Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Demographic Crisis: Hundreds of Croatian Settlements Close to Being Empty

July the 12th, 2022 - The demographic crisis which still has its grip firmly around Croatia's neck is far from something new. These issues have been plaguing the country for years, and now hundreds of Croatian settlements are close to being left totally empty as the population continues to decline.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at least 541 Croatian settlements across the country are on the verge of extinction because they have a maximum of just ten inhabitants, and in another 192 Croatian settlements, there are no living souls left. This devastating data has been highlighted by the first results of the population census by settlements published by the State Bureau of Statistics (CBS), writes Vecernji list.

The worst situation with this terrible trend of dying Croatian settlements and those where there are no more inhabitants left at all is in Karlovac and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, more precisely in the hilly and mountainous parts of those counties.

Karlovac County is the record holder with 129 settlements that have just from one to ten inhabitants and 30 settlements with no inhabitants, while in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, mainly in Gorski Kotar, as many as 104 settlements have from one to ten inhabitants, and another 55 of them have no inhabitants at all. Around 11 percent of all Croatian settlements, or 733 of them, have either been left without a living soul to speak of, or on the verge of complete extinction today.

It's worth noting that today, the Republic of Croatia has only 3.88 million inhabitants left, and that in the past decade alone it has lost almost 10 percent of its population.

Although from the census taken back in 2011 to last year (2021), the largest population loss was recorded in the Eastern Croatian county of Vukovar-Srijem, which lost a fifth of its inhabitants and today has around 144 thousand, followed by Sisak-Moslavina County, which lost 18.49 percent, and Brod-Posavina County, which was left without 17.53 percent of its inhabitants, it's interesting to note based on this information that Vukovar-Srijem County only actually has two settlements that have no inhabitants left.

In the very neglected Eastern Croatian (Slavonian) counties, where intensive emigration has occurred over the past decade, it's mostly formerly large settlements which haven't completely been abandoned and been left without a living soul. Pozega-Slavonia County has the most settlements with one to ten inhabitants living there, 42 of them, and another 17 settlements where there are no inhabitants at all. On the other hand, as expected, there are no settlements with up to ten inhabitants in the City of Zagreb, nor are there any in Medjimurje County.

Demographer Stjepan Sterc's data on the increase of almost 200 Croatian settlements in one single decade which are on the verge of complete extinction or of being left totally without inhabitants, is unfortunately far from surprising.

"For hilly and mountainous areas, the area of ​​Karlovac County, Gorski Kotar... this is unfortunately, an expected process. The settlementsin hilly and mountainous areas are disappearing rapidly, which is also shown by the increase in the number of Croatian settlements over the past decade in which just one to ten inhabitants live. The elderly population lives in those places, there are no families with children, and these settlements will disappear by time we conduct the next census'' stated Sterc.

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Sunday, 16 January 2022

The Blame Game: Reactions to Croatian 2021 Census Varied

January the 16th, 2022 - There have been a varied range of reactions to the recently revealed official Croatian 2021 Census results, from shock and references to ''catastrophe'' to those who most absolutely expected such an underwhelming result.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after the Central Bureau of Statistics published the first official data from the Croatian 2021 Census, according to which 3,888,529 people live in the Republic of Croatia, the first reactions have arrived.

"We expected the population to be less than 3.8 million," said Croatian demographer Stjepan Sterc, who was a recent guest on N1's live studio. He added that little was said about Croatia losing almost 400,000 inhabitants.

"This is an incredible catastrophe for Croatia, to lose 400,000 inhabitants and that there is no reaction to it or awareness of it," added demographer Sterc.

Member of Parliament Katarina Peovic also commented on the results of the Croatian 2021 Census as a guest in N1's studio.

"It must be said openly that people have been expelled from the country. The birth rate is low everywhere, but in Croatia there are measures that force young people to leave the country. For the first time, we have a situation where young people have worse living conditions than their parents did. Young people are creating a surplus of the population, they're deemed unnecessary and this country does not intend to use them. We have a million unemployed people, no country can prosper if there are so many people who are deemed to be unnecessary to it,'' said Peovic.

