Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Rudi Witkowsky on Life in the Croatian Capital

August 24, 2021 - The story is starting to spread. Zagreb as a fantastic remote work destination. Some thoughts from the second Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, Rudi Witkowsky.

Word of mouth tourism promotion is arguably the most precious of all. Zero cost, full of passion, and endorsements from friends and family - no fake reviews here.

It is just over two years since TCN started writing about the potential of Croatia as a digital nomad destination. The story has been growing steadily, and all the global coverage surrounding the introduction of the digital nomad permit helped to make it a global story. Suddenly, digital nomads were looking at Croatia as their next remote work destination. Maybe not for the 12-month permit, but for a month, two, three - nomads are by definition nomadic. 

And the general feedback  that I have observed is that these new arrivals very much like what they see. Excellent English and Internet, stunning nature and a beautiful coast, great food and wine, culture, history, affordability, accessibility, friendly locals, safety, and lifestyle - the list goes on. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week speaker Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World summed it up very nicely when he was asked what Zagreb was missing regarding its digital nomad offer:

"The only thing Zagreb is missing is more digital nomads."

A number of nomads have been very pleasantly surprised at what they have found in Croatia, and particularly Zagreb, and they have been busy relaying their experiences and enthusiasm to their friends and nomad communities. The buzz about Croatia, with its great lifestyle, is getting louder. Only this week, TCN contributor Steve Tsentserensky's explanation of his life in Croatia on $47 a day went viral as the top trending story on CNBC News - the video above has had almost 100,000 views at time of writing. The latest example of free global promotion of Croatia's digital nomad opportunity. It is a story which is being dripfed organically, and the message is starting to resonate.

After the success of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, a collaboration between Saltwater Nomads, Zagreb Tourist Board and TCN,  the second component of the project, Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, in partnership with Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, began on July 1 and runs until December 31. 

This month's ambassador is Rudi Witkowsky from South Africa, who swapped a couple of months remote working on the Adriatic coast to take up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel with his partner Victoria. Rudi has been enjoying the Croatian capital and indulging in his fitness passion in the city's gyms and parks, while working his financial day job from the coworking spaces around town. 

A first-time visitor to the city, certain themes in the impressions of Rudi so far seem to be consistent with many other nomads I have spoken to about the Zagreb experience. The level of English is outstanding, the Internet is excellent, the choice of coworking spaces superb. And the food... You can listen to Rudi's full interview in the video below. All messages that need to be amplified moree loudly, but which are already being shared among friends, family and communities.

And that word of mouth recommendation seems to be working. Rudi explains that he has had a phenomenal response from back home to all his social media posts about his remote life in Croatia, a life he plans to continue if his application for the digital nomad permit is successful. But he is also working on another project with partners, which could also see some nice benefits for Croatia - to bring groups of up to 50 financial consultants to remote work in Croatia for 4 months a year, as they are actively looking for a European base. 

Tell the story and they will come. And the more stories which are being told, the more they are coming. 

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

Want to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Here's how

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Croatian Digital Nomad Lifestyle Trending #1 on CNBC News

August 22, 2021 - More great exposure of the Croatian digital nomad lifestyle, this time trending as the top story on CNBC News. 

They say that success breeds success.

And when it comees to tourism promotion, there is nothing better than word of mouth recommendations from family and friends. A hidden gem recommended by an enthusiastic friend, backed up with incredible photos and tales of a wondrous land work much better than expensive advertising campaigns. 

Croatia has thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of such word of mouth promoters, whose experiences are opening up Croatian tourism to new tourists. And a new sector of willing promoters has arrived - digital nomads. 

There has been a lot of buzz about Croatia and the digital nomad permit since Jan de Jong wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic back in May 2020. Reaction was mixed, with many locals wondering what was in it for Croatia - allowing foreigners to come and live and work remotely in Croatia without paying any local income tax. 

Takeup of the 12-month visa has been a little slow to take off, but there has been a noticeable rise in the number of digital nomads for whom Croatia is on their radar for the first time. Nomadic by definition, worcations of 1-3 months seem to be the most popular (no permit required), and the general feedback being shared is that Croatia is a great destination with its outstanding food, wine, nature, coast, culture, safety, Internet, affordability, accessibility, and excellent English.  

One nomad who is reaching a larger network of people through his excellent photo and videography is American Steve Tsentserenky, who was one of the first to obtain the 12-month permit earlier this year (read his experience in this TCN piece). 

Total Croatia - Zagreb in a Page - Canopy by Hilton from total-croatia.com on Vimeo.

Steve has been showcasing some of his work on TCN with both his photography in our Croatia Through the Lens of a Digital Nomad Permit Holder series, as well as some excellent videos in the TC Destinations in a Page series, including Zagreb above and Zadar below. Fantastic images which are proving very popular and are one more great free promo of Croatia.

But this weekend, Steve has gone one better, with a detailed breakdown of his lifestyle and cost of living in Croatia, compared to back home in the States. With a total monthly spend of $1,424 (compared to just average rent in New Jersey of $2,779), the case for a more affordable remote lifestyle in Croatia is clear. Add to that the quality of life, as Steve explains in the accompanying video in his piece for CNBC News, and the case for Croatia as a remote work destination is a little more compelling. 

