The cost of living in Split (Croatia).
I’ve previously stated somewhere on the blog that the cost of things in Split is roughly similar to what you would pay in Spain and Portugal. That was based on travelling here several times and staying a few months. It wasn’t based on Expat life. That changed last year when we got our 1-year Temporary residency in Croatia and rented an apartment in Split.
So how much does it cost to live in Split as an Expat? I’ve tabulated our monthly costs below.
Note: your cost of living anywhere will depend on your lifestyle. So while I hope the figures below are helpful to readers, they’re by no means a bible to costs in Split.
Further below I’ve compared our costs to that of some blogger friends of ours living in Spain and Portugal. Again, you’ll note differences in costs based on different lifestyles. But it should give you a rough idea of costs and how the 3 locations compare.
First our costs in Split. Below I breakdown the costs in detail.
|Monthly costs in Split|
|Rent (600 Euros)||4500||$ 930||$ 735|
|– Electricity||295||$ 59||$ 47|
|– Cable + TV||319||$ 64||$ 50|
|– Water||131||$ 26||$ 21|
|– City Tax||77||$ 15||$ 12|
|– misc||62||$ 12||$ 10|
|total utilities||884||$ 177||$ 140|
|tax to rent apartment||120||$ 24||$ 19|
|Healthcare||880||$ 176||$ 139|
|– Spar/Konzum grocery store||2704||$ 541||$ 427|
|– veggie stand||524||$ 105||$ 83|
|– fish store||380||$ 76||$ 60|
|– Bio place||564||$ 113||$ 89|
|– corner grocery store||1061||$ 212||$ 168|
|total food||5233||$ 1,047||$ 827|
|Pharmaceuticals||810||$ 162||$ 128|
|Restaurant/coffee||812||$ 162||$ 130|
|UBER||200||$ 40||$ 32|
|haircuts||220||$ 44||$ 35|
|gym||450||$ 90||$ 71|
|14,109||$ 2,852||$ 2,256|
Rent (4,500 k/ $930 CAD/ $735 US)
We rented an apartment that is essentially a 1 bedroom apartment. The two rooms are very large however and we put a 2nd bed in the living room. Total space 80 square meters plus a 20 square meter balcony = a total of 100 square meters for which we are paying 600 Euros. You can see our apartment here. It isn’t the perfect apartment as we ideally would have like something with 2 bedrooms – but it is difficult finding an apartment in Split and for our short term needs it is perfect as is: 1) it has a large storage space in the basement, 2) the landlord has no issues with us renting to tourists when travelling.
600 Euros is higher than the average in Split. When we searched apartments we came saw places in the 450 – 600 Euro range. This apartment was at the top of our range but as I say, supply is short in Split and we grabbed this apartment when we found it.
Utilities (884 k, $177 CAD, $140 US)
When looking at apartments, landlords and real estate agents will tell you that utilities come to about 100 to 110 Euros per month. We’ve paid an average of 117 Euros (about $140 US/month) over the last year, the highest components being Electricity and Cable (including Wifi). Our landlord pays the bills and gives us copies. We include the utilities when paying him rent every 3 months.
Tax to Rent Apartment (120 k, $ 24 CAD, $19 US)
120 Kuna (about $19 US) is the fee paid to the city to officially rent out our apartment.
Healthcare (880 k, $176 CAD, $ 139 US)
We both pay 440 Kunas per month each (about $70 US each) to be on Croatian Health Care. Joining the Croatian Health Care system (HZZO) is a requirement of being a Temporary Resident. Prior to becoming temporary residents we had Expat Insurance which cost us about $125 US each.
We’ve never used Croatian health care while in Split so I can’t say anything about the level of service.
Food (5,233 k, $1,047 CAD, $ 827 US)
I mentioned off the top that your lifestyle determines certain costs. This is most true in this category *.
We had a health scare last year and since then have been eating quite healthily. Twice a week we buy imported salmon from a specialty fish store. We buy tofu, cottage cheese and yogurt from a Bio store. We have a fruit/vegetable stand not far from home and always buy fresh produce. Apart from that, most of our grocery shopping is done at the large supermarket chains here in Split, namely Konzum and Spar. We usually like to have a bottle of wine with dinner (average cost about 40 kuna, about $ 7 US).