"The devastating results of the Croatian 2021 Census are a defeat to all those who led this country first and foremost, for the last ten years! But what's even more of a concern is their deep misunderstanding of the problem they're trying to solve with the measure Choose Croatia - which would pay people to return here,'' said the head of Nova ljevica (New Left), Ivana Kekin, on Twitter.

The prefect of Vukovar-Srijem County, Damir Dekanic, commented on the Croatian 2021 Census results and the fact that his county has almost 20 percent fewer people than it did before 2011. "I have to admit that this result is, unfortunately, expected," said Dekanic, adding that a large number of people from the county he's in charge of left with Croatia's entry into the European Union (EU).

"HDZ is not in power in the Czech Republic, so the results of the population in the Czech Republic are because people have moved out of the country when it joined the European Union," he said in response to people criticising HDZ as the results came in.

"The general climate of return should be created first, just as the general climate of departure was created in the media," Dekanic added.

Rajko Ostojic considers the results of the Croatian 2021 Census utterly catastrophic. "Corruption, crime and clientelism are the main reasons why people are leaving Croatia," said Ostojic as a guest on the N1 live studio.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Pizza Master Ante Svoren Returns from Ireland to Lika, Opens Business

January the 14th, 2022 - The exodus of Croats to countries like Ireland has been going on ever since the country joined the European Union (EU) back in July 2013, but while Croatia's demographic crisis has been going on far longer than the coronavirus crisis has, many people have returned home from Ireland. Lika pizza master Ante Svoren is just one of them, who has returned to Lika after four years on the emerald isle.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after four years of living in Ireland, Ante Svoren, his wife and his children returned home to beautiful Lika three years ago. The family's reason for leaving, but also for returning, was not economic.

"We didn't go to Ireland or come home for financial reasons like most people do, we went to see something new, to learn something new, to gain some new knowledge," says Ante Svoren, the owner of the Sinac pizzeria.

Over in Ireland, Ante Svoren worked as a pizza master with a starting salary of €500 per week, given that Irish employers are extremely appreciative of their workers and make sure to show that where it means the most - in their pockets.

"In this country, people seem to believe that their boss is some sort of god, and the worker is a slave. The first time I went there, I went to work, finished work, and my manager shook my hand firmly and said thank you,'' recalled Ante Svoren. After proving his ability to work, his salary rose to a thousand euros per month and he became the co-owner of several pizzerias.

"It's a little different for them than it is here, when they see that you're trying hard, they give you an incentive to keep hold of you," Ante Svoren told HRT.

In Ireland, rent is the highest cost and luxuries such as alcohol or cigarettes also add up. Everything else is cheaper than in Croatia. The costs imposed on employers here, he says, are much too high.

"Too much is taken out of a person's salary for their healthcare, for their retirement, a guy will say I have a salary of eight or nine thousand kuna, I'll pay people into their bank accounts, and they end up with five thousand kuna. Over in Ireland, what you've earned, you almost get everything, so it's much better in that regard,'' added Ante Svoren.

Now, home in Lika, they have turned a new page business-wise and started an extremely successful catering and hospitality business on the property belonging to his wife's parents, right next to the Gacka spring and the mill, where they employ eight people and encourage local family farmers to buy local products from them.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Experts at Catholic Social Week Warn About Croatia’s Demographic Crisis

ZAGREB, 24 Oct, 2021- The Sixth Croatian Social Week, which was organised by the Catholic Church in the country, on Saturday adopted a declaration which underscores that Croatia is in a deep demographic crisis and calls on the authorities to take measures to halt negative trends.

The declaration, adopted at the end of the event that brought together about 200 participants, warns about a demographic failure in Croatia due to the intensive decrease in the number of newborns and demographic ageing.

The document says that the country lacks a long-term strategy and a supra-party policy to address the issue.

The declaration recommends that the population strategies should encompass pro-natalist and moderate migration policies.

The participants in the event concluded that in the future Croatia would have to cope to a greater extent with the issues regarding migrations.

They also call for more attention to be paid to expats coming back to Croatia.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

Dugopolje Municipality Tackling Demography Issue with Higher "Newborn Sums"

July the 22nd, 2021 - The Dugopolje Municipality near Split has decided to raise the cash sum it gives to new parents in an attempt to encourage the birth of more children in the area.

