Monday, 13 March 2023

Is Ireland Losing Its Title of Promised Land for Croatian Expats?

 March 13, 2023 - 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. It seems that the promised land for Croatian expats has been sending them back at an increased rate.

Judging by recent trends, Jutarnji writes, it looks like the situation is changing and that Ireland is no longer as desirable a country as it was in the last ten years since Croatia's entry into the EU.

According to official data, 29,200 Croatian citizens moved to Ireland, 32,102 from 2001 to today. This is the number of issued PPS numbers, a version of the Croatian OIB (personal identity number), without which a foreigner cannot get a job in Ireland or resolve their health and social status. The peak was recorded in 2016 when 5,312 people left Croatia. A slight decline followed, further intensified by the pandemic in 2020, so only 1,399 PPS were issued then. There has been a slight increase in the last two years, 1,750 PPS were issued in 2021 and 1,823 in 2022, but the general impression is that the interest of Croats in moving to Ireland is waning. In January of this year, 133 PPS were issued, fewer than in January of last year and the year before.

The pandemic, Russian aggression against Ukraine, high inflation, and recession have influenced the trend of decreasing departures to Ireland. The negative economic indicators are most evident in the drastic increase in accommodation prices. In Dublin, the first contact with Ireland for most Croats, a bed in a room or apartment with several people cannot be found for less than 650-700 euros per month. Therefore, some Croatian expats replaced Ireland with another country, and many returned home. They also notice this in the Croatian Embassy in Dublin. Jutarnji spoke with Croatian expats who returned from Ireland.

Josip Kelava lived in Ireland for four and a half years and returned home just before the declaration of the pandemic.

"I changed four jobs. I started from working in a warehouse doing night shifts, moved to the marketing department of a company that produces stickers, and ended up at Amazon", said this IT specialist from Zagreb, who stayed in Dublin the whole time.

"The experience is very positive, but I planned to return the whole time, so I don't see this as a failure. It helped me grow up and become responsible for myself and my finances. But it's all for nothing if it's not used in the future, and now everything I did there is beneficial, especially Amazon in my CV and the daily use of the English language. The benefits are great, but if you don't monetize your stay in Ireland after returning home, you went in vain," noted Josip.

He pointed out that the great advantage of Croatian expats is that they are versatile and they are not afraid to do tasks that are not in their job description. Their Irish bosses then reward them with a promotion or a raise. He added that it was much easier for him to return to Zagreb, where there are greater opportunities, than for someone who left from the rural areas of Slavonia or Lika, where the environment might consider it a failure.

"Some people dislike the weather, so they return after two weeks. The Croatian expats community helped me a lot; we would gather at Church and play football, and we formed our own team. It was through a friend from football that I got to Amazon," said Josip, who confirmed that accommodation in Dublin is extremely expensive.

"Now it is even more difficult, and people have started fleeing en masse from Dublin to Galway, Waterford... I have family friends in Waterford who are already considering returning to Croatia. It's not a fairy tale. It's a beautiful island, the income is good, but the quality of life in Croatia is still at a higher level," concluded Josip, who, in the meantime got married, and he and his wife are now expecting their first child.

Vesna Ivanisevic from Sibenik also returned to Croatia with positive experiences but a great desire to return home. This Bachelor of Nursing returned last summer after three years in Limerick.

"I think that anyone who wishes to go should go and try it to see for themselves whether it is for them or not. I felt that I could and wanted to do more, which I couldn't achieve in Croatia, so I started looking for jobs in Europe. I contacted a recruitment agency and quickly got a job at a hospital in Limerick. It is unnecessary to talk about working conditions. They were practically ideal, and I worked in an intensive care unit where the European standard is applied: one nurse, one patient", said Vesna.

She lived in a shared house with roommates from all over Europe. She had her own room with a bathroom and paid 400 to 600 euros monthly for that. In such circumstances, she says, when you are alone, without a family, and only paying for a room, you can save a lot of money.

"Life in Ireland has many advantages, but of course, there are disadvantages. One of them is that all activities are indoors, even sports. I tried my best to go to nature, even in the rain, but I would enjoy it the most if I went to the Adriatic every year. Some values crystallized during the time I spent there. Also, the pandemic had a lot of influence on my return to Croatia. All my friends went home to their regions, both Irish and foreigners. After a while, I felt that nothing was holding me anymore and that I had no big reasons to stay. I couldn't see myself staying there in the future, and I definitely wanted to return to the Mediterranean, to return home to Sibenik, which is developing very well and where I feel comfortable," said Vesna.

