Saturday, 1 April 2023

Croatia Employment Percentage Similar to Slovakia, 114 Thousand Unemployed

April 1, 2023 - The unemployment rate in the eurozone remained stable in February, and in Croatia it fell slightly, moving away from the average in the zone of application of the common European currency, a Eurostat report showed. Croatia employment rate is now similar to Slovakia's, according to the report.

As Index writes, in the 20-member eurozone, the unemployment rate measured by the methodology of the International Labor Organization (ILO) was 6.6 percent in February, remaining at the level of the previous month, according to revised data from the European Statistical Office.

In the EU, it was six percent, slipping by 0.1 percentage point compared to January. For the sake of comparison, in February 2022 it reached 6.8 percent in the eurozone, and 6.2 percent in the EU.

Eurostat estimates that there were 13.12 million unemployed in the EU in the second month of this year, of which 11.142 million were in the eurozone.

A comparison with January shows that the number of unemployed in the EU decreased by 24,000, and in the Eurozone by 59,000. On an annual level, their number decreased by 257 thousand in the Eurozone and by 247 thousand in the EU.

Croatia next to Lithuania

Spain and Greece are still the only ones with a double-digit unemployment rate, which reached 12.8 and 11.4 percent respectively in February.

In Croatia, the unemployment rate measured by the ILO methodology was 6.3 percent in February, sliding from 6.5 percent in January. In February 2022, it was 6.6 percent.

According to Eurostat data, 114,000 citizens were unemployed in Croatia in February, four thousand less than in the previous month, according to revised data. Compared to the same month last year, their number decreased by six thousand, the tables show.

The closest to Croatia in February was Lithuania with an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent. Slovakia is also close, where it was six percent.

The Czech Republic had by far the lowest unemployment rate in February, at 2.4 percent, followed by Poland with 2.8 percent and Germany with 2.9 percent. Malta and Slovenia are close, with an unemployment rate of three and 3.2 percent, respectively.

Stable youth unemployment

The unemployment rate of citizens under the age of 25 in February in the eurozone was 14.4 percent, the same as in the previous month.

In the EU, it increased by 0.1 percentage point on a monthly basis, to 14.5 percent. In February of last year, it was 14.2 percent in both areas, Eurostat tables show.

The statistical office estimates that 2,799 million young people were unemployed in the EU in February, of which 2,283 million were in the eurozone.

The number of unemployed young people in the eurozone in February was thus 125,000 higher than in the same period in 2022, and in the EU by 173,000, Eurostat announced.

Four countries above 20 percent

Greece had the highest youth unemployment rate in February, at 29.7 percent. Spain follows with 29.3 percent, Italy with 22.4 percent and Sweden with 22.2 percent. Slovakia is very close to them with a rate of 19.9 percent.

Among the EU countries with data available to Eurostat, Germany had the lowest youth unemployment rate in February, at 5.7 percent. The Czech Republic followed with 7.2 percent and the Netherlands with 7.8 percent.

Croatia, Belgium, Cyprus, Romania and Slovenia are not obliged to submit monthly data on unemployment, but submit them on a quarterly basis.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Croatia recorded an unemployment rate of 18 percent in that age group, with 27,000 young people without a job, confirmed the latest Eurostat table of revised figures from the report published last month.

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

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Croatia Traffic Rules Switching to Summer Mode as of Today

April 1, 2023 - From today, Croatia traffic rules are switching to summer mode, and daytime running lights are no longer mandatory for car drivers.

As Index writes, the Road Traffic Safety Act stipulates a fixed period during which daytime running lights or low beam headlights must be on for all motor vehicles, from November 1 to March 31.

Under the Act, now high-beam or low-beam headlights on motor vehicles do not have to be on, except at night and in the case of conditions of reduced visibility during the day.

There are exceptions

Moped and motorcycle riders must have their lights on throughout the year, while bicycle riders must have one white light on the front and one red light on the back of the bike from dusk to full dawn (at night) and in case of reduced visibility on the bike.

