Getting a Croatian 1 year “Temporary Stay” in Split: Part 1 – finding an apartment, signing a lease

Getting a Croatian 1 year “Temporary Stay” in Split Part 1 finding an apartment, signing a lease_edited-1

It started as a simple enquiry:  “How can we stay longer in Croatia?”. Now, a few months later, we have a leased apartment in Split and have been granted a 1 one-year “temporary stay” in Croatia.

We’ve had a few of our readers ask us about the process here in Croatia so I decided to write about our experience.

 

Conditions for obtaining a temporary stay

Citizens of most countries can come to Croatia and are allowed to stay 90 days out in any 180 day period. Since Croatia is not part of the Schengen agreement, it has always suited us because we could skip out of the Schengen (which has the same 90 day of 180 days rule) and come to Croatia.

We fell in love with Croatia after a few visits and thought “wouldn’t it be fun to have a longer stay in Croatia? We could travel around the country at our leisure”. Most people would be surprised to know (Croatians included) that you cannot do this, the conditions for obtaining a temporary stay (ie. extended stay) are not set up for tourists wishing to prolong their stay.

Immigration in Croatia is handled by the police. They have a counter at the main police station in Split. We went there last summer to get some information but they are not really set up for that. They mentioned something about a lease and gave us the forms necessary for the temporary stay. They weren’t very helpful however nor did they seem to speak English. We left a little deflated.

We decided to see a local lawyer.  Ana Marinović Tarabarić at Hanžeković & Partners (Updated: she now works for her own. Her email: odvjetnik.marinovic.tarabaric@gmail.com). I recommend getting a lawyer if you want to obtain a temporary stay – you’ll need it.

Ana informed us of the conditions required to obtaining a temporary stay:
A) Buy a property in Croatia
B) Establish a company in Croatia
C) Get a maximum 1 year stay with the lease of an apartment in Croatia.

Neither A or B was of interest to us at this point.

Permanent Residency: Our other question was if there was any possibility of getting permanent residency leasing an apartment in Croatia (Lissette and I have both just turned 50 so we’re starting to think about the future). There is: you can get permanent residency after 5 years, citizenship after 8 years. I’ll be writing about the conditions for permanent residency in another post.

 

We decided that for now we would opt for Option C. It fulfills the main goal which was to have a temporary base in Croatia for a year.

Related: How we ended up choosing Split (The 4 Places on our “Expat Base” Shortlist)

 

Leasing an apartment in Split

The first step in the whole process of getting a Temporary Stay based on the lease of an apartment is, well, to find and lease an apartment. That might seem strange – ie. you are supposed to find an apartment and sign a lease not knowing if you are even eligible to stay. What if they refuse you? On top of that, rules stipulate that you are to pay for the term of the lease in its entirety (there’s a way around that which I’ll cover further below). So you could theoretically have signed a lease, paid a year’s rent…and be refused your Temporary Stay application.

Finding an apartment for long term rental will be your most difficult part of the whole Temporary Stay process. As we quickly found out talking to both locals and real estate agents, most renters in Split prefer to rent out their apartments short-term to tourists during the summer – in 3 or 4 months they can make the same amount of money as they would renting out long term. During the winter they leave the apartments empty or have family stay there when visiting.

Our criteria: 2 bedrooms, within 15 minutes walking of the old town, maximum rent 600 Euros/mo. We also asked (not a requirement but it would be a criteria in our decision) that we be able to bring our own furniture. One of the agents told us right off the bat that this would be impossible, that landlords want to rent their apartments “as is”.

We weren’t encouraged by anything people were telling us. But we decided to at least give it a chance.

How to find an apartment. A local friend recommended we check out the Croatian classified site njuskalo.  When we browsed the site in January there were very few options and most of the ads were listed by real estate agents. We decided we’d contact a few real estate agents directly and have them search for us. The first 3 agents we spoke to were disheartening, all repeating what I’ve mentioned in the paragraphs above. They sounded like they were trying to discourage us.

Out of desperation I looked for other agents. That’s how I came across Sandra at Cio-Nekretnine. I wrote her by email and gave her our criteria. She told me that long-term rental is one of their specialties. She didn’t give me any lame-ass stories about how everything was impossible. She said she would look into it and get back to me within a few days.

She contacted me the next day, saying she had 2 apartments to show us. We met her that afternoon. Both apartments were within 10 minutes of the north gate of the palace.