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

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Croatian Woman Declared Missing in Ireland, Gardaí Appeal to the Public for Help

February 9th, 2022 - Iris Hrvoj, a 33 year-old Croatian woman currently residing in Ireland, has gone missing from her home in Drogheda, Co. Louth

She has been missing since the early hours of Tuesday, February 8th, 2022. The Irish Gardaí published a statement appealing to the public for help in tracing the woman’s whereabouts.

Iris is described as being 5’ 5” (167cm) in height, of slim build, with short blond hair and blue eyes. It is unknown what Iris was wearing when she went missing from home.
It is thought that she may be in the Harolds Cross area of Dublin.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 987 4200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

Hrvoj is a trained dancer and a licensed fitness, yoga and pilates instructor. A native of Zagreb, she moved to Osijek for university where she went on to open a dance studio in 2017, as reported by 24sata at the time. It is yet unknown when she relocated to Ireland. 


Tuesday, 2 November 2021

The Realities of Croatian Emigration to Ireland, Part II: Work

Continuing our series on Croatian emigration to Ireland, a look at the topic that drives most people to emigrate in the first place: jobs, paychecks and everything in between


To paraphrase a pop art icon, just what is it that makes Ireland so different, so appealing? To any Croatian person frustrated with their miserable economic prospects, it’s always been all those jobs that are readily available. It’s so easy to find work!, people will tell you. And it pays well!

After three years in Ireland, I have a bit of perspective in this regard, so... Let’s unpack that.


1. The land of opportunities

Ireland was widely known for having the fastest-growing economy in the EU year after year since 2014… until a pandemic threw a wrench in it. Much like in the rest of the world, Covid-induced lockdowns caused unemployment to soar - from 5.9% in July 2019 to 19.1% in July 2020. The trend kept up this year as well, and things only started to look up after the reopening of outdoor hospitality in summer.

The labour market in Ireland is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels of employment until 2024. Not the best time to set sail for Ireland in search of a better life, perhaps. It’s quite a depressing picture, and the prospects for those living in Ireland don’t seem promising at the first glance. And yet… Despite all troubles in the last 18 months, there was a 56% increase in job vacancies on the Irish employment market in Q3 2020 after the initial crash. A year later, and a quick look at the leading job sites shows there’s no shortage of work available.

markus spiske ms6N gBtbCQ unsplash

Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Let’s start with the group that seemingly made the best choices in life. Anyone working in IT would likely score a job in the time required to read this article - tech tops the list of leading industries in Ireland, and not without reason. Low corporate tax and the constant influx of skilled international workers have foreign investors flocking to the only remaining English-speaking EU country. Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, PayPal and other tech giants set up their European headquarters in Dublin; Apple has a base in Cork. Engineers, developers, data scientists, analysts and the like will always have their pick on the market as IT experts remain highly sought after.

For the rest of us mortals, there’s the wide umbrella of the tertiary sector. Most immigrants to Ireland, including Croatians, are likely to seek employment in hospitality, hotels, customer service, healthcare and assisted living, beauty and wellness, grocery retail, repair and maintenance, etc.

etienne girardet sgYamIzhAhg unsplashEtienne Girardet / Unsplash 

There’s a massive labor shortage across other industries as well: transport, construction, manufacturing. In recent years, Irish employers have expanded their search to the continent, hosting open days in several Croatian cities at a time in hope of attracting a skilled workforce. Nurses and caregivers, professional drivers and warehouse operatives, all are in constant demand.


2. Dynamic, fast-paced environments

There are three main ways to find a job in Ireland. Recruitment agencies make the process more streamlined and less stressful for jobseekers who have only just arrived and have yet to get acquainted with the intricacies of the job market. Depending on the industry and the employer they represent, some agencies will also assist new hires with relocation and paperwork.

There’s also the tried and tested ‘door to door’ method - you’ll often see a ‘staff needed’ sign on display when entering a shop or a deli. It’s not unheard of to print out a few copies of your CV, walk around town for a while and land a job in a day or two.

