Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Split Digital Nomads Increasing Daily: ‘It’s Great Here, We Feel Safe’

May 12, 2021 - Split digital nomads are increasing daily thanks to the coastal city's quality offer, international community, and safety.

They come from all over the world, live with complete freedom of movement, work from home, a cafe, or a distant island. When choosing a location, the most important condition is a fast and quality internet connection, hospitality, and security. They are digital nomads, highly qualified foreigners, mostly IT experts, who are increasingly discovering Croatia as a unique piece of paradise on Earth, and Split seems ideal for their needs, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Thanks to amendments to the Aliens Act, Croatia has introduced the concept of digital nomads since the beginning of this year, who now have preferential tax treatment, which facilitates their decision to choose Croatia as their place of residence and work.

They can stay in Croatia for up to a year. The introduction of digital visas for digital nomads was initiated by entrepreneur Jan de Jong, a Dutchman who lives and works in Split. More and more people work remotely, and he sees this as an opportunity for the Croatian economy.

He is the co-founder of the Croatian Digital Nomads Association (DNA) with Tanja Polegubić, a returnee from Australia who has also been living and working in Split for several years. The association's main goals are to provide general information to digital nomads about life and work in Croatia, educate, connect digital nomads with service providers, and present their problems to the authorities.


"Split is already a natural choice for many digital nomads, just like other cities on the coast. But that could change if some changes don’t happen, that is, if the city doesn’t open up to digital nomads. When I was looking for a coworking space to work in 2015, I searched the entire Adriatic coast.

I spent a lot of time in Zadar, Trogir, but Split attracted me especially. There is something in it. Everything suits me here: it is neither too big nor too small. There are a lot of quality restaurants and bars, and there is a big international community. At the same time, the locals speak English well," says Tanja, owner of the company "Saltwater," an aid to digital nomads as it provides everything one may need, from finding a workspace, connecting people, organizing conferences, various events, conferences and more, and is a member of the Business Incubator of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce of the Split County Chamber.

Tanja said that digital nomads in Split work from home, i.e., from rented apartments, hostels, hotels, or coworking spaces in several Split locations.

"This has been an interesting year, and I have befriended many people who have stayed in the city. Most like to live in a circle around the city center and in the Palace. Varoš, Bačvice, Meje are popular with them ... in fact, those neighborhoods from where they can reach the city center on foot in a short time. They mostly stay in private apartments and less in hotels because they are too expensive for them.

But the problem is the short rent they get from private renters who, of course, find it more cost-effective to give the apartment to a typical tourist rental that is expensive for nomads. Even the off-season offer of social life, which weakens after the summer, does not favor the arrival of nomads for whom the social aspect is important, the offer of the destination where they stay, the diversity of content around them because they want to meet new places and people. True, there was a pandemic that disrupted everything, but we need to adapt.


On the other hand, this environment is quite interesting for them because of their hospitality and security, especially for families with children, the health system has a good reputation, the climate is mild," says Tanja, who receives many inquiries about Croatian cities from digital nomads. The conditions they need to meet are proof of constant income, proof that they are digital nomads, that is, that they are not coming to Croatia to sell something but to do their job from this destination.

To help foreigners come to Croatia, a DNA association was established.

"The goal is to support digital nomads - as well as local businesses. The association deals with information, education, community networking, certification, and representation of digital nomads and various businesses before various Croatian institutions. Ways are being devised in which digital nomads can contribute to society, for example, around animal welfare or environmental protection.

It also focuses on tenancy topics because we know that many tenants and students are evicted from rented apartments when the tourist season begins. We will organize "certified" service providers so that digital nomads know that they will be protected," says Tanja Polegubić, believing that Split and Croatia have an excellent chance of becoming one of the favorite destinations of digital nomads if they open their hearts.

While Dubrovnik has gone the furthest in this regard, Split is also turning towards such modern trends. For example, the Split hotel "Marvie" offers affordable packages for long-term stays. As much as a 50 percent discount for stays of 28 days or longer, even in the middle of the summer season. Guests have at their disposal a separate co-working space with high-speed internet of 200 Mbps, a projector with a screen and a flipchart, which can simultaneously fit 7 people, ergonomic chairs, and everything that makes the stay more comfortable.

Namely, teleworking is a growing trend with exceptional economic potential, which is supported by predictions that by 2022 there will be more than 1.87 billion workers in the world whose work will take place online regardless of location. Therefore, "Marvie" is the first Croatian hotel to create an offer fully adapted to the needs of teleworkers.