The 1st was modern (recently renovated) with 2 smallish bedrooms, a smallish but renovated kitchen/dining area…but there was no balcony to speak of and there was no room for any of our furniture. It was located very close to the main courthouse. Price 500 Euros/mo.

The 2nd apartment won us over. It was in a beautiful building that was well-maintained. Marble stairs led to the apartment on the first floor. The apartment itself was spacious with 2 large bedrooms. There were 2 negatives: no balcony at all and lots of crappy old furniture that should have been thrown out years ago. But the apartment had tons of potential. Price 500 Euros/mo. When asked, the owner said he could move some of the furniture out of the apartment into storage but that we’d have to pay for the moving and monthly storage.

When leaving I asked Sandra if she had any apartments available in the Bacvice area. She told me that she didn’t have anything listed but that she knew someone and would contact him.

The following Monday Sandra contacted me to tell me that I could see an apartment in Bacvice.

Bacvice is a beautiful neighborhood, one of the most desirable areas in the city because of its proximity to both the old town (15 min) and Bacvice beach (2 min walk away). The apartment is on the 1st floor of one of the typical mansions you see in Bacvice. The apartment comprised of 2 large rooms, both facing out onto a huge terrace. The Terrace looked out onto a large garden and was surrounded by trees (including a palm tree) for privacy. I was pretty much blown away. But there were two negatives: 1) there was only one bedroom, 2) the owner, a very friendly man who I liked instantly, mentioned wanted to sell the apartment over the next year. So chances are we could not renew after the 1st year. Another positive: a huge, empty storage space in the basement. We could bring our furniture from Canada and move some of his furniture downstairs if we wanted. Cost of the apartment: 600 Euros/mo.

apartment in Bacvice

So we had 2 apartments to choose from. We ended up going with our hearts and also what our gut was telling us – the apartment in Bacvice.

Just to give you an idea of the time frame: we had an apartment within 3 weeks of starting our search. The first 2 weeks (without Sandra) we didn’t have any visits. After contacting Sandra we had 3 visits over the space of a week. It took us a few more days to decide to go with the apartment in Bacvice.

Note: We (the renters) paid a commission of 1 month’s rent to Sandra. That’s standard in Croatia.

How perfect is this apartment for us?  After spending a bit more time with our new landlord, he’s told us that he’d like to continue renting to us in the future. So he’s had a change of heart about selling. That works for us. He’s also told us that we could rent out the apartment when we are travelling (he used to rent on Airbnb but he said it became too much work). It just so happens that our friend Vedran, who owns the apartment that we’ve rented on all our visits to Split, lives 1 minute away from our new apartment. So he’ll be taking care of renting it out when we’re away. Finally, our storage space in Montreal (which has been costing us close to $300 CAD/mo for the last 3 years) will be emptied out and our stuff shipping to Split. Whatever doesn’t fit in the apartment will go in the large storage in the basement.

So we found an apartment. What’s next?

 

The Lease and having it notarized

A requisite for the application for a Temporary Stay is that the lease be notarized and that rent prepaid for the full term of the lease. The Lease will be included in the application for Temporary Stay that will be given to the police so you have to make sure that everything conforms.

Here’s where you absolutely need a lawyer.

In our case (in most cases) the lease was prepared by the real estate agent in both Croatian and English. The Lease was then reviewed by our lawyer and requests for changes made.

The most important points:
1) The lease has to state that full rent be paid at the conclusion of the signing of the lease. But you don’t actually have to pay full rent – after negotiating a payment schedule for rent and utilities with the Lessor, the lawyer prepared an Annex to the Lease that describes this agreement. That Annex won’t be included in the application forms (which includes the Lease) sent to the police. We only ended up paying two months rent in advance. This is important because if your application for temporary stay is refused at least you won’t be out a full year’s rent.
2) It is very important that the Lessor has all the paperwork giving him/her the legal right to rent an apartment to you. In Croatia property is passed on among family and the proper paperwork isn’t always filed. In our case, the apartment was still officially in the name of the Lessor’s aunt. The Lessor had to provide a notarized letter of power of attorney proving he had authority to rent out the apartment. This is especially important if you are a foreigner renting an apartment and applying for a Temporary Stay where the police will pay special attention to make sure all is in order.

It took a few days to get the lease completed to everyone’s satisfaction.

Having finalized the lease, we went to have it notarized in a government office (our lawyer had set up the appointment). We went with our Lawyer Ana, our agent Sandra, and the Lessor. There was a lot of copying of documents, signing and binding, followed by having to pay the notary 85 Kuna. It all took about 30 minutes. The only additional piece of information required by the notary were our Croatian identification numbers. Once she had our ID numbers the lease could officially be filed.