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Looks about right. / Markus WInkler, Unsplash

And finally, there are job sites such as Indeed, Monster and They’re probably the most popular method of seeking employment and also a nice way to suss out what the job market’s like at any given time of year. Take the holiday season, for example. With Christmas fast approaching and shoppers about to go berserk, there’s a noticeable uptick in demand in customer-oriented occupations.

Anyone who’s ever worked in the lower tiers of hospitality, retail or any kind of customer service would tell you that for the most part, it’s miserable, soul-sucking labour. Well, HR departments bend over backwards to make it seem otherwise, coming up with dramatic ads that often obfuscate what the actual position entails.

It’s a wild wasteland of ‘vibrant’, ‘high-energy’, ‘fun’ work environments.

A prospective cashier will thus have an ‘exciting opportunity’ to ‘become an ambassador’ for the brand’s business. Hotels offer ‘fantastic new vacancies’ for ‘accommodation assistants’ and list ‘ambition to develop’ among the main prerequisites to join the cleaning staff. Gone are the days of straightforward job descriptions. Job titles are replaced with ludicrous synonyms that are meant to sound more exciting or more important, but end up being neither: call-centre agents have evolved into support professionals, advisors, specialists, executives and gurus.

Speaking of gurus, it’s getting hard to discern whether you’re about to join a workplace or a cult. ‘What does living fully mean to you?’, asks an ad for a reservations agent. It’s a lot to consider. As you become part of a ‘close-knit family’ that’s ‘customer-obsessed’, you’ll be ‘resilient and disciplined’ and - my favourite - ‘take instructions with enthusiasm’.*

Ian Schneider

Ian Schneider / Unsplash

It’s a heavy burden to carry, suddenly becoming an executive or a spiritual leader where you thought you’d only have to answer the phone. Expectations are piling up, with Irish employers demanding years of experience, strong initiative, attention to detail, resilience, discipline, emotional intelligence, warm personality and full flexibility to work shifts within a 16-hour window with schedules changing at a moment’s notice. All things considered, if you see ‘excels in a dynamic, fast-paced environment’ on a CV, it’s code for ‘capable of doing seven things at once under pressure and accustomed to dealing with verbal abuse’.

This is not exactly a groundbreaking revelation, I know - and none of it is exclusive to Ireland. Our tourism-oriented country is heavily dependent on the service industry, and nonsensical corporate language slowly seeps into the Croatian job market as well.

The thing is, that ‘fantastic new vacancy’ in Dublin pays three times as much as you would get for the same shitty job in Croatia. In fact, you get paid two to three times more for low-skilled work in Ireland than you would be in a job requiring a university degree back home.

Emigration 101.


3. The cost of living

The national minimum wage in Ireland is €10.20 per hour (before tax), which is set to increase to €10.50 from January 1st, 2022. To put this in Croatian terms, an average single person working full-time on a minimum wage will soon be earning around €1600 per month net.

At present, the monthly minimum wage in Croatia is roughly €450 net (3400 HRK), set to increase to €500 (3750 HRK) next year.

No wonder the grass seems greener on the other side. Average and median pay in Ireland is even higher, but the majority of foreigners moving to Ireland for work won’t start with an average salary. I’m purposely using the minimum wage as an example, as I feel it’s a more realistic comparison between the two countries that also helps us consider what the bare minimum can get you here and there.

There are many factors at play, of course, and we can’t just straight up compare apples and oranges. What about expenses? It’s not just wages that are higher. I dedicated a whole article to the housing crisis in Ireland, and it’s true that rent alone will eat up a substantial portion of your paycheck. Childcare and car insurance are no joke either. Bars and restaurants are more expensive. So is tobacco. Entertainment costs more in general: nightclubs, music, theatre, cinema. Don’t get me started on hairstylists. It adds up, and if you covet the finer things in life or have any vices to sustain, you’ll need to start climbing the career ladder asap.

Markus Winkler / Unsplash

Markus Winkler / Unsplash

Here’s the catch, though: in proportion to wages, basic needs cost less in Ireland than in Croatia. To put it another way, less time is spent working in order to afford certain essential goods or services. Rent aside, okay.