Exceptions are mopeds and motorcycles, the drivers of which are obliged to have dipped headlights on all year round, day and night. However, due to better visibility, motor vehicle drivers can also have their lights on during daylight saving time.

The police urge caution

Since nicer weather means greater participation of bicycle, moped, and motorcycle riders in traffic, the police have urged drivers of other vehicles to be careful not to take the right of way when joining traffic, rearranging, overtaking, going around, or turning in a U-turn.

Moped and motorcycle riders were reminded of the obligation to wear a prescribed, homologated, and adequately attached protective helmet, and cyclists on public roads to wear a reflective vest or such overall cycling clothing, night and day, in case of reduced visibility.

The same applies to pedestrians when moving along the pavement on a public road, who should have a light source or wear a reflective material at night, and also during the day in case of reduced visibility.

What are the fines?

The Road Traffic Safety Act prescribes a fine of HRK 500, now around EUR 66, in case of non-compliance with the provisions on the mandatory use of lights on vehicles in conditions of reduced visibility or at night.

Under the stated conditions, a fine of HRK 300 is prescribed for not using lights on a bicycle, as well as for not wearing a reflective vest or reflective cycling clothing.

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

Friday, 31 March 2023

KBC Rijeka First in Croatia to Implant Boy with Cardioverter-Defibrillator

March 31, 2023 - A team of cardiologists, electrophysiologists from the Clinic for Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels and the Pediatric Clinic of KBC Rijeka successfully implanted a subcutaneous cardioverter-defibrillator, a device with an electrode, in a boy on March 23.

At KBC Rijeka, for the first time in Croatia, a subcutaneous ICD - a device for delivering electric shocks in case of cardiac arrest - was implanted in a child patient, KBC Rijeka reported at a press conference on Thursday, writes 24Sata.

Sandro Brusich, an interventional cardiologist at the Clinic for Heart and Blood Vessel Diseases, stated that classic cardioverter-defibrillators are introduced through blood vessels to the heart, where they are fixed. However, such electrodes in the form of wire in young and active people can break and lose their function over time, so an operative replacement is required, a very risky procedure. With the new technology, the electrode is placed on the chest under the skin, and the device itself is placed under the armpit, he said.

This procedure is somewhat more complex than the previous one, but it can become routine, said Brusich.

He added that this method was used for the first time in Croatia last year and has since been used on several people, and in Rijeka, it was used on a child for the first time.

Ovuka: It is important to educate yourself about the basics of resuscitation techniques

Aleksandar Ovuka, an interventional cardiologist at the Pediatric Clinic, said that sudden cardiac deaths due to cardiac arrhythmias are most dangerous in children up to the age of two and then in adolescents. Sixty percent of children with fatal arrhythmia never had previous signs such as fainting or chest pain, which would indicate the need for intervention, he said.

Ovuka and another interventional cardiologist at the Pediatric Clinic, Neven Čače, particularly emphasized the importance of resuscitating a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest as quickly as possible. It is good to educate yourself about the basics of resuscitation techniques in order to act until the emergency medical services arrive, but any resuscitation is better than none, Čače emphasized.

"If a cardiac arrest occurs, it is necessary to call emergency medical aid and immediately start resuscitation, primarily by heart massage, because the interruption of circulation in the brain for longer than three to five minutes leads to irreversible brain damage."

This method of implanting a subcutaneous device is still rarely used in Croatia, and the reason is the high price of this technology. A classic transvenous cardioverter-defibrillator costs around 4,500 euros, and a subcutaneous one costs 30,000 euros, it was pointed out.

The father of the young patient also spoke at the press conference, emphasizing the extraordinary knowledge and commitment of the doctors and nurses in saving the child's life. He kept his composure and, at the crucial moment, began to resuscitate his son, who had a cardiac arrest at home.

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

Friday, 31 March 2023

Croatian ATMs Finally to Start Giving Out 50 and 100 Euro Notes

March 31, 2023 - Since Croatia joined the eurozone and the euro became the official currency, Croatian ATMs would only give out 10- and 20-euro notes. That is about to change this Saturday, and it will be possible to withdraw 50- and 100-euro notes.

