Love you Croatia but you really suck right now.
It took less than a month for our Croatian plans to go right down the crapper.
Real quick summary for those unfamiliar: in early 2017 we decided to pursue a 1 year Temporary Stay in Croatia. We leased an apartment, went through the paperwork of the temporary stay (which we were granted), and shipped all our furniture from Canada. We were happy. The goal was to continue renting the apartment as long as we could while also travelling 4 or 5 months of the year (during those months we’d rent out the apartment to tourists). A secondary goal was to work towards Permanent Residency in Croatia.
All was going well. In December our landlord told us he would rent the apartment to us for at least another year. We shook hands on it. We then invested in a new stove and bed. We also started taking some online courses to learn Croatian.
The first negative news we received was when talking to our lawyer about our 2nd Temporary Stay and prospects for Permanent Residency. We decided that the requirements for Permanent Residency in Croatia were too onerous – we still wanted to travel and while we love Croatia the idea of being limited to 2 months of travel per year for the next 5 years was too restrictive.
Fine, we said. We won’t work towards Permanent Residency. But that doesn’t stop us from keeping our apartment as a base. Our goal was to maintain the apartment while renting it out to tourists when travelling.
Note: a few people mention that what we did was illegal. Nope. The apartment was registered for rental and it was also in our rental agreement (lease). I detail that in the comments below since people brought it up.
Then the 2nd week of January our landlord hit us with THE news. His aunt (who legally owned the apartment) died. He gave us a long story – but the gist of it was that he wanted to sell the apartment and that he would not renew the lease (which expires March 1). We were suddenly in the position of having to vacate the apartment.
In case you’re wondering, landlords in Croatia are only required to give tenants 1 month’s pre-advice on renewment of a lease. Split is also notorious for being difficult to rent an apartment on a long term lease. 1) landlords would rather rent to tourists in the summer, 2) landlords, if they do agree to a long-term lease, rent it out furnished ‘as is’. They don’t want you bringing in your own furniture. What we went through (ie. getting booted out of an apartment) happens to locals all the time. It’s the side effect of having an economy dependent on tourism.
The long and short of it was that we had 6 weeks to get ourselves and our stuff out of the apartment. We knew there was no way on such short notice to find another apartment. We also had to be out of Croatia on March 1st (the date our Temporary Residency expired).
On top of all that, we had rented out our apartment for a total of 6 weeks for the upcoming Spring/Summer season. We had to cancel those bookings.
So the last month has been all about planning what we would do, paying people back their deposits on the apartment, packing our stuff, giving some things away (like the new stove), arranging for storage and booking movers. We’ve both been through the 5 stages of grief, especially Lissette who absolutely LOVES Split. Are we upset? Yeah. We’re pretty upset.
Last week the movers came and took our furniture to a storage facility in Zagreb. Why Zagreb? 1) there are no storage facilities in Split, 2) Zagreb is an easy transportation hub to the rest of Europe. Our next base will most likely be elsewhere.
* We have used AGS movers and now have our stuff in their storage facility in Zagreb. They’re the same people who last year shipped our belongings from Montreal to Split. I recommend them 100%.
Thoughts and feelings
– We’re feeling pretty disappointed – and screwed over – by both our landlord and Croatia.
– Bureaucracy/government in Croatia really has to smarten up. Young people are leaving this country in droves to go places where there are opportunities – while foreigners who have money and who’d love to live here are left discouraged by the process.
– Again, I would like to apologize to those who booked our apartment for their 2018 holidays. All the bookings came from readers of the blog and we felt very bad having to cancel.
– I’m glad we didn’t go through all the work and expense of trying to get a 2nd Temporary Stay. Without the lease it would all have been a waste of time.
– Croatia is beautiful. One of the most beautiful places anywhere. And Split is spectacular. I’ll never forget the first time we came here back in 2015 and saw those mountains running the length of the coast. Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen anywhere.
– Some say we could have done more to stay here. We could have bought a house/property for example. I honestly wouldn’t invest money in Croatia. There’s too many issues here, most having to do with government corruption.
– We’re really going to miss the friends we made here. In the last few days it has been this feeling that’s overshadowed everything else. We can get over Croatia (at least I can. Lissette is having a harder time of it) but we’ll have a harder time getting over the friends we’ve made here.
Was having a base here a mistake? No. It was actually a blessing because 2017 ended up being the year where I had to settle a few things in Montreal (selling the condo and emptying our storage unit). Having a base gave us stability while these things were going on. Our 15 months in Split also gave us an idea of what it was like living in Croatia. On this we have different conclusions. Lissette could call Croatia home. She’s always felt that she must have lived in Croatia in a previous life. I don’t feel the same way. While I loved aspects of Croatia, there are some things that I wasn’t always crazy about. Maybe I’ll write about that once I’ve had time to reflect a bit more. Update: I wrote about that here: Going from Travelling full-time to having a base. Memories of the good, the bad, and the complicated.
So, just like that, our “Croatian Experience” is over. A few days ago we left Croatia. We’re now in Thailand and will renew our lives travelling full-time as we used to. Eventually, down the road, we’ll try to make somewhere else home. Our goal hasn’t changed – we want to eventually find a base to call home and work towards Permanent Residency in Europe.
Wait! There’s more: Croatia: Breaking up is never easy but this time we’re through
Related: Where to live in Spain as retiring expats?
Related: Why we chose Nerja as our new home in Spain (and why it’s perfect for the times)
Related: Expat Life: Comparing Spain VS Croatia
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I’ve been reading your posts since last month because I would like to move to Split in the future. Do you think that Croatian citizens face this amount of problems too (especially for renting)? Next year I wish to spend two weeks in Split but having dual citizenship.
Your blog is awesome.
I think renting is a common problem in Split because of tourism. We have a Croatian friend who only rents to tourists – why? Because that is where he’ll make the most money.
But with Covid and a lot of apartments empty you might find it different now. And being Croatian will definitely help you, they won’t see you as a foreign cash cow.