Having signed the lease, I paid Sandra (our real estate agent) her commission and paid our new landlord 2 months rent (as agreed to).

notary office, split

Above: Notary office in Split

 

Croatian Identification Numbers

The next day Sandra took us to a government office to get official Croatian Identification Numbers (she didn’t have to do that but she did). Required documents: the signed Lease, copies of our passports, and a form that we had to fill out (which was only in Croatian – it really helped having a local with us).

They’ll print out a letter for you that includes your new Croatian ID numbers. This is very important and you will eventually need to include a copy of this letter with your application forms for Temporary Stay that you’ll be giving the police.

Once I had our ID numbers, I wrote the lawyer who informed the notary. Including the numbers, she could then officially file our Lease.

government office, split

Above: Government building where we obtained our Croatian ID numbers.

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That concludes Part 1 of the “Temporary Stay” process. The most important things gained here:

1) Having found an apartment
2) Having a signed and notarized lease
3) Obtaining your new Croatian Identification numbers.

The next part: Forms, documentation, opening a Croatian bank account, Health Care…and costs. 

Bacvice beach, Split

Above: Bacvice beach, 2 minutes from our new apartment
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If you’ve gotten down here thank you for reading. There’s a lot of detail above and I’m sure for a lot of people it’s boring. But I hope it helps out others who are curious about getting a Temporary Stay in Croatia.

Have you gone through this process in Croatia? Would love to hear your story.

I’d also very curious about the conditions (and the process) for an extended stay in other countries. It’s always interesting comparing notes.

 

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Comments

  1. Congratulations on the apartment and the long stay visa! It’s great that everything ended up working out perfectly, right down to the storage space. The procedure sounds similar to Spain, but you don’t need to have the year prepaid. The realtors work the same. We recently moved and did pay the one month service fee to the agents. Some even charge each side a month each which is ridiculous. The agents sounds the same, especially in Malta where they keep the listings up for years and is a complete mess. Bet it feels good to have a place to leave your stuff and come back to after travel. I think we are going to go the route of home exchange this time in addition to pet-sitters.
    Kemkem recently posted…Is Beg-Packing Acceptable Or A Complete Disgrace?My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Kemkem. I know you guys have it easier because of Federico’s EU passport – but do you know if Spain gives you permanent residency after renting for a few years? Spain was on our shortlist of places so its a place we might look into in the future (if ever things don’t ever work out in Croatia).
      Yes, we seem to be dinged for those agent fees. In Montreal we (the Lessee) had to pay an agent to find renters for us…then we come here and as Lessors we have to pay. Urgg.

      • I think after 10 years of residency, you can apply for citizenship from what l hear unless you do one of those golden visas with half a million dollar investment :-). Yeah..the agent fees suck! Whenever we have a turnover in tenants at either of the properties, it hurts as we don’t see any money till the second month :-(.
        Kemkem recently posted…Is Beg-Packing Acceptable Or A Complete Disgrace?My Profile

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          You’re right Kemkem, citizenship after 10 years – BUT you can get Permanent residency after “Living in Spain for 5 uninterrupted years”. Info here: here. That’s not so bad.

  2. HI Frank and Lissette

    Congrats on your vision and fortitude. Yes money goes out on all sides for the agents, lawyers etc but hey-600 euros a month sounds like a score and the photos looks like a sweet home.

    Paul and I are heading back to California to sort out our next steps-house-renters-stuff. And who knows, we may be headed to the Consulate in LA for one of those long stay visas. Right now our choice for a base would be Seville. Maybe a house exchange sometime?

    Enjoy

    Paula and Paul
    Paula and Paul recently posted…The Photography ClubMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Paula,
      Ah, Seville – we loved it. We’d like to explore more of Southern Spain one day.
      Yes, let us know, maybe one day we can have a house exchange.

  3. Sara Yoel says:

    Hi Frank and Lissette,
    Boring? to me it read like a short novel, I loved reading your story. I read before that you were looking to do this, so no surprise, but the process. Actually, it’s better than NYC when I lived there in the70’s/80’s desperate for a rental, making $ 90/a week and paid over $ 2,000 to a R/E agent…Da!!! and better than dealing with the Romanians. Have I got some stories for you, despite my effinity for Romania!
    Anyway, will you still be in split when we are there (@ Vedran’s) May 15-19? or are you still traveling to Poland?
    Kudos, for making such a drastic change, my kind of idea, but my husband? nope? I think it is a wonderful way to enjoy life.
    All the best,
    Sara Y.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Sara,
      Thank you for the kind comments. $2000 to a real estate agent? Ouch.
      We should still be in Split although I’ll have to go back to Montreal (and Mexico City) sometime in that period…but still no definite time. All dependent on the sale of our condo there. But if I’m here would be very nice to meet you Sara. You must be starting to look forward to your trip.