Jan de Jong points out that digital nomads are an opportunity that we must not ignore. The main advantage for Croatia is year-round tourism and the arrival of highly paid workers who would not take jobs and spend their salaries in Croatia.

"Digital nomads and marketing are important for Croatia because they share their experiences, videos, and photos with their families, but also on social networks, which is free promotion. Since the introduction of visas, 33 of them have applied, and four have been approved, while the rest are being considered," he said.


Learn more about Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 Announced by Saltwater Nomads/Zagreb Tourist Board HERE.

Learn more about the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program

Saltwater Nomads' Tanja Polegubic on Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Programme

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on Digital Nomads, US Flights, 2021 Season 

For the latest on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Croatia Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ by Saltwater/45 Degrees Sailing

March 10, 2021 - A great addition to the information resources for one of the hottest new topics right now - the Croatia digital nomad permit application FAQ by Saltwater Nomads and 45 Degrees Sailing.

And so it starts... 

It is almost exactly 21 months (at least to my knowledge) since the concept of attracting quality remote workers to Croatia was introduced at the MBA Croatia conference, How to be Globally Competitive from Croatia.

Seeds were sown, a Dutchman wrote an open letter to a Prime Minister, legislation was changed, and the digital nomad 12-month permit (permit rather than visa is the current parlance) became a legal thing on January 1, 2021. A few weeks later we tracked down the first successful applicant, an American in Istria - Meet Melissa Paul, Owner of Croatia's First Digital Nomad Visa.

The online application form went live on the Ministry of Interior website on March 1, and over 25 people have applied so far.

Today, the Croatian National Tourist Board launched its campaign to welcome digital nomads, Croatia, Your New Office.

Things have been going at a whirlwind pace, and it has sometimes been difficult to find confirmed and accurate information. 

One person who has been a trailblazing pioneer in the early days of the digital nomad story in Croatia is Tanja Polegubic, who runs Saltwater Nomads. 

TCN and Saltwater partnered with the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board back in October, as Tanja organised Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia. She was assisted by an army of volunteers, including Nick  Hathaway from 45 Degrees Sailing. And Tanja and Nick have teamed up again today, releasing a very useful Croatia Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ on YouTube.

Join us for Croatia's Digital Nomad Permit Application FAQ with Tanja Polegubić from Saltwater and the Digital Nomad Association. We cover the top 6 most frequently asked questions for filling out the digital nomad permit application for Croatia. Application form details and application requirements can be known to change. For most up-to-date information please visit the official website This is our own personal advice based on our experience and understanding. It is not the advice of any official Croatian government source.

Tanja is also a founding member of the Digital Nomad Association, together with Jan de Jong and Karmela Tancabel, whose website is due to go live later this month. 


TCN is teaming up again with Saltwater, the City of Dubrovnik, and Dubrovnik and National Tourist boards with the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence competition, with applications closing on March 31

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

Monday, 23 November 2020

3 Female Returnees Bring Digital Nomad Work, Play & Living to Diocletian's Palace

November 23, 2020 - What if remote workers could combine the world of digital nomad work, play and living in one place - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and retirement home of a Roman Emperor, perhaps? Well now you can thanks to three enterprising female entrepreneurs in Split. 

Having been brought up a Brit, it is hard to admit I have a hero who is Australian. Actually, not one, but three - all inspiring ladies from the Croatian diaspora who moved to Croatia to try their luck in the land of their ancestors. 


And all three have succeeded, despite the many obstacles thrown in their way. It has been a pleasure to cheer from the sidelines as I have charted their path to success. And now a new chapter, as my three heroes have teamed up together for the first time to offer the option of digital nomad work, play and living in one exciting concept - located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former retirement home of a Roman Emperor no less - Diocletian's Palace in Split. 

There is a lot of buzz and talk about digital nomads in Croatia at the moment. A combination of the initiative to make Croatia only the sixth country in the world to offer such a visa, as well as the realisation that Croatia's current accidental tourism 'strategy' needs an urgent reset, has had many tourism providers looking to cater to this new digital nomad tourism opportunity. 

Most are completely missing the point. 

It has been mildly amusing to see the number of businesses in Croatia who are suddenly advertising themselves as digital nomad friendly, as though a bed and reasonable WiFi is all that is required. While both are a prerequisite, there is a little more to it than that. Two of the major planks of a successful digital nomad tourism offer, at least in my humble opinion, are lifestyle and community. Travelling the world is a rewarding experience, but it can also be a lonely one. If you are working remotely and you can find a place to live, work and play all in one, then that is a lot more appealing.