Still, I’m surprised by how high our monthly food bill is. I’ve never thought grocery shopping in Split was cheap but I’m shocked at how it added up quickly.
‘* when we first started travelling we made a lot of pasta/pizza. You can live cheaply on that, but it also made us a bit chubby. We’re now in the best shape that we’ve been in in a long time.
Pharmaceuticals (810 k, $162 CAD, $128 US)
This covers cosmetics, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste etc as well as household cleaning products. We usually go to DM or Bipa for this.
Restaurant/Coffee (812 k, $ 162 CAD, $130 US)
We don’t go to many restaurants in Split and when we do it’s one of the many pizza restaurants in town. They’re the best value. You’ll pay about 45 kuna for a good-sized pizza for 1 (about $7.50 US) and about 18 kuna (about $3 US) for a large beer (0.5 L). We do that about twice a month. Once in a while we’ll go to a local restaurant and have typical Croatian food (grilled fish or meat) with wine. That will usually total about 250 kuna (about $40 US) for the two of us.
We often go for coffee at our favorite cafe. A cup of Cappucino usually goes for about 15 kuna (2.50 US). We’ll do that 4 or 5 times a week.
UBER (200 k, $40 CAD, $ 32 US)
Split is not a big city and we do a lot of walking. You can get anywhere in the city within 45 minutes. If we don’t feel like walking or when going to a shopping Mall on the outskirts, we’ll take Uber. Getting to City Center 1 (the best shopping center – but nowhere near the city center 🙂 ) costs 35 Kuna (about $6 US). So transportation hasn’t been a major expense.
Haircuts (220 k, $44 CAD, $35 US)
I get a haircut every 2nd month which costs me 40 kuna ($6.50 US). Lissette gets her hair straightened at the beautician every once in a while (cost 100 kuna, or $ 16.50 US).
Gym (450 k, $ 90 CAD, $71, US)
We have monthly memberships at Marjan Fitness which costs us 450 kuna ($71 US) for the two of us. We go 4 or 5 times a week so it’s very good value.
How our costs compare to those in Spain and Portugal
I’ve chosen to compare our costs in Croatia to those in Spain and Portugal for 2 reasons:
1) Spain and Portugal are the least expensive countries in Western Europe. They are also both popular destinations for retiring Expats.
2) Blogger friends Kemkem and Anita are situated in Valencia (Spain) and Lagos (Portugal) respectively. And both have recently written about their cost of living.
Kemkem on Cost of Living in Valencia, Spain
Anita on Cost of Living in Lagos, Portugal
As I’ve stated, costs vary significantly depending on people’s lifestyles. Still, even accounting for that, there are some interesting comparisons.
I’ve summed up the cost comparisons below
|Croatia comparison with Spain and Portugal|
Euro USD Euro USD Euro US
Note: I’ve changed some of the numbers from Kemkem’s and Anita’s posts in order to keep exchange rates consistent.
Overall: our costs are at par with those of Kemkem in Valencia. Anita’s costs in Lagos are higher than both our costs in Split and Valencia. Generally speaking, we’re all in the same ballpark which doesn’t surprise me much. But there are some differences that are interesting
In Split we are paying 600 Euros rent (about $735 US) while both Kemkem and Anita pay about 800 Euros rent (almost $1000 US). They are paying 33% more than we are.
Superficially that seems to make sense. If you go to numbeo or expatisan (both my favorite sites to look up average costs in cities and compare them to others) they will tell you that rent in Split is 50 to 60% cheaper than that in Valencia or Lagos.
But a little analysis will tell you that numbers lie.
– We are paying 600 Euros/month in Split – but the average monthly rate for rent in Split is 300 to 350 Euros (I got this from asking around among my Croatian friends and it’s confirmed by numbeo numbers). So taking our 600 Euro rent as a basis for calculating the cost of what rent should cost in either Valencia or Lagos is erroneous. In fact I looked up some rental websites in Valencia out of interest and I see lots of 2 bedroom apartments for rent in the 600 – 650 Euro/month range.