      • It was not boring, Frank. It was very interesting, a real instruction how to live in some country long enough. Although, Irina and I don’t live in any country more then for 15-20 days, we had read your history with big interest. Congratulations with new home!
        We have been to Split and we like Croatia, but our love is Budva, Montenegro. Our next 15 days in May we will spend there.
        Victor recently posted…The Emerald River of Lech in Fuessen, BavariaMy Profile

  4. Congratulations Frank and Lissette! Clearly you’ve been working on this for a while, and it needed considerable perseverance.

    Paula and I looked into getting a long-stay visa when were were in Montpellier, France last year. It seemed like it would be every bit as onerous as what you’ve been through, with some added twists. Like, a year’s lease is necessary for the visa; leasing an apartment for that long requires a French bank account; opening a French bank account requires that you already have a permanent address, i.e. a lease. Plus various legal checks (a letter from your constable back home saying your record is clean), medical documentation, and financial & insurance requirements.

    There are Americans who have worked their way through all that, but we chose not to pursue it. I understand from Americans — and Canadians — living in Spain that long-stay visas are somewhat easier to get there, and if we want to stay in Europe for an extended time we may well end up in Seville. (But I spent all those decades perfecting my French…)

    Anyway, I think you’ve picked a great place; we were only in Split for a few days, but I could easily see staying much longer. I look forward to reading about your ongoing adventures in expat living!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Paul,
      This was only Part 1 – the document process got quite complicated when we actually sent in our documents and we also had to get a local bank account (by the way: much easier for Canadians than Americans. You guys really have Uncle Sam up your ass checking everything you do).
      I’ll be covering all that in Part 2.
      But it looks like there are many similarities in the process with France. Yes, I’ve heard Spain and Portugal have an easier process. If you go through it in Spain would love to hear all the details.
      Thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts Paul! 🙂

  5. We refer to those properties with really old furniture as “baba chic decor”.

    Thank you (hvala velika!) for the valuable public service you just rendered; the information about the agreement with the lessor regarding prepaid rent is very helpful and will make the process less painful on the pocketbook. We’ve found a realtor who in turn introduced us to her friend the rental match-maker (she’s completely analog with a flip phone, which is fascinating) and the next step will be the lawyer once we return to Split and find a long-term rental. We’ve looked at many properties, both for sale and for rent, and realize a long-term rental makes the most sense.

    Congrats on finding someplace in Bacvice–there is something charming about watching people play Picigin well into late-November.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      “Baba chic decor” – I googled that and some of it looks nice. In this case it wasn’t, it looked like leftovers from the 80’s and the sofa was so dirty there was no way I was going to sit on it. It should have all been burned. The guy (an older man) said he could remove it but that we would have to pay storage of 70 Euros/mo. Can you believe it? It’s one of the reasons why choosing the Bacvice apartment was so easy.

      We love the Bacvice area, so much quieter. Every evening we take a little walk and have a beer at our favorite little place watching the sun go down and the kids and dogs playing. Just incredibly beautiful and so much more peaceful than the Riva. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.

      I didn’t realize you wanted to rent in Split Lucija. Good luck! And don’t hesitate to contact Ana the lawyer, she basically held our hand through the process.

      • Too funny! I thought I invented that “Baba Chic” term to describe that certain unstylish, drab, decor found strewn across the Balkans 🙂 Yeah, charging 70 euros/monthly is a bit steep and comical.

        It took us one plus months of staying in Istria, Opatija, Herceg Novi, and then back to Split to realize how much we love it there. I wanted to fall in love with the Northern Adriatic, Lovran and Rijeka were tempting in terms of real estate, but retracing the walk from Zenta to Bacvice and onto Luka’s sealed the deal for me.

        If we’re not happy with my realtor’s lawyer we’ll definitely contact Ana–it sounds like she did a lot of good for you.