Enter my three Australian heroes - Tanja, Maria and Korana - all of whom will be familiar to longterm readers of TCN. 

I have been spending quite a bit of time on and offline with Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads this year. Founder of a co-working space of the same name in Split, Tanja has put a lot more thought than most into the potential (and the pitfalls) of Croatia embarking on the digital nomad route (and for those interested, 10 Ways Croatia Will Be At The Forefront of Countries with a Digital Nomad Visa is a worthy read).  Tanja also organised the first Digital Nomad conference in Croatia last month, is a founder of the Digital Nomad Association, and we will shortly be announcing her latest cool event, a digital nomad boot camp to coincide with Advent in Zagreb. 

Maria and Korana are lifelong friends who came to Split as naive 22-year-olds who thought they spoke fluent Croatian almost 20 years ago. As some of the few foreigners who have been working here as long as I have, it is always fun to catch up with them and have a laugh about the good old days. Having famously flooded the main square of Diocletian's Palace on the first day of opening their first business, a fast food joint, they have gone from strength to strength with a combination of determination, vision, charm, sound decision-making and 10 lifetimes of hard work. The first legally registered hostel started the empire which then blossomed into three hostels, one of the most popular hangouts  in Diocletian's Palace (Charlie's Bar), and two excellent restaurants, Zinfandel and Brasserie on 7. Life was good for the owners of Zeven Gastronomy Group and Split Hostel Group.

And then came corona. 

Not for the first time in their Croatian odyssey, it was time for a rethink, this time over a glass of wine with Tanja. What if all the assets and components of both businesses could be realigned for the greater good? A co-working business, hostels, a bar and two restaurants. What kind of package could that be if it was all made available to customers to work, live and play?


And that is exactly what these three heroes have done. As Tanja explained:

Around mid-September, I was contacted by nomads looking for co-living options. There weren’t any in Split. We already find long-stay accommodation options, so a hostel - especially as they had been hit so hard by Covid19, was a logical option. I contacted Korana, and it started very quickly.

All this was happening while the preparations for Dubrovnik Digital Nomads was underway. Korana and Amanda - our Saltwater member who ran the bar at our Beach Office Bacvice Bacvice this summer.

In our first week of opening, our two top floor “penthouse” private offices (Bill and Ted) filled up! Couples from US/Canada and UK/USA. Since then, we’ve had quite a few people trial, and some join.

Coworking isn’t an easy business - it’s very transient. It is more about the community activity and events. Plus some good ole fashioned Dalmatian ‘pomalo’... things happen slowly here. Which is fine; we’re in this for the long haul. Especially as it’s very fun to run.

So what does the digital nomad work, play and living combination look like?


Some of the stone wall hostel rooms have been converted into shared workspaces, private offices, meeting rooms - already fitted out with showers, communal areas and kitchen. And the authentic stone walls as your Zoom background come as standard. 

One of the hostels remains as a coliving option - starting at 250 euro month to stay in the Centre of Old Town Split in Diocletian’s Palace.

And what better location for your new office. Not only in a World Heritage Site, but also above the team's Charlie's Bar, offering a steady supply of coffee, cocktails and beer on tap with a nomad discount.

Feeling peckish or looking for a change of workplace scene? Both Zinfandel and Brasserie on 7 are available with discounted prices for registered Saltwater and Split Hostels customers. And with B7's fabulous waterfront location at the centre of Split's famous riva, there are few better more beautiful locations for a temporary office. 

The sense of community is crucial to a happy experience, and all three of these fabulous ladies have long experience in producing outstanding customer service, and so it is no surprise that this new nomad offer comes with a little fun in addition to the basic services. 

The weekly Nomad Table combines food, wine, entertainment and great company.  Education of Croatian wines are already proving popular, a Zinfandel speciality, and some ice-breaking games at the events so far have helped bring people together. The first, held on the inauspicious date of Friday 13, 2020 (what could possibly go wrong?) included an icebreaker game lining up cards with guest and staff point of origin and distance to Split. The furthest away was Hamilton, NZ - although this was strongly contested by Dunedin and Taupo hometowners!


Last week, the Crljenak, Plavac Mali and Posip was washed down with COVID bingo - “68 late for your Tinder Date, 83 Gluten Free and 88 Wills and Kate”. It’s very 2020.

The next event is on Friday 27th - a wine flight and group dinner, with another icebreaker game to be decided. And every Friday and Saturday has live music.