Subrenting is ilegal in Croatia and other eu countries also. So basically you were renting the flat for 600 euro and earning on someone elses flat 3000 eur. Who would like to live like that, make money out of someone elses property, really nice. If you liked Split so much there are always flats to rent in the suburb. Its not posh and nice and you would live among the real people of Split. You can find apartment there anytime
We didn’t sublet – we rented out on Airbnb with permission of the Landlord. It was a condition of our lease.
I’ve written that right there in the post (in blue, so that even semi-blind people can see it), so hold the judgement.
But you’ll also obviously only half read the post. There was a lot more to it than that as I wrote about here.
If you’re looking for a base to travel in Europe, you could hardly do better than Slovenia (where I am living now). Perfectly located (app. 250 kms east of Venice, 350 kms west of Vienna, 450 kms west of Budapest, 400 kms south of Munich), fantastic nature, clean and relatively orderly, no problems with English, nice and helpful, too self-deprecating but sophisticated people (certainly in Ljubljana) who are themselves keen travellers, and while rents are higher than they should be, probably you could get more value for money than in Split. Also, because of the Alps barrier it is mainly well protected against extreme weather.
You could try some of the Kras/Karst villages near the coast, to avoid harsh winters. In Piran, real estate prices including rents are very high. As a place to live, the local secret is – Izola/Isola. 🙂
You make it sound very appealing Helle! Where are you originally from?
Question is: what are requirements for 3rd party nationals?
Hi Frank – I am a mix, partly German, partly Italian, partly Sloveneian: the poster child for United Europe and its unofficial slogan “the more, the merrier”. 😀
Frankly, I don’t know about the requirements for non-EU citizens, but I suppose I could find out. There are many non-EU citizens living here, so it can’t be that difficult.
I’ll send you a link.
I could probably find something online but I was just wondering if you had personal experience. But whatever you have would be appreciated.
Izola huh? Ok, I’ll keep it a secret 🙂
I was very interested to read about your experiences in Croatia. As a local (born in Split, actually) I find myself not really impressed by the level of difficulty you faced. If that is all, I agree with you that you and Croatia are not really a good match, as there are many other things that could have gone wrong.
I suppose that you are used to things working in a certain way – I doubt that you will find anywhere other than your home country willing to behave in the way you are used to expecting: every expat has to adjust and make allowances, at least this is my experience from living abroad.
Best of luck in your personal journeys and adventures.
Thank you for your comment Kata.
There was a good reason that I didn’t participate in doing an interview with the newspaper that brought you here. It is not a story that can be summarized in a few short paragraphs. What is missing from the story is the background and context.
We lived in Montreal for 25 years before leaving to travel. We had worked all our lives to get to that point.
We came to Split and fell in love with it. We came back 3 times and each time said “wouldn’t it be nice to stay longer?”. So we ended up getting a 1 year Temporary stay which was relatively easy.
We would have stayed longer if Croatian immigration rules for 3rd party nationals were easier. The major issue was having to stay in Croatia 10 months out of the year. I have a son in Canada and an older mother in Mexico. Plus after 25 years in Montreal I wasn’t ready to stop travelling altogether. As I say, after a whole life of working I wasn’t ready to commit to 10 months out of 12 in Croatia. We are still in our 50’s and want to travel before we get too old.
If we were in our 60’s and under different circumstances we probably would have said “yes”, we’ll buy a house, we’ll stay in Croatia 10 out of 12 months of the year, we’ll do everything that is required to work towards permanent residency. I say this on the post. But sometimes the timing for things is not right and in our case it wasn’t the time.
But it is also the Croatian immigration laws which are 1) strict when it comes to 3rd party nationals (non-EU), 2) unclear (nobody in an official position has the same story), 3) and always subject to change. Maybe Croatia is not used to people like us wanting to stay there.
I’m a little surprised by the amount of hate (most of those comments go to the trash box) people have thrown our way when all we’ve ever said is that we love Croatia. If you go through this blog all we’ve ever done is say great things about Croatia and have promoted different places in the country. We’ve had issues with the immigration laws and have said so – but I’ve yet to met any Croatian who has anything good to say about their governance. Maybe foreigners aren’t allowed to complain.
But as I say, it is this background and context which was lacking in the newspaper story (which, I’d like to remind people, we never volunteered. They just went ahead and wrote about us using selected parts of different articles on this blog).
Take care Kata and thank you for being more polite than most in your comment.
Foreigner in the UK and Canada
I am sorry, but your storry is funny. You are complaining about laws and regulations for foreigners that are very similar in other countries. I live in the UK, so I know what I am saying. Maybe you should check Canadian laws and regulations for foreigners. By the way, who moves to another country before reading and understanding some basic laws? Childish…
Read some of the other comments so you get the full story.
Like the one above.
sorry to hear about you and your wife leaving Croatia.
My wife (Canadian, born in Montreal) and I (born in Croatia; moved to Canada with parents when I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper; lived in GTA for 48 years) moved to Croatia (Slunj, about 100km south of Zagreb, 30 kms north of Plitvice Lakes) last december. we also sold our house, and moved everything here.
Now, we’re in the process of building a house.
Croatia, as you have found out is a beautiful country with many nice people. That’s what attracted my wife here.
What makes her mad is the bureaucracy and the attitude of some people as well as businesses.
For example, she cannot have her own bank account – I have to open one, then give her permission to use it.
Byzantine banking laws, no less!
Family medical doctors are another joke; they won’t accept appointments, and they don’t answer phones.
You have to go there and wait sometimes 4-5 hours to be seen by one.
Specialists cannot give you a medicine prescriptions – they write a report, you have to walk it over to the family doctor who then writes you a prescription!
There are many, many things that can drive a person crazy in Croatia.
But, then my wife looks at the pleasant weather, the cost of living, the number of cafes (they’re everywhere), and she says, “we are staying in Croatia”.
Too bad we didn’t meet; would have a lot to talk about.