After a few months since the introduction of the euro in Croatia, new banknotes will be available at Croatian ATMs from Saturday in the denominations of 50 and 100 euros. So far, in most cases, notes of 10 and 20 would be paid out, write RTL / 24Sata.

The denominations in which money will be issued depends primarily on the model of the ATM.

"If there are two cassettes, they are usually filled with two denominations. Then, for example, we have 20 and 50 euros, and then the algorithm determines how many fifty and how many twenties will be given, depending on the amount to be withdrawn," says Tihomir Mavricek, Executive Director of the Sector for cash from the CNB.

In other words, the number of cassettes dictates the number of different denominations. And how many banknotes can fit? Depending on the denominations, around 600.

"If it's a smaller model, there are fewer cassettes. The amount of 10 and 20 euros that was inserted was emptied very quickly, and that is why there is a need to increase the value in ATMs, and that is why banknotes of 50 and 100 euros are inserted," says Lidija Stolica, president of the Croatian Guild of Security Guards.

In addition to the fact that Croatian ATMs are adapted to the euro, stronger protection is provided.

"Colour is spilled over the banknotes, which is not washable, it is recognizable in any use, and such a banknote cannot be used for payment on any payment devices," explains Stolica.

More than 4,000 Croatian ATMs are currently operating, and in a month, their number will increase by at least one and a half thousand, primarily for the upcoming tourist season.

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

Friday, 31 March 2023

Croatian Government Changes Decision on Price Control, Milk Price Increases

March 31, 2023 -  On Thursday, the Croatian government changed the decision on direct price control measures for specific food products in such a way that the highest retail price of UHT milk with 2.8 percent milk fat per liter has now been raised by 5 cents and the price it cannot exceed amounts to 1.03 euros.

"The Ministry of Agriculture has proposed that the price of UHT milk be increased by five cents, all in order to protect primary milk production and to limit trade margins to a maximum of ten percent," said Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Davor Filipović, as reported by Poslovni.

As stated in the explanation that came with the government's decision, this was an amendment of the decision on direct price control measures for certain food products, i.e., increasing the upper price level of UHT milk 2.8 percent milk fat by 5 percent - from 0.98 euros/liter to 1.03 euros/liter. Also, the upper margin limit of ten percent for traders for UHT milk of 2.8 percent of milk fat has been introduced.

"Such a proposal continues to ensure an acceptable price for UHT milk with 2.8 percent milk fat, which is the type of milk most often consumed in Croatia. It also ensures a margin limit that does not put traders in an unfavorable position in the chain while preventing potential pressure to lower the purchase price", states the explanation.

It is also noted that the liquidity of agricultural holdings, along with the entire primary production, as well as the processing industry, are now in quite unfavorable production conditions, which is a result of market disturbances in the last three years. According to the document, this has been preserved mainly by national regular and intervention measures of financial support granted precisely because of significant market disruptions and challenging business conditions.

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

Friday, 31 March 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Helicopters, Gas Prices and Ivica Todoric

March the 31st, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had discussions around the hypothetical arrest of Vladimir Putin, donations of helicopters and a huge sum of cash to Ukraine, gas price worries and Ivica Todoric is back where he loves to be the most - in the spotlight.


Former Agrokor boss Ivica Todoric is thrilled that Index readers stated they'd sooner vote for him as prime minister than current PM Andrej Plenkovic

If you're a follower of politics (and scandals) in Croatia, you'll more than likely recall one of the most enormous events in independent Croatian history - the Agrokor saga. I wrote a lot about it back at the time, and you can get a feel of it here, in an article entitled Requiem for a Company. Ivica Todoric, the former boss of this huge company, fell into troubled waters and there was a huge amount of drama surrounding the entire story. It eventually ended with him being extradited back to Croatia from London after handing himself in at Charring Cross police station following his stay in the United Kingdom in an attempt to avoid Croatian courts. 

