Friday, 9 April 2021

Travel and Leisure Lists Split Among 9 Best European Cities to Retire

April 9, 2021 - The second largest city in Croatia has been highlighted not only for its tourism but also for meeting the expectations of seniors around the world. The esteemed travel portal Travel and Leisure lists Split among the 9 best European cities to retire!

The international travel web portal Travel+Leisure recently published a list of the best places in Europe where people can make their retirement plans come true. Although the cost of living is a factor to take into consideration, the list considered others such as the climate, environment, culture, sights, and the health system quality.


Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

Despite the list recognizing Croatia in general as a tempting destination for retirees, due to its decent climate in both summer and winter along its nearly 6000 kilometers of coastline, the city of Split stood out above the rest.

‘"The Roman emperor Diocletian built his palace in Split, and its remains have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Restaurants, bars, cultural and entertainment venues, and many English-speaking residents make it relatively easy to adapt," writes Travel+Leisure.

It should come as no surprise then that the Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to spend his last years in retirement in his palace, located in the heart of Split.


Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

The portal also added that to get permanent residence in Croatia, it is necessary to spend five years in the country as a temporary resident. Likewise, it considers the Croatian health system to be adequate and something positive for those traveling from abroad is the availability of English-speaking doctors. You can find what you need to know about living in Croatia here.

Those interested in fulfilling their retirement plans on the Dalmatian coast can also consider other locations near Split, such as Trogir, Omiš, Makarska, Stobreč, or Podstrana. To learn more about Split, be sure to read our dedicated Total Croatia page.

Split also stands out for its gastronomic offer, its beaches, its museums and history, and the ease of setting sail in the Adriatic either from its ferry ports or by purchasing a boat; something that all interested seniors should definitely keep in mind.


Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

The full list includes the following cities:

  • Algarve, Portugal
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Split, Croatia
  • Alicante, España
  • Valletta, Malta
  • Kinsale, Ireland
  • Prague, Czech Republic

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Lessons from Portugal: Taking Advantage of the Retirement Lifestyle Opportunity

August 16, 2020 - With a Croatian digital nomad visa discussion taking place at the ministerial level this week, can Croatia also cash in on the retirement lifestyle opportunity?

It has been quite a year already, and we are not finished yet. And it is clear that many things will never be the same again, and that new approaches are required. This also includes tourism, which accounts for more than 20% of GDP in Croatia in a normal year. 2020 has been anything but normal. 

Looking forward, and not back, there are huge opportunities for Croatia to diversify and to attract high-spending visitors without investing very much. Indeed, some simple legislation change could open the doors to new types of tourism and revenue streams which are currently being spent in other countries in Europe, but only negligible amounts. 

We have been writing about the huge opportunity offered by remote workers wanting to combine their nomadic existence with great lifestyle. Nowhere does lifestyle in Europe better than Croatia, and the additional attractions of Croatia's safety, authentic experiences, great food and wine, natural beauty, affordability, accessibility, good infrastructure and English spoken, make it an ideal destination for an industry which is booming and set to expand rapidly. 

The main thing stopping this from already being part of Croatia's tourism makeup is our old friend, Croatian bureaucracy, but there are signs that there might be a small shift in thinking. Following an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Split-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong has a meeting with the Minister of the Interior this week to discuss the introduction of a digital nomad visa in Croatia.

There is another opportunity which countries such as Portugal are taking full advantage of, which Croatia is not at the moment. An opportunity with much smaller numbers of visitors but with a much higher spending power. 

The retirement lifestyle opportunity. 

I have lost count of the number of emails I have received over the years, particularly from Americans, who have fallen in love with life in Croatia and desperately want to retire here. 

But they can't under the current rules. 

I knew one American couple in Split a couple of years ago who felt a particularly strong bond with Croatia and exhausted all roads to find the way to retire here. High spenders, very active in the local community, visited by friends who also fell in love with Croatia. They ended up retiring in Sri Lanka. 

To be clear, we are non-EU (Americans), retirees, with no Croatian family connections, who are already married, so can’t marry a Croatian spouse. We are retired, so not necessarily eager to take jobs or start companies. We just want to enjoy living in this beautiful country, and contribute by paying our own way through taxes, insurance, housing, investments, entertainment, etc. Many of us are even willing to donate our time, knowledge and skills.

You can read more on this topic from the 2018 TCN article Why Croatia is Not (But Could Be) a Top American Retirement Destination.