Split is only 2.5 hours away by car from Slunj.
It would have been a pleasure to meet you Nick. We could have traded stories.
You had the advantage of being Croatian and coming back (I imagine under family reunification Plan?). I met another guy playing football who was Canadian and who’s wife was Croatian. Ah, if only one of us was Croatian.
The actual story is a little more complicated than how it was presented in the newspaper.
We’d been travelling for 4 years and had our condo back in Montreal and our stuff in storage (also in Montreal). Last year when we were in Croatia we had an apartment with a big basement. And the last 4 years proved to us that we didn’t want to go back to Canada. We wanted to work towards permanent residency somewhere in Europe. That’s why we 1) sold the house, 2) brought our stuff over (which was a financial decision weighing the monthly cost of storage in Montreal vs shipping it here). So we didn’t do all that to necessarily move permanently in Croatia. We did it because it was complicated managing everything from a distance and we knew Montreal wasn’t the place we wanted to spend our old age.
We cut down our storage by 2/3 and it’s now sitting in Zagreb. And the day we’ve decided on another European base we’ll be having it trucked.
Funny your examples of Croatian bureaucracy. I didn’t know anything about the medical but we had our own issues with banking. And it was always weird going to the Police Station or HZZO where we were billed for something, only to be told to go pay it at the bank. So then you go to the bank, pay it, print out a receipt, and walk back to the police station or HZZO with proof of payment.
But like you we could have put up with all that. We did love our time there, especially my wife who must have been a Croatian in a former life the way she loves the country. In the end it was the laws on immigration for 3rd-party nationals (ie non-EU) that made us reconsider everything.
Never head of Slunj but just googled it and it looks like a very pretty place.
Congratulations on your life back in Croatia after all this time!
Unfortunately I have the worst experience with Canada then you with Croatia. My husband and I tryed to start our life in Canada, but for Croatian people that is almost impossible because you can’t even get the permission to work and study if you are 30+. Almost everyone that I met ( foreigners ) they work without the work permit and they earn 11, 12 dolars per hour ( the minimum in Canada is 15, i think ).
That is just 10 % of bad things I experienced. Apartments that people rent, gross…
When you write things like this about other countries, maybe start first with your country.
In Canada lives lot of foreigners, try to find out how they live and how long they wait to get permission to stay in Canada, if they get it.
Thanks for commenting Ivana.
You are comparing apples and oranges however. People don’t immigrate to Canada for the same reasons that they immigrate to Croatia. I agree Canada has a strict immigration procedure – people try to get into Canada to improve their lives and the country has always tried to attract young people with higher level of education. And there are many Croatians who have successfully resettled in Canada. And it’s not only Croatians that have a hard time – Lissette (ie. my wife Spanky) is originally from New York and it took her 6 months to get her first Visa and that is DESPITE having a company in Montreal offer her a job there. The company actually had to, because of laws, advertise the job in Canada beforehand. But she had a specialized job and that’s why she was finally granted a Visa.
So no, it’s not easy.
But as I say to Jorge in the other comment, people from Canada don’t come to Croatia for job opportunities. They might come to Croatia for family reunification (where the laws are easy) or, like us, to potentially live and retire there. And these laws are both strict and vague, especially if coming from a non-EU country.
A comparison would be Portugal or Spain, where many foreigners come to live and invest. We will probably end up doing the same, we both speak Spanish and might one day end up in Spain.
But we loved Croatia and had the laws been less complicated (or more importantly, clearer) we might have stayed more than one year.
As I say, you can’t compare because the intentions for people immigrating is completely different.
This is a travel blog and most of the people reading it are expats and full-time travellers who might be interested in one day in retiring in a place like Croatia. That is why I wrote the above post, it is for people similar to us who want to know how to do it and what the pros and cons are.
All the best.
Obična životna situacija koja nije vrijedna pažnje.
Oni bi željeli živjeti ovdje, ali im se ne sviđaju propisi. Fino. Idite dalje.
Propisi se razlikuju od države do države,a li ovo za strance je vrlo slično za sve EU zemlje. Problem je kad se tvoje želje ne uklapaju u ponuđeno. Hrvatska im nudi mogućnost da tu žive i rade, pod određenim uvjetima i za to ima razloga. Oni bi nešto drugo, no je njihov problem. Eto, niti Kanada im ne pruža što žele.
Mi imamo obitelji koje moraju proći određenu proceduru do dozvole boravka. Strpljivo poštuju propise.
Mi bismo voljeli putovati bez vize u Australiju i Ameriku, tamo imamo rodbinu i nije logično plaćati tolike takse, gubiti dane ako nisi iz Zagreba za vizu. No, moramo poštovati odluku dokle god se ne promijeni.
There is a reason we did NOT want do an interview with that Dalmatian newspaper. We didn’t want our story manipulated…we’re a bit disappointed that they chose to write about us anyway.
I understand what you say about other countries rules and I sympathize. I know how complicated it is for Croatians and we are privileged to have much more options.
But this post was aimed at expats who travel the way we do and who might be interested in settling somewhere like Croatia. Many do the same in places like Spain and Portugal. Those are the people who read this blog.
That’s why I wrote this, the good and the bad.
We loved Split and Croatia. But in the end they make it very complicated.
Hi, i cant believe you wanted to rent someone eleses apartment to the tourists while you re not in it. It is totaly ilegal, since you need a lot of paper work be done to do so. And pay tax .. where would those tourists be registered if your apartment os not registered? and so on and so on.. however, those paper works can do only the owner. And even then its complicated since there are many documents you need to start the process.
And for your information, landlords dont rent furnished apartments because they want so, but because market asks for it. Noone wants to go live in an apartment that is not fully furnished.
It is how things arw there. Which to be honest you should have asked and realize before moving out to Croatia and writinig things like this. If you go to another country then you adjust. I also travel, and in different countries are different rules.
Sorry for your bad experience.
