While it is part of the European Union, Croatia has its own currency, the Croatian Kuna (HRK). One kuna (kn) is worth $0.16 in U.S. dollars or 0.13 euros. The currency exchange rates change often, so generally speaking, $1.00 USD is around 6.36 HRK and €1.00 is around 7.50 HRK. Knowing the exchange rate is only the beginning of learning more about the cost of living in Croatia. If you talk to locals, they will tell you it is expensive to live here. However, due to the exchange rates, it is actually quite cheaper to live in Croatia if you are coming from the U.S.
To put things more in perspective, here are some figures that show you how much more expensive certain things are in the U.S. compared to Croatia:
Tourism is an integral part of Croatia’s economy, so real estate prices tend to be higher in tourist hot-spots like Dalmatia and Istria. Still, you can find apartments with sea views for less than $125,000, making Croatia an affordable spot for a Mediterranean vacation retreat or a sunshine-filled retirement.
The average salary in Croatia is about $1,000 per month, although many families get by on much less. Living in Croatia and earning a foreign, or western income, will allow you to stretch your hard-earned money much further. The costs of living varies dramatically depending on location. It will also fluctuate based on your consumption habits and housing requirements.
Depending on the type of lifestyle you’re after, you might choose to live on the coast, or even in the countryside. Living on the coast in cities like Dubrovnik and Split can be great during the summer months, but keep in mind that when the tourist season ends, many coastal towns are left empty.
For those seeking island vibes, there are over 1,000 islands to choose from, only a small number of which are inhabited. Though destinations like Hvar, Korcula, and Brac are bursting with life in the summer, these islands can be especially quiet in the wintertime.
The good news is that if you shop at local markets, you’ll find incredible deals on delicious food and wine. Depending upon the season, you might even be able to buy seafood right from a fisherman’s boat. Or, if you visit a green market, it’s possible to pick up a bag of fresh figs, tangerines, quince, pomegranates, or kiwi for a fraction of the supermarket price. Also, more discount stores are piling into Croatia after it joined the European Union in 2013. This means increased competition and reduced prices.
Renting an apartment in downtown will typically set you back $600 per month. Larger and nicer apartments go for anywhere between $800 and $1,200 a month. There are a number of neighborhoods just outside the city center that offer more affordable options, yet are still well-connected to the city center area by tram or bus. In these neighborhoods, you can find a decent two-bedroom apartment for about $500 a month. The cost of monthly utilities will greatly depend on your individual usage and how many members are living in your household. It is always safer to budget a little bit more for utilities, say $150 per month, though you will likely spend less.
Transportation can be reasonably cheap. In the warmer months, discount airlines fly out of regional airports to other exciting European destinations. Ferries to the islands are affordable and the bus network is extensive. Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Bolt can also be cost-effective. However, they are generally only available in larger urban areas. The good news is that most cities in Croatia are very walkable and you can easily get around on foot or by bike. Having a car is not necessary, especially if you live in a city, and navigating public transportation is easy once you get your bearings.
The public transportation system are well-connected by trams, buses, or both. Taking the bus in Croatia is often the most efficient way of getting around. The network is extremely comprehensive, and even the smallest village are well connected.
Note: Gas prices in Croatia are definitely more expensive when compared to the US. In Croatia, you can expect to spend around $1.50 per liter for regular gasoline.
Recent data show that Croatia is very attractive to foreign citizens, investors, and expats. According to the last research by the Global Property Guide – over 70.000 foreign citizens own property in Croatia. As you might expect, most properties were bought on the Croatian coast. Only 3% of foreign citizens choose the area around the capital city of Zagreb. The prices of the coastal properties may be higher, but considering the factors (such as waterfront location, tourism potential, organic food, and wine production, etc.) – buying a property in Croatia is considered to be a good investment for many foreigners.
If you come from a country outside of the European Union you can buy a property under the Principle of reciprocity. What does that mean? The Republic of Croatia has the Reciprocity Agreement with other countries that regulate property purchases for its citizens. If the country you are registered in (as a citizen) has an agreement with Croatia you can buy the property. You can check if your country has a reciprocity agreement with Croatia here.
The difference regarding property purchase if you come from an EU country is that you will need consent from the Ministry of Justice in the Republic of Croatia. Without that permission, you won’t be able to finalize the purchase. The whole process can last a couple of months while the Ministry checks the laws and that reciprocity between countries exists.
Croatia doesn’t have a Visa scheme, through which you can invest in a property to gain permanent resident status. However, there is an alternative through which you can use your property purchase to remain in Croatia for longer than the 90 days permitted as a tourist within the Schengen area.
According to Croatian law, you can get the temporary residence for up to 9 months a year (6 months, plus the 3 months you’re permitted to stay as a tourist) when you buy a property⁴.
You won’t be able to work, and there’s, unfortunately, no route to permanent residency or citizenship. However, this could be a good option for retirees or people looking to live in Croatia for some of the years. You can apply for it every year, so you can keep coming back to your home in Croatia.
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