Good news too for the Croatian economy. A spend of $17,000 a year (the majority of which is within Croatia), in addition to the constant free promotion, is not a bad return for having someone stay for 12 months without taking any job from a local. Increase that number to 100 remote workers, then a thousand, then... There is a simple roadmap to growing this potentially lucrative sector, as well as breathing life back into communities which traditionally die in the winter months when the conventional tourists have left. 

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And it seems that Steve's story has struck a chord. His article has been trending as the top story on CNBC all morning. A little like the story of the digital nomad permit itself, which got massive free global coverage due to the pro bono efforts of a Dutch entrepreneur, small initiatives with zero budget can have a big effect. As Steve explains in his video, he first heard of the visa opportunity in a TCN article last August. And the rest is history. 

Croatia has a fantastic opportunity to develop its tourism around this remote work opportunity, focusing on its safety, authenticity and lifestyle. The feedback from nomads here has been broadly very positive. All we need to do now is to continue telling the story. Ambassadors such as Steve are very welcome, as they make the job much easier. 

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

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Zagreb Coworking Spaces: a City Guide for Digital Nomads

 August 11, 2021 - As the remote work revolution continues, Zagreb coworking spaces are popping up all over the city. A guide to what is available. 

 The workplace is changing, with more people free to choose their workplace anywhere on the globe that offers a decent Internet connection. The age of the digital nomad is upon us, and Croatia is attracting a lot of interest as a dream destination. 

The capital Zagreb is on the verge of discovery by these mobile travellers, with many nomads who have experienced the city surprised at the speed of the connection, the level of English, the outstanding food, the parks, lakes and nature. The list goes on. 

Zagreb, as with other destinations, is starting to adjust to the new opportunity, and a new offer is appearing all over the city - coworking spaces.  

Nomads are sociable animals and want to meet and interact with others, as well as have the use of the facilities of an office. As such, coworking spaces are an essential element of a destination's draw for any potential remote working.

The Zagreb Tourist Board has put together a useful page for nomads, including some of the available Zagreb Coworking Spaces. While some are classing coworks, there are others which offer slightly different options - ever visited a co-cooking facility, for example?

Check them out below, and find them on the map above. If there are any Zagreb coworking spaces missing from this list, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Coworking and I will add. 

1. BIZkoshnica, Ilica 71

+385 (0)99 700 2007

https://www.bizkoshnica.biz/?lang=en

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The so-called boutique coworking space in the center of Zagreb offers a truly special atmosphere and feeling on approximately 200 square meters. Koshnica offers all that you need for developing a business idea or for teleworking, as well as space for organizing events.

2. Impact Hub Zagreb, Boskoviceva 2

+385 (0)1 209 2953 +385 (0)1 209 2953

https://zagreb.impacthub.net/

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As part of a large network of coworking spaces around the world, Impact Hub offers its customers everything they expect from coworking, with an added emphasis on projects that make the world a better place and bring about positive change in society.

3. HUB385, Petraciceva 6 

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 +385 (0)91 300 7020+385 (0)91 300 7020

https://hub385.com/

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HUB385 offers three floors with coworking spaces, workplaces and offices, but there is also a large space for organizing events. If you don't need the space, there is also the possibility of a “virtual office” for all those who just need a location to receive their mail. HUB385 has recently become part of a coworking and coliving space network Rent24, so we may soon be hearing news from the largest space of its kind in Zagreb.

4. Instant Office Zagreb, Radnicka 80

+385 (0)1 5625 700

https://www.instantoffice.hr/en/

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InstantOffice offers a short or long term lease of a smaller or larger office space. Office space rental at a prestigious business address, which is fully equipped, with a private secretary and all maintenance costs included with the possibility of adjusting the size of the office and furniture. Administrative and technical support will save you the time you have spent on logistics. We will take care of your mail and phone calls; organize cleaning and maintenance of the space, help with other tasks and welcome your guests and clients.

5. Wespa Spaces, Zavrtnica 17

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+385 99 3756 777

https://wespa-spaces.hr/

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The WESPA office and coworking space project is a modern office concept created in partnership with the Green Gold Center. WESPA creates a stimulating work environment for modern companies that require the office to have a superior usage experience throughout the working day. The location covers all your business needs with innovative and digitized approaches to sharing resources and content: from workplaces, through leisure and entertainment areas, to conference spaces and restaurants.

6. Matrix Office Park, Slavonska Avenija 1

+385 (0)1 2079 557

https://matrixofficepark.com/en/

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Matrix Office Park is a business center that offers high-quality offices for lease, built according to the principles of green construction. It is located in the prestigious Zagreb business district at the intersection of the most important city roads. Designed at the intersection of the latest technologies, environmental sustainability, and modularity, Matrix is a perfect location for companies that nurture talent and innovativeness of their people. Better and more sustainable offices will encourage productivity, creativity, and cooperation by improving the health and well-being of your people.  