– Looking at both Kemkem’s and Anita’s apartments, they’ve gotten much more value out of their 800 Euros than we have out of our 600 Euros. Kemkem for example has 3 bedrooms and 2 patios for their 2 dogs. Anita has a gorgeous modern apartment with a 2 bedrooms, large balcony, rooftop terrace, underground parking and communal swimming pool. So we’re not comparing apples to apples when comparing our 600 Euro apartment to their 800 Euro apartments
– The problem in Split is the scarcity of apartments available for rent.That skews the pricing on apartments that are available for rent here.
My point is that numbers can be deceiving. You can find a 350 Euro apartment in Split (if you’re a local) but chances are that as a foreigner you’ll pay more because of the illiquid real estate market and the lack of local connections. I know Expats paying 800 Euros in Split. Those prices are way outside the average. What expats in Valencia and Lagos pay seems much more in line with rental markets in either city. I’d be curious to what Kemkem and Anita have to say about that.
Utilities seem to be substantially higher in both Valencia and Lagos. The major difference appears to be electricity. We use both AC and heating very sparingly so that might account for the difference but still I’m surprised by how much less we are paying.
Wow, I’m surprised by how much more we pay for groceries than either Kemkem or Anita. I don’t think that’s anything to do with Split but more to do with the things we buy. As I’ve mentioned up top, that’s due to dietary restrictions and health. If you stick to local items found at markets you’ll do much better than we have. Keeping track of our recent food costs was an eye-opener.
I’ve mentioned ‘lifestyle’ a few times. One of the reasons Anita’s costs are higher than either our’s or Kemkem’s is due to owning a car ($200 US/month). Once in a while we’ll rent a car here in Split but we haven’t over the last 3 months. That can easily put a dent in the budget. Having a car certainly adds to the quality of life though and one day we might look into doing the same.
Need some more numbers to digest?
Numbeo places Split’s Cost of living as 336th out of 553 cities in the world.
Numbeo places Valencia’s Cost of living as 326th out of 553 cities in the world (ie. slightly more expensive than Split)
Lagos doesn’t rank but falls within Split and Valencia when comparing costs and purchasing power. Lagos vs Split, Lagos Vs Valencia
I hope the above helps. It was partly inspired by seeing people posting online asking if a $500 US budget/month was sufficient for Split. As you can see Split is not as cheap as some people think. In fact, my conclusion is that costs in Split (and Croatia) are roughly in line with those you’ll find in Spain and Portugal.
Any thoughts on the above?
Related: Croatia: Breaking up is never easy but this time we’re through
Related: Expat Life: Comparing Spain VS Croatia
Related: Expat Bases: Why this couple left Croatia to live in Turkey
Ps. If you find our blog helpful, please consider using our links to book your flights, hotels, tours, and car rentals. Have a look at our Travel Resources page.
If you haven’t subscribed yet and want to get our posts and newsletters sent to your email, just insert your email address below
I always love these breakdowns…and I am glad you line itemed the haircuts. 😉
Slavic eastern people like to rip-off foreigners. that’s why even higher cost Spain is a better deal. or anywhere more west. Since you’ll never get the local price without connection or some real work do you want to live in a 2 tier system where because they see money on your back you automatically get a special price ? No thanks.
I don’t like to generalize because we love Eastern Europe and people have been good to us…but yes, there is a 2 tier system in Croatia and I agree with you. We haven’t tried to find an apartment in Spain and I hear that there are scams there as well. But generally I think you’re right.
I think anywhere you go you have to really check everything as a foreigner. They figure you don’t know all the ins and outs of the system or the local pricing. Like anywhere you have to do research and get to know some trustworthy people.
Keep in mind that Croatia is a tax haven. So if you factor in living there, the cost is HUGELY lower. For example: Portugal, Spain, Western countries have high capital gains tax, say 15-20%. In Croatia, if you hold an investment for 2 years the capital gains tax is …ZERO. Income tax is FLAT 12% versus as high as 50% in Canada. So if you factor this in, there is no way Croatia is the same cost as Western socialist nations.