Todoric is currently a free man, and despite all of the dramatics of that situation from back in 2017, he is still more popular than Andrej Plenkovic in the opinion of some Index readers. Index recently carried out a poll asking their readers who they'd sooner vote for as prime minister, the current one (Plenkovic), or the somewhat Godfather-like character, Ivica Todoric. They chose the latter, and he's thrilled about it.

Todoric is known for his humour (no, really), and the inspiration for that poll was provided by Todoric himself, who published a similar one on his own Facebook profile and, examining the pulse of the people, asked whether the citizens of Croatia wanted him or Andrej Plenkovic as prime minister. In his Facebook poll, Todoric received 92% of the votes in his favour, and Index readers who share a similar sense of humour also gave Todoric a shining 72% advantage in its own poll.

Would Croatia arrest Vladimir Putin if he entered the country? Plenkovic says yes

Plenkovic recently made a statement during his stay in the Belgian capital of Brussels after a two-day spring meeting at the summit of European leaders. The main topics of the summit were further support for Ukraine, especially in sufficient quantities of ammunition, the competitiveness of the European economy, especially in relation to the United States and China, and the internal market and issues of energy and migration.

"Once again, we showed our commitment and solidarity to Ukraine in all aspects. We also discussed the topics of economic management, competitiveness and the energy situation, where everything that has been happening for the past three years in the context of the coronavirus crisis, the energy crisis, the food crisis and inflationary pressures essentially requires greater coordination of the economic policies of EU member states," Plenkovic said.

In response to the question of whether or not the Croatian authorities would arrest Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin if he arrived here in Croatia, Plenkovic said an emphatic and blunt - yes.

''The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, so if he were to visit Croatia, he would be arrested in accordance with the procedure stipulated by that law,'' Plenkovic said.

Croatia otherwise acceded to the statute of the International Criminal Court and a law was passed on cooperation with that court. "That law provides for all the procedures in case there is a warrant issued for the arrest of a person, and as far as I know, immunity does not apply here. Accordingly, the procedure would go exactly as provided for by that law, and of course the Croatian police and competent authorities would react to Putin arriving in Croatia," said Plenkovic in response to a journalist's question.

President Zoran Milanovic makes a strange statement about the Russia-Ukraine war once again, this time about donated Croatian helicopters

Croatia, much like the rest of the EU and indeed most of the world, has stood firmly by Ukraine's side ever since the beginning of the shock Russian invasion back in February 2022. Having been through a horrific war just one generation ago and with those painful memories still very fresh, Croatia is able to understand the Ukrainian struggle against Russian aggression like few other countries are, given that the now shared experience both countries have is so recent. Milanovic, however, has continuously been vocal about his rather odd stances for over a year now. He has invited endless criticism and even questions from other politicians from across Europe about just what Croatia's official stance is.

Of course, Milanovic's strange statements and stances are not remotely in line with the official Croatian position - firmly by Ukraine's side and staunchly against Russia's actions. Plenkovic, with whom Milanovic is constantly butting heads, has spoken about this numerous times, attempting to distance not only himself personally but Croatian politics as a whole from the president's baffling and politically damaging remarks. 

The latest such remark from Milanovic regards helicopters Croatia donated to Ukraine, and which should be delivered there very soon. Milanovic was quick to tell journalists that these helicopters "needed getting rid of anyway'' because Croatia no longer has the conditions for their maintenance.

To keep you in the loop, Croatia is donating fourteen transport helicopters to Ukraine, of which twelve are MI 8 MTV-1 models and two are MI 8 T models. Defense Minister Mario Banozic said on Wednesday in the Ukrainian city of Odessa that he expects these helicopters to arrive in Ukraine soon.

Milanovic dressed his comments up in a fashion which makes it seem as if Croatia is simply doling out its useless cast-offs to the Ukrainian people, which has angered multiple people in Croatian politics and beyond. "Those helicopters aren't something promising anyway, we wouldn't have the conditions or the ability to maintain them anymore, because we have a lot of those helicopters and we need to get rid of them,'' he claimed.

Croatia also recently agreed to provide another 500,000 euros to Ukraine.