7. Regus Zagreb. Hektoroviceva 2

+385 1 77 07 200

https://www.regus.com/

As a company that specializes in renting space, Regus has extensive experience in finding adequate solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, but also coworking spaces for those who prefer this way of working. Working in Regus spaces is also possible in a network of almost 3,000 shared offices worldwide.

8. Virtual Office Croatia, Savska 41

+385 (0)1 353 5905

https://www.virtual-office.hr/

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VIRTUAL OFFICE Croatia is a new, innovative service, cost effective, flexible and unique, prestigiously located in the main business skyscraper in Zagreb city center. Whether you’re an established company wanting to manage and grow your business or a startup that needs a professional image from its creation, Virtual Office is here to provide all your business needs, all while saving you time and money.

9. Travel and Technology Hub Gacka16, Gacka 16

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+385 99 61 54 321

https://www.gacka16.com/

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The space with a beautiful view and a great roof terrace welcomes all travelers who need a quiet place to work in the wider center of Zagreb. They bring together and support small businesses and startups and those involved in the development of technologies in the travel industry. They allow individuals, freelancers and small businesses to cooperate with each other and to grow their business through mutual support, networking and exchange of experiences in the field of travel and tourism.

10. Element Int, Dolac 1

+385 91 472 9000

https://element-int.hr/

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Element Int can offer you everything from renting a desk to a workspace or a separate office. With different configurations and rooms, they can meet almost all the needs of small and medium-sized companies and monitor their expansion and growth.

11. Cook Hub Zagreb, Sigetje 35

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+385 91 53 07 449

https://cookhub.hr/

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A slightly different coworking space, i.e. co-cooking space, is located in Zagreb and allows you to improve your cooking skills, rent cooking space and equipment and everything you need to get from the idea to a delicious result.

12. AlgebraLab, Ilica 242

+385 1 22 22 182

https://www.algebra.hr/lab/

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Algebra's “startup lab” consists of coworking space, incubation and support for the development of business ideas. AlgebraLAB is part of the Algebra Group, gathered around the Algebra University College with more than 400 lecturers, scientists and artists – top experts in various fields of digital technologies. Our experts will support your needs in various areas: from information systems and computer security, through digital sculpting, software and systems engineering, to multimedia and computer games development, and advanced analytics (big data).

13. Stablo Znanja (Tree of Knowledge), Savska 25

+385 91 79 64 073

https://stabloznanja.com/

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As a project designed by students, Stablo znanja (The Tree of Knowledge) offers a space where students can develop their business ideas, work in groups and socialize completely free of charge.

14. Zicer Zagreb Innovation Centre, Avenija Dubrovnik 15

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+385 (0)1 3667 101

https://www.zicer.hr/

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ZICER - Zagreb Innovation Centre is a business support organization founded and owned by the City of Zagreb. ZICER’s activities focus on supporting and advancing entrepreneurial climate as well as society at large. ZICER provides pre-incubation, incubation, post-incubation, acceleration, external membership as well as coworking services. Members receive comprehensive assistance including education, consulting, mentoring, use of infrastructure, and financial support. In the context of education and consulting, a definite emphasis is placed on the expertise of ZICER's staff as well as cooperation with partner institutions, national authorities, agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, potential investors and everyone who can positively contribute to the development of entrepreneurship. ZICER’s attractive space will delight you with its modern design which extends to more than 7,300 m2. There are also well equipped halls for conferences, meetups, hackathons and business meetings.

15. Adidas Sports Studio Gym and Cowork, Ilica 21

+385 (0)95 455 6 555   ( from 14 do 22h)

https://www.sportsstudio.com.hr/

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Looking to combing working out with remote work in the centre of the city? Look no further than Adidas Sports Studio just a few steps from the main square. The gym opens at 09:00 and the cowork from 14:00. 

16. Join Us, Ul. Jurja Žerjavića 19

+385 (0)97 736 0451

https://www.facebook.com/joinus.space

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17. Canopy by Hilton, Kneza Branimira 29

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+385 (0)1 4559 505

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/zagzcpy-canopy-zagreb-city-centre/

A 4-star hotel might not be the most obvious place for a coworking space, but several digital nomads have commented on the excellent service and facilities available at Canopy by Hilton. Located in Branimir Centre close to the bus and train station, Canopy has a few good spaces for remote workers, and the combination of the gym, local restaurants and excellent service are making it a remote working hit. 

18. Myplace Coworking Zagreb, Varšavska ul. 8

+385 (0)91 559 4336

https://myplace.hr/

70+ desks, fully equipped with superfast internet, 24/7 access, super comfy chairs & more! Myplace also has a Facebook community of more than 6700+ digital nomads/remote workers in Croatia, and regular events at the neighbouring Bustan Bar.

Learn more about the magic of the Croatian capital in the Total Croatia Zagreb in a Page guide.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Zadar Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

August 11, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The third in a new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to continue than gorgeous Zadar?