Food is the worst offender. Even though we’re all aware that food prices are inflated in Croatia, the extent of it doesn’t really hit you until you’ve returned from Ireland where you earned three times as much, yet groceries somehow cost the same or less than back home. These days, you’ll find us haunting supermarket aisles and woefully voicing our thoughts to no one in particular. ‘Ha ha, look, coffee costs the same as in Tesco. Wait, 25 kuna for oat milk? That’s almost doub- 30 kuna for budget brand rice? 30?? FOR RICE??’

Then there are utilities. Our monthly bills (internet, gas and electric) were only marginally higher than in Croatia. Also, water supply is free. No water bills. Wild.

We try not to be those people who return to Croatia only to start every sentence with ‘well in Ireland, it was like-’, but some days are harder than others.

Once you’ve covered all your basic living expenses, outrageous rent included, you can do a whole lot more with your discretionary income than you could in Croatia. I moved to Ireland in late 2018; in the following year, I paid off a small debt, took a total of 8 international trips ranging from a weekend to 2 weeks in length, and was able to afford all the things I wanted without having to cut corners, only earning a bit more than the minimum wage for the bigger part of the year.

The same job in Croatia would pay enough for me to live month to month and take trips to the local bar once a week. Which brings me to my next point...


4. Dignity and (self)respect in the workplace

You go through a certain transitional period when you move from Croatia to Ireland and start making a steady income. It’s called ‘boy do I have a shitton of money all of a sudden’, lasts anywhere from six months to a year, and involves a lot of frivolous spending. No more depriving yourself of nice things in the name of electric bills! You can now have both - and more! Once the adjustment process is over, you sober up, start budgeting and set up a pension fund.

Jokes aside, viewing your job, your salary and your worth objectively is a skill that takes a while to master. Salaries are discussed in annual amounts before tax, unlike the Croatian monthly net ways we’re used to. Coupled with the higher living standard in general, this makes every figure sound desirable at first. You don’t know the nuances and implications of 19k, 25k, 35k - it all seems like a lot.

What about the kind of work you’ll take on? Suppose you’re not highly skilled in one specific field. If you’re emigrating for economic reasons, you won’t be terribly selective when you first arrive and if needed, you’ll aim lower than usual until you get settled.

How low would you go, and how long would you stay there? The former is a no-brainer; an entry level position will suffice to get you going even if it involves low starting pay. You want to sort out all the paperwork as soon as possible, rent needs to be paid, and honest work is honest work. The latter, however, is where things get complicated. What do you want to make of yourself? How do you measure success?

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Alex Kotliarskyi / Unsplash

Take my example. I wanted to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible, so I took a job in customer service I was overqualified for. It soon became apparent that starting over from the bottom creates a certain dichotomy in your self-awareness. The person you are in your home country and the person you are in emigration only partially overlap, both sides engaging in constant dialogue: I have a master’s degree, but take calls for a living. I earn a Croatian MP’s salary taking calls for a living. This is not what I want out of life. This allows me to live quite a comfortable life. I used to declare I would never leave home. I made a conscious decision to be here. And so on, and so on. This unavoidably messes with your head for a while. It’s an uncomfortable process.

Granted, I moved up with time and changed roles within the same company. My salary increased as well, I picked up a few new skills, and the camaraderie we had going on the floor made the daily grind more palatable. The work itself, however, remained unfulfilling, and in normal circumstances, I wouldn’t think twice before looking elsewhere for something better suited to my skills and interests.

But since I wasn’t planning on staying long-term, I let inertia take over. This is okay!, I thought, this is okay for the time being!, all the while not exactly knowing how long that time being would last. It ended up lasting longer than I expected. I built a good reputation for myself, had amazing colleagues and a great rapport with my superiors, paychecks were rolling in, and I got comfortable.

My salary was modest for Irish standards, but served me well enough and I wanted for nothing. I felt valued. This seems to be the case with plenty of other people I’ve met: well-educated, competent individuals, some with a lot of experience under their belt, accepting positions well below their skill level and staying, as those positions awarded them a better quality of life than a managerial rank in Croatia ever did.