As the Croatian Government alters its decision on price controls, milk prices shoot up

On Thursday, the Croatian government changed the decision on direct price control measures for specific food products in such a way that the highest retail price of UHT milk with 2.8 percent milk fat per liter has now been raised by 5 cents and the price it cannot exceed amounts to 1.03 euros.

You can read more detail about that by clicking here.

Economy Minister Davor Filipovic has claimed that energy (gas) prices won't go up as of tomorrow, when the current measures are due to expire

A cabinet meeting was held recently in the National and University Library, as Index reports. On the agenda of the session was the decision to approve the granting of a shareholder loan to Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) and the initiation of the recapitalisation procedure. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced that HEP will be given a shareholder loan, first of 400 million euros, and then another 500 million euros. Minister Davor Filipovic also made a statement after the session, where he discussed the topic on everyone's minds - price increases following the expiration of government measures on the 1st of April, 2023.

"The price of gas will not change from April the 1st. Everything will be fine, as it has been until now. People don't have to worry about it. We're protecting the people and the economy, and there will be no problems in that regard, people don't need to worry about any of that," he added.

"The government has now made several important decisions. One of them is the granting of a shareholder loan to HEP and recapitalisation. This is being done so that HEP will continue to bear the burden of this crisis and so that people can continue to have a favourable price for electricity. We've agreed that HEP will extend the repayment of the loan in order to be able to continuously purchase the energy products that are necessary for the functioning of the domestic economy," said Filipovic.

"We're moving in the direction of recapitalisation, and as for HEP's financial results, you should ask the HEP Management. We haven't yet received any financial results from them, the obligation for us to be given those results is just after March, so everything is still within the legal deadline. HEP's management is responsible for that and it's up to them," he added.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section. You can also follow our Week in Croatian Politics articles which provide an overview and are published every Friday.

Thursday, 30 March 2023

A Fifth of Croatian Employees Fear AI Will Take Their Jobs

March the 30th, 2023 - A fifth of Croatian employees see the frighteningly rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) as a threat to their jobs. While we all have our varying opinions on the advancement of such ''intelligent'' technologies, it does make one wonder if we're consciously creating our own undoing.

As Josipa Ban/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as many as two-thirds (69%) of Croatian employees believe that automation and the advancement of technology will threaten many jobs in the future, and less than half (43%) believe that it will open up more opportunities on the labour market as a whole.

Croatian employees appear to be more skeptical than they are optimistic about how the development of technology will affect their position on the labour market, according to a survey of 800 respondents conducted by the very popular MojPosao/MyJob portal.

In fact, one in five Croatian employees (22%) fears that in the next ten or so years, due to the rapid progress of technology we've been witnessing for some time now, they could lose their jobs. They believe that workers in industry, administration and trade will be the most threatened, and those in healthcare, services, art and law will be the least threatened by these rapid changes.

The survey of the attitudes of Croatian employees comes not long after ChatGPT and Bard appeared on the market, solutions that marked a big leap in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). The discussions about how the development of technology will affect the labour market have only intensified with this.

Croatian employees also worry, as research shows, about the social consequences of this type of rapid technology development. As many as 62% of them believe that it will cause high unemployment as well as that it will affect the increasing differences between the rich and the poor (73%).

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated news section.

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Ugljan Tourism Boost as Zelena Punta Apartment Renovations Underway

March the 30th, 2023 - A significant Ugljan tourism boost is underway in the form of the renovation of around fifty apartments in the Zelena punta tourist resort. While a big project in itself, it's only a small part of the ambitious plans which lie ahead.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, approximately fifty apartments in the Zelena punta tourist resort in Kukljica on the island of Ugljan will be thoroughly renovated and made ready for the tourist season, which is only a small part of the ambitious investment project of Slovak investor Adriatic Tourist Resorts (ATR) in the total amount of 40 million euros.