One of the discussion in Croatia these days surrounds digital nomads. What EXACTLY does Croatia get from digital nomads, especially if they do not have to pay income tax locally with the 12-month permit?

It is a classic Croatian tourism short-term mindset, which has become sadly familiar over the decade I have been writing about the subject. 

For me, there are three key wins for Croatia - and they all cost nothing.

1. Permit holders may not pay tax, but they are spending on rent, food, drink, entertainment once they leave their virtual office. Think of them as long-stay tourists if you will. I never heard of anyone here complaining about tourists spending here.

2. The mindset. This, to me, is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital nomad era. People with fresh ideas, different experiences, stimulating lifestyles. If they are moving to Croatia because it is so great, perhaps Croatia has something to offer, rather than the sad path of emigration. 

3. The fabulous free promo from digital nomads, clearly in love with this beautiful country. They decided to come, love what they find, and want to tell the world how amazing Croatia is - through blogs, Instagram posts and various other forms of social media. Kind of like the national tourist board's job if you like. Only better. 

This series will focus on the last point, the fantastic free promotion of Croatia by these longer term visitors. TCN is thoroughly enjoying our working partnership with one of the early recipients of the digital nomad permit. Steve Tsentserensky from Ohio. Steve first came to my attention with this fabulous video of Zagreb.

We are big fans of Steve's work, and we met recently over a beer or three in Zagreb. Steve will be travelling around the country over the next 12 months (actually, we think a little longer) documenting Croatia through his lens. We thought it would make a nice feature on the site, as well as showing how just one nomad with the permit is spreading the word about this beautiful country, so that others may see and come. 

And so continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Zadar. Steve visited Zadar and Total Croatia partner Falkensteiner Punta Skala recently. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And so too a great video. So I will shut up now. 

You can follow Steve on Instagram.

To learn more about the city, check the TC Zadar in a Page guide

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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Veronica Mulhall Exit Interview (VIDEO)

August 3, 2021 - Veronica Mulhall's tenure as the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador has come to an end. She caught up with TCN before her next challenge - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Tourism in Croatia is changing, albeit slowly. 

The shift to remote work is a small but rapidly growing factor in the lives of people these days. The freedom to travel the world as long as it fits in with the remote office timetable is a trend which is growing quickly. And one which Croatia is perfectly poised to take advantage of. 

The global PR generated from the Croatian digital nomad permit may not have been translated into approved permits just yet, but it has done an even more important job (at least in my opinion) of promoting Croatia as an exciting nomad destination. Nomads are by definition nomadic, and while many will in time take advantage of the 1-year permit, a far greater number will come and sample Croatia for 1-3 months. And the more information and feedback they have about the wonders of Croatia, the more likely they are to try. 

All this brings a new tourism niche which has never really existed in Croatia before - the workation (or should that be worcation?), an extended period of time in a destination where people can explore living in the destination rather than just visiting it. Rather than the 1-2 week traditonal vacation, how about a 30-day stay, combining work and play over a month?  Croatia has never marketed itself this way before, but it seems that there is a growing appetite for this type of stay if questions on nomad forums and social media are anything to go by. From my observations, the most common time period people are interested in nomading in Croatia initially is a month. 

And while there are currently lots of information options to discover a destination in 24, 36 and 72 hours, the concept of 30 days is relatively hard to find. As we learned from the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme, while many tourists think two days is enough the city, Beyond the Walls: 4 Weeks in Dubrovnik Not Enough, Say DNIR Digital Nomads.

The more the focus moves to longer stays, the more people will discover the charms of not just visiting a destination, but living in it.  The Dubrovnik nomads were really surprised at the wealth of options beyond the walls, and the more digital nomads I meet in Zagreb, the more I realise that the Croatian capital is an undiscovered jewel on the nomad trail. Having been involved in the organisation of last October's first digital nomad conference in Croatia, the DNIR programme, and now Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project, the feedback from our longer-staying  guests is all indicating that a huge change is coming. And a change for the better. The visa push might not have generated thousands of permits just yet (and I personally think that the process should be made simpler), but it has definitely contributed greatly to this growing interest of Croatia as a top nomad destination.

The Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project followed on from Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, a chance for us to learn about Zagreb as a 30-day destination through the experiences of international nomads who were guests of the city for a one-month period. 

The first ambassador, Veronica Mulhall - together with her partner Julian - not only fell in love with the city and are now considering buying property here, but they will also be back for Advent. Veronica had a very active time here (and we will publish her Google Map of her Zagreb discoveries shortly), and she will be sending us a few pieces on her observations and experiences. But for now, here she is with her exit interview at Art Park Ribnjak, where she painted a mural as a momento of her time here. 

Veronica's partner Julian was also working remotely while here, and he was also kind enough to talk about his experiences, which you can see in the video below. In her short time here, she managed to discover parts of the city and things to do that I had no clue about. 

Veronica's last night included a handover to this month's ambassador, South African Rudi Witkowsky, who arrived on Sunday with his partner, Victoria. 

You can meet Rudi here, and if you are interested in connecting with him during his time in Zagreb, you can contact him via Instagram

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Are you interested in becoming a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Find out how here.