Croatia's demographic crisis didn't come about with the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many people take the plunge and head abroad in search of more stability following lockdowns and restrictions within the tourism industry, on which many jobs rely. It wasn't even new when the country finally joined the European Union back in July 2013 and when borders opened for the Croatian labour force.

Waves of emigration are very common for Croatia, with a huge number of people leaving during the 70s, 80s and 90s, typically, at least back then, for political reasons. Now, while politics certainly continues to play a significant role, it isn't the only deciding factor for most. The desire for a country with more economic stability, less red tape and a more forgiving system is what drives most people outside of Croatian borders, and the demographic crisis didn't even wane when travel restrictions were harsher last year, with many Croats still leaving to the likes of Ireland and Germany without looking back.

While the typically overlooked region of Eastern Croatia has always been dominant in this trend, with villages and towns emptying out at a worrying rate, the demographic crisis has spread further, with even ''richer'' areas where jobs were usually far easier to come by such as Dalmatia seeing people hop on planes and coaches with one way tickets. The Dugopolje Municipality has, as a result, opted to up the cash fee given to parents for each child born in the area.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Perica Bosancic, the mayor of Dugopolje, a municipality with about 3,500 inhabitants close to Solin (formerly Salona) took to Facebook to post about the increase in fees for newborn children in the Dugopolje Municipality.

As he wrote, the fee for the first born child will be 5,000 kuna, instead of the previous 3,000 kuna, and for the second 10,000 kuna instead of the previous 5,000 kuna.

''We announced this back on the 18th of April, and on July 20th, we kept our promise. We increased the benefits for newborns from 3,000 kuna to 5,000 kuna for the first child, from 5,000 kuna to 10,000 kuna for the second, and for the third, we increased the benefit to 15,000 kuna. Each subsequent child will see the parents paid an additional 15,000 kuna (meaning that the fourth child is is 30,000 kuna, the fifth is 45,000 kuna, etc.…). I'd like to thank the councilors for unanimously supporting this proposal,'' Bosancic wrote on Facebook.

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Sunday, 31 January 2021

Much Anticipated 2021 Croatian Census Now Postponed Indefinitely?

January 31, 2021 – Long in preparation and last undertaken way back in 2011, media reports that the much anticipated 2021 Croatian census may now be postponed indefinitely

Preparations for the 2021 Croatian census have been long in the making. Plans have been ongoing since 2016. The last census was undertaken back in 2011 and the population has been impacted by both immigration and emigration since then. But, nobody is exactly sure by how much. This information was just some of the vital data people had hoped would be delivered by the 2021 Croatian census. But, now that may not happen. Some Croatian media is now saying the Croatian census has been postponed indefinitely.

Just one month ago the director of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Lidija Brković, said before the Parliamentary Committee for Local Self-Government that all preparations were being carried out with a view to the Croatian census taking place as scheduled. In an interview with N1 at the beginning of December, Boris Milosevic, Croatia's deputy prime minister (in whose department the Croatian census lies), also said the same.

But the census will not begin as planned on 1st April 2. N1 is currently reporting that it has been postponed indefinitely.

The coordinator for the census in the Central Bureau of Statistics, Damir Plesac, said that the main reason is the coronavirus. The Central Bureau of Statistics does not yet know for how long the Croatian census will be postponed because, as Plesac says, it will depend on epidemiological measures and the decision of the government and parliament, which must change the Census Act.

Croatian media ascertain from his answers that the census might not be expected to be completed before June 2021. To the question “is it weeks or months of delay?” Mr Plesac answered that it would be months.

Most of the Croatian census will therefore be moved until after the local elections in May. In their coverage of the census's indefinite postponement, the national portal Index reminds that some campaigning taking place in the run-up to these elections is focussing heavily on the numerical and demographical information that the Croatian census would provide.

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

Istrian War Veterans Saddened by Croatia's Demographic Crisis

As Glas Istre/Borka Petrovic writes on the 7th of September, 2019, Deputy Prefect of Istria County, Fabrizio Radin, and Deputy Mayor of Pula, Robert Cvek, recently hosted a reception for members of the 119th Croatian Army Brigade on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of its founding in Istria, Croatia.