This is not to say that employers in Ireland shouldn’t pay their workers more, or that we should settle for peanuts and never aim higher as long as we can get by - on the contrary. But it answers the question of why so many people adjust their criteria significantly when they move to a foreign land to seek work. I’ve seen quite a few vicious articles and comments disparaging people who left Croatia for Ireland ‘only to scrub toilets in exile’. How dare they sell this as a success story? They weren’t willing to do any scrubbing until now, Croatian toilets not good enough for them?


Not when they don’t earn you a living, they’re not. Irish toilets are much better in that regard, along with their offices, call centres, hotels, warehouses and supermarkets. Regardless of profession, workers are respected in Ireland, overtime is paid without fail, and paychecks show up on bank accounts like clockwork. It’s not all milk and honey, but for the most part, the business culture is much healthier than in Croatia. It was nice to experience living in a country where entrepreneurship is encouraged, and breaking into the public sector isn’t the ultimate career goal.

This is a highly subjective topic, and there’s no universal experience which all Croatian emigrants share when it comes to labour. I don’t want to make it seem like all of us work menial jobs and never move up in the world. Some chase promotions, some start businesses, some make the big bucks, some return home disillusioned after a few weeks. Most just want to live a dignified life and then take it from there - and Ireland, on her part, sure provides plenty of opportunities for growth.


 *Everything in quotation marks is a direct quote from various advertisements on accessed on 1/11/2021.


Read the first part of the series on Croatian emigration to Ireland - accommodation

For more news and features from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Moving to Ireland? Pros and Cons from an Irishman in Split

October 28, 2019 - While many Croats are emigrating to Ireland, some are headed in the opposite direction. Jason Berry, an Irishman living in Split for 6 years offers some excellent emigration food for thought. 

There were some interesting reactions to our article at the weekend interviewing a Croatian expat approaching 5 years living in Ireland after her decision to move from Croatia. You can read Lidija's experiences in Kinsale in Is the Grass Greener in Ireland? A Croatian Expat View After 5 Years Abroad. One of the first messages I received was from Maura from the United States:

Thank you for a delightful, honest appraisal of life in Kinsale. My parents immigrated to America in 1929. I have an Irish Passport and have been there only once. Beautiful land and people. So happy it's home to many now and can provide jobs, that's why my parents also left the old country for the New life. Blessings and love, Maura.

A nice message, and Lidija and Maura are now in touch, but it got me wondering - with all the emigration from Slavonia right now, could it be possible that we could see a similar immigration from a totally different country 90 years from now, with people coming for the very thing that is so hard to find right now - employment?

Even more interesting was an email I received yesterday from Jason Berry, an American-Irishman who has been living in Split for the last six years. Although I have never met Jason, we did feature his successful career in Dalmatia in our foreign entrepreneurs in Croatia feature

Jason offered a rather different perspective on the moving to Ireland discussion, and well worth a read for those considering the move. Plenty of pros and cons to contemplate. His article below is a version that originally appeared in Croatian in Dalmatinski Portal

Over to Jason Berry... 

So you are thinking about going to Ireland, the island of opportunity, where beer, jobs and money are everywhere. Here is what you need to know. I’m going to share with you what life is really like in Ireland when compared to life in Croatia.

Ireland and Croatia are remarkably similar. Approximately 4.5 million people in both countries, Catholic, and people in both countries speak excellent English. Both countries have very large diasporas and Ireland is one of only a few countries where Croats can immediately go to and work within the EU, no questions asked. Thank you European Union.

The weather. According to the website Split gets an average of around 2600 hours of sunshine a year, and most of Dalmacija gets the same. Zagreb and Slavonia get around 1900 hours per year. Nice! Dublin gets 1400. Not so nice. It takes a lot of rain to make Ireland so green. It’s even rainier in the west of Ireland. If you are going to Ireland prepare for a lot less sunshine, shorter days, more darkness, and more grey in the winter. Ironically both countries get about the same rainfall, around 1000 mm, the difference is that Ireland gets a little each day, where in Croatia we have thunderous downpours where you can’t go outside because it is raining so hard. But don’t be fooled, plenty of places in Ireland get 2000mm per year. Bring an umbrella.

If you like swimming in the sea, bring a wetsuit to Ireland. Ireland sea temperatures rarely get higher than 17C. You’ll be coming back to Croatia for your summer holidays and tickets home aren’t cheap during the season unless you book far ahead. I’ve paid between 300-700 euro with an average of around 400-500 for round trip tickets. Off season it gets better, and flights on Ryanair and Aerlingus to Zagreb and Zadar help, but Split and Dubrovnik are pricey. Outside of the season there are no direct flights.