Currently, Zelena punta is a busy construction site, and five million euros have been invested into what's going on there so far. A good part of the project is still awaiting changes to the Urban development plan, according to Dino Manestar, director of Adriatic Tourist Resorts and Premium Star Hotels (PSH), owned by Prime Tourist Resorts from Bratislava.

Slovak-Croatian cooperation

As is already fairly well known, ATR, owned by JS Capital Management from Bratislava, took over Zelena punta, as well as Hotel Trakoscan after Coning's bankruptcy, for about 26.5 million kuna. Although it was open to guests every season from Coning's bankruptcy until the takeover, the resort has been neglected, with unused accommodation capacities, neglected sports fields and dilapidated infrastructure, and it extends over an entire peninsula separated from the old core of the resort, into a dense pine forest. The investor's idea is to preserve the natural heritage as much as possible and to create a four-star mixed-use resort. Namely, all the apartments that are being renovated now will go on the market, but under special conditions characteristic of such projects.

In the investment, Adriatic Tourist Resorts plans to create capacities of a total of 780 beds in different facilities accompanied by complete infrastructure, and the first major works started after the last summer season. The project for the new Zelena punta bears the signature of Slovak architects from the GFI Design House in cooperation with the Croatian I2D office, and the intention is to fit all the units into the natural environment as much as possible, with the use of natural materials in the interior design.

"The first six apartments in one building are finished and ready, and that building was a model for all of the others. An additional 40 apartments are under construction and will be ready by the summer season of 2023. After the season, another 80 apartments will be renovated and the plan is to have them ready by the 2024 summer season,'' explained Manestar.

The sale of all of the apartments, which are being offered as a combination of investment and use, has already started. The condition for purchase is that each buyer immediately leases back the apartment, with the resort having the right of first refusal in case it wants to sell it at any time. ATR takes care of everything, from maintenance, sales, cleaning, and rental income is divided according to the contract. On top of that, all operations are managed by Premium Star Hotels.

At the resort itself, in addition to work on the apartments, preparatory work on the construction of the beach club has begun, which will be a further Ugljan tourism boost. The plan at this moment in time is to have it finished by the summer season of 2024. In addition to the apartments and all of their accompanying facilities, the plan is to build luxury villas and a hotel, which will be the last phase of the investment.

All 80 bungalows, which were last used as staff accommodation, will be demolished, as they're completely dilapidated, and 52 new bungalows, mostly with two accommodation units, will be built in their place. The last accommodation capacity will be a four-star hotel boasting about 60 rooms and 120 beds. The first plan was for everything to be finished by 2025, but the set of circumstances on the market slowed down the process, as it did for many other investors.

"By the end of the year, we expect changes to the UPU by the Municipality of Kukljica, and then we'll continue with the design of villas and the replacement of old bungalows, as well as the beach club, sports fields and hotels. The old restaurant and reception are also in the design phase," Dino Manestar concluded.

For more, check out our news section.

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Rovinj Napoleonic Prison Being Transformed for Modern Use

March the 30th, 2023 - A Rovinj Napoleonic prison is being transformed into a modern business-residential building, the doors of which will open only in a few years' time.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, although it might seem like a long way off yet, in the spring of the year 2025, the completion of a business-residential building is planned on the site of the former Mirna cold storage facility. This facility was built in a converted Rovinj Napoleonic prison, which was completed during the later era of the Austrian Empire.

The people of Rovinj know this location as ''Napoleon's prison'' or ''Napoleon's fortress'', because there is a legend that it was during the French rule that two oil mills were demolished and the construction of a fortified building on Valdibora began, which was completed by the Austrians when they took over Istria following French rule.

The Rovinj Napoleonic prison will be transformed into a business-residential complex which will be built after the demolition of the existing building whose walls are more than 200 years old, writes local portal Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria. The very interesting thing about this particular investment is that one of the most important investors is a construction, catering/hospitality and hotel entrepreneur from the City of Split who ended up in Split prison two years ago himself, allegedly as a result of something to do with his business.

If you're at all familiar with these things in Croatia, you'll more than likely know that we're referring to Zvonko Kotarac here. In many of his media appearances, he called himself "the greatest builder from Split after Diocletian", and whom Slobodna Dalmacija called the "king of construction" in Split and across Dalmatia.

