Wednesday, 18 January 2023

How to Croatia - New People, Expat Groups, Homesickness and More

January the 18th, 2023 - In this edition of How to Croatia, I'm going to take you through some of the sometimes rather surprising and unpleasant motions (and emotions) living abroad can stir up. From expat groups to dealing with homesickness and more, making it work means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Remember when you were a kid and it was enough to tell another random kid you’d never met before that you liked his toy dinosaur and that was it, you ended up being friends with no questions asked. How simple life once was. As adults who obsess over our insecurities, what others might think of us, and worst case scenarios, we tend to overcomplicate making connections, especially genuine ones. Spoiled by being older and wiser, we add layers of complexity to things that should be simple, create barriers where there doesn’t need to be any, and sometimes even seek to protect ourselves from discomfort or embarrassment by not putting ourselves out there.

Did you know that we make our minds up about others within about ten seconds of meeting them? It’s subconscious and automatic. This is because back when we were living in caves and trying to avoid being killed by sabre toothed tigers, we didn’t have the time to spend getting to know others on a deeper level. I suppose when your life is all about churning out offspring and becoming old and decrepit at about 25, things like that aren’t quite as important. Times have changed dramatically, but we still tend to make up our minds to a certain degree about others based on the energy we feel from them when we first meet. First impressions are everything, as they say. Meeting people in Croatia might be a bit more complicated because of the language barriers, but deep down - we all speak the same language, and decency transcends everything else.

Many foreigners tend to think Croats are a bit standoffish because they tend not to walk around with beaming smiles plastered across their faces. While people in the UK have even been known to apologise to inanimate objects when bumping into them, you’ll likely not notice that here. Despite typically not being seen grinning from ear to ear, the truth of the matter is that Croatian people would usually give you the shirts off their backs if asked. 

Croats speak English to an extremely impressive standard, but even an attempt at speaking Croatian (which is notoriously difficult and most Croats are aware of that), will win you instant appreciation with most people. A friendly ‘dobar dan’ (good day), ‘dobro jutro’ (good morning) or ‘doviđenja’ (or just ‘đenja’ for short) will elicit a smile and help develop connections. I’ll jump more into language a bit later on.

Expats who like to live their lives in expat bubbles full of their own nationality or indeed different nationalities who have also come to live in Croatia do so understandably. Humans are social animals, we seek out what feels most comfortable, and the craving for something familiar can be extremely strong when spending extended periods of time abroad, and that doesn’t really fade no matter the length of time spent outside your home country. 

I still have cravings for Greggs sausage rolls and every time I go to England, which is every few months or so, I transport myself back in time with the taste of them, proper fish and chips and Irish bacon. My mum’s Sunday dinners are something irreplaceable, and even if they could somehow be made in Croatia, I honestly don’t think I’d want to eat them anywhere else but in my childhood home. I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here (the thought of sausage rolls does have that effect), but my point is that feeling homesick and longing for home comforts isn’t unusual, and what might be a hard pill to swallow is the fact that while it will fade in and out, this will likely never go away. It’s human, and while frustrating, it’s completely natural.

Don’t limit yourself to other expats only

Feeling like you don’t quite belong here (being home) or there (being Croatia) often leads expats in Croatia to associate and build relationships solely with those from their country of origin. While understandable, doing so will limit your understanding of Croatia and Croats enormously. Becoming friendly with the locals will see doors open up to you in a way you might not expect, despite how obvious and logical it might seem to read it. Understanding the country you’re in on any deeper level gives you the opportunity to see the wood from the trees, broaden your horizons and grasp another way of life, even if not entirely. 

While I’m a huge proponent of immersion, I am absolutely aware that saying ‘just speak to people’ is a daunting task and much more easily said than done. Feeling comfortable in a new place is a gradual process which happens over time and isn’t straightforward, so if you’re just interested in meeting others who will more than likely share the same struggles, have the same problems, and be feeling the same feelings as you for now while you get settled and find your feet, I’d recommend introducing yourself to some expat groups. There are several large and very active and helpful ones to be found on - you guessed it - Facebook.

Expat groups

There are expat groups for various locations all over the country, from Osijek to Dubrovnik and everywhere in between, and most of them are very active. Asking questions there will help get you realistic answers from people who have experienced things themselves, introducing yourself there will quickly gain you some friends, and observing what’s posted there will keep you up to date on events and the like which you might not have known about otherwise, especially if you’re still working on learning Croatian.