Ireland was ranked in or near the top 10 countries in the world for ease of business by the world bank, Croatia 51. It is much easier to do business in Ireland, less red tape, goodbye notaries, good bye uhlebs that get in your way, and peace of mind that officials aren’t trying to find some little problem with your business and fine you. Corporate tax in Ireland is 12.5% vs 20% in Croatia. 20% is pretty good by the way.

But let’s get down to business, the real reason everybody wants to go to Ireland is jobs. So let’s take a look at what it’s like in Ireland on the job front. Unemployment is at an all-time low in Ireland and salaries are on the increase. So how do you make the “big money” in Ireland. Couple of notes on that. In Ireland when discussing salaries, the Irish talk about salaries before tax. If somebody says they are making 30,000 euro per year, that is before tax. Income tax rates are a lot better though in Ireland than Croatia and big taxes don’t hit til after you are making 30K or so. Here’s a link to a tax calculator. But don’t get me wrong, by and large salaries are higher and job selection is better.  

There are a lot more professional career type jobs in IT, finance, and other 21st century careers, but you need to be qualified. These types of professional jobs are where the real opportunities are for Croats going to Ireland. Expect to get a low paying first professional job and then make more in your next jobs. But if you are going for a restaurant job, service sector, retail, or most manual labor jobs, income levels aren’t hugely different once you account for higher costs of living in Ireland which brings me to my next point. You might earn more in Ireland, but you pay more for everything except rain (that’s included).

Your biggest expense coming to Ireland will be rent. In Dublin average rent is 1875 a month. Those are euros by the way not kune. Check out to get an idea of what is out there on the rental market. Good news, unlike Croatia, in Ireland, the renter doesn’t have to pay the estate agent for finding them a place. In Ireland only the landlord pays one month’s rent to the agent.

As a Croat your second biggest expense will be coffee, probably. Gone will be your days of 8-10 kn coffees a few times a day. In Ireland, take-away coffee will cost you around 2-4 Euro. If you want a croissant, tack on another 2-4 Euro. And if like me you love a good narancada after the coffee, OJ will set you back 4-6 euro. And if you want a coffee inside at a restaurant or café, its even more expensive. So if you start your day like me with a coffee, a croissant, and some OJ, you will have no change from 10 Euro. If you drink 3 cups of coffee a day, you’ll be spending around 15 euro a day or 450 euro a month. Prepare to learn how to make coffee, get a big high paying job, or curb that kava addiction.

If you have a smoking problem, your problem just got much bigger. A pack of cigarettes is 10-15 euro. If you smoke a pack a day, here’s another 300-450 euro a month.

For the ladies, haircuts, blow-drying your hair, pedicure and manicure, you’ll need to take out a few loans. Haircuts are 60-100 euro. Blow dries are 30 euro. Manicures will run you 30-50 euro. I’m sure you can find cheaper, but you’ll struggle in Dublin city centre. For dudes, count on around 15-25 euro for a haircut.

On average Dublin is 90% more expensive than Split and Zagreb. If you want to get an equal paying job in Ireland, it needs to pay at least twice as much as in Croatia. If you earn 1,000 euro a month in Croatia, you want to be earning well above 2.5K in Ireland, that means a job that pays around 45K euro in Irish terms. You’ll have to be creative to save money and live a similar standard under that number.

If I had to go back to Ireland tomorrow the things I would miss immediately are: no fresh fruits and veggies from my friends and family. No homemade olive oil from my punac. No burek. Sunshine. Coffee culture and cheap good coffee and chats (people generally get coffee to go, so no more lingering around the kafic). Skampi na buzaru. No vineyards and good wine everywhere. The sea. Teleca Peka. Sunshine. Fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. Basketball is everywhere. Croatian international football. Our nanny. Life is in general very inexpensive and good value in Croatia. Going to the beach for 6 months of the year and of course the network of friends and family that look after me and my family. And sunshine. Do not underestimate how powerful good weather is on your well-being.