For more information and features on digital noamds in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 30 July 2021

Split PR Agency VAJT Bags Second IPRA Golden World Award for Digital Nomad Visa Project!

July 30, 2021 - The Split-based public relations agency VAJT has received a new major professional recognition.

For the second time in three years, VAJT has been awarded the most significant professional award, the Golden World Award given by IPRA, the International Public Relations Association, the world’s umbrella organization in public relations.

VAJT was again awarded in the Public Affairs category, this time for the project "Introduction of a visa for digital nomads - how a Dutchman provided Croatia with the first official digital nomad", on which VAJT worked with Jan de Jong. There are many peculiarities of this communication campaign, including the fact that it's the first one done entirely on LinkedIn, and the end result is that Croatia was among the first countries in the world and the second after Estonia in Europe to adjust its legislation and respond to the new phenomenon. in the market - young people who want to work for employers in their country, but physically out of it and at the same time enjoy the benefits that such a lifestyle provides.

"In the time of Rimac and the Olympians, little can delight, but for us there is nothing further than this. We are lucky that we can repeat good projects, and the domestic and international professional public recognizes and rewards us. The IPRA Golden World Award is the pinnacle in professional terms and I never dreamed it could be repeated to us in such a short period of time. I am especially glad that this is the Public Affairs category because working in this segment is extremely demanding, especially because the domestic public does not yet understand the role of public relations in public policies in the best way. Of course, the key to success this time was Jan de Jong as the bearer of communication. With maximum trust in us, he invested exceptional effort, gathered a small number of international experiences, was maximally positive and open to the Croatian authorities and showed how laws can be changed through affirmative communication. We are going to continue to learn and grow, and with other colleagues from Croatia we regularly take the first places because they certainly belong to us in terms of knowledge and effort ", said the director of the VAJT agency Jerko Trogrlić.

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In just four months, VAJT and Jan de Jong managed to initiate changes to the law and ensure that digital nomads have a regulated stay in Croatia for a year, instead of the three months they used to be able to stay with a tourist visa. The story started with Dutchman de Jong, who moved to Croatia 14 years ago as a 22-year-old and has been changing it for the better ever since. Launching an initiative to introduce a visa for digital nomads is just one of the projects that helps its new homeland and all those who recognize Croatia as a beautiful place to live and work.

From the moment I moved to Croatia, I fell in love with this country. But that doesn't mean that everything is perfect and great here. Over the past 10 – 15 years, nearly 500.000 mostly young and talented Croats have left the country in search of opportunities abroad. At the same time, Croatia's economy depends for over 20% of its GDP on tourism. When the world stopped traveling last year as a result of the global pandemic, Croatia's economy was severely hit by not being able to welcome tourist any longer. That was the moment we connected all the dots. By introducing a digital nomad visa we could turn Croatia into a year-round destination, while at the same time reverse the brain-drain by welcoming young and talented professionals – by granting them 12-month staying permits. With a strong believe that “digital nomad tourism” could turn into a new industry for Croatia as a whole, we started our campaign on LinkedIn. After winning the support from the LinkedIn community, we managed to get the support from Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his cabinet which I thank very much. In a country known for its bureaucracy, we have shown that Croatia was able to pivot when its presented with opportunity. None of our efforts were done with the goal to win awards. We wanted to help prepare Croatia for the next generation. This award however is an amazing recognition for the efforts we have made and serves as a reminder of an amazing journey I feel proud to have been part of“, said Jan de Jong.

For this project, VAJT has already been awarded two professional awards this year - the Polaris International Award and the Grand Prix of the Croatian Public Relations Association. In total, this is the ninth professional award for VAJT and the fourth international. As a reminder, VAJT was awarded three years ago for the campaign "Do you want to switch places?" for the client Split parking with the IPRA Golden World Award, Polaris and the Grand Prix of HUOJ.

Among this year's IPRA laureates are the world's best public relations agencies and large companies such as T-Com, Nestle, numerous banking houses, foundations ...

The annual IPRA Golden World Awards (GWA) have been awarded since 1990 for excellence in public relations practice around the world in a variety of categories.

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Mandy Fransz of Make the Leap Digital on the Digital Nomad Opportunity

July 28, 2021 - One of the star speakers of last month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands. She caught up with TCN after a little relaxation on the Croatian coast.

It is a few weeks now since the conclusion of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, the first conference of its kind in the Croatian capital. There was plenty of positive energy throughout the week, despite the heat, including several inspirational speakers. Among them was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands, who flew in for the event, before continuing her Croatian nomad journey to the Adriatic, where she worked remotely for a couple of weeks after the conference. TCN caught up with Mandy to get her perspective on the future of remote work, and the opportunity for both Zagreb and Croatia.

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1. Your company Make the Leap Digital sounds like an exciting journey. How did it come to be? 