Expats in Zagreb [Official], Expats meet Split, Dubrovnik Foreign Circle, Expats of Dalmatia, Expats in Dubrovnik, Expats on Brač, Korčula, Hvar Comunita Degli Italiani Spalato, Croatian Australian NZ-ers and Friends in Split, Expats in Trogir, Americans in Croatia, Chilenos en Croacia, Indians in Croatia, Latinos en Croacia, Svenskar i Kroatien, South Africans in Croatia… I could go on, but you probably get my drift. These are just some of the expat groups on Facebook, so you’ll find something that suits you without any problem at all.

There are usually local Croats who are members of these groups, too.

For more on finding your feet in Croatia, be it regarding setting up your health insurance and finding a job and somewhere to live, to driving and learning to avoid snakes and bears, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section and our How to Croatia series, which is published every Wednesday.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Foreign Parents in Split Region Mostly Content with Croatian Public Schools

May 8, 2021 - Foreign parents in the Split region are mostly content with Croatian public schools, reveals a survey conducted amongst volunteering expat parents.

The survey conducted amongst volunteering expat parents shows that most families are content or even very happy regarding their experience with public schools in Croatia. The scale went from 5 for perfect to 1 for failure, where the middle ground (3) was that the experience had ups and downs and that families would either recommend others to look for a different school or be prepared for a bumpy ride. The perfect experience meant that the child was happy in school, the teachers gave a good education, and the parents were treated well. A failure meant that the parents felt that the experience was a total disaster, that they either thought about changing the school or actually did, and that child and parents were relieved and happy when that time was over. 


Forms response chart. Question title: The public school our child(ren) went to during our time in Dalmatia/Croatia was.... Number of responses: 20 responses.


It is not hard to guess that the experience was better the younger the children were when they arrived in Croatia, and the more the family spoke Croatian at home. In general, it looks like there is a very different perspective based on the three schooling systems of lower primary school/ niži razredi osnovna škola (1st-4th grade), higher primary school/ viši razredi osnovna škola also called middle school in many countries (5th-8th grade), and high school/srednje škole also called middle school or secondary school in Croatia (9th-12th grade).


Forms response chart. Question title: While living in Croatia, our child(ren) went to - (choose all that apply). Number of responses: 20 responses.


In general, most families felt very well about the schooling in grades 1-4. This is probably not only because the children are still more open to learning a new language but also because the schooling system is still mostly aimed at "entertaining" the children and caring deeply for the well-being of the children rather than focusing on the transfer of knowledge. Also, the peer pressure is more positive as local children at younger ages welcome foreigners and love interacting and playing with anyone regardless of the background or the language barrier. 


Forms response chart. Question title: Where in Dalmatia did your child(ren) go to school (choose all that apply)?. Number of responses: 19 responses.


However, when children are in grades 5-8, there seems to be a huge discrepancy between newcomers and children who have already been to school in Croatia before or have spoken Croatian at home. The school system changes from a single class teacher in classes 1-4 for most subjects to many specialized teachers in most subjects, while the class teacher is then only a teacher that sees the children in one or two subjects. Also, the general approach to education seems to take its toll on the children. Apart from what happens in school, this is a demanding time for children due to entering adolescence and seeing life and others with different eyes. Peer pressure seems to take on negative aspects that are not being channeled properly.

For this age group, parents who have just arrived with their kids and who have little Croatian language skills have a rather negative or stressful experience, whereas parents who have been living in Croatia for some time or who have been speaking Croatian at home seem to have a mostly positive experience with the public school education in classes 5-8.


Forms response chart. Question title: Our Children speak - choose all that apply. Number of responses: .


This discrepancy in experiences then not only increases even more for grades 9-12, but the number of parents who decide to move to Croatia with children in that age group also shrinks dramatically compared to families who moved to Croatia with younger children. 

Unfortunately, two families had to go through a terrible experience with their children. In both cases, bullying is mentioned explicitly as the encountered problem. In both cases, the families felt that the school (not the same school) could not deal with the problem properly and protect the children. It is unknown if the parents chose to change the school because of such problems, but it is unfortunate to hear that the families felt like the teachers did not do enough to help remedy the situation in both cases.

For further reading about the structure of Croatian public schools, you may want to read: 

About the author:

We moved to Croatia together with our son almost 5 years ago and had some mixed experiences since he started to go to school here in 3rd grade. We built a little web project for the idea of an international school in Split and continue to share our experience happily. The site has been live now for almost 4 years at Now we cross-checked ours with the experience of other parents. 

We will soon share with you some more information on what you may want to know and what you can do to get ready for your move to Croatia and to be better prepared to face the challenges of the Croatian public school system.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Meet Rent A Local, Facilitating All of Your Expat Needs

August 23, 2020 - Moving to a new country comes with a world of challenges, and the potential language barrier isn't the only thing you'll have to overcome. Meet Rent A Local, a new online platform launched in Split to facilitate all of your expat needs. 