So for those of you considering a life in Ireland only for financial purposes, its not an easy decision. You’ll be living in a new country, enjoying the experience, meeting new people, but you probably won’t be saving much or sending money home. In exchange for living in Ireland, you give up sunshine, being close to family, burek and cevapcici. Ireland is a great place, but make sure you do your research on the financials of your job and everyday expenses, know what you are getting into. It's not all a pot of gold at the end of an Irish rainbow.

Thanks Jason, very interesting. 

Have you emigrated to Ireland or another country in the last few years and would like to share your experiences, positive and negative? Contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Greener Grass.

For more news about the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Is the Grass Greener in Ireland? A Croatian Expat View After 5 Years Abroad

October 26, 2019 - With so many Croats in Ireland, and many more making the move, is the grass really greener? Some Croatian reflections as a 5-year anniversary in Ireland approaches. 

Croatia's entry to the EU back in 2013 brought many changes to the country, one of which was easier access to job opportunities in other EU countries. With initial UK restrictions on jobs for Croatians, many Croats headed to the only other English-speaking EU country, Ireland. A trickle turned to a wave, and the Emerald Isle has seen thousands of Croatia move to Ireland in the last few years. 

Among them is occasional TCN contributor Lidija Ivanek SiLa, who has been writing for us since 2016. As her 5 years in Ireland approaches, I asked her what it was like for Croatians moving there, and was the grass really greener. Some great responses, honestly pointing out the positives and negatives, which will hopefully prove useful one way or the other for those contemplating the move. 

1. Firstly, tell us about your own Irish journey. How long have you been there and why did you move?

It is almost five years that we live in Ireland. Me and my husband moved to Ireland on Valentine’s day 2015. How romantic, you would think, right? Little did I know that this is a time of the worst storms in Ireland. Did I mention, we drove all the way from Croatia to Ireland and were taking a ferry from Wales to Ireland? So, crossing the Irish Sea in the middle of the night with waves up to 10 meters, not for the faint-hearted.

Why did we move? Job, plain and simple. Well, my husband is in a sought-after business, the holy grail – IT. When he posted his CV online, headhunters spotted him and interviews start coming. But, before all that, there was a decision to move out of Croatia. You have to know that I was born in Zagreb and the type of person who thought would never move out of Croatia, one who fought for and believed in Croatia, while my husband was born in Germany and spent his early childhood years there. He was more inclined to move.

In the end, our decision was based on the situation around us, falling economy in the country, inability to live a normal life and the general feeling of depression and all-in-all negative attitudes. To work in Croatia you have to be tough, everything is more complicated and people are disheartened and lose courage. That and a few more things were the reasons to move. When the decision was made, the wheels started rolling. A job that was interesting to my husband was offered to him and he accepted it. We even managed to rent the house in Ireland while still in Croatia.

Why Ireland in particular? My hubby already had a colleague in Cork who was telling him that this is the best place to be if you are in IT. There are plenty of IT companies and they are constantly on the lookout for new talent. So we moved to County Cork and we are living in Kinsale, a small town at the beginning of the majestic Wild Atlantic Way.

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2. Cast your mind back - what were your expectations back then and have they been realised?

We didn’t have any grand expectations. It was more of an adventure. We had hopes that it will be better than the one we were leaving behind. It was the idea that if we don’t do something now, soon it would be too late as we are not in our prime years anymore. I would say, we did get more than expected. My husband advanced in his work. He is respected at work. I am an artist, I can work and create anywhere in the world. But even for me it is more “normal” to be artist here than in Croatia. In Croatia there is a general feeling that what you have studied is what defines you. It is almost impossible to change your profession multiple times in life and not be considered odd. I was a doctor of veterinary medicine once, but not anymore. I am an artist, printmaker, painter, digital artist, photographer, and writer now. But that doesn’t define me. That attitude is more normal in Ireland than in Croatia. If you are happy, and can make a living from what you do, it’s ok. That’s Ireland.

3. What was better about moving to Ireland, and what was worse?

Life is here less stressful than in Croatia. We are not bombarded with political news every single day. If you only read Croatian newspapers it seems that every day in Croatia some terrible and horrifying news is happening. In a way it looks like the media didn’t move far from war journalism and is constantly hungry for drama. We don’t have that feeling in Ireland at all. The only drama we have here is when we have Atlantic storms and people freak out about the shortage of bread in the supermarkets, lol.