I quit my corporate 9-to-5 office job at LinkedIn's European headquarters in early 2018 without a solid plan. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to explore the opportunities to work and travel. I booked a ticket to Bali, Indonesia as I knew it was known as one of the most popular destinations for remote workers and digital nomads. I joined a co-working space as I believe in the power of networking with like-minded people such as remote workers and digital nomads and attended organized events, workshops, meet-ups etc. This is how I met my first freelance client, without having a website or even a registered business. Upon return, I decided to cancel my lease and moved all of my belongings to the Netherlands (I was living in Dublin, Ireland at the time) and registered my business Make the Leap Digital to help entrepreneurs and businesses to unlock the power of LinkedIn.

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2. I love this line on your website - What if I could teach others how to digitally transform the way they work — perhaps traveling the world while I’m at it?

Tell us firstly how much different your working day and approach is these days? Back in corporate, I was working a traditional 9-to-5 office job and at some point I was even expected to come into the office at 8AM. Since I quit my job, I work whenever and wherever I feel the happiest or most productive. I've been a digital nomad for 1,5 years and I've worked, lived, and traveled in beautiful destinations such as Bali, Portugal, California, and Colombia. I'm now based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and mainly work from home but when travel restrictions allow I love to go on a regular "workation" to beautiful places like Croatia for a change of scenery. This really helps to spark inspiration and creativity while having the freedom to travel and explore the country and culture during weekends. I now work with clients around the world from the comfort of my laptop either from home, a co-working space, or a nice cafe. But, most importantly -- I am grateful to help my clients to unlock the power of LinkedIn and remote work so they can digitally transform the way they work and they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.

3. And now what about the challenges and obstacles to encouraging people to make that leap. How do people leave their comfort zone and take that leap? 

When I quit my job to explore the world of remote work, I had no idea how I was going to make this happen. The only thing I had was a big dream and the courage to take a leap of faith. Based on my experience, I'd say, think about what it is that you'd like to achieve within the next 5 - 10 years, and take small steps towards that big dream or ambitious goal. The best things happen outside of your comfort zone, and sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. Learn to embrace uncertainty and view failures as opportunities for growth. Believe me, the remote work opportunities are endless, especially now the pandemic has accellerated the adoption of remote work by at least 10 years. 

4. In Croatia, we are just becoming aware of the remote work opportunity and how it could shift things significantly. Paint us a picture. How do you see the workplace in 5 years? 

I believe that the traditional 9-to-5 office job will become obesolete and companies will need to adapt remote work to meet the changing demands of the global workforce. Different studies show that remote work not only increases productivity, but it also provides some key benefits such as lower real estate costs and attracting and retaining top talent worldwide. The traditional workplace will most likely transform into a central hub focused on in-person collaboration, creativity, and community, with an increasing number of co-working spaces. Additionally, companies will need to adopt sustainable remote work policies to digitally transform their workforce from culture, communication, and collaboration in order to thrive in a fully remote or hybrid environment. We've just gone through the world's largest remote work experiment, now it's time to take those learnings and embrace the potential of remote work in the long term.

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5. How does a city such as Zagreb prepare to meet this changing demand? 

I think Zagreb has done a phenomonal job by organizing and hosting the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week recently. At this stage, it is all about connecting different stakeholders from co-working spaces, tourism, hospitaliy, digital nomads and remote work advocates to learn from each other and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Now, the next step is to take small incremental steps towards your common goal to transform Croatia into one of the world's top destinations. Remember, remote work is a marathon, not a sprint.

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6. There is a lot of buzz about Croatia as the next digital nomad destination, especially with the new permit. How does Croatia rate on the scene in your opinion, and can you give us 3 quick wins to improve things considerably. 

Having experienced digital nomad life in Croatia for a few weeks now, I can definitely say that Croatia has all the key ingredients to become one of the world's top destinations for digital nomads and remote workers. You have it all: the culture, warm weather, great food, central location, fast Wi-Fi, and beautiful nature with a combination of mountains, natural parks, and islands with crystal clear water. If there's anything that Croatia can improve, I'd say focus on providing the best digital nomad experience by 1) investing in inspirational co-working spaces, 2) collaborating with different stakeholders to provide a great infrastructure from flexible gym memberships, mobile phone contracts, co-living arrangements and 3) building a community of like-minded people by organizing local events and meet-ups such as an interactive workshop, networking session, lunch & learn etc. 

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7. Tell us about your role in ZDNW, and why did you decide to come?

 I'm grateful for having been invited as one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week to host a session about LinkedIn - Online Presence and a keynote on The Rise of Remote Work. I've been in Croatia briefly in the past, and I always wanted to come back to explore the country and digital nomad scene. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about the culture, food, and digital nomad life while meeting an amazing group of like-minded people. After spending a week in Zagreb, I decided to extend my stay with a "workation" on the coast and visited Split, Hvar, and Brac. The whole experience far exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be back very soon!

You can follow Mandy Fransz via LinkedIn.

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Finding Zagreb: From Zero to Hooked on Croatia's Capital City

July 29, 2021 - A few weeks ago, all that Veronica Mulhall knew about Zagreb was that it was the Croatian capital. After several weeks as the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, her perspective has completely changed. 