Croatia is a dream for foreigners thanks to the sun, sparkling Adriatic Sea, untouched nature, UNESCO heritage and laidback lifestyle. For many, it is heaven on earth, that is, until you have to face the beast that is Croatian bureaucracy.

But what if we told you that these obstacles can now be overcome with the help of a new online platform that is here to serve you and all of your expat needs, from hiring a translator or lawyer to having your hand held through the long and painful residency or citizenship process?

And that's not all. 

"We're a group of local experts helping foreign citizens. Rent a local and let him help you with your every need. Whether it is a lawyer, a plumber, to schedule a trip or anything else. Enjoy the best things in Croatia - we'll handle the stressful ones!" 

TCN met up with Andela Prnjak, the brains behind Rent A Local, to find out more. 

"A few years ago, I came up with this entire idea and the name. I mean, Rent A Local is such a simple and cool name that already tells you everything you need to know. I have a lot of friends who are expats, as well as my boyfriend, and I know the troubles they have to go through. After I went through a lot of the processes with my boyfriend, I learned very quickly that this was anything but easy for expats to do alone. 

I am a producer here with 10 years of experience, and I have worked on a lot of documentaries, movies, commercials and series in Croatia, mostly with international companies, which also gave me a lot of knowledge in this field. I have to work through Croatian bureaucracy often, and if I don't know the answer to something, I find people who do. Now, I have an enormous group of people here that I can trust and will get things done," said Prnjak, who added that she could even hire magicians or helicopters for you, should you require such a service. 

"Because my job always required me to push my boundaries, I am now able to take on most of the challenges in Croatia."

Screenshot 2020-08-23 at 15.26.39.png

When Croatia went on lockdown back in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Prnjak realized she had a bit more time on her hands - and it was the ideal time to launch Rent A Local. 

"And now, anything you need, from planning a wedding to hiring a boat, or getting your residence permit, we can do. We will link you up with the expert in their field to help you with whatever you need. We won't just set you up with someone doing this for the first time. We have collected experts that we trust, and we promise you won't experience any trouble or encounter any problems," Prnjak added. 

"Everyone we work with is mostly Croatian, though we also know some expats here that are qualified to help you as well. In our first year, we are only going to focus on Croatia, but we plan to expand into other countries in the region. While we are now mostly promoting this service for people in Croatia, because I have worked as a producer in the entire Balkan region, we can potentially help you with your needs in Bosnia or Serbia, too."

Rent A Local will offer a variety of agreements. Whether you want someone to hold your hand through the entire residency process, or just need to consult a lawyer for advice, anything is possible with Rent A Local. 

"Whatever your problem is, you tell us, and we will handle it how we think best!"

Apartment hunting is always a challenging process for expats. If you're clueless about where to live or are worried the landlord will take advantage of you, there is a lot more you'll have to consider than the price. 

"At Rent A Local, our experts will help you find the apartment, our lawyers will look at the contract, and we will protect you in every way we can."

Screenshot 2020-08-23 at 15.28.27.png

So, what is the craziest thing they'll do for you?

"For now, all of our inquiries have been for one person that has one specific need, but I am really excited about taking on a group that has a lot of specific needs. And we are talking about something even more challenging than Croatian bureaucracy!" Prnjak says with enthusiasm. 

To conclude, Prnjak sends a message to the expats of Croatia.

"What I have to say to expats is that Croatia is a beautiful country with a great quality of life, but there are just some things that are not worth your stress. So, we are here to help you with that! We want you to take the best of Croatia - and don't worry about the rest."

Whether your an expat in Croatia or a local who doesn't want to go through some of these painful processes, Rent A Local is ready to take on your needs. 

You can learn more about Rent A Local on their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


Friday, 27 September 2019

Expats in Croatia: How to Change Your Address at MUP

September the 27th, 2019 - Croatia doesn't like change. It doesn't like the idea of being dragged into the 21st century either. If you're wondering how to go about respecting the law and altering your address, read on.

I've written many articles on residence permits, citizenship through descent, marriage, naturalisation and special interest, work permits, Croatian and EU immigration law - basically bureaucracy galore.

In this beautiful country full of outdated websites and unelected government officials (the women are ''affectionately'' known as šalteruše) who can't keep up with the constantly changing laws or even manage a smile on the best of days, it's no wonder that Croatia's increasing number of foreign residents need a little helping hand from time to time.