Radin said the County and the City are actively participating in these anniversaries every year, and he pledged his support to continue. He said they were open to talks, not just about anniversaries, but about all other current affairs. He noted that as of next year, Istria County is taking over the affairs of the state administration, which involves issues related to the issues of war veterans (branitelji).

''If we've been closely linked so far in terms of cooperation, then by next year, we will surely be even more linked,'' Radin stated.

Mayor Cvek congratulated the 119th Brigade, saying that Istria must be and is proud of all that the brigade members accomplished in the defense of Croatia during the Homeland War, and especially that their war paths were honourable and free of any ''stains''.

The 119th Brigade's Roberto Fabris recalled that the brigade was founded on September the 7th, 1991, and that it covered the whole of Istria with four battalions - one in Umag, one in Pazin, and two in Pula. He recalled that a large number of JNA members were still stationed in Pula at the time and that the most important task was to try to preserve the peace.

The brigade made its way to Lika, was in Slavonia and even down south in the Ston area, and the highlight of their operation was certainly the military-police operation Storm (Oluja), Fabris said, recalling that seven members of the brigade were killed in war operations, and 82 were in some way wounded.

''Istria must be proud of its 119th Brigade, as well as all other units in the area. Our brigade is proud of everyone because it carried out all the tasks that were put before it without stains,'' Fabris said in an emotional speech, explaining that he could not hide his strong emotions because he had spent as many as 1,700 days in the brigade. He entered at the age of 25, and came out at the age of 30. He had left his entire young life on the battlefields, he said.

''Almost 90 percent of the members returned to their jobs and ordinary lives after the war, but we're proud of what we've achieved and will not let our journey be forgotten. The only thing that hurts me personally, and I believe hurts others, is that our children today are leaving the land we created. But I believe in a better future,'' Fabris concluded.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Dalmatians Saving Croatian Population: More Births On Coast

In only eleven Croatian cities and 47 municipalities out of a total of 566, were there more births than deaths, but most children were born in the coastal counties.

As Morski writes on the 23rd of July, 2019, Croatia's demographic picture continues to be bleak, and what might seem like a dying nation is being kept above water mainly by Dalmatians, which act as a bright spot on the demographic map of this country, where, as mentioned, out of a total of 566 Croatian cities and municipalities, only eleven cities and 47 municipalities were there more births than deaths last year.

In 2018, Split-Dalmatia County had the largest municipalities and cities with a positive natural population increase, included are four towns, Kaštela, Sinj, Solin, and Vrgorac, and ten municipalities, Baška Voda, Bol, Dugopolje, Klis, Podbablje, Podgora, Podstrana, Postira, Prolog, and Zadvarje, all of which had more births than deaths. This has been proven by the latest data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, Večernji list writes.

As stated, the Croatian cities and municipalities with a positive natural increase are mostly coastal counties, in Split-Dalmatia, Zadar, Istria, with one continental Croatian exception - Međimurje County.

52,706 people died in 2018 in Croatia, and 36,945 babies were born, in as many as 492 Croatian towns and municipalities and the City of Zagreb, there was a population decrease and only five municipalities and cities had the same number of births and deaths.

Although 389 more babies were born in 2018 than in 2017, that's merely a drop in the ocean, and a worrying one at that, when it is a well known fact that Croatia had more than 7,500 more births back in 2009 than today.

Demographer from Ivo Pilar Institute, prof. dr. Nenad Pokos, points out that the number of live births compared to deaths was recorded in only 58 Croatian municipalities and cities, or just 10.2 percent of their total number.

''Of the positive examples in the first place, it's certainly worth mentioning the town of Sinj, where there were 15 more people born last year than died, while in 2017, there were 42 more deaths than births.

In Sinj, the number of live births is larger than it was 2015, by as many as 34 births, and then compared again to 2016 where there 25 births, so in Sinj's case, we can rightly say that it is one of the few places to have recorded a baby boom.

In the Split area, the number of municipalities and towns with a natural increase is higher as Solin, Kaštela, Dugopolje, Klis and Podstrana are located here, while in Dugi Rat there is an equal number of live births and deaths.