I addressed some of that in other comments
– we could sublet, it was in our rental agreement
– we were registered, the owner had previously rented on Airbnb so we kept the registration and paid the monthly tax
That’s not to say that’s its impossible to find an apartment that is NOT furnished. Furnished is fine for a month or two…but do you want to live in someone else’s stuff for years at a time? We basically live in Airbnbs as we travel but if we settle somewhere for a couple of years we would want to furnish with our things. I think anyone, including Croatians, would.
I think we planned it all well and, as I say, it was the perfect of circumstances having a nice apartment that we could rent while travelling. That’s why when it fell apart we decided to move on – we knew it wouldn’t be easy considering the market conditions to find the same.
And the idea with the post is to warn people about some of the downsides of renting in a touristy place like Split. We know a lot of travellers who travel like us and who would like a base elsewhere. They want to know about rental laws, apartment availability etc. That’s why I wrote it.
Thank you for your feedback.
I was sad for you guys when I first read your post about how your Croatia residency went, but knew you’d bounce up and have some fun in a new destination…Thailand! How exotic! Glad to know you have a home base … and one with great food and a great gym!
Thank you Rebecca. I know you love the Balkans as well…we miss it but they don’t make it easy for potential expats, especially people like us who still want to travel part of the year.
That is pretty awful luck! Croatia is so beautiful, it would have been nice to have had a base there! We’re so sorry things turned out this way for you in Croatia… If you were renting in British Columbia, you’d have so many tenants’ rights, the landlord would find it almost impossible to kick you out (mind you, “selling” is one). If you can stand (or escape) the winters, maybe you should come back to Canada :-).
Thanks Janice. No, no, just can’t take Canadian winters again, even BC winters! 🙂
Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
I’m sorry to hear that your Croatian story finished in such a way..and as a person who’s actually Croatian and still lives in Croatia (and has an experience of living somewhere else, though it was short) I can fully agree with your statement of Croatian bureaucracy..it’s living hell. honestly Croatia is awesome for a holiday, but if you want to move here….different story, as you have seen
Thanks for a touch of Croatian reality Tanja. A lot of Expats dumped on me for this post on the Split Expat pages. I think everything is relative and when comparing to other places Croatia is backwards when it comes to bureaucracy. The worst thing is NOT KNOWING – some people will tell you this, some will tell you that. Lawyers are not consistent with their stories and it all seems to depend on which immigration office you go to. And what immigration office do you know where the staff doesn’t speak any language but Croatian? Croatia is a beautiful country and one day I’m sure things will be straightened out. But life is short…
Won’t stop us from visiting again, Lissette already planning when she can go back to Split 🙂
Hua Hin is known as god’s waiting room. Every other expat jokes about it. Was clean and reasonable prior to 2005. Really gone downhill since. It wouldn’t make my top 20 places to visit in Thailand. Some people like it. Not sure why.
Funny you mention Hua Hin when I made no mention of it anywhere on this post – funny because I was just writing my newsletter and in it I touch on Hua Hin: https://bbqboy.net/travelling-doha-thailand-getting-expat-hate-blogging-stuff-odds-ends-hygiene/ So we must have a psychic connection 🙂
You’re right, Hua Hin sucks. I think when Expats say they like it, they are referring to the long stretch of beach south of HH. The town itself has no redeeming qualities as far as I’m concerned.
Ah sorry, because Ron mentioned it. I get it now.
95% of female tourists love CM. I find it a bit touristy and ordinary. Will be there soon though for a few nights.
If you want some areas to visit – Chiang Dao, Chae Son NP, Phayao are a few options for you. The lake area in Phayao is nice. Hardly a foreign tourist goes there.
On your way back to Thailand Tom?
I think CM is a great place to chill. Yes, not as exotic as other places in Thailand but it’s a good intro for the foreigner.
Mrs Gilda Baxter
Frank, what a rollercoaster of events. Sorry to hear you left Croatia on such a dark cloud, but happy to see that you and Lissette have already bounced back with new ideas and moving own. You are resilient, amazing people. I loved Chiang Mai, such a great place to gather your strength back up and plan your next move. It is Croatia’s loss, in any case, and another country’s gain. Enjoy Thailand 🙂
Thanks so much Gilda, you are very kind. You’ve been to Chiang Mai as well? I’ll have to search through your blog.
We’ve been in Thailand a week now and I’m over Croatia. Lissette is still sad over what ‘could have been’,but she’s also getting over it. She still wants to visit Croatia is the future but I don’t think there are any dreams of settling there again.
Read through your post Frank…Sorry to hear about the closure experience in Croatia…can imagine (also read) the effort that was put in to move in there as a base.. i really hope the otherwise fantastic time that you had in Croatia is able to quash the sour memories… trust something else is waiting ..even more amazing !
Have a great time in Thailand..and in case you decide to visit India /Mumbai ..would like to meet you both 🙂
Hi Soumi. Thanks for your kind words. We really enjoyed our time in Split 🙂
Wow, India! Lissette and I would love to go there one day. It’s a place that on the one hand makes us a bit nervous but which we are very curious about.
I know we haven’t kept in touch lately but I just went to your blog (http://wandertoexplore.blogspot.in/ for others) and I’m mesmerized by your photos of Ladakh. In our apartment, we had chests and cabinets from Rajasthan and I’ve always been fascinated particularly by the northern states of India. We would love to meet you one day 🙂
Thank you again.
Oh that’s nice to know Frank , Rajasthan is gorgeous …and the north of India with the Himalayas is surreal…just very different from the rest of India…i agree can make you feel bit nervy…but armed with your vast travel experiences , you will be fine ! 🙂
and thankyou so much for sharing my blog link ..glad you enjoyed the post .. 🙂
Bummer! I never got a chance to rent the apartment. In fact, I haven’t been back to Croatia at all…darn. Sorry to hear that you have to move, but we will be moving from Germany in June as well. However, that was our choice. We are moving back to Japan for at least two years, maybe more. We are very excited! Hope all goes well with you two.
