Split (Croatia), apartments, condos, and on being temporarily grounded

Newsletter on being grounded in Split Croatia

views on Palace, split

March 14, 2017

I just realized that we’re in March and I haven’t written a Newsletter in 3 months. Lots has happened since then.

When I wrote the last newsletter (on December 18th), we had just arrived in Belgrade, Serbia after 7 weeks in Japan. We really enjoyed Belgrade and I guess it showed on our post. It somehow caught the eye of Serbia’s largest newspaper and they asked us a few questions for an article in their newspaper. I had mentioned to Lissette that “some newspaper in Serbia wants info from us” and was almost put out that I had to answer a bunch of questions. Our article on Blic brought us 8,000 new visitors a day for 3 or 4 days. Better yet, we received all kinds of comments from Serbians: kind words, recommendations, and even offers of free lodging for our next time in Serbia. We even have a few Serbs that have become email friends and who we might look up the next time there. Wow. Even before this we were incredibly impressed with Serbians we met. Now we have to go back. People ask why we would even be bothered visiting places like Serbia or Macedonia or Armenia (we haven’t been to this last one  – but we’ve just had someone contribute a guide and I’ve had people gush about how much they love Armenia). Well, it’s because of the experiences and people you’ll meet along the way. Places that get a lot of tourists don’t really care that much, places that don’t get a lot of tourists appreciate that you make it to their country and go an extra step in being welcoming. As a traveller there’s nothing better.

We left Belgrade on December 23rd (both sick with flus) and, after 7 hours on the train, arrived in Zagreb where we spent Christmas. The highlight was finding a very average Indian restaurant and eating Indian food on Christmas eve. We haven’t been lucky with Zagreb, both times we’ve gone we’ve had issues with people, apartments, or being sick. It’s not our favorite place. Maybe we’ll have a better experience sometime in the future.

Below: Zagreb


On Boxing day (Dec 26th) we left Zagreb by train and had an incredibly scenic 6 hour train ride over the mountains to Split. It is amazing the temperature difference between the interior (it was around zero in Zagreb) and the Adriatic coast. It was sunny and about 18 C when we arrived in Split, the outdoor cafes on the Riva were full of people. Sitting there in the sun and having a coffee while watching life go by was the first thing we did. We love Split.

Below: Split

along the waterfront, Split


A few months ago I had written a post on our shortlist of places that we would consider for a base. We said 2017 might be the year.

Everything has unfolded much quicker than expected.

We now have an apartment in Split that we’ve signed a 1 year lease on. We took possession on March 1st but will officially move in this coming weekend. We’ve also filed papers with the Croatian government to extend our stay for a year and should have confirmation on that this week* (Just as I was typing this up I’ve received word that our temporary residence has been approved. Yay!)

* I can hear people saying “you signed a lease and don’t have a confirmation on being able to prolong your stay?” Yup. It’s a pretty screwed up process in Croatia and I’ll be writing about all that in an upcoming post.

Below: That’s our apartment balcony. We’re going to beautify the space a bit and have lots of BBQs out here.

apt balcony, Split

Then we found out that our tenants in Montreal, after 3 years of renting, won’t be renewing the lease on our condo. So, after weighing our options, we put the condo on the market last week. Let me know if you’re looking for a beautiful condo in Montreal.

So everything has kind of happened at the same time and after a leisurely 1st month in Split where we visited sites and did some hiking, the last 2 months have been spent buried in administrative stuff. It’s exciting setting up a new base – but dealing in details is something we haven’t done in a while. We’re also itching to travel again.


So our plans?

The whole idea with having a base was to have a place to come back to between trips. The plan is to travel about 6 months out of the year, renting out the apartment while we’re travelling.

We hope that the condo in Montreal sells over the next few months. When that gets done, I’ll be heading there, closing the sale, and arranging to ship some of our stuff to Split. I’ll also be visiting my mom in Mexico (I always love Mexico).

We’re hoping that by July everything is settled and that we can do some travelling again. We wrote about our plans in our 2016 wrapup. Nothing has changed except for the timing – we hope to visit Ukraine, Poland, and Moravia (eastern Czech Republic) once we’ve settled all the administrative stuff. No idea after that, we’ll see where we are then.


If our present “travels” sound a bit boring they’re not. We’ve enjoyed Split over the last few months in ways most tourists don’t have a chance to. We’ve had days where we’ve had sun over the city while just behind snow was seen falling in the mountains. We had a 10 day cold spell where temps fell to -5 C (the coldest winter in 50 years locals told us). In between that we’ve had many days in the high teens, the sun warm. We’ve had some nice walks and hikes. I bought a basketball and today played outdoors with a bunch of 15 years olds, blocking a few shots and even stripping the ball away a couple of times. Life is good and I can’t think of too many places that are more perfect.

A few photos over the last few months here in Split.

split in January, Croatia

views from Marjan hill, Split with biokovo in snow


Posts coming up in the next little while:

I’ll be writing about how to find an apartment in Split and will include a few photos of our apartment (I’ve already had a few people enquire about renting it. If interested, let me know – dates aren’t fixed yet but our plans would be to rent late summer/early fall). It’s not an easy process finding an apartment here and we consider ourselves lucky how things have worked out.
Ever thought of prolonging a stay in Croatia? Again, it’s not easy. I’ll write a post on the whole “temporary stay” process that we’ve gone through. We’ve got some blogger friends in Portugal who’ve gone through the same process there and as expats it’s interesting to compare notes. Anyone thinking of making Croatia home for a while will find this interesting.
– I’ve got a few hikes up mountains and fortresses in the Split area that I have to cover.
A final post on Japan covering people and their dogs. Japan is a pretty crazy place.
I’ve got a few other posts in my head about the whole concept of leaving your job to travel. It’s been brewing and when I’ve gotten my brain around it I’ll upchuck it on the blog. Or maybe I won’t. Most of the stuff I write is just spontaneous and the mood has to strike me.