Thanks for that. This post was more about cost of living for retiring Expats, who probably won’t work and who might (or might not) invest in real estate. But good points to keep in mind.
Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
I think for tourists that Portugal is way cheaper than Croatia:) my experience from my trip to Portugal as compared to the food/souvenirs/transport cost I’d pay in Croatia on a holiday..
The only comparison I have with Portugal was the month we spent in Lisbon in the summer of 2016. It was August and we paid about the same for an Airbnb apartment that we would have paid in Split. But grocery shopping and restaurants were I think a bit cheaper…I think people are surprised by how expensive Croatia is, especially if you visit any of it’s neighbors. I think unfortunately Croatia suffers from ‘tourist pricing’. I wonder what the real pricing in Croatia would be without all the tourists. Anyone owning a restaurant for example wouldn’t shut their doors 6 months of the year…
Thanks for the feedback Tanja, always good to get a local’s perspective.
This is a great and timely post Frank, and I’m sure that many people will find your information useful and the comparison between Croatia, Spain and Portugal to be an eye-opener. I especially liked your original inspiration (Can you live on an income of 500 USD/month?) as online magazines and expat lifestyle newsletters are still pumping out the erroneous information saying you can indeed live on a fraction of what it costs to live in the US or Canada. Our response is something along the lines of, “You can live for a lot less in the US too, but DO YOU WANT TO?” Despite our different lifestyles, it’s really interesting to find out that our costs are all within a similar ballpark. And I had to laugh when I read Kemi’s comment about “feeling protective” of Valencia. The surge of people wanting to live in highly desirable tourist areas and expat havens really drives up the costs and makes finding a rental very difficult. There are rumbling’s that Portugal too will be cracking down on the AirBnB rentals to free up flats for the locals and those who want to settle in long term but right now, the money being pumped into the Algarve Region is too tempting. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Thank you Anita! I guess when it comes down to it we can all live on $500/mo – rent out a room in someone’s house, eat pasta and chili every day, buy the wine they sell in those cheap plastic containers…But you nailed it: WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO? Any paradise can be hell when you have no money.
I think going forward the trick is to stay away from overly-touristy places and try to settle in cities with a large middle class local population. ie. real places where the economy is not determined by tourism. Over the long term, those places bring more price stability and less market bubbles…
hello just a short note:
Lagos in Portugal is one of the top tourism destinations. It is more like Ibiza than like Valencia which is north spain
comparing prices with places in Portugal destinations up north or even in the southern atlantic coast would be definetly less expensive.
Even cheaper is any place in the “interior” (far from the sea… but well the largest place of portugal is about 150 kms from the atlantic to spain) near Serpa you can have a very decent meal including red wine for 10€ or less).
anyway I find your blog very usefull.
And I love Croatia too (I have been in Plitvice lakes 🙂
You are very right and Anita (in Lagos) and I have often written privately comparing Lagos to Split. Very similar in terms of the market being dictated by tourism. Valencia as you say, and as Kemkem mentions in the comments, is a “real” city with a real estate market shaped by local demand/supply.
Croatia is very similar to what you describe in Portugal, you’ll pay a lot less somewhere inland. But I’m not intending to became a goat farmer anytime soon 🙂
Thank you for the kind words and for adding your feedback Felipe.
Very interesting article. Thanks for all the work you put in.
I am not sure about rent prices in Split. It seems that they rise significantly every year and I think you can’t find anything for 300€ anymore (not even with Yugoslavian furniture in it, if you know what I mean)…
I know exactly what you mean. Yes, 300 Euros is the base minimum and I’d be scared of what I could find at that price 🙂
Samir and I agree that Split is more expensive than it should be (WTH?) but so is our former home in the San Francisco area—I suppose it’s the price one pays for living close to the sea. We rent in Meje, reputed to be a more expensive area, and that I constantly look at other people’s randomly-strewned rubbish and lack of dog hygiene really turns me off to the high expense of living here. I’m curious whether you’ve noticed the prices for everything have really shot up over the past couple of years? I don’t recall 60kn mixed drinks or 85kn pizzas from the summer of 2015… Rijeka and Istria become increasingly more appealing to me—as with Kemkem’s situation one’s dollar purchases more living space.