The number of places with natural population growth in the Zadar region (Biograd, Bibinje, Galovac, Pakoštane, Poličnik and Tkon) is relatively high, while once again, Zadar has a natural decline as it also did last year, although during the period between 2011-2017, there were 355 more births than deaths.

In the Rijeka area, the record holder for natural population growth is still the Municipality of Viškovo, where the younger population has been coming and settling for the past few decades due to the possibility of easier employment in the immediate vicinity, as well as lower land prices and cheaper living costs than in Rijeka itself.

In Omišalj, there are more births than there are deaths, which is due to the proximity of Rijeka, the Rijeka suburbs, and Kostrena, stated Pokos.

More than births than deaths have also been recorded by ten towns and municipalities in Istria County, but they are very low numbers because only Poreč and the municipality of Tinjan have more births, more precisely five more, than deaths.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Croatian Emigration to Germany and Ireland Slows, Grows for Sweden

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of July, 2019, according to data from Destatis, the German statistical office, 51,197 people who hold Croatian citizenship moved from Croatia to Germany in 2018. This is the first time that a drop in emigration from Croatia to Germany has been recorded, Večernji list writes.

Judging by the data from Germany and Ireland, emigration from Croatian citizens coming from Croatia has actually slowed down. The latest figures from the German and Irish statistics offices show that in the first half of this year, for the first time since Croatia's EU accession, the number of immigrants from Croatia has decreased.

According to the aforementioned German statistical office, this is the very first time that a drop in emigration from Croatia to Germany has been recorded and this has halted the trend that, according to the same data, has lasted for ten years, long before Croatian membership of the EU.

During 2017, 52,791 Croatian citizens moved to Germany, while in 2016 it was a record, when 57,155 Croatian citizens moved from Croatia to Germany. However, when it comes to this office, it is important to point out that two types of data are being published for Croats, which can cause confusion and different interpretations by media, as well as by experts.

"When we talk about Croatian citizens, we differentiate between emigration actually from Croatia and the emigration of all those who just have Croatian citizenship but are coming from other countries, especially those outside the EU. Of them, 51,197 have moved to Germany since last year, while the total number of those who just have a Croatian passport in Germany numbered 57,724 The difference of 6,527 people means that they came from a third country outside of the EU,'' the German office told Vecernji list.

However, historian and political scientist Dr. Tado Jurić of the Croatian Catholic University says it isn't true that the trend of Croatian emigration to Germany is dropping. In April 2019, when the disinformation began to spread significantly about the drop in emigration to Germany, he warned that the figures that were being put out by the media about emigration were far from real. He has claimed that this may be a deliberate misrepresentation of data, or simply a lack of statistical reading methodology.

''According to data from the Federal Migration Office (BamF), which provides final immigration data and which is always used by the German Parliament, back in 2016, there were 51,163 immigrants from Croatia, in 2017, there were 50,283, and last year, there were 51,197 according to Destatis. Destatis takes all people with Croatian citizenship into consideration, and BamF includes immigrants and returnees from Croatia and is therefore more precise,'' according to Jurić. BamFa's data for 2018 will be announced in October this year.

Jurić believes that the number of Croatian returnees will increase in the next few years.

The jump in Croatian emigration was of course most visible after the country joined the EU and adopted the four fundamental freedoms of the single market, one of which is the free movement of labour.

Back in 2008, 8,418 Croatian citizens moved to Germany, in 2013, the year Croatia joined the EU, 24,845 of them went to Germany, in 2014, 43,843 of them went to Germany, and in 2015, when the German labour market became fully open to Croatian citizens, 57,996 Croatian citizens moved there. The second destination to which Croats tend to emigrate - Ireland - recorded a fall in arrivals from Croatia for the first time in 2018.

The Irish Central Statistical Office estimates the number of immigrants according to the number of Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN), an identification number similar to the Croatian OIB used for employment and social benefits.

In the first six months of 2019, 1,648 numbers were issued to Croatian citizens, while in the same period last year, as many as 2,119 Croats received a number. The same trend is seen in Ireland as in Germany - in 2009 only 60 PPSN numbers were issued, and a significant jump is seen upon Croatia's accession to the EU. From 483 to 2,103, the number jumped up to 2,091 in 2014, and doubled a year later to 4,342, and peaked in 2016 with 5,312 issued PPSNs.