As if it was always meant to be, I have been walking around Zagreb the last few weeks completely in love with the city. The beautiful streets, buildings, history, art, culture, and people have made it an endless exploration that has mixed perfectly well with the meetings, management, and (endless) emails that come with my work-remote lifestyle.

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The catch? I have a secret. What may be surprising is that just a few weeks earlier I hadn’t thought of visiting Zagreb. And, I was already in Croatia as a digital nomad. It was only barely on my radar as Croatia’s capital. No one told me how green the city was, the endless options of great cafes and restaurants. Instead, I thought the coast was Croatia’s main attraction.

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When I planned my trip to Croatia, it was with the idea that I would work remotely for the summer months and slowly make my way up the coastline. I arrived in Dubrovnik to find that it was as picturesque as people describe it to be. The fortress walls meeting the seaside and the cobblestone alleyways hiding quaint shops made the city perfect for your average tourist, but I found it hard to balance work.

In an effort to ‘settle’ and become more comfortable, I searched online for coworking spaces.I quickly found the Saltwater Nomads website and at the top there was a banner promoting the Zagreb ambassador program.

The advertisement caught my attention for two reasons: 1. I had plans to visit Dubrovnik, Spilt, Makarska, Hvar, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar, Krka national park and Plitvice Lakes national park, why had I overlooked Zagreb, the country’s capital? And 2. I have missed the capital on other trips and later regretted it. It had me thinking, what did I not know about Zagreb?

A blackhole of and hours of googling later, I found that the city spoke to me by highlighting things that I care about. Zagreb has easy access to nature, and yet, new events around the city every night.Someone described it as Seattle in the 90s, another blogger talked about the layers of history. I was suddenly determined to find out for myself, so I took a chance and applied to the Zagreb ambassador program.

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(Doma Zagreb Aparthotel - 4-star luxury in central Zagreb)

While I was excited when I found out I had the opportunity to be the first  Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, I arrived in Zagreb a bit nervous. I wondered, “What if I miss the coast?” and didn’t know if there would be enough to do for the month. Most blogs and tourism guides discuss what you can do in Zagreb for 24 or 72 hours. As a digital nomad, I was wondering what I would do after that.

It is the things are are not in the tourist guides or blogs that makes Zagreb perfect for digital nomads, the great places to work (when I can bear to leave my bay window at Doma Zagreb  Aparthotel), taking work calls for peaceful parks such as Maksimir and Art Park, quaint cafes, and endless restaurants. The vibe of the city is young and fresh and there are events almost every evening that I have found simply by leaving the apartment and walking around.

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It turns out the number one thing I fell in love with in Zagreb is the people. Adel, the owner of the Doma Aparthotel where I am staying, invited me to dinner, and I immediately felt welcomed to the city. As I met the other partners from the Zagreb Ambassador Project, Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, Digital Nomad Association Croatia and the Zagreb Tourism Board, it became clear that this was one of those cities I was not going to want to leave. I quickly found it normal to meet someone for a coffee for a few hours and ask a stranger for directions. Each interaction has created a constellation, a community, making the nomadic world in Zagreb feel a little more like home.

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Do you want to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Learn how here.

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

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Successful Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Applicants: Cyndie Burkhardt from USA

July 20, 2021 - Another day, another successful digital nomad permit application in Croatia - this time TCN contributor, Cyndie Burkhardt. 

Meet one more successful applicant for the Croatian digital nomad permit - TCN's very own contributor Cyndie Burkhardt, who came to Croatia for a month almost 18 months ago and doesn't look as though she is leaving any time soon.  

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(Hiking to Starigrad Fortress, a 15th-century fortress located near Omiš in Split-Dalmatia county, Croatia.)

1. Tell us firstly a little about yourself and why you decided to come to Croatia?

I arrived in Split, Croatia on March 1, 2020—a year and a half ago. I was traveling around the world on a “12 countries in 12 months” trip to learn about health and wellness practices in different cultures. Within two weeks, the pandemic grounded my trip; I was in my 9th month. Croatia responded quickly and well to covid-19 restrictions and it seemed safe here, so I decided to stay.

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(Sitting in the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, on Lokrum Island, near Dubrovnik, Croatia.)

2. You are the latest recipient of the digital nomad permit here in Croatia - congratulations? Tell us why you decided to apply for it and how long the process took?

The digital nomad permit didn’t exist in Croatia when I first got here and when it was announced, it seemed like a great way to extend my stay in this beautiful country and set down some roots while I build my business. The process took nearly three months.

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(Medieval Bishop Grgur Ninski defied the Catholic church in Rome and introduced the Croatian language into religious services so that worshippers would better understand the word of God. Rubbing the statue's big toe is said to bring good luck, Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia.)

3. There are not so many documented stories online of successful applications. Can you take us through the process?

It was pretty straightforward. I went to my local police station in Split to confirm what documents I needed, got those together, and submitted them directly to that station via email, as instructed.

