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Why Retiring in Croatia is a Good Idea

The country's culture, history and natural beauty
make it a delightful place to retire

According to government statistics, about 1.4 million Americans receive their Social Security checks abroad. In the past couple of decades, retiring in your favorite vacation spot has become part of the American Dream. This is one of the ways of enjoying your days in retirement to the fullest – sunny days, turquoise waters, sandy beaches… Sounds like heaven. However, as these tropical retirements have become more and more popular, people are starting to look beyond the usual destinations.

One such idea that is slightly off the beaten track is retiring in Croatia. Nestled in the heart of Europe with one of the most beautiful European coasts, Croatia is the destination to provide you with that heady mix of culture, history, and natural beauty that will make your days in retirement a delight. Let’s take a look at why retiring in Croatia is a good idea.

Visovac Island in the Adriatic Sea.
The tiny island of Visovac is just one of the many islands in the Croatian
Archipelago
 that make this coast so appealing.

Why is it a good idea to retire in Croatia?

The climate

Croatia’s climate is definitely a major reason for bypassing the heat and humidity that come with a typical retirement move to Florida. Most of the country has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate. The coast, however, is characterized by the Mediterranean climate. Depending on where you end up living, you could be facing different climates. However, regardless of where you are, you could experience all four seasons by traveling throughout the country. Even if you don’t end up moving to the coast, your summers should definitely be spent there.

The view of the Adriatic Sea from a shaded pathway, at the town of Cavtat.
The beauty of the Croatian coast is reason enough to pack your belongings
right away and move to this beautiful country in the southern Europe.

Cost of living

The cost of living is another valuable reason why retiring in Croatia would be a good idea. This way, you would be leaving the US and settling down in the Old Continent for the fraction of the cost of other European countries. Retiring in Croatia is substantially more affordable than other Western Countries as well as the US. This is true both when it comes to housing as well as leisure activities. It is possibly one of its biggest draws.

The official currency in the country is the kuna, which comes out to around 6.50 to 7 dollars. If you choose Croatia’s capital Zagreb, for example, you could easily rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center for about $350. Eating out is also pretty affordable, as are most leisure activities you can take part in.

History, culture, nature

Besides these exceedingly practical reasons for retiring in Croatia, there are others of a more ethereal nature. Croatia has a rich history that will be present all around you in your day-to-day. Zagreb, for example, has a medieval Upper Town and many interesting museums.

The coastal towns, though small, are not exempt from this same richness of cultural heritage. At this point, Dubrovnik is already legendary for its medieval architecture and history, but other towns do not fall far behind. Even Croatia’s recent history evident in the socialist architecture and monuments scattered around the country can be very exciting to learn about for ex-pats.

Dubrovnik cityscape
Dubrovnik is highly representative of what drives people into retiring in Croatia –
history, culture and natural beauty.

The coast itself is a delightful mix of beautiful, historic places and breathtaking scenery. Most towns are flanked by the sea and the mountains on either side, making it difficult to know where to look first. The Croatian Archipelago is the largest in the Adriatic Sea and the second largest in the Mediterranean, right behind the Greek Archipelago. It consists of as many as 718 islands and islets, only 48 of which are inhabited. Plus over 500 ridges.

What else do I need to know if I want to retire in Croatia?

Now that you’ve been convinced Croatia is the place to be, how exactly do you go about it? Bureaucracy is tricky everywhere, but it seems as if it is the greatest obstacle for Americans thinking about retiring in Croatia. What is it that you need exactly?

Getting the Croatian visa

You can actually stay in Croatia for up to 90 days without a visa. This is a good piece of information to be aware of as you may want to visit the place before you actually decide to move here. However, once you have decided to pull the trigger, you will need to apply for a visa. If your plan is to work through your retirement, you will then need to apply for the work permit as well.

You will have to make your application in the US, and there are plenty of resources online telling you where you can do it and what you’ll need.

Yachts in Split's harbour, Croatia
Croatia's coastline and islands make it one of the most desirable boating and
yachting destinations in the Mediterranean, also a popular cruise destination.

Getting the temporary residency permit

Within the first couple of weeks of arriving, you should go to a local police station and apply for a temporary residency permit. You will need:

  • a copy of your passport 
  • two passport photos 
  • your birth certificate 
  • evidence of health insurance and housing in Croatia 
  • proof of adequate funds 
  • a background check report. 

As in many other places, dealing with bureaucracy in Croatia will require nerves of steel. While the application process itself probably won’t take longer than a couple of hours, expect the approval process to last for a couple of weeks.

Healthcare

When retiring in Croatia, healthcare is probably high on your list of priorities. Luckily for you, Croatia has a public healthcare system. You will be paying into it once you apply for your residency permit. This covers most of your healthcare needs at a small cost or no cost at all. You can also use the private healthcare system, which costs more. However, if you have private health insurance, it will probably cover most of your needs. The main thing to stress is this: whether public or private, healthcare is much more affordable in Croatia than the US. It's one of the reasons why Croatia is one of popular destinations for medical tourists, too.

Bottom line

Whether you are from an EU country or come from the US, retiring in Croatia will probably be a dream come true. Surrounded by beautiful nature and rich local culture, you will be able to enjoy a relaxed but active lifestyle fit for a retiree.

Images by Pixabay

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