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

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia? The Case for Zagreb

March 30, 2023 - Where is the best place to live in Croatia? The case for the capital, Zagreb.

A few years ago, I suggested to the TCN writers at the time that we do a series called Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia. As we were bigger in number and located all over the country, I thought it might make for an interesting series. And so it proved, with the three submissions we published:

Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia? The Case for Rijeka

Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia? The Case for Split

Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia? The Case for Varazdin

After almost two years living in Zagreb, it is time to continue the series, and I would hereby like to answer the question - Where is the Best Place to Live in Croatia? The Case for Zagreb.

My earliest memories of Zagreb were hardly auspicious, and if I heard myself saying that is was probably the best place I have ever lived decades later, I would have been very surprised. 

But the fact is that I truly do feel that way after having lived in many diverse places in my time - Manchester, Surrey, York, Banbury, rural Northamptonshire, Munich, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Tbilisi, Kardzali, Nairobi, Kigali, Hargeisa, Bosaso, Hiroshima, Hvar, and Varazdin.

Amazing experiences all, and I feel privileged to have travelled so much.  


(Photo J. Duval)

It didn't really feel that cool as I first emerged from Zagreb Train Station for an overnight stop en route to Medjugorje back in 1987 - ah, the power of a Jesuit education - nor when I made my regular trips to Zagreb Bus Station, Ban Jelacic and Zagreb Train Station en route to Graz and Ryanair to the UK two decades ago. Zagreb didn't seem that cool, or a place I wanted to spend a lot of time. 

But then, things changed. 

A lot. 

In the last 5-10 years, Zagreb has undergone a huge - and positive - change, notwithstanding the destruction caused by a major earthquake in March 2020. Yes, a lot of the buildings were damaged, but this is a city which has really come to life in the last few years, both for locals living here, as well as the increasing number of visitors who are discovering a little hidden gem which is slowly becoming a European superstar. Actually, no longer that hidden - back in 2019, Lonely Planet named Zagreb as the number 1 destination in Europe.  

So what makes Zagreb so cool these days?

1. Safety

I have lived in some hairy parts of the planet - none more so than the rough end of Manchester as a student in the 90s - but few if any have felt as safe as Croatia, or Zagreb as a capital city. It is a city where you can lose your laptop on the street in the centre of the city, not notice until the following day in another city, and still be reunited with it thanks to the kindness of strangers - read more in Losing a Laptop in Zagreb: the Kindness of Strangers


I am constantly in awe of how safe it is to walk home at night, even in the early hours. Not once have I felt threatened (a huge contrast to late nights in cities in Western Europe), and the number of solo female tavellers who cite safety as one of the top reasons why Zagreb is significant. In fact, in a recent NomadList survey, Zagreb was preferred by a larger percentage of female nomads than male, with safety being a top reason. 

2. A City of Four Seasons

Having lived for 13 idyllic years on Hvar, where there is essentially a season around the summer, and a non-season around winter, with little inbetween, I was surprised how much I have come to appreciate the distinct four seasons of Zagreb. And each season seems to be introduced with a defining event. Winter, of course, is defined by the award-winning Advent in Zagreb, an annual event that grew from nothing to be voted the best in Europe three years in a row. 

And anyone who was here earlier this month will agree that there are few more spectacular ways to welcome Spring than the excellent Festival of Lights. Ah, Spring - the trees in blossom, the outdoor cafe terraces filled. What a season to be alive.

Summer in Zagreb is a relatively new discovery to me after years on the coast, and probably my favourite time to be in the capital, while others head to the coast. A LOT of people head to the coast, leaving being a much emptier city, but one full of cultural events and things to do, where the ratio between tourist and local seems to be almost equal. There is time, space, and the insider knowledge that those who have stayed behind have done so for a reason - that actually Zagreb in the summer without the people is a seriously cool place. 