Wow, that’s a big move Corrine! Congratulations! I guess you’ll be doing some teaching? Where will you be based.
Well, Croatia will always be there and if you do go to Split our best friend Vedran has a nice apartment for rent. Always best to avoid June – Aug though.
Thanks for the wishes Corrine.
Its really cruddy news Frank – but we are sure you will rebound “sans problemes” !
Just remember the old saying:- ,
“Almost EVERY country is a Paradise *** (and they are) , but there is ALWAYS a Serpent in Paradise !
Its just a case of choosing your Serpent … “!!! .
The “2 base” idea is realistic, practical and works very well for most – and a great many we know – and with a few “exotic”
sidetrips during the year, makes for a great solution – including for slow travellers ….
We have been doing it part time for 20 years odd – the last 7 years full time – and sofar wouldn’t change it for the world …
No , Sorry, we made the move and 2 bases, in order to change things ‘for the world’ !
( *** the differences between them being the major reason as to WHY we travel )
We are convinced that within a short time you will look back on this ‘disaster’ from a far better vantage point, and Yes,
laugh about it ! Lets hope so. Remember, huge swarths of the entire Mediterranean coastline, from Greece
through to Portugal are beautiful – no, spectacular – all with their local culture, architecture etc – and the climate is very
similar along the entire coastal area .Hmmm…
Thanks Tony. You’re right there’s no perfect place. We’ve really enjoyed Croatia – but it’s like that beautiful woman who’s difficult and sometimes hard to understand. I’d give up a bit of beauty for a bit of logic and order.
sad it ended the way it did but you’ve enjoyed your time there for the most part. difficult when your future depends on other people and their decisions. look forward to your next adventure!
Thank you Andy!
You’re right Frank – that really sucks the big one. So sad to see all of your invested time, energy, money and hopes in a Croatian future base rendered naught. I can only imagine the disappointment and anger you both felt/feel and the mad scramble to come up with a completely different and workable plan. Rental markets in the Algarve are similar and really out-of-control and your cautionary story about Croatia is one to be aware of in any hot tourist market. On another note, here I am kicking myself that I didn’t make the short journey to Croatia while you were there.
Once again, we’re sharing a continent with you guys in Thailand and me in Cambodia/Vietnam but a meet-up isn’t going to work out this time either as I head back to Portugal later this week. (Looking forward to meeting your mom soon!) However, Thailand and Laos are top of my list for the end of the year as I fell in love with this region and I hope we can cross paths then.
Best of luck to you guys and, while this is trite and referring to my own optimistic outlook, things really will turn around for you. And, OMG, there’s always the food to sustain you!
Has this been your first time in South East Asia Anita? It can be a culture shock, can’t it? Sad we didn’t meet up but hopefully it will happen sometime in the future.
You’re bang on. It’s not just feeling screwed – it was all the energy, time, and MONEY. When we came we had to pay an introductory fee to Croatian Healthcare that was the equivalent to a full year’s cost for each of us. So basically we both paid double for Healthcare as third country nationals. Thanks Croatia. Then of course there was the commission to the real estate agent (one full month’s rent) and all the work on the apartment, painting and cleaning it (which the landlord never did). Plus shipping our stuff from Canada. And then to have him change his mind after telling us that he’d rent it to us as long as we wanted and that, worst case, he would always “advise us with plenty of time if anything changed”. All ended up being empty promises and as you can see we had to scramble to get our affairs in order. Leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Having a base in theory is great if all works out, but last year was definitely more expensive than travelling full-time (even excluding us shipping our stuff to Europe. We see that as in investment in a future long term base in Europe). I’m ready to move on to better things.
Check out Hua Hin if you’re considering staying in Thailand. I have a UK buddy who works in the oil industry and his rotation is 30 days on 30 days off. He’s been a BKK resident since 2004 and recently moved to Hua Hin about 2 years ago. He and his Thai wife love it down there. I think it might be a good fit for you two as it’s quite a bit cooler being on the ocean, WAY cleaner and less “drinking and whoring” oriented than Pattaya, you don’t have to deal with the smog from the annual burning of the fields up in the North, it’s only 2.5 hr drive to Suvarnabhumi Airport, and if you guys need a crazy night out the ferry to Pattaya is now running a regular schedule and once on the East coast Koh Chang is just another 5 hr drive south?
HA! Thanks Ron, but we’ve been to Hua Hin and when I wrote about it I got a lot of people upset: https://bbqboy.net/things-consider-settling-hua-hin-thailand-isnt-us/ As you can see, we didn’t much like Hua Hin. As I’ve said in the post, if you live OUTSIDE Hua Hin in a condo along the coast you might have a much different experience. The coastline is pretty. But Hua Hin, the town itself, is really nothing special and quite dirty. You are right about the annual burning of the fields here in the north, we are in Chiang Mai right now and it’s quite hazy (my mom lived here 5+ years). But it’s a chillax place and so easy as an expat, you have all the conveniences that you could ever want. I can see why so many people settle here between massages, great food, temples…It’s been 3 days but Split has kind of slipped from my brain.
I hear you. I’ve only been to Chiang Mai twice but both times the heat reminded me of Siem Reap in the summer and the smog was nasty! Also I’m a native Californian and being so far from the ocean is painful, I’d rather live in Patts over Chiang Mai but that’s just me. Another funky little beach town I really loved was Sihanoukville but I’ve heard it’s become very developed and that was IMHO why I liked it before? Have you two been to Kep?
That is certainly not what anyone would want to go through. At least you had the time there and are able to pause and decide on a new base. Good luck and keep us all posted.
Thanks Jane. Yes, at least we were able to enjoy Croatia for a year. Better than nothing.
A few thoughts for you Frank and Lissette,
I went through many hardships in my life (don’t remember if mentioned any when we met), but it never failed that FROM EVERY BAD SITUATION THERE ALWAYS WAS A GOOD ENDING. Believe in that, and you will both look back differently than right now. I am so sorry for your situation. It is incredible that Germany treated you so negatively while we know what happened there with all the refugees. Fake politics trumps it all. I was born in Austria and many years ago tried to get an Austrian passport and they turned me down….nestilly! but you are veterans of travel and re-location and you will likely find a better and happier place.
