Looking back at 2017…and forward to 2018
2017 was not outwardly the most exciting year on the blog. We spent most of the year in Split (Croatia) setting up a base and getting temporary residency for a year. In all I spent 13 weeks out of Croatia during the year, going to Canada (to clean up some affairs), Mexico, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Bosnia and Hercegovina. Lissette travelled even less, the only time she left Croatia were the 5 weeks we spent in Prague.
2018 will be different. We won’t be renewing our temporary residency and will be leaving Croatia on March 1st. We will be out of Croatia until at least the end of September. So we will be getting back to travelling full-time. A bit more on that decision further below.
I love these yearend posts because it means re-reading my post from this time last year…and seeing that what we thought was going to happen was actually very different than what actually happened in 2017.
This time last year we thought we would stay in Split for 3 months before travelling through Eastern Europe. We thought that we’d maybe go back to Africa, but we also worried about our tenants in Montreal and whether or not they would renew the lease on our condo. All our plans were contingent on that (as they have been every year we’ve rented out the condo). Finally, we’ve been thinking of setting up a base somewhere and wondered if 2017 would be the year.
Here is what actually happened in 2017
Note: I’m writing this down for ourselves as much as anyone else. Both Lissette and I have bad memories.
January and February (Split)
We had talked of making Split a base later in the year. But since we were here we decided to look into it some more. We got advice from a lawyer and consulted a real estate agent.
Above: Bacvice beach, just a few minutes from our apartment in Split.
It’s not something that we had planned, it just happened. Everything fell together. We found the perfect apartment within a few weeks and the lawyer made everything easy. In early February we signed a lease and a few weeks later we submitted all our paperwork to the Croatian Police for a 1 year Temporary Stay.
March – May (Split)
March 1st we moved into the new apartment and spent 2 weeks cleaning and painting. It was around this time that we received word that we were accepted to stay in Croatia for a year.
It was around this same time that we received word from our tenants in Montreal that they would not be renewing their lease with us. That left us with a decision: find new tenants or sell the condo? We also had all our belongings in storage in Montreal and were paying almost $300 a month for the storage unit (for the last 3 years). We decided to: 1) sell the condo, 2) ship all our belongings to Split (our apartment here comes with a large basement). We basically decided that it was time to divest ourselves of all the physical assets we had in Montreal.
Much of this period was spent trying to sell the condo (which we succeeded on doing within 6 weeks) and arranging for the shipment of our belongings.
Late May – early July (Montreal and Mexico)
In late May I left Lissette behind and went to Montreal. That big event that first week was to load the truck with all our stuff at the storage unit. From there it went to the port where it would be shipped to Split (to arrive a month later). The second week was about signing off on the sale of the condo and getting a big fat cheque. During this time I also saw friends and family that I hadn’t seen in a few years. I was especially happy seeing my son who is currently in his last year of university.
Above: On El Chepe cutting through the cliffs of the Copper Canyon.
From Montreal I went to Mexico. The first week was my travel highlight of the year – riding El Chepe from Chihuahua to Los Mochis . From Los Mochis I went to Guadalajara and then on to San Miguel de Allende where my mom lives. We spent 10 days together, visiting San Cristobal de las Casas (in Chiapas) and Mexico City. Over the course of the last 5 years my mom has introduced me to most of Mexico.
Below: Cathedral in San Cristobal de las Casas
July 1st I flew back to Montreal, took care of a few last details, saw my son again – and then flew back to Split.
Early July – early August (Split)
During the last week of my time in Mexico Lissette had received the container holding all our belongings. She had spent night and day cleaning and organizing and was exhausted by the time I arrived in Split. But she had succeeded in making the apartment looked fantastic.
Why the rush? August is high season in Split and we wanted to rent our apartment while getting some much needed dental/medical stuff done in Prague. We succeeded – on short notice we managed to rent 3 of the 4 weeks of August.
Early August – early September (Prague)
We spent all of August in Prague. It’s where we always go to see the dentist and to get our checkups – the price is good and the quality great. Although it didn’t feel like much of a vacation (because getting 3 cavities filled and having endless medical exams isn’t a vacation) we still had time to enjoy Prague. We’ve spent a lot of time here over the years and we’ve come to love it more with each visit. It’s a place we could live (at least in the summer).
You might enjoy this one:
Guns, Strippers – and other Unusual things to see and do in Prague (don’t judge us – we had to let loose a bit in Prague)
Early September – late November
After 8 months pretty much filled with organizing, paperwork, setting up the apartment, and getting medical stuff done, we finally felt that we could relax and enjoy our time in Croatia. We had weekend trips to some of the Croatian islands (Brač and Korčula) as well as to the coastal town of Makarska. In between we’ve enjoyed just living in Split and doing activities with friends.
Late November – 1st week December
In late November I took the train from Split, stopping in Zagreb for a night before continuing on to Budapest where my mom was staying for the month (on her way to Thailand). I spent a week showing her around Budapest (another of my favorite cities) and then, spontaneously, decided I would go back to Split via Sarajevo. I spent an interesting week in Sarajevo. From there I took the bus back to Split.
Below: with my mom in Budapest
1st week December – end of the year
We’ve started to grow roots in Split: we have a nice bunch of Croatian friends and I’ve also played football (soccer for North Americans) with a group of Expats on Monday nights. Over Christmas we were invited to a friend’s house for a typical Croatian lunch with their family. On New Year’s eve we’re hosting a party that includes our Croatian friends as well as a Canadian couple that decided to come to Split because of the blog (it’s always nice to know we help in inspiring people).
So that was our 2017.
Looking back it wasn’t the most relaxing year. We did achieve a few things however:
1) We have a base in Croatia.
2) We’ve sold the condo and moved all our belongings to Croatia. Lissette and I have known for quite a while that we didn’t want to move back to Canada. Liquidating our assets there feels like a relief. We also no longer have to plan our travels around tenants. What we did this year just makes our lives simpler.
Our Plans for 2018
We had hoped to renew our Temporary Residency in Croatia in the hopes of working towards Permanent Residency (which you can apply for after 5 years). But after meeting with our lawyer and reviewing the conditions for both Temporary and Permanent Residency, we decided that we just weren’t ready to commit. I’ll write about it more at some point…but the major sticking point is that working towards Permanent Residency would require us to stay in Croatia an average 10 months per year for the next 5 years. We love travelling and I also have family outside Croatia – so staying put is something I’m not ready to do (maybe at some point, but not now).
Are we disappointed? A bit. Especially Lissette. I don’t think you’ll meet anyone who loves Croatia more than she does. If Croatian immigration policy was a bit easier we would probably have decided to work towards Permanent Residency. But it isn’t.
So we’re going to go back to what we were doing before, that is visiting Croatia as tourists (where we are allowed to stay 3 months within a 6 month period). It actually works out perfectly: we can stay up to 6 months of the year in Croatia, enjoying our base in Split, and spend the rest of the time travelling while renting out our apartment. Our plans at this point are to do that as long as we can (or want). After that we’ll see…
So our travel plans for this year? We’ll be in South East Asia from March to June, spending time in Thailand and Malaysia (and maybe Bali). We haven’t been to SEA since 2014 and look forward to the great food, massages, and seeing Buddhist temples.
In June we’ll come back to Europe and plan to spend 3 months exploring Poland, Ukraine, and Moravia (the eastern part of the Czech Republic).
We’re planning to be back in Split in late September/early October and spend at least 2 months here before going somewhere exotic in mid-December. Maybe Africa? No idea at this point.
Updated: The above has all changed as detailed in this post. We are back to being travellers without a home and will be doing a lot of travelling in 2018.
Thanks for Reading!