And as the locals come back with their tans and annual dose of fjaka from the beach, so the leaves start to fall, and the magic of Autumn descends upon us. The Artupunktura art and culture festival seems to encompass the very best of this most pleasant of seasons. 

3. Nature

There can't be many greener capital cities in Europe. And once you have enjoyed the nature in the city, check out the magic all around with the fabulous Around Zagreb website, which brings out the very best in outdoor Zagreb and surroundings.  And with the addition of the new Zagreb Cable Car, how simple is it to switch from city life to the ski slopes in about 10 minutes (see video below)?

4. Walkability

I can't recall living in a city which was so walkable as Zagreb. It is a city of just under a million, where everything is not too far away.  As the central area is pretty flat, its parks and leafy avenues numerous, it is a great place to stroll and chalk up your 10,000 steps a day. Having said that, the public transport is affordable and excellent, particularly the tram network. And parking for a resident is more than affordable. 160 euro a year buys full access to an underground public garage where you never have to de-ice the car.  


(Photo Sanjin Kastelan)

5. Growing International Gourmet Scene

When I first started coming to Zagreb on a regular basis 20 years ago, the international options where a bad Chinese and a not-much-better Indian. How times have changed, and not only with the international options, but with a welcome diversity and experimentation of local food. Noel heads the way with its Michelin star, but there are so many other great dining options with Croatian food. But if you are looking for international - the range has really expanded over the last five years, from Thai street food and sushi almost on every corner, to Venezuela, Vietnamese and Nigerian.  

6. Accessibility

Not only is Zagreb easy to get around, but it is also a VERY accessible starting point for the rest of Croatia and several fabulous other European cities. Ljubljana, Belgrade, Budapest, Graz and Vienna are all 1.5 - 4 hours drive on good motorways, the allure of the coast under two hours, and several great destinations such as Split, Zadar, Pula, Rovinj, Osijek and RIjeka 2-3 hours away. 

The arrival of Ryanair has opened up Zagreb as never before, and with ove a million passengers last year, the Irish budget carrier has made the world a lot more accessible to Croatians, just as it opens up Zagreb to the world. 

Hiking, wine tasting, bikiing, culture - there is SO much around Zagreb which is easily accessible - one of my favourite things about living here. 


7. Vibrant StartUp Scene

Much as I loved my time on Hvar (and I really did), after 13 years of talking about olives, I thrived on the most vibrant intellectual life in Zagreb. This is a city on the move, with SO many entrepreneurs finding their way, eager to collaborate and build the new Croatia. This for me is one of the best things about living here - and one of the secrets of why summers are best.  

8. Cafe Lifestyle

Croatia, the lifestyle. Need I say more?

Just a great way of living.  And a great way to do business.


9. A Remote Work Hub among the Best in Europe

A couple of years ago, the words Zagreb and digital nomads would not be mentioned in the same sentence. How times changed. The Zagreb Digital Nomad Week put the city on the remote work map, and as nomads arrived, they really liked what they saw - a truly hidden gem on the remote work map. We interviewed the self-styled King of Nomads, Dean Kuchel, at the time, who gave his impressions of Zagreb as a digital nomad destination - the only thing missing in his opinion was more digital nomads.

And those nomads and remote workers have been coming in droves ever since, spending in the city and bringing their positive mindset. At times I feel a nomad myself, albeit a stationary one, as I maintain relationships with nomads I met a couple of years ago. And while I never seem to move, the thing that connects us is their  love and desire to return to Zagreb. Zagreb was recently named in the top 5 most-liked destinations in the world on the influential NomadList 2023 survey, as well as the fastest-growing remote-work hub


10. Dolac Market on Saturdays

The iconic Dolac marketplace is one of the great symbols of Zagreb, and an excellent place to pick up your locally-produced fresh fruit and veg (and at prices which surprised me in a good way when I started making it part of my routine. But then I got into the habit of stopping for first a chat, then a drink with a little spek, onions and bread, with the locals, a wonderful way to pass an hour or two on a Saturday morning, listening to their stories past and present. 

Ah, Zagreb, why would you live anywhere else?


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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