By 2017, the number fell slightly to 4,908, and the decline continued last year when 4,346 Croatian citizens received a PPSN number, this year, a reduction of nearly a quarter has already been seen in Ireland. However, in Sweden, the number of immigrants from Croatia is climbing - there are now 1,150 Croatian citizens legally there, there were 1,084 back in 2017, and for years before that the number was always around 1,000.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Irish Dream Shatters for Croatian Woman: ''I Cried Every Day''

The Croatian demographic crisis is becoming more and more concerning as time goes on. The fact that some don't actually announce their departure to MUP and other relevant bodies when leaving the country tends to cloud the true number of people who have left Croatia in search of a new life abroad, a negative trend which has increased enormously, posing a serious threat to the domestic economy, since Croatia joined the European Union in July 2013.

Upon joining the EU, Croatia entered the single market, one of the fundamental four freedoms of which is the free movement of labour. Barriers to the labour markets of other, wealthier European countries in the West, such as that of Ireland, fell, and with that so did Croatia's numbers.

While it cannot be argued that Western European countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom are more desirable in an economic sense, anyone who has spent any time in those countries (I spent 21 years of my life in the UK), will be quick to tell you that the rivers aren't flowing with milk and honey, and that landing employment and a living wage isn't that easy at all. Still, many hungry for a good wage and better conditions are blind to these warnings, and cheap one-way Ryanair tickets to Dublin are almost too difficult to resist.

Not every story ends in success and happiness, and despite what many Croatian publications tend to claim, there are numerous people who have realised that The Good Life in countries like Britain and Ireland is just as plagued as anywhere else, and they do make the trip back to Croatia. Here's one such story from Poslovni Dnevnik/VLM on the 16th of July, 2019, which is more than worth paying attention to.

''I got the impression that it was amazing for everyone who went there - people were buying cars, living well, they were managing to save money. Overnight, I decided to go to Ireland and told myself I'm going to do something with my life,'' says Adrijana from the continental Croatian town of Virovitica.

As stated, emigration has become one of the burning topics in Croatian public life during the last few years. Many in search of their daily bread, and more of it for their work, went off to wealthier European countries like Germany, the UK and Ireland. Some adjusted and liked their lives there, some didn't, some decided to pick their battles and stay for work, to save, but there are also many who came back.

Among the latter is 40-year-old Adrijana Ružička, a Virovitica-native from Zagreb, who told Deutsche Welle just why she returned from the emerald isle to Croatia.

"I left with assurance that I'd be better off, but then I realised what my priorities in life were. When you leave your country and make your way yourself abroad, when you're separated from your family and friends, you realise that you just miss it all far too much and you don't need the money to be happy. I realised that my home and my family were a source of personal happiness and that I didn't want to have a separated family and miss my son's diploma, and then today, or tomorrow, his marriage and the birth of my grandchildren. I missed my husband and son so much that my heart broke and every day I cried. In addition, I'm an only child, and my parents are old, so it wasn't acceptable for me to not be in a position to be there and help them when they needed it,'' Adrijana said.

Before leaving Ireland, she worked as a bookkeeper, which she continues to do now, but with better financial terms. The main reason for going to Ireland was of course, money, she had a low salary, and lived as a sub-tenant. Her husband was due to come and join in several months.

Adrijana, who ended up in Killarney, south of Dublin, was quickly disenchanted by the stark reality of becoming a foreigner in a strange (and rainy) land, and was hired as a maid at a hotel. The Irish dream was fading, and fast.

Her salary was far higher than the one she received in Croatia, but it turned out that for the usual Irish conditions, she was actually working for minimum wage. Her gross income was 1,600 euros, her net earnings were 1,420 euros, and her apartment and utilities sucked up 850 euros...

After everything was paid for, as well as food, 200-300 euros remained in her pocket, and as she says herself, life in Ireland can be very expensive. Still, she says she is not sorry she went to Ireland because she is richer for the experience, learned a lot, and that Ireland taught her what is important, and how to save.

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