Thanks for the great comment Lucija.
You are right – some of the costs (like the drinks) are equivalent to Canadian prices which is just crazy.
These are tourist prices which unfortunately locals have to put up with year long. The thing I also remember from our first visits (in 2015) was that the food in Konobas was better. Lissette and I find that the food quality has slipped. Again, the effects of tourism. In some economies it wouldn’t happen because you have a large local base – in Sevilla for example we would often eat out as would locals (tapas!). And it would be affordable. We find in Split that you no longer get your money’s worth when it comes restaurants.
Always great getting feedback from locals.
Great piece! Even though I dont have plans to try living in Split, I have to say that I found it really interesting. And clearly – it’s not a cheap place. Thanks to the Aussie and Canadian dollar being so close to each other in value I can understand how much things are. Some are cheaper than here (rent for example is way cheaper) but the other cost of living stuff is on par or even more expensive. Thanks for such a great post. Food, rent and utilities for thought! 😀
Thanks Andrew. Yes, in Canada rent is high as well. But looking back we spent about the same for food and booze in a month. Which is crazy when you compare the local purchasing power!!
pim de vos
Excellent read Frank,
hope you don’t mind me sharing it in the expat group.
We spend less, but than again, we’re half an hour outside Split in a tiny village behind Omis, in what’s called the Zagora.
I often go shopping in Split (Kaufland, Lidl, Bauhaus, Konzum) but hardly ever enter the center of town.
Hard to compare everything, cause we live in our own house and grow some vegetables in summer (for the fun of it).
Should ask my wife how much we spend, she’s doing the finances.
Anyway, thanks for a really realistic inside view on cost of living in Croatia.
All the best, Pim.
Of course, feel free to share. The more feedback the better.
You guys are doing it right, and having your own garden and vegetables must save you a lot of money just as being outside Split does.
We’ve never found Split cheap compared to other places in Eastern Europe (we’ve spent a lot of time in both Prague and Budapest and they’re cheaper than Split). We’ve always been of the opinion that Split is equivalent to Spain and Portugal, at least for our lifestyle. As I say in my reply to Kemkem, I often wonder how locals manage having roughly the same costs to do their shopping but having about 40% less purchasing power than Spain. Part of the answer is making your own wine, booze, planting your own fruits and vegetables, and buying everything locally (avoiding imports). But still…
It took us 10 months here before I actually started keeping track of the costs. As I say, I always felt it wasn’t cheap, but I was surprised by just how expensive a typical month ended up being.
When I stay in Pamplona (the 3rd most expensive place in Spain), I rent a room as apartment share. The same as locals. Rarely eat out and travel by bus or train. Buy a lot of my food at a local Mercado because it’s 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of supermarkets. Without traveling to other places to write them up, I’d say around 500 Euros a month, if I do it right. Otherwise around 800-900 Euros per month.
Thanks Ted. You’re going bare basics, living like a young backpacker would. But yes, that’s the way to do it while also getting the “local experience”!
Frank, wanted to ask you about Scandanavia. Have you seen the northern lights or any experience in those countries?
If I went to Budapest for a week should I do a sidetrip anywhere?
(Looked at Spain/Portugal but they seem pricey and not as good)
Also Israel. Wanted to spend a week there.
So about 15/16 nights all up. Trying to figure out a good program. Any tips would be good.
6 nights Hungary, Budapest + ??
6 nights Israel
4 nights Norway? Not sure worth it or Maybe Sweden or Denmark. All expensive though. Can skip if not as good as somewhere else.
Sorry for off topic questions.
I’ve never been to Scandinavia (blows the travel budget the way we travel) or Israel.
Budapest – it all depends on how you travel, but if you’re very active you can see most of the highlights in 3 or 4 days. Maybe a side trip to Prague (3 days) or Vienna which is closer? Prague is a 7 hr train ride but it is still my favorite European city and you can do a lot of stuff there. I don’t know if you ever saw my post on Unusual things to do in Prague? But both are incredible cities and you can see LOTS in 6 days combined.