  6. Wow! Sounds like a heck of a lot of work for only one year, but I guess you hope to actually stay longer. Jim and I don’t know what we are going to do when we retire. We do know we’re not living full time in the States…so this is helpful. Have fun!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Corinne.
      It won’t be for just one year. Even if for some reason this apartment falls through for a 2nd year, we’d find something else. But longer term we’ll have to see…we have other places on our radar as well but Croatia is our favorite right now.
      We feel exactly as you do – neither of us want to go back to Canada (or the US in Lissette’s case because that’s where she’s originally from). But we do eventually want permanent residency somewhere eventually…

  7. It’s interesting to compare the process for residency/long-stay visas between Portugal and Croatia. One of the big differences in your process was that you were able to stay in Croatia and apply while we had to return to the US (the requirement is the same for Canadians) and begin the application process there through the Portuguese Consulate. (A huge expense considering air fare and rentals!) We also retained a lawyer which I would highly recommend after listening to other North American expats describe their experiences. He’s smoothed out so many of the bumps along the way that we haven’t been aware of and patiently answered all our mundane and important questions. It’s fool-hardy not to have someone in your corner to advise you on all the ins and outs of living in a foreign country, especially when everything is done in a foreign language. Worth.Every.Penny! So glad that you are exactly where you want to be – Congratulations and welcome to your new home base!
    Anita recently posted…The King Tut Exhibit: A Little Bit of Egypt in PortugalMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Going back home to apply is definitely a big negative! One the other hand I read that Portugal, like Spain, offers permanent residency after 5 years. I wonder if you have to go back home when applying in Spain…
      Yes, a lawyer the best thing we did here as well.
      Thanks for the kind words Anita!

  8. looks like youve done very well! great spot youll have a wonderful year in your favourite spot in Europe!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…City Rumble – Dakar versus DhakaMy Profile

  9. interesting to read! I had no idea about temporary residency in Croatia:) if you were from the EU, than I’d be much easier, I guess:) hope you enjoy your time in your new flat and in Split! and hopefully you’ll see more of Croatia during your time. maybe you could ask for citizenship or a work visa if you want to stay longer? But I have no idea how it all works. Croatian red tape is quite daunting for us Croatians, let alone for foreigners, especially if everything’s just in Croatian:)
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Klagenfurt & MinimundusMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Tanja. If permanent residency is complicated, citizenship would be doubly so…and neither of us would qualify for a work visa.
      Yes, if there is one thing I’ve learned (and have been told by Croatian friends) it’s that there’s a lot of red tape…

  10. thanks for the precise infos,

  11. If you don’t mind me asking, I’m interested in why you’ve decided to ship your furniture to Croatia? Is it for sentimental reasons, or comfort, or… ? It seems as if it would be a costly expense in comparison to just buying a few pieces to fit the apartment.

    I love the idea of living so close to a beach and being able to just stroll down and sit for a while, taking in the view and watching the world go by.

    As for the process…. I’ll get back to you on that. 🙂
    Patti recently posted…Here it is April ~My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Patti,
      Good question. The cost, door to door, of shipping our stuff from Montreal to Split is just under $7000 CAD (slightly over 5000 USD these days).
      We’ve got some really nice stuff in Montreal: furniture, paintings, our bikes and stuff collected through our travels. Easily worth 5 times the cost of the shipping.
      We’re paying almost $300/mo to keep that in storage, so shipping it here will pay itself off in 2 years. And we’ll have it in Europe so if we decide to make another place a base it won’t cost as much to transport it.
      The dilemna we had a few years ago: throw it out or store it? At the time we didn’t know if full-time travel would work for us. We took the safe route and stored it. Now we are selling the condo and divesting ourselves of everything in Montreal. So again, get rid of it or have it shipped over? We’ve decided to ship it because of this apartment and the hopes that it can be home for a while. We love it and our stuff will look beautiful, it’ll complete this apartment. And trying to replace it would be much more expensive…but there’s also a few things in there plus some documents that we will always have to keep. And since we don’t have anyone to keep even a few suitcases for us we’ll bring them here. A problem for another time down the road.
      But yes, don’t think that we haven’t gone back and forth with that issue several times…

  12. A very daunting but worthwhile process, it is often so easy to give up on the first hurdle, but your resilience and perseverance has paid off. This blog post will certainly be very useful for others going through the same process. I have travelled very little in Croatia but keep hearing so much good things about it and certainly understand why you would want to base yourselves there for the time being. Great choice.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Discoveries Down Under Part 3 – Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach And The Great Barrier ReefMy Profile

  13. Excellent post, Frank! So detailed and informative!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Agness. I was writing this as much for myself as for others – trying to document all the steps we went through to get our stay here 😉

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated!

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