Thank you very much Sara. Lucija also couldn’t believe the German situation and I replied on that in detail in my reply to her comment above. Refugees – yes, exactly what crossed my mind at the time when all these young men were allowed into the country with barely a look at their background. Yet somehow I don’t meet the threshold of the laws. Gets my blood boiling.
HI Frank and Lissette
Wow we feel your pain-hopefully that is lessening more and more each day. It was very interesting and enlightening to follow your story of establishing your base in Croatia. Sorry you had to go through that but we have learned alot through your experience.
Paul and I are heading to Spain again in April to take another look around for a possible long term base. Since we haven’t found that yet we will still do the 90 day in the out of the Schengen EU dance rather than apply for a long stay visa.
We love love love Sevilla but the summers are too hot. As many folks have said-there is no one perfect place -so maybe 2 bases?
Will let you know what we find out.
In the mean time-have fun traveling again-get one or many of those great Thai massages.
Hi Paula! Please keep in touch because Spain also tops our list at the moment. I want to take a break from it all because I’m honestly fed up with paperwork after what we went through last year. Our blogger friend Kemkem is in Valencia and I’ve heard Alicante is also quite popular. I recommend joining the Facebook Group Expats in Spain (they also have a website: http://www.expatsinspain.eu/)
2 bases (or more) are fine as Nomads, but to rent 2 places on annual leases? That might be more headache than it’s worth, plus it would end up being restrictive. I guess there is no perfect solution.
Yes, lots of Thai massages and great food. We’ve also had some great Indian food in Chiang Mai, something we’ve always been addicted to (no Indian food in Split).
Anyway, keep in touch on Spain!
It is so sad to see such an unhappy end of your adventures in Croatia. But what does not kill us makes us stronger. God help you.
P. S. Thailand is not bad place for recovery.
Very true Victor. In Thailand you can forget/recover from anything. You might even forget what you just did an hour ago.
All the best to you both in Thailand and hope Thai food eases the sting left by the dysfunction of Croatia (and Split). I know I’ve said before how your posts on acquiring temporary visas and such were such a help for Samir and me.
It only took two months of being in our flat before hearing about prospective buyer’s coming to look at it. I was in total shock for the first couple of hours regarding the prospect of losing a great view in such short time but came to the conclusion, quickly, that something equally fabulous would come along whether it was in Split (or Rijeka or Istria). (Our flat remains on the market and I made peace regarding a future in Istria, lol.)
I’m actually in shock regarding the comments about your German born parents and the inability to extend rights to you which makes me only feel slightly better about the MUP employee in Split who laughed at me in 2016–were you able to share your parents’ birth certificates or transit papers with the consulate/embassy?
Means a lot saying that my posts on acquiring Temporary visas helped Lucija! Thank you.
So you are basically living the same experience we are if I understand correctly? I had a conversation with the Croatian lady who runs the laundry business nearby and she says the real estate situation is a major hassle for everyone and that frequent switching of apartments is a fact of live. I can take it as an Expat, at least we have choices, but as a local I would be pissed.
Yes, the German situation. I had to look at my notes because my research and visit to the German consulate were back in 2012:
German citizenship is mainly acquired and passed on through descent from
a German parent. The parent has to be German citizen at the time of the birth of the child. Children who are born to former German citizens do not acquire the German citizenship. In addition, for children born before January 1st, 1975 to parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth, it was mandatory that the father was a German citizen in order for the child to acquire the German citizenship.
In my case:
– My father came to Canada when he was 10. He no longer had German citizenship when I was born (although my mom did)
– I was born before 1975 (if I was born after it would be a different story).
– IF my parents had not been married at the time I would be eligible for German citizenship because my mom was German. But they were married and the rule above states that it is my father who would be required to be German.
So, despite both my parents having German birth certificates and a German wedding certificate, I fall through the cracks on the law (based on Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz) on January 1st, 2005). I consulted both the German consulate as well as a German lawyer on the above and got nowhere.
I’m still dumbfounded about your rights as a German born abroad but then again recall that Samir’s relatives went to Germany as refugees and were subsequently told to leave after a few years, which they did.
We are sort of in the same boat as you were regarding temporary residency save for my application for citizenship. Samir was told our rent will be raised in July and the amount of the increase will determine whether or not it’s time to move on from Split. Like you, I always wonder how locals survive here.
Come to Belgrade!! :-))))
It’s actually not a bad idea Igor, we liked Belgrade. Lot less expensive too. But our Croatian friends would really hate us 🙂
We know a few Expats living in Belgrade and they have good things to say. But any idea of the immigration rules? I don’t know if they would be any progressive than they are in Croatia…
Wow, sorry for the sucker punch from your landlord. One day you’ll look back and thank him, obviously ‘home’ is not meant to be in Split.
Appreciate the comment Paula 🙂
Sorry Frank, it looks like you had such a bad luck. I can vouch that all the non EU citizens have many obstacles to get their residency In Croatia. Not to go In specifics of your case, this is young country with multitude of economic and political problems, looking for it’s identity in EU. Certainly does not understand the people like us, coming here to spend our hard earned money and spend golden years here… I.am sure that destiny has equaly beautiful and exciting place for you in near future. Keep in touch and good luck!
Thank you very much Samir. Very well summarized. I appreciate your kind words.
I am sorry for you that things did not work out in Split – but hey now you are on the road again and enjoying the sun in Thailand! And I am already looking forward to your stories…What about Berlin, next time you think about a permanent base?