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(Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović created the 28-foot bronze statue of Bishop Grgur Ninski that stands at Diocletian’s Palace in the Old Town of Split, just outside the Golden Gate, Split, Croatia.)

4. What was the most stressful part, and what recommendations do you have to improve the system?

Getting information on the status of my application was stressful. Some people at the police station are helpful but some behind the scenes are not responsive or friendly. Few answer the phone and if they don’t speak English, they simply hang up on you. It’s maddening.

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(Resting after a bike ride in the pavilion in Sustipan Park, a small peninsula in the southwestern part of Split, Croatia.)

5. What does the 12-month permit mean to you personally? How will change your life and short-term plans?

I have to be honest, it feels pretty cool to be among the first “official” digital nomads to hold this distinction! And now that I’ll be here, I hope to see more of this country and the region with no travel restrictions.

Staying here means I can feel settled about my living situation while I focus on building my health and nutrition business. I also look forward to getting involved in the community and meeting more people, and possibly collaborating on work/projects.

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(Posing as a Hajduk Split angel. This beloved Croatian professional football club is based in Split and team support is fervent. Public wall art can be seen throughout Dalmatia, Croatia.)

6. You have already spent a good amount of time in Croatia as a digital nomad. How do you rate the experience so far? What are the highlights?

The expat community is one highlight. It’s a large and diverse group that includes people from different countries and also those with Croatian roots. This is a good place to land because you have the Adriatic Sea, nice weather, and the cost of living is decent, although I wouldn’t call it cheap. I absolutely love how much fresh food grows here and how resourceful Croatians are at making different products from their natural resources, including delicious food; herbs; olive oil; wine and rakija; beauty products; soaps; essential oils, and more.

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(A dining room table doubles as home office and “international command center,” Split, Croatia.)

7. What are the key factors Croatia needs to focus on to become more attractive to digital nomads?

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but in Split there could be more/affordable co-working spaces, that’s the one thing I’m missing. Also, while a lot of people here speak English, services could be more accessible in English, such as people working at the police station who are responsible for processing applications, or at least communicating with nomads. This extends to websites also.

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(Croatia’s proudest and newest digital nomad resident; at the police station, where immigration applications are processed, Split, Croatia.)

Learn more at TCN’s Digital Nomads channel. 

Story and photographs ©2020, Cyndie Burkhardt. https://photo-diaries.com

For more of Cyndie's experiences, check out her Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad column.  

 

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Impressions of the Croatian Capital by Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Partner

July 14, 2021 - So how is life as a digital nomad in the Croatian capital? Meet Julian, partner of the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, two weeks into his residency. 

One of the things I was most curious about Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was how the city would be perceived by visiting digital nomads. Perceiving things from within Croatia is obviously quite different from someone who has a more global overview, as well as multi-country experience of this alternative way of living. 

And despite temperatures up to 37 C that week, the Croatian capital shone during Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. So many people commented on the quality of the co-working spaces, the unbelievable English spoken by EVERYONE, the food, the safety, the great Internet. Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World summed it up best of all when he was asked what Zagreb is missing to cater to the global digital nomad community. 

"The only thing Zagreb is missing is more digital nomads."

Fast forward a couple of weeks to the second phase of the project, Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project. Six digital nomad ambassadors, staying a calendar month each from July 1 to December 31, as guests of the city. American Veronica Mulhall duly arrived on July 1, as the first ambassador, and you can get to know her here.

Veronica was accompanied by her partner Julian, whose roots are from Manchester and Zimbabwe but has a base in Ghana. From the moment we met at the welcome drink at Bornstein Wine Bar, I knew that I had to get Julian on camera. SUCH a positive force and appreciative of everything.

As he explains in the interview below, Julian knew almost nothing about Zagreb prior to his arrival, and yet he had already fallen in love with the city by the time they parked their car at their accommodation at Doma Zagreb in the centre. That initial enthusiasm for all things in Zagreb a few days after his arrival was really refreshing to witness. It is always instructive to see a destination through the eyes of a new arrival. The parks, the food, the people, all the boxes were being ticked. There are even discussions about buying some real estate and using Zagreb as a base. 

Julian seems to have entered Zagreb life with gusto. He has joined a gym, been to the dentist, even had his hair braided by a Congolese hairdresser. And he was more than surprised to meet a hairdresser specialising in ethnic hair at his gym. A really nice interview of someone who knew little about the city before arrival, but who is totally in love with it now that he has had the chance to experience it. 

And what is Zagreb missing to attract more digital nomads, in his opinion?

Just the information about what a cool city Zagreb is, how EVERYONE speaks English, the people, the architecture, the food, the parks. Did he mention the people? Julian also has some interesting observations on his experiences as a black African in Croatia.

There is a momentum builing about Croatia as a destination for digital nomads, and Zagreb is now coming more and more onto the radar. With enthusiastic ambassadors such as Dean and Julian, it will not be long before the word is heard far and wide. 

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project is a cooperation between Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, and Zagreb Tourist Board. 

For more on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.

Would you like to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Applications are open until November, with the last ambassador taking up residence on December 1. Find out more here.

For the latest news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

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