Here’s an idea if you want to see some great places while keeping costs down. How about Budapest, Prague, Brno (visiting Moravia which is what Eastern Czech Republic is known as), up to Krakow, maybe see Warsaw, then go to Lviv in Western Ukraine OR up to the Baltics (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania). This is actually a rough route of ours for later in the year. It’s more manageable than your rough program, you can get everywhere by train, it’s cheaper…and you can actually plan it to loop back to Budapest where you started.
This really is an eye-opener for sure. I somehow assumed that Split would be way cheaper than it is. Looking at the numbers, it’s true that the 790 euros we pay monthly gets us a 2200 sq ft apartment (3/2 plus patios). We have found that to be way too big for our needs now and have been looking for a smaller place. While there are plenty of apartments in Valencia, the good ones are usually reserved for airBnB rentals so they are not on the market. There is something happening as of this year (no idea what, but l think they are clamping down on them like in Barcelona), more good rentals are now on the market. You can easily tell from the pictures the ones used for short term rentals. There are plenty of flats for 450-500 for 1 bedroom but you find yourself competing with college students and they go really fast. It is incredibly hard to get apartments as a foreigner who doesn’t work in Spain. Most realtors won’t even let you see the place without a “nomina”. Most of us end up paying 6 months-1 year rent upfront when you find someone who will work with you. That being said, we are moving at the end of our lease to a smaller place (960 sq ft with small patio), 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths with gas stove as opposed to electric and the rent will be 650 per month totally furnished and in an even more central location. This is still high for locals who pay less because the pay sucks, but l think the standard we expect as foreigners differ just a bit. The good thing about Valencia is that everywhere is walkable and we were laughing today because we have been here almost 11 months and we will probably be buying the first tank of gas :-). Your food prices are also much higher than l thought. When we visited Anita, we noticed the grocery prices were higher there (but it is a popular part of the Algarve too). Having lived in Malaga, Seville and now Valencia, the prices at the stores run the same pretty much. We love seafood and they are thankfully cheap. When we think about the whole picture, food being a good part of it, we are staying in Spain, and specifically Valencia for a bit more. Croissant and cappuccino for €2 ! I realize l haven’t written much about the city, but l almost feel protective of it :-). Afraid people will keep discovering it and keep moving here..haha!. It’s happening already, it seems to be a popular place for people from the silicon valley and they are driving up the prices. Great post. It is important for people to realize that they can’t believe that crap on IL about living on 500 dollars a month..blah..blah..blah. Yeah to year, off the bat, my next COL post will be lower, rent is already going to be €140 less per month! Woohoo!!!!
Thanks for the great comment Kemkem. Reassuring about the rental market. I think Spain will probably be our next base sometime down the road.
Numbers can be deceiving, especially when dealing in averages. In Split we have good sized supermarkets, but things like vegetables and fish are better bought at local markets. Anything imported (like salmon) or a a bit exotic (like tofu) will be more expensive. So it’s more because of us, and the things we buy (that Split imports in limited quantities) that the cost is so much higher. I remember shopping in Spain (at Mercadona) was cheaper than things we buy here in Split, but again, that’s because it’s a huge supermarket with a larger customer base. Averages deal in the more commonly bought goods. Here’s the Numbeo cost comparison between Split and Valencia which you might find interesting.
Certain things are also more expensive in Split. Croissant and cappuccino for 2 Euros? Not in Split. Beer and wine are also more expensive.
I’ve always said that I don’t find Croatia cheap. It’s at par with Spain and Portugal but more expensive than Hungary or the Czech Republic. We have it easy as expats – but I often wonder how locals do it. Imagine, the local purchasing power in Split is 40% lower than in Valencia. So if the pay is bad there you can imagine how bad it is here. But they have to deal with the same costs. It’s why you’ll rarely see Croatians eating out, their outings are at fast food restaurants or sitting at a cafe sucking on a coffee or beer for an hour. Its tourists that keep restaurants in business, but at the same time they bring up prices. So in a sense much of the economy here is an artifical, tourist-driven economy. That’s not good.
Congratulations on the new apartment. 650 Euros and centrally located?? Nice.