Changing your address should be a simple affair, and in just about everywhere else, it is. You can likely do it online in a few clicks or you don't even need to do it at all. Ah, freedom. Not in Croatia, however. If you're a foreign national and you hold a valid residence permit (either temporary residence/privremeni boravak or permanent residence/stalni boravak), and you've moved house, you'll need to notify the police. 

Sarcasm aside, there has been a helpful little system set up called e-Građani (e-Citizens), which allows you to undertake many of the mundane tasks which used to always involve going to various offices in person armed with an array of personal documents and petty cash for tax stamps. But, of course, this doesn't work for everyone, so you'll need to do it in person.

If you have approved legal residence in Croatia and you move to a new city, you'll need to notify the police in your new city (at the administrative police station responsible for your area), of your arrival, and register your address there if you intend to stay there for more than three months consecutively.

In Croatia, you can have two addresses (yes, let's complicate things for no reason even more), one of them is called a boravište, and the other is called a prebivalište.

A boravište is a place where a person will be staying temporarily, but has no intention of permanently staying there. In that case, you don't need to register your boravište if you don't plan on staying there for more than three months in a row (as mentioned above).

A prebivalište is a place where a person plans to stay permanently, to live their lives (this includes exercising their rights, working, having a family, etc etc). If you've changed your prebivalište, then you'll need to report it to the police at the administrative station responsible for the area your address is in.

If you live in Croatia legally, you're obliged to report any changes to your address to Big Broth...sorry, I mean MUP.

The law states that you need to report your change of address within fifteen days, however, if you hold temporary residence, you need to register your new address within three days of you having arrived there. If you hold permanent residence then you need to do it within eight days. Is this law always followed? Honestly - no, it isn't

More often that not, you won't be asked about when you arrived at your new place, particularly if you're an EU citizen. I'm not advocating that you break the law, but this stipulation is difficult to come by if you don't speak Croatian, so just don't volunteer that information if you realise you've unknowingly gone over that time period, unless you're specifically asked.

If you have a rental contract which stipulates specific dates, then simply make sure to report your change of address within the time period prescribed, so as to avoid any potential headaches or even fines from the police.


You'll need to fill in an ''application form'' to change your address (yes, really, it's called form 8a) for foreigners which you'll be given when at the police station responsible for your area. 

You'll need to provide the correctly filled in form with your new address on it.

You'll need to provide your passport and/or your government issued ID card, as well as your Croatian ID card.

You'll need to provide a rental contract (notarised) or a certificate of ownership, a purchase contract, a gift contract, or have your landlord/the person legally responsible for your address come with you to the police to sign a document confirming the whole situation is indeed real.

The administrative clerk will then stamp your filled in application form.

You'll then need to have a new ID card made with your new address on it. So, that will involve having a new photo taken and paying the small administrative fee of (what is currently) 79.50 kuna. Your new ID card will typically be ready in about three or four weeks. Oh, and you'll need to come and pick that up in person, of course.

It's worth noting that some people have been told that they don't need to update their ID cards. This is a grey area, with some administrative police stations asking you to do this, and some not. In any case, it is what MUP in Zagreb prescribes and you absolutely should have an updated address on your current ID card so as to avoid administrative issues, and indeed issues with the police.

Please note that changing your address is not a new residence permit application, but the requirement for a new residence card to have your current address on it is simply a formality and its validity will remain the same.

Don't be surprised if the police come to check that you really do live at your new address. However, this is happening less and less frequently, especially for EU citizens.

While it seems extremely outdated to many that time often needs to be taken up by visiting MUP in person and filling in forms as opposed to the wonderful digital process (which Croatia isn't a fan of) of doing it all online, it's worth knowing the ins and outs of what should be a very simple formality. 

We hope this helps you if you've changed your address and aren't sure what steps to take next to stay on the right side of the law.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Residence Permits in Croatia - Welcome to the Minefield

ingOctober 21, 2018 - So you've decided you want to move to Croatia, but just how does one go about it? An introduction to residence permits In Croatia.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

From America and Japan: Two Foreigners Settle in Croatia Satisfied

In a sea of depressing and paradoxical sagas about there not being enough job, high enough wages, and even situations in which establishments are forced to close due to a lack of staff, each and every positive story shines like a diamond among rocks.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Notes From Nowhere: Five Lessons Learned After Five Years On A Dalmatian Island

July 7, 2013 — A clearly-disturbed son of Croatian parents left his birthplace of New York City and landed in Split today, promising to try his best in the European Union’s newest member.
We wish him the best of luck. He'll need it.
Monday, 22 January 2018

How Many Foreigners Live in Croatia, and Where are They From?

How many foreigners live in Croatia, according to official statistics? TCN takes a look on January 22, 2018.