We’ve actually never been to Berlin Natasha. Honestly, I always thought Germany too expensive and winters too grey. But it’s one of our favorite countries to visit, just wouldn’t be able to cope with winters…
It’s ironic that, bottom line, we’re aiming for permanent residency in Europe because both my parents are German born. Unfortunately they both left under different circumstances where neither has a German passport. Many years ago I went to the German consulate in hopes of finding a solution or loophole but they turned me away. I’ll never forget, I was sitting next to an Asian kid in the waiting room who had a German passport because his mother was German. He had it automatically. Yet I, born of 2 German parents, have no possibility of ever getting permanent residency unless going through the application process. I would have had a better chance being a refugee.
Sorry, still burns me. Everything, including in Croatia (where we are considered 3rd party nationals being from outside the European Economic Union), would be so much easier.
I just came across your blog and I have been following some of your past travel experience with great interest.
That is really crazy. I mean being turned away from the German consulate like that despite you having German ancestry. Anyway, I wish you and Lissette would find a better or nicer and less bureaucratic place to call home soon.
I too am thinking of traveling again to find myself a good, affordable, trustworthy, interesting base or a place that I can build a new live with people that I have in common with. Presently, I’m really miserable and depressed that I am stuck in a hot and humid place in South East Asia. I am not sure about going to Europe but I am keeping my options open at the moment and perhaps can come to a decision soon after reading and researching more from your blog.
Hard to find that perfect base isn’t it? We’re right now in Thailand and honestly love it this time around (so far). But Lissette missed Europe. The ideal would be to find a European base where we can work towards permanent residency while continuing to travel. We’ll take a break from the base thing for a while (last year’s experience was exhausting) but eventually I know we’ll have to work towards it…
I should write the German consulate again. I doubt anything has changed but I still can’t get over not been eligible for German citizenship. Maybe I should write a post about it and see what kind of feedback I get….
Thanks for commenting Wendy. Where are you in SEA?
Well damn, Frank. That’s just lousy. But, the Pollyanna in me (sometimes I have to really dig deep to find her) tells me that you just weren’t supposed to be there. It’s simplistic, I know, but as you say having the apartment gave you the stability to settle Montreal for the good. And, I remember you telling me (when I asked why you were shipping things to Croatia) that even if you didn’t stay in Split, at least you’d have your belongings in Europe and that was a good thing. Hold that thought.
Exactly what I’ve thought Patti. You’ve followed my train of thought perfectly.
Guys, I had no idea you had even tried to make Croatia home. Sad to hear it all ended up the way it did. But renters market is disaster at the moment all over Croatia. Where are you heading now?
Thanks Frank. Yes, renters market bad and the laws skewed to the landlord. One month pre-advice in a place where renting an apartment so difficult? Again, much of it is due to government and lack of regulations. It’s a shame, we could really have had a go with Croatia. But I think, and I wrote before we even settled in Croatia, that Spain would be a more logical base for us (we both speak Spanish). We want to travel a while but I think it won’t be that long before we think of settling down somewhere else.
I’m sorry this happened to you guys. I know how much Spanky loved Split. It means that better options will come along hopefully. I remember her not liking Thailand much last time around, but l don’t think you were in the same area, so maybe you’ll like it better now and settle there? Seems visa runs are pretty standard in that part of the world..but l also know they have the non-lucrative ones..no? I hope the greedy bastard doesn’t find a buyer :-).
Thanks Kemkem. We’re in Chiang Mai and I can already vouch for it as an excellent base. No wonder so many Expats and Nomads are here: great food, everything incredibly affordable, everything is set up for the foreigner…all very easy. And the Thais are always friendly.
We’ve been here a few times but the longest I think was 3 days. We’re starting here for a month and we’ll see how we’ll spend our next 2 months in the region.
Yeah, we’re not wishing our former landlord the best of luck…
I’m from Canada, near Vancouver. I also have a house in Croatia, just outside Split. Been coming here for the last ten years. Love it. You’re complaining that you fell victim to the rental rules in Croatia. Rental rules exist everywhere. In Vancouver we need to give two months notice if we want to sell a property occupied by a tenant. Montreal may have 3 months. In Croatia they have one month. That’s life. Respectfully, you also had options if you really wanted to stay in Croatia. As you said they were to either have a lease in place or owning property. Both of those options were open to you when you got that notice. You said buying was not an option because you felt that government corruption was somehow a problem. Yes there is corruption. I see articles every other week about some new official being charged for taking a bribe. But that has noting to do with buying property here. People buy property every day and don’t pay anybody off. They get a good lawyer, who checks to make sure that you will get what your paying for, registers it for you and you’re done. If the truth is that you couldn’t afford to buy than you could have rented outside of Split, anywhere, in order to keep your visa alive and then taken your time to find something in Split that you might be happy with. With respect, every society has rules that we all have to deal with and if you really wanted to stay in Split, ready options were available to you. Nobody told you to leave and nobody put an obstacle in front of you that couldn’t have been dealt with. Regretfully, you have used this platform to criticize Croatia for something that you had control over or did not properly plan for.
Thanks Tom. You live in 2 beautiful parts of the world.
I know the newspaper story that led you here. They mostly did a good job (we didn’t volunteer an interview) but a few things were missed. Mostly our issues having to do with Permanent residency: https://bbqboy.net/working-towards-permanent-residency-in-croatia-as-non-eu-citizens-and-why-we-decided-to-give-up-on-the-idea/
Short term we were mid-January when we received notice. Our stay expired March 1. We would have been out anyway and the idea had been to rent out the apartment when we were away. Since we were losing the apartment we decided to put our stuff in storage. No way were we going to find a new place and be set up before March 1. And noway were we going to be in a positon to rent out an apartment (we had pretty much ideal conditions in the other).That’s why I mention the 1 month notice which really put us in a bind.
Long Term it was the Permanent residency rules. We’re not ready to completely stop travelling and we have family outside Croatia. Travelling 2 months/year was not going to do it.
Buying: I’m not comfortable with Croatia as a place to invest money. You might believe otherwise.
So it was combination of events which our normal readers familiar with. I didn’t chose to have our story published.