The emails and Facebook messages kept on coming. Soon after we started the CROMADS Facebook page a couple of months ago, I received a message from an American retiree desperate to retire in Croatia, but accepting the impossibility of the situation and making plans instead for a new life in Portugal:

I suggested to the American Ambassador to Croatia last fall that he pass along the idea of creating a special visa category in Croatia for retired people, such as the one Portugal has (I'm not sure his mission is to get people to leave the  I think the suggestion would be more likely to gain traction with this group as you seem to be getting things done. I love having TCN as a resource. Anyway, I understand the desire to attract young entrepreneurs in the tech industry, but take a look at what Portugal has done. They realize that "old money" spends well, and the economic reach is wider than you might first think. There are many groups in the USA that have formed around the idea of retiring to Portugal. They meet in person and online. When they move, they create a circle of friends and family who want to visit them. These are people with money to invest in real estate and lifestyle. I love Croatia, but I can only come here for 90 days and then the welcome mat is removed.

That's why I'm moving to Portugal, even though I'd rather be in Croatia. I love Croatia, especially Zadar, where I am currently residing on an extended visa due to COVID-19. I'll be going back to USA 5 July (if I can force myself on the plane) and making my plans to move to Portugal.  I wish you the best of luck! I will enjoy watching your successful journey!!!

Portugal has managed to attract a sizeable number of foreign retirees, who are enjoying the relaxed lifestyle in temperate climes, and it appears that their simplified bureaucracy is helping to make the decision a little easier. Here is what you need to do to retire in Portugal as a non-EU citizen:

Under Portugal’s retirement residency law, non-EU citizens who want to retire to Portugal will need to apply for a residence permit at a Portuguese consular office in their home country before relocating to Portugal. You will typically need to show a valid passport, proof of income, proof of health insurance and submit to a criminal background check. Non-EU nationals can obtain a temporary residence permit for five years, after which they will be able to apply for permanent residence.

There have been various initiatives and ideas to attract the higher-spending older generation to Croatia, ideas which inevitably come up against the wall of bureaucracy. One of the most interesting a few years ago came from leading eye surgeon, Nikica Gabric, who drew a circle on the map of Europe 500 kilometres from the epicentre of Istria. I forget the number of millions of European retirees drawing Western pension in Gabric's circle, but it was a lot. With many just a 4-5 hour drive from Croatia, a combination of much cheaper cost of living in Croatia and more temperate winters make Croatia an ideal retirement destination for at least part of the year.

Tourism is changing, and Croatia's over-reliance on classic sun and sea tourism is not healthy.  Tourism is not just about that summer holiday, but embracing lesser-explored options. By following the excellent examples of digital nomad visas set by Estonia, and attracting high-spending retirees as in Portugal, a rationalising of some aspects of Croatian bureaucracy will easily open up new possibilities and revenue streams.


Sunday, 9 February 2020

What Pensioners? Number of Croatian Retired Employees Jumps 40 Percent

As Novac/Marina Klepo writes on the 9th of February, 2020, in the past year, since the Croatian Government expanded work opportunities for retirees, many Croatian retired people have taken this opportunity.

Last November, according to HZMO data, there were 11,737 pensioners who had taken up work under the measures. Whereas back at the end of 2016, for example, there were only about 2,600 retirees engaged in such work, about a year later, there were about 3,500, and at the end of 2018, there were 4,600. Who are these Croatian retired people willing to extend their time on the labour market?

Most of them are men, who make up 7,246 or 62 percent of the total employees. According to the chosen occupations, as shown by HZMO statistics for the first eleven months of 2019, this opportunity was mostly used by experts in industries and scientists, 2,282 of them.This means that almost every fifth employed pensioner is an expert in their field or a scientist.

This was followed by engineers and technicians (1,730), followed by managers, members and officials of legislative and state bodies, and directors (1,729), and in fourth place came service and commercial professions (1,383). It follows that the people who are the most interested in working during their retirement are those working in better paid positions.

However, when looking at the activities they're engaged in, the first place is shop work, employing about 2,200 Croatian retired people, the second is the manufacturing industry with 1,500 pensioners, and more than a thousand are in the construction industry. About 800 of them work in transport and warehousing, as many work in health and social care, while about 400 are engaged in the field of education. The ability to work four hours per day for pensioners in Croatia was first legalised by former Labour Minister Mirando Mrsic. At the time, the opportunity was only available to those who had reached legal retirement age.

At the beginning of last year, the possibility of employing pensioners, while still fully retaining their pension, was extended to those who had for whatever reason retired early. Thus, at the end of last year, 3,073 people who had retired early were employed, and 8,815 of them were at Croatia's normal retirement age.

An additional benefit is reserved for active duty military personnel, police officers and mine clearance workers who can choose whether to work for up to four hours a day while retaining a full pension, or to be employed full-time and receive 50 percent of their pension.

Work under this scheme for Croatian retired people also gives them the opportunity to receive a higher pension. A pensioner who is employed for four hours a day may request a new pension calculation after two years of being engaged in such work.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more.