Word of mouth seems to be moving quicker than even the most dedicated blogger. Several Zagreb nomads are heading south for a taste of a Mediterranean winter. So far there have been nomads from Paraguay, USA, UK, Canada, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, and a couple from Poland who are sharing their newly adopted home with people back home on Ewa’s Let's Split blog - documenting their journey from Poland to their new home in Croatia. 

Did I mention customer service? New vegan options are being added to the menu, as three of the early members are vegans. 

Fabulous stuff, and I look forward to seeing how this initiative evolves. With the connections and creative minds of the founding mothers, the prospects are enticing indeed. 

The potential of digital nomad tourism in Croatia - with or without the visa - is immense. In order to take advantage properly, it will require a little more than a bed and a good WiFi connection. Good luck to my three heroes - I have been saying for a while that Croatia needs to move from Croatia, Full of Life (whatever that means) to Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic, Lifestyle destination. The Zeven Hospitality Group/Split Hostel Group/Saltwater partnership does exactly that. 

For more information, you can contact the team via the Saltwater website.

For the latest digital nomad news, follow the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 28 September 2020

Dubrovnik Embraces Digital Nomads: October EF Week Events, April International Competition

September 28, 2020 - Croatia, the lifestyle destination welcomes lifestyle workers, as Dubrovnik digital nomads embraced with a new tourism initiative.

These are heady days for Croatia 2.0, with a gentle breeze of change blowing across Croatia. While the coronavirus caused severe damage to the global economy and tourism industry, it also forced countries to look at the current status quo and to find ways of adapting to the new reality. The traditions of bloated bureaucracy and mass tourism are clearly not sustainable, and the crisis has advanced the cause of digitalisation considerably, as well as focusing the debate on more sustainable tourism and embracing new tourism trends. 

Perhaps the most exciting development in this regard has been the readiness of Croatia to ride the wave of the digital nomad revolution, as Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic confirmed that Croatia would be only the second country in Europe (and the fifth in the world) to introduce the new digital nomad visa. This visa enables bona fide remote workers from any country to live and work in the country, provided they can prove some basic requirements, such as health insurance, no criminal record, and a certain level of income. With more than one billion remote workers projected by 2035, many of whose are looking for lifestyle as a key living factor. The potential of Croatia - arguably the lifestyle capital of Europe - to accommodate this new dynamic, wealth-creating and mindset-changing sector, is exciting indeed. The introduction of the new visa, which has already been introduced to the Croatian Parliament and is expected to become law in 2021, will enable Croatia to attract a new type of tourist. A tourist who will stay not for a week on the beach in peak season, but in various locations across the country for a month, three, even a year, while enjoying the true gems that Croatia has to offer - safety, authentic experiences, and lifestyle. 


One city which has been quick to grasp the potential of the new opportunity has been Dubrovnik, which is looking at ways to diversify its dependence on cruise and mass tourism. Total Croatia News, in partnership with the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and Croatian-based remote work and lifestyle specialists, Saltwater, is delighted to announce the first concrete steps to position Dubrovnik as an attractive lifestyle and digital nomad destination. 

Symbolically located in the infamous former quarantine quarter, the Lazareti, on the edge of the city walls (the Dubrovnik Republic was the birthplace of quarantine back in 1377), Dubrovnik will host a series of events, both in real life (IRL) and virtual, during European Freelancer Week (October 16 - 25). The event, which will also be streamed live, will also be shown in several other cities simultaneously through the Saltwater network, further broadening the coverage of this new initiative. The October event will be a precursor to a much bigger initiative in Spring 2021, when an international digital nomad competition will bring 10 lucky winners to the Pearl of the Adriatic for a month as guests of the city. During this time, they will work with the city authorities and tourist board to develop strategies for the development of Dubrovnik as a lifestyle and digital nomad destination. 


On a personal note, and after many years of dealing with local authorities in Croatia, I have been very impressed not only in the way that the Dubrovnik authorities have embraced the opportunity, but also how proactive they have been in pushing it forward. I first presented the concept to Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic back in July, who immediately gave the green light and set things in motion. Several subsequent meetings with Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepsic and Dubrovnik Tourist Board Director Ana Hrnic, have led to today's announcement. Saltwater founder Tanja Polegubic was in Dubrovnik last week to finalise details for the October event, as well as looking forward to the larger initiative next Spring. 


(TCN presenting the digital nomad concept to Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on July 21, 2020)

The speed of acceptance of this digital nomad initiative is one which will no doubt be acknowledged by one of the keynote speakers at next month's events - Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong. An avid Total Croatia News reader, de Jong came across the digital nomad opportunity back in May via TCN while researching for a presentation at a tourism conference. A few months later, an open letter to the prime minister on his LinkedIn profile asking for the introduction of a digital nomad visa for Croatia set off a chain of events which resulted in PM Plenkovic announcing a digital nomad visa for Croatia on Twitter just 44 days later. 

