Group and its project partners - Supernova Sisak West and Sirius Sisak East and the Norwegian company Apenhet, want to replace the use of conventional fuels used to operate the centres with more environmentally friendly and renewable energy sourced from the sun. The goal is to increase the share of the use of renewable energy sources in the total energy consumption.

From the very beginning, and especially over the last few years, the Supernova Group has been focused on a greener future, and the basis of their business lies in sustainable and environmentally friendly development, which is supported by the Supernova Green Dot sustainability programme. The goal of the programme is to optimise business practices and achieve complete carbon neutrality by the time we reach the year 2028. The Supernova Green Dot programme is otherwise based on LED technology, an energy efficiency programme and equipping photovoltaic power plants to produce their own electricity.

So far, 23 solar power plants have been implemented on the roofs of Supernova shopping centres in neighbouring Slovenia and in nearby Austria, and by the end of 2023, the Supernova Group plans to establish 56 new solar power plants within the group.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Larger Croatian Christmas Bonuses and Other Benefits on Horizon?

September the 20th, 2022 - Could larger Croatian Christmas bonuses, gifts for children and other such benefits be on the horizon? The Ministry of Finance has a proposal which will interest many, especially during these difficult economic times fuelled by spiralling inflation and the fear of energy crises.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, last week, the Ministry of Finance submitted a proposal to amend the Income Tax Ordinance to increase the payment thresholds for six non-taxable items with which Croatian employers, in addition to paying out regular monthly wages, can further stimulate their staff, as tportal reports.

The limit for non-taxable occassional items, which include Croatian Christmas bonuses, holiday allowance and other such benefits, is being increased from 3,000 kuna to 5,000 kuna per year. The maximum amount of monetary rewards for work results and other forms of additional rewards for workers has also been increased from 5,000 kuna to 7,500 kuna per year.

For a gift to a child of an employee up to the age of fifteen, Croatian employers will be able to pay out 1,000 kuna per year tax free, whereas until now, the threshold stood at a considerably less 600 kuna.

The maximum non-taxable amount of monetary flat-rate compensation for meeting the costs of food for workers will rise from 5,000 kuna to 6,000 kuna per year, and the fee for using a private car for official purposes will rise from 2 kuna per kilometre to 3 kuna.

Future retirees can also expect higher net severance pay because the non-taxable portion of severance pay is now set to increase from 8,000 kuna to 10,000 kuna for each completed year of service.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

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