Sorry you had such a greedy landlord! What a jerk. I hope Lissette finds another place she loves in a country that is more friendly toward foreigners seeking residency. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on Thailand and Malaysia. Personally, I find Asia more interesting, friendly, and exotic than Europe. Southern Europe is beautiful, but the mañana mentality, corruption and inefficiencies would preclude me from ever wanting to live there. Northern Europe would be perfect, except for the brutally cold weather. It’s hard to find that right fit. It especially sucks when you’ve found it and can’t stay.
Thanks Nikki. All you say is true. Asia is all you say, but I think as a foreigner you live more in a bubble than you do in Europe. In Europe you can integrate, you won’t stick out as much as a foreigner. And it all depends how well you cope with the tropical climate. If it were up to me it would probably be SEA…but Lissette loves Europe. They both have their pros and cons. The ideal would be to have a base in both 🙂
Objectively, all that happened was that the landlord had a turn of events in His life and decided not to renew the lease. Here in America, the landlord also has 30 days to notify. Subjectively, it was Inconvenient and disruptive for you and you decided not to pursue other avenues of living in Croatia. But I understand the feelings. Real bummer
I think the biggest disappointment is that someone’s word and handshake doesn’t mean anything anymore. He’s the one who had approached us about staying longer and once that happened we invested more in the apartment. And to then get just a little over a month’s notice…
And the bigger issue is that in order to renew a Temporary Stay in Croatia you need a notarized lease.
1 month notice in the US?? We have 3 months in Canada. At least 2 months is common in most places in Europe. I didn’t know it was so short in the US.
Thanks for taking time to comment.
Greedy? They were subletting his property? Did he know about this? I own a property in the UK and about 10 years ago 1 month notice was the law, I was an estate agent! I rent my property out and would kick out anyone who is abusing the property! You have to be an idiot not to be able to find a property to rent in 6 weeks! My conditions in the UK are the property is fully furnished and that’s it, I can’t shift furniture to enyone needs plus where do you put it, in your living room? I don’t think so!!!
You need to ask tons of permission in order to do what you want to do? They wanted to make profit and not pay a penny for accomodation! I bet it’s worse in Canada, it’s not your property and you can’t use it for trading, illegal activities and the list is long!
– subletting was in the agreement. The owner didn’t care because that’s what he did before we rented it on a lease. The fact of the matter was that he didn’t care – it wasn’t technically his property (he had power of attorney because his aunt was sick) and doing it on Airbnb was too time-consuming. That’s why he was eager to rent our to us.
– We in no way abused his property, in fact we invested in it: painting, cleaning, updating a few things he had and buying a new stove. As I say, it belonged to his aunt and all he cared about was getting cash out of it with the least possible work.
– No, you won’t find a centrally situated (nice) apartment in Split that is unfurnished in 6 weeks. It’s a renters market geared towards tourists. Even furnished, you’ll be hard pressed finding an apartment in Split because locals prefer to rent it through Airbnb to summer tourists.
It worked out for everyone: we had a beautiful apartment that was close to the beach, could rent when travelling, and we could furnish as we please. In return he had older, mature renters who he could trust not to trash the place and he collected a rent that was above market (no local would pay 600 Euro month plus utilities). He had let the place fall into neglect, we spruced it up for him.
We are the first to say that we had the ideal conditions. But he did as well and he told us that on many occasions.
That changed when his aunt died. He had to pay a 10,000 Euro inheritance tax, plus he had people asking about the property (neighbors combing through the obituaries). That’s when he decided he wanted to sell.
Our only complaint is that this happened a month after HE came to us asking us if we were interested in renewing. And as I say, upon that news we had invested in more things for the apartment…
THAT’S our issue.
I am from Split, born and live here whole life. I’ve been reading you and whole truth and problem stay at one word, corruption. It is not landlord guilt in this case. If women died, that automatically change whole situation and there is nothing landlord can do about it. In Croatia you need to know “right” people on right places to get things done easier and that is communist legacy. Birocracy is big and unfunctional and all politicians are crooked. Just one thing, in Germany, about 40 000 people work in state administracion for 80mill citizens. In Croatia that number is 250 000 for 4mill citizens. Hope things will change in Cro and wish you guys all the best in searching. It’s sad you didn’t stay cause i think you could but you need to accept that Cro is not Canada in many things. But once you get things done Croatia is great for living. And it’s better and safer to buy a house or apartment if you can then rent it. Specially if you got a person that you can trust, like Sandra in this case, i think it’s easier and safer. Sorry about lyric mistakes, i haven’t write in English for a while.
Thank you for the comment Goran.
You are right that things complicated in Croatia. And the laws are not clear and open to interpretation. Every time we needed to find out information our lawyer would have to go to the Police station for clarification. And depending who she talked to the answer would be different.
And if an expat is in another city they will get a different answer.
We were told by another expat for example that they were told by another immigration center (in Trogir) that applicants working towards Permanent Residency should not leave the country for more than 30 days at a time or they risk being denied of the whole process.
Where is this written? Who can confirm this? Well, it seems nobody can. It all depends on who you talk to. This is very frustrating if you want to stay in Croatia but NOBODY seems clear on what the actual rules are.
In the end, we were just not ready to commit to all the regulations. Maybe if we were 60+ and didn’t like to travel so much. But Croatia’s rules about staying in the country quite strict and we were just not ready for that kind of sacrifice.
Thank you for your comment and opinion.
That is sad to be told yes you can stay for at least another year and one month later no…best of luck to both of you. Safe travels-:)
Thanks so much Ivana! Yes, it sucks. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be…
Beautiful place. But I don’t know if it’s anymore expat-friendly than Croatia…and also has very seasonal tourism.
No way. Montenegro, to keep temporary stay permit for one year you are allowed to travel only 30 days per year… Unless you buy there any residential property.
And it’s much dirtier than Croatia
It has beautiful nature, but after every stay there (we’ve spent there in summary about 5-6 months within last 3 years), we always leave with reasons against moving there permanently
Thank you Andrey, great info.