Below: We couldn’t believe it when we saw flowers coming out mid-February here in Split.

Thanks for reading and enjoy Spring. Unless you’re in Canada and have to wait another 2 months. HA! (Sorry…)




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  1. As a mother of an only child, a son, I can’t tell you how much I love the fact that you make a point to visit your mother every year. Random thought. 🙂

    1. Thanks Patti. We’ve always be close and have travelled a lot together. When I was in university in Montreal my mom was working in Africa. So a couple of years in a row I’d fly down to Zambia and Zimbabwe to see her for Christmas. Another time I met her in Lake Toba, in Sumatra, in the middle of the night…another in Granada, Nicaragua. We’ve always had meeting points in different places because my mom was a traveller way before I was. Now I go and meet up with her in Mexico every year 🙂

  2. Congratulations! I look forward to hearing more about how you worked out the details. We’re just getting started on our nomad-ish adventures and we’re in Split right now. It’s every bit as wonderful as you say. You get the Lion’s share of the credit for that decision, so thanks!

    1. Hi Mary – ah, great to hear that people take my advice!! I hope you are enjoying it, not too rough a winter here is it? (have friends on Montreal who just wrote me about the latest snowstorm).
      By the way, great veggie restaurant in the old town called “Marta’s Veggie Fusion”. Best hamburger in town, and it’s totally vegetarian. And cheap. Really recommend you try (around the corner from the bell tower)

      1. I could handle spending winter here. We’re from Chicago so we know winter, through compared to you Canadians we’re pikers.
        Thanks for the tip on Marta’s. We’ll check it out. If you have the time, we’d love to offer you guys a burger of thanks. We’re in town for another 10 days.

        1. Hi Mary,
          That would be very nice 🙂 We’ve been pretty busy with admin stuff and the beginning of the week pretty charged – but later this week should be good for us. How about I write you a private email mid-week?

    1. Cool! I’m not sure if I’ll actually be here…all depends on our condo in Montreal. But if so would be nice to finally meet you.

  3. OK, I am going to say with confidence that we will be seeing each other this summer. We fly to Belgrade in early April and will be spending a couple of months in the Balkans and WILL be passing through Split. Could you perhaps send me a private message with the dates you will definitely be in Split if you have them and we can plan accordingly! Cheers, Mark

    1. Great Mark! Yes, our dates (more specifically my dates) will depend on our condo in Montreal. I might have to go back in June but if it sells faster (we had our first offer yesterday) then I’m hoping I might go in May…I’ll let you know when things tighten up.

  4. Frank, how awesome it is to read that you have just gone through a cycle of deciding to find a base and the down selection process, making Split your base ~ which we enjoyed reading about the first time around ~, the administrative hassles of concretizing the base and then of course, the near instant pull to consider your next travel options. Do you know my wife? (Maybe you are an Aires like her?)

    This feels very familiar to us as we too have gone through the cycle a few times, the most recently being with our decision of Sri Lanka, as you know, as home base, and our prior decision to be based in Hoi An, Viet Nam. It is a thrilling process. Enjoy Split, hopefully we will get there one day, it certainly looks beautiful and NO none of these destinations sound boring!


    1. HA! Yes, well we want a base to come back to but doesn’t mean we want to stop travelling. It’s a very marketable apartment that was an Airbnb apartment last year but the owner couldn’t be bother anymore. So we can figure we can have a base here and do a lot of exploring in the area. Yeah, the best of both worlds…

      Thanks for the kind words Peta.

  5. So cool that you had a great time in Belgrade. I have many friends there and love the place. I am so happy to hear you’ll be living in Croatia for the next year. Split is fantastic (a city of my childhood), but Zagreb…. hm, I feel almost challenged to rectify all those trips gone wrong for you. And yes, I also ended up eating Chinese for Xmas one year!
    Visit in late May…early June. I’ll show you around. You’ll love Zagreb. Actually, let’s make it into a challenge. If I show you my Zagreb, I bet you’ll love it kind of challenge… 🙂

    1. That’s a great challenge that we will take you up on one day Andrea! 🙂 Thank you for the offer, we have to see it properly. And the journey by train from Split is quite pleasant…

  6. Congrats (cestitamo) on making the decision on Split, Frank and Lisette!

    We have been enjoying Istria and Opatija for close to one month but still absolutely love Split making a hard decision about where to settle (closer to Sarajevo and Brela as opposed to closer to Venice). I look forward to reading about your temporary residency escapades–we were met with a bunch of excuses as to why it would be difficult for us to gain temporary residency whereas friends of ours who are a retired American/Canadian couple went with their landlord and had nary an obstacle.

    We’ll be there after a few days in Herceg Novi and it would be nice to meet you both.

    1. Let us know when you are in Split Lucija and if we can we’ll set something up.

      For the temporary residence: you really need to speak Croatian and it really helps to have a lawyer. Forms are usually bilingual BUT have to be filled out in Croatian. Also, very much depends on which police station, which clerk, and if the sun is out etc… 🙂 You get the idea.
      Yes, it will be quite a detailed post, hopefully there are some people out there that it might help.

      Frank (bbqboy)

      1. I can attest the employees at the main MUP station are not fond of half-Herzegovinians with a toddler’s command of Croatian (even if their Bosnian husband does speak the language). To be fair, the Sarajevo MUP is also an episode of Balkan Ninja Warrior. 🙂

        HZZO, on the other hand, were extremely nice and helpful.

        1. Yes, I believe you that they might not be fond of Herzegovinians, even half ones.
          Sorry, you lost my on the abbreviations. What are MUP and HZZO?

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