The breeze of change of Croatia 2.0 is gathering strength. 


(Keynote speaker Dr. Wallace J. Nichols)

The full programme and registration process will be published shortly on TCN, but I am also excited to mention the top keynote speaker for Dubrovnik's European Freelancer Event in October. Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a marine biologist and author of the NY Times Bestseller, Blue Mind. Known simply as 'J', Dr. Nichols will speak about productivity and wellbeing, especially for digital nomads. You can learn more about J by supporting him on Patreon. Check out his Blue Mind Movie Sizzle Reel video.

We will publish more details about this new Dubrovnik initiative shortly. Who is this for? If you are: 

  • A digital nomad planning to be in Croatia from October 16 to 25, Dubrovnik will be an interesting destination.
  • A tourism business wanting to adjust your business to become digital nomad friendly.
  • A city council in Croatia anticipating the arrival of digital nomads entering with the incoming digital nomad visa.This is the premier event to follow online and in person if you are in Dubrovnik, 16-25 October.

Given the increased interest in the digital nomad revolution, TCN recently started a dedicated section - catch the latest news from the remote working world in Croatia here


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Bacvice Not Bali: New Saltwater Digital Nomad Beach Heaven in Split

August 19, 2020 - Bacvice not Bali: meet the new beachfront digital nomad chill zone on Split's most famous beach from Saltwater. 

One of the (fairly obvious) secrets to a happy life in Croatia is to surround yourself with positive and creative people. While many sit around in cafes and complain about life, there are many creative, positive people existing in their own bubbles around the country, quietly finding ways around the bureaucracy and other stumbling blocks that make life in The Beautiful Croatia a unique set of challenges. 

I knew very little about co-working spaces when I first met Tanja Polegubic in Split about 18 months ago, but I was very impressed by her vision, determination, and creative thinking to get around the various barriers which exist in doing business in Croatia. While more and more people are now talking about the digital nomad opportunity in Croatia, Tanja has put a lot of thought into both the opportunities and challenges, as you can read in 10 Ways Croatia Will Be At The Forefront of Countries with a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV).

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Tanja was one of the pioneers of co-working spaces in Split, with her centrally-located Saltwater office just off the main Split riva by Diocletian's Palace, but she has been working on something even cooler these past few weeks to offer visiting nomads the ultimate chill zone at Bacvice not Bali. A delightful remote worker space at the edge of Split's most famous beach, with its own dedicated space within a very cool bar. I was there a month ago and absolutely loved it, and I am thrilled that Tanja has finally brought the project to fruition - it is now open for business. 

How better to introduce it than in the words Tanja posted on Facebook announcing its opening:

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With great #joy - the new part of the Saltwater Workspace Split business is #nowopen. Hoo-frikking-Ray! And #shoutout to my mum Anka Polegubic cause she's awesome! ?‍?and pok. Šerif ?

It has taken ... weeks! Painting. Drilling. Hardware store-ing. Wifi hacks. Gemišt and gin tastings. Etc.

Thank you to @kavala_beach_bar / @amandaluisebarnes for the setup. And everyone else who has supported this idea and is working here this week.... more important, those who #wishyouwerehere ?????⛱⛱⛱The #BobMarley is playing.... the #gemišt is flowing ... and The water ?is fine.??‍?

#repost @saltwatersplit Bačvice Beach ... The new Bali (well, when you can’t get to Bali).

#todaysoffice #saltwaterworkspace #croatiadigitalnomads

Bookings essential. #staysalty ?

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TIME: 9am to 8pm. 7 days / summer only.

PRICE: 150 HRK minimum spend at the cafe/bar. (Tough life!)

Free for Saltwater Workspace Split  members.

BOOKINGS: Whatsapp Saltwater +385913308000 or ask for Amanda at the bar (after 12 midday).

Refreshing detox watermelon mint ??smoothies for 35 HRK and  Brooklyn Bagel Co.  Bagels ? with Schmear for ~ 20 HRK and up


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A great addition to the remote working scene in Dalmatia, and the opening comes at a time when there is a concerted push to introduce a digital nomad visa for Croatia, an initiative which was yesterday supported by the Ministry of the Interior. Read more in Croatian Bureaucracy 2.0: Progress with the Digital Nomad Visa.

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