We’ve met a lot of wonderful, inspiring people and they are from all over the world. The experience of different cultures in one place was a bit frightening at first, but then it became one of the best things here. The Irish tax system is a blessing after you have experienced the Croatian one. It is just easier to work. If the Inland Revenue owes you tax at the end of the year, they will return it immediately. In Croatia you need to beg, wait, and hope to get your money back.

That was all good, but here comes the bad stuff. Of course there is bad in Ireland too.

The Health system is a disaster. Really, no kidding. Expensive and not effective like it was in Croatia. Roads here are mainly for rally drivers. Narrow streets, potholes and the worst of all are the drivers. I mean Irish (not all of course) are in general poor drivers.

If you want to go on a vacation outside Ireland, you have to fly, but yes, flights to a lot of popular summer destinations are inexpensive. Sadly Croatia is not one of them.And last, but not least – the housing crisis. There are not enough apartments & houses for all people wanting to live here. Prices are on the rise. Rents are horrendous.

Buildings are poorly built. Insulations are often non-existent. I mentioned the weather a bit before. Well, my hubby is fine with the cold, damp, windy weather. I am not that keen on that. Winters for me are the hardest, when we have one storm after another and often can’t see the blue sky for weeks. But then when it is sunny, then it is really nice and beautiful and you would never consider living anywhere else.

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4. How has your view of Croatia changed with your new viewpoint from abroad?

Oh dear, that is a tough one. We are trying to visit Croatia twice every year and I can see that some things did change, but not a lot. Depending on what area we have visited, we heard different stories. We moved with the idea to return to Croatia eventually. We still plan to return, I just don’t know when. While so many experts moved out, soon it will be a perfect time to come back. Companies will be forced to rethink their behaviour and offer better deals. That’s a bitter joke circling around. The sad truth is, they’ll probably hire cheap, and less educated people just to fill the spots.

5. Let's look at the huge influx of young Croatians coming to Ireland in the last few years. Without reverting to stereotypes, how would you categorise them? What kinds of people are coming?

I mean, what is a huge influx of young? The truth is all age groups arrived in Ireland in the recent 4 years. When we arrived in Kinsale, there was only one Croatian woman here before us. Now I don’t know them anymore. It is that many. They are coming from all professions, with different plans and ideas. Some are coming only during the tourist season and work in the hospitality business. Some are coming and staying, getting married here, buying houses, having kids. I hate categorising people. How can you categorize different life stories? They are all people with hopes, plans, ideas, coming here to improve their own life, the best way they can.

6. For those thinking of making the move, tell us about the process. How easy is it to find work, a place to stay, a support network?

These days it is more difficult to start a new life in Ireland. Brexit just worsened an already difficult housing situation. A lot of people have moved from the UK to Ireland in recent months. The Government’s “most optimistic statement” on the housing crisis reveals that the problem will get worse at least until 2022, Focus Ireland has said. If they still want to move, the best way to do so would be to have someone here already, so they can stay with them till they find their own place. About jobs, to the best of my knowledge there are still open positions in IT, the pharmaceutical sector, the always needy hospitality sector, and nursing homes.

7. Finding a job may be easy, but how about a job to match the qualifications of the new arrivals?

As in any country, there is a demand for certain qualifications while others not so much. If you are willing to work, it doesn’t matter that much here that you are not holding a certain certificate or diploma. Speaking the language is a must. I did hear about some people washing dishes in restaurants without speaking any word of English, but that is the exception rather than the norm. Croatians still hold a respectable title here, which is that of a hard-working and positive people. How ironic, knowing that at home the same people weren’t treated with that kind of respect.

8. Weighing up everything, do you think the grass is greener in Ireland?

We didn’t regret our move. For us it was the best thing that we could do in the given moment. The Republic of Ireland is not a paradise on Earth. It is a society with very colourful people, a place of optimism and growth, but still in constant change like the weather.

You can read more from Lidija Ivanek SiLa via her TCN profile.

Have you emigrated from Croatia in the last few years and interested in sharing your experiences, good and bad? Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., subject title Greener Grass. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Facebook Looking for a Croat to Answer Users' Questions

A nice employment opportunity for the large